What Asia’s top business leaders think of Hanson

By Leonne Leamont, Sydney Morning Herald, 21st July 1997

Top Asian business leaders have confirmed that statements by Ms Pauline Hanson are damaging Australia abroad and some say their companies are now less likely to do business with us, says a new poll.

It found that the Queensland MP already has high recognition in Asia and is by far the most heard of Australian politician in recent months.

Nearly a quarter of those surveyed said they had heard of Ms Hanson but only 5 per cent said they had heard of Mr Howard. A further 8 per cent recalled hearing of the Prime Minister.

The poll, commissioned by the Herald and conducted over the past two weeks by ACNielsen-McNair, questioned 200 business leaders from among the top 500 companies in each of four cities. Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Bangkok and Jakarta - about their attitudes towards Australia and the rise of Ms Hanson.

It was the first poll to gauge Asian leaders attitudes to Ms Hanson, asking them to comment on what they had heard about her. Many branded her a racist and said she was anti-Asia. Among the comments were: “She is quite damaging for prospective Asians planning on going to Australia. The racist problem now makes people think twice about going there.” (Kuala Lumpur).

“She does not want to do business with Asia. I’m really sad to hear about this. She shouldn’t be closing doors to her Asian neighbours like this”. (Manila)

“She is against Asians. She does not like Asian Immigration.” (Bangkok)

The Hanson backlash is strongest in Malaysia - with 76 per cent of Kuala Lumpur respondents recognising her name compared with 28 per cent in Jakarta, 26 per cent in Bangkok and 16 per cent in Manila.

Of most concern to Australian companies will be the finding that 16 percent of business leaders who were aware of Ms Hanson said they were now less likely to do business with Australian companies.

Awareness of her was greatest among those doing business with Australian companies (60 per cent). And in a worrying trend for tourism, 21 per cent of those who were aware of Ms Hanson’s views said they were now less likely to travel to Australia.

The sensitivity of Malaysia which the south East Asia Business Councils estimate has investments of $1.5 billion in Australia - raises concerns for tourism and the education markets, where it accounts for nearly 10 per cent of foreign students studying in Australia. The Kuala Lumpur response Ms Hanson was that 22 per cent were now less likely to visit Australia and 30 per cent said the Hanson agenda had been a negative influence on their attitudes towards Australia as a “very favourable” country to do business with.

However, the poll was not all negative. About 84 per cent of the business leaders thought Australia was a favourable or very favourable country to do business with, and 68 per cent thought it was a favourable or very favourable holiday destination.

While 44 per cent of those that knew of Ms Hanson’s views said they had a negative influence on their attitudes (16 per cent of all surveyed), 53 per cent said it had not affected their attitudes. Three per cent said it had been a positive influence.

More than half of those surveyed were chief executive officers, managing directors or chairmen or chairwomen. About 22 per cent of the companies had 100 to 500 employees, while 24 per cent had more than 500.

Thirty-six per cent of the business leaders had travelled to Australia in the past year, and nearly half were doing business with Australian companies.

Tarnished image may cost young their jobs

The Australian tourism Commission was warned that if Asian tourism drops because of the Hanson factor, it may cost some young Australians their jobs.

The ACT’s managing director, John Morse, said the coverage of Pauline Hanson’s views in Australia had been repeated throughout Asia and was damaging Australia’s reputation as a friendly and welcoming country. The biggest coverage of Ms Hanson had been in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

“If that image is under threat, I have real concerns about its impacts on investment and trade, and the way people generally see this country.

“What we are asking people in the hospitality industry and the wider community to be even more friendly to reassure people that those views being represented under the Hanson banner are not reflective of the community.”

The ACT estimates 135,000 Malaysians, 162,000 Philippinos visited Australia last year. “The reality is if we get fewer visitors because of the Hanson effect, the jobs of young Australians are in jeopardy and that should be looked at by people who are putting these views forward,” he said.

One Australian and South-east Asian business group says media coverage has contributed to the climate in which some Asian business leaders are now less likely to do business with Australian companies.

“But Asian business people are extremely pragmatic business people. It will need to be judged by the test of time whether that 16 per cent that suggests it would be a negative thing in reality translates into action,” said Mr Paul Gallagher, executive director of the South East Aisa Business Councils.

Mr Gallagher said the Herald poll showed that over all attitudes to Australia were good, with 84 per cent saying Australia was a favourable or very favourable country to do business with.

“The Australian Government has taken every opportunity to set the record straight when they are in these countries,” he said. ”I have heard Alexander Downer up there, and others, make it very clear this is an aborrent attitude and they don’t support it, and the bulk of Australian people don’t support it.”

The AC Neilsen-McNair poll found that even when promoted, only 11 percent of the business leaders could recall the Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, 10 per cent the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Fischer and 47 per cent the Prime Minister, Mr Howard. Overall 37 per cent knew Ms Hanson, with 76 per cent of the Malaysian business leaders recognised her.

Mr Gallagher said he was not surprised at the high rate in Malaysia, given that 140,000 Malaysians had received their tertiary education in Australia. The figures may be of concern to the education Industry in Australia. Malaysia and Indonesia alone make up 20 per cent of Australia’s overseas students.

Nearly 14,000 Malaysian students studies in Australia last year, contributing $327 million to the Australian economy, according to the Australian International Education Foundation. the 16,650 Indonesia students contributed 340, million.

Asian Business Leaders - International Poll

How Asian business leaders sees Australia as a place to do business How Hanson has changed their views of Australia
Total Bangkok Manila Kuala Lumpur Jakarta (Of 37% who knew of her)
Very Favourable 13% 16% 22% 2% 10% No difference in attitude 53%
Favourable 71% 68% 64% 74% 80% Negative influence on attitude 44%
Indifferent 9% 10% 8% 14% 6% Positive Influence on attitude 3%
Unfavourable 5% 6% 4% 6% 4% Doing Business with Australia?
Very Unfavourable 2% 0% 2% 4% 0% Yes 49%

Recall/Recognition of Australian politicians by Asian Business Leaders How Hanson has affected business with Australians
Total Bangkok Manila Kuala Lumpur Jakarta (Of 37% who knew of her)
Paul Keating 48% 42% 46% 52% 52% No difference 83%
John Howard 47% 42% 30% 64% 50% Less Likely to do business 16%
Bob Hawke 41% 38% 42% 46% 36% More Likely to do business 1%
Pauline Hanson 37% 26% 16% 76% 28%
Tim Fischer 10% 16% 4% 10% 8%
Alexander Downer 11% 8% 2% 14% 20%

Return to launch of Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party

Pauline Hanson and One Nation's views:

Australian media continually misrepresent Pauline Hanson and her views. She is neither a racist nor anti-Asian. If being pro-Australian is a sin then Australia has a real problem. What Asian neighbour is NOT pro their country?

The following links are useful to those interested in the background to how Ms Hanson is misreported by the mainstream media in Australia:

Ms Hanson's view is that all Australians should be treated equally. Her views have been misreported across Asia by those who have the most to lose - the power brokers who manipulate the political system and disenfranchise Australian voters. They have the most to lose because, unlike the Liberal and Labor party, she has not sold her soul to these powerful shadows in Australia's twilight zone.

Ironic that those creating the myth then try to exploit their power over the media reports to discredit a democratically elected federal politician.

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The power to influence:

The Asian media get their reports on Hanson through AAP Reuters.

AAP Reuters get their stories from journalists whithin the Packer and Murdoch camps.

The vicious circle of manipulation and dishonesty is perpetuated and not in the general interest of the Australian population.

Such is the greed of those who would and do manipulate power in Australia.

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