The Hanson Phenomenon

by Helen Dodds

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Below is a summation of the contents of this 250 page book:


1. The Strength of the Family

2. The Many Faces of Pauline Hanson

3. The Political Path to Canberra

4. The Hanson Phenomenon

5. The Whole World is a Stage

6. The Birth of One Nation

7. Immigration and Multiculturalism

8. Aboriginal Issues

9. Health, Wealth and Reconciliation


Other related links:

The launch of the authorised biography - 21st November 1997
On-line research referred to in the book


Return to Australian National News of the Day


This book is about one of the most controversial politicians to have been elected to the Australian Federal Parliament. Originally endorsed as a Liberal candidate only to be disendorsed two weeks before the election, Pauline Hanson stood as an Independent and won the safest Labor seat in Queensland. She became the Independent Member for Oxley in March 1996.

Much has been written about Pauline Hanson since her letter to the editor was published in the Queensland Times on 6 January 1996. She can only thank the Australian media for making her the most recognised person in Australia, for giving her such a high profile and creating ‘The Hanson Phenomenon’. Pauline Hanson gave voice to the ‘silent majority’ who responded by giving her massive support throughout Australia. She has the touch of the common people. Her popularity has given rise to a new political party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, which is seen as a saviour by some and has generated fear, loathing and violence in others.

This book is an attempt to describe the essence of Pauline Hanson and to understand what has moved her to do what she is doing. Where has she come from? Who and what have been the major influences in her life? What are her hopes and vision for the future of Australia?

The last three chapters of the book present the historical background and factual information on two issues raised by Pauline Hanson. Immigration and Aboriginal issues have generated such controversy that people are now asking to be informed. The information on these issues presented in chapters seven, eight and nine, is not intended to be an exhaustive treatise but will enable the reader to have a greater understanding of the emotive issues which face all Australians. Knowledge of the history of these issues will assist Australians to understand where they are now and where they want to go in the future. The issues raised by Pauline Hanson must be debated by everyone in a calm, rational and logical way, to the mutual benefit of all Australians if Australia is to survive these uncertain times and prosper as a tolerant and unified nation in the 21st century.


Some of the strong characteristics in Pauline Hanson are from her Irish lineage and are very evident in the maternal line in her family. Her inner strength and resourcefulness in difficult times is seen in her mother, and grandmother. She is not easily intimidated or frightened. She will speak her mind and will not be prevented from achieving her goals. However, at heart she is a shy and gentle person like Jack Seccombe and is able to understand the needs of people. She has been taught responsibility, self worth, and how to triumph over difficult situations.

These are lessons that Pauline Hanson has never forgotten.


Pauline: A Woman in Politics

Pauline Hanson is the only woman Independent Member in the Lower House at present. She expected to be considered by her fellow MP’s as a controversial Member. However she has been treated very poorly by her peers. The Member for Dawson, De-Anne Kelly was the only female MP to show some warmth and friendship to Pauline. Does this lack of friendship indicate that the MP’s are frightened to be seen talking with Pauline? Some MP’s have not wanted to sit near Pauline in the House while parliament is being televised. These slights do not worry Pauline as she knows deep within her that she has the support of the peoples from all over Australia.

As Pauline’s political reputation grew and she formed Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, elements in society commenced a campaign of violence against her. This has resulted in a level of security for an Australian politician that is second only to that of the Prime Minister. She has two security officers with her at all times and large scale security is in place at everyone of her meetings. This constant security has made Pauline feel as though she is in a gold fish bowl. She has lost her privacy which is very important to her. She is resigned to the fact that while she maintains such a high political profile, she can never expect to have a normal life.

Pauline Hanson is a person who will stand up for the rights of people. She is not apathetic to the problems of her fellow man. She believes that she can make a difference. It was this trait that threw her headlong into political life and set her on the path to Canberra. If she could have foreseen that her actions in 1994 would have started her on the path to becoming the Federal Member for Oxley, she probably would have chosen to take exactly the same course. She has courage and self esteem and does not shrink from any challenge, no matter how difficult, no matter how unpleasant. These elements of her personality were very evident when she was asked during an interview, ‘What made you run for the Ipswich City Council?’ She gave a straight forward and no nonsense reply. ‘When the Mayor of Ipswich, Dave Underwood was thrown out of office in 1993, it made me furious. How can a handful of people [from the Labor Party] throw out a man elected by the people?’.

It was this event that was the launching of Pauline Hanson’s political career.


The time bomb, ignited six weeks earlier with Pauline’s letter to the Queensland Times, exploded on her on Wednesday, 14 February. The Liberal Party withdrew support from Pauline Hanson. Branch president, Steve Wilson was reported to have said that ‘financial assistance had been permanently suspended. She would be allowed to keep her election signs on the proviso that references to the Liberal Party be covered up’. Comments made in a similar vein by National member Bob Katter who described ‘slanty-eyed ideologues’ and National candidate Bob Burgess describing the Australian citizenship ceremony as a ‘de-wogging exercise’ also drew media attention. Although these men were threatened with dis-endorsement by their Party, they were not disendorsed.

Pauline had been summoned that Wednesday evening to the Branch headquarters and was cordially welcomed. She felt apprehensive on that night as she entered the room, but she was buoyed up by the knowledge that the local people supported her. She recalls how very tired she was and for ‘one fleeting moment’ she felt her courage leave her. Like any witch hunt, the accused woman was asked by her accusers if she would renounce her words and beliefs. It was this episode that provoked the artist, Paul Atroshenko, to paint Pauline being burnt at the stake, calling his work the ‘Martyrdom of Pauline Hanson’. However she would not retract her words and she was summarily disendorsed. It was like being stripped of rank and having a dishonourable discharge. Did she ever think that when she was disendorsed by the Liberal party, that she would give up? The reply came in the true Hanson style. ‘No way, I was not going to give up, it made me more determined than ever. But I was very upset when I left there. I was crying’.


This massive win in Oxley boosted Pauline Hansons’s confidence. She had set a goal and had achieved it. This was beyond her wildest dreams. She could see a political career developing that would allow her to be an individual in her own right. Her personality is such that once she has set her mind on a task, she will pursue it to the end. She became extremely focused and embarked on her path to Canberra, knowing that all of her skills and energy would be needed. Her self reliance had developed throughout her two marriages and as a business woman. She knew that she would be considered controversial in Canberra and was prepared for the lack of support from other Members. She received support from three fellow members, Graeme Campbell, Paul Filing and De-Anne Kelly. De-Anne rang Pauline and congratulated her after she won Oxley. She received criticism when she sat next to Pauline in the House.


What is it about Pauline Hanson that has attracted people to her personally and to her cause? Does she exhibit an apparent vulnerability that attracts supportive or manipulative people? Does she exhibit a strength that is revered by some and envied by others? Why does she have such loyal and ardent admirers and yet evoke hatred, fear and contempt in others? The constant attacks that she received from the media and selected politicians was one of the main reasons for the support from average Australian people. People recognised the great courage she has shown in making her stand and felt that she was not being given a fair go. Was she attacked more vehemently because she is an Independent and a woman in politics? People recognised that here was a vulnerable woman who had dared voice some truths about ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ and so was being ridiculed and derided for stating the obvious.


Exposing the Face of Organised Violence

As Pauline Hanson’s One Nation gained strength and held more and more launches in every State, the numbers of protesters increased and the level of violence escalated. In early July Pauline Hanson launched the Gold Coast branch of One Nation. The change in the face of the protesters since the launch of One Nation in Ipswich just over two months before was apparent with an ugly mood in the protesters bordering on violence at the Gold Coast launch. However a climax to the violence came in Dandenong when the most ugly incidents occurred. A guest sustained head injuries and had to be taken to hospital for medical treatment. The face of violence that had been reflected in a number of One Nation launches during this period of time was now seen as ugly and intolerable. The massive security that surrounds Hanson’s every move in recent times demonstrates a frightening level of violence in Australian society. This is a new phenomenon for Australian politics. A mob is being incited to riot because of the policies of a political party. Politicians can not be subjected to intimidation by such violence and harassment. This is not acceptable in Australian politics.

On 14 July 1997 the Brisbane Anti-Racism Campaign Committee (ARC) had its monthly meeting in ACTU House in Peel Street. An informer at the meeting produced an intelligence report which was forwarded to Global Web Builders (GWB). Balson found that the report included a claim that the ARC were planning a physical attack on Pauline Hanson. The ‘attack should only be attempted when they (ARC) can organise more protesters’. On Friday 18 July 1997, Pauline Hanson was to attend a special dinner for One Nation supporters in Geelong. It was claimed by Stephen Jolly, the leader of the left wing group Militant and Geelong protest organiser, that ‘this [Geelong protest] would be the biggest protest since Vietnam’.

Militant is an Australian part of an international Trotsky group, the Committee for a Workers’ International. Stephen Jolly, an immigrant from Britain, is the leader. They have historically organised student networks, mobilised rent-a-crowd and distributed pamphlets that advertise protests. Militant is seen to be in a state of permanent revolution and it is not in their interests to solve conflicts as they thrive on them. Scott Balson explains how GWB set up the media and watched for the result. ‘GWB placed the contents of the report of the planned physical attack on Pauline, on the Internet in a hidden file and advised selected journalists of its existence. Those advised included Channel 7 News, Brisbane; John Laws Show, Sydney; Howard Sattler 6PR, Perth; a journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald; and a journalist at the Queensland Times (QT), Ipswich. However both the Packer and the Murdoch media empires were left in the dark’.


Most of the reaction of the electorate in supporting Hanson is related to its dissatisfaction with present government policies on immigration and multiculturalism. Does this mean that these two issues are so important in the minds of the electorate that they will support a new party to achieve change? What are the important facts surrounding immigration and multiculturalism? This chapter examines the problems of immigration and multiculturalism in the context of a sustainable Australia. It provides the historical background to these issues and examines the different attitudes of the major parties. Unfolding this background may explain why Pauline Hanson has so much support from middle Australia.

At the first press conference on Monday 4 March 1996, the incoming Prime Minister, John Howard, was questioned by the media as to the racist nature of Pauline Hanson’s win in Oxley. It appears that any attempt to debate the immigration policy is being turned into a racial problem by branding individuals as ‘racist’. This happened to John Howard in 1988 and other members of Parliament who made comments on the immigration policy. However the climate of political change to immigration has moved away from the Hawke idealism of 1988 and has been tapped by the Federal politicians such as Pauline Hanson, and Graeme Campbell. Their stance is the catalyst that has allowed the Coalition to move their position to the right on immigration and now the ALP has quickly followed with a similar position.

Sustainable Population

Does Australia have a policy for a sustainable population? What is the appropriate size of the population projected for Australia? This topic is usually decided in economic terms or measurement of GDP. Is this the correct way to determine the population size? It is a complex issue and must be decided with an emphasis on understanding the limitations of Australia’s natural resources. The quality of life and the standard of living is determined by the population size that can be sustained by the natural resources. The concept of carrying capacity which is used in population biology shows that any population is limited by its food and habitat resources. If the population exceeds the limit of these resources, the population crashes. While such a population crash in the human population can be buffered by technology, there are serious consequences for the standard of living of the population. As a consequence of the buffering of the population, the size of the population will expand but overall the standard of living will decrease as costs of maintaining the population become higher. The standard of living then becomes stratified within the population due to the distribution of wealth. The small part of the population who can afford the technology maintain a higher standard than those who can not afford the technology. The non-equitable distribution of wealth, resources and living standards places stress on the population, which leads to social disharmony and social disorder. Thus the debate on sustainable population for Australia is vital to the future of all Australians. It has been triggered by Hanson’s statements on immigration but must not be simply a debate on immigration numbers. The debate must produce a resolution which allows a long term policy on sustainable population to be adopted. This policy must be apolitical and in the national interest.

What is the future for Australia? As the population increases, will this put further pressure along the south eastern seaboard? Will increase in water pollution, soil degradation and environmental damage be the factors that eventually limit the population of this country? Can these limitations be overcome with technology, and if so at what price? Can Australia afford the technology required to feed and provide water for a population of thirty million? Can the issue be removed from the influence of the politicians who buy votes from the ethnic groups through promises of family reunion? Can a consensus on Australia’s sustainable population be held without pressure from various lobby groups? As Australia seeks to maintain its presence in the South Pacific Rim, pressure will come also from overpopulated nations in this area as their people seek a better life and look so hungrily at the ‘apparently’ under populated land mass called Australia.

Australian Governments have never been committed to long term population planning because such solutions would be politically unpopular even though such planning is essential and in the best interest of the nation. Since these issues related to population and immigration are emotive and are easily turned into a racial argument, then it is unlikely that Government policies in this area will change. Hence the support for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. She has called for a radical overhaul of the immigration policy, which could be ultimately produce a sustainable population policy. The lack of Government direction in this area will inevitably allow the Australian population to grow to an unsustainable level and the consequences will be borne by future generations of Australians.


Australians have a sense of national identity. There are many groups of people from all regions of the world, living working and receiving the benefits of being Australian. These cultures have been maintained by the original immigrants within the Australian culture, and the Australian people have been enriched by many aspects of these cultures. This has enhanced the Australian culture but without any loss to the Australian identity. Australia is now a country that has many cultures within its boundaries. Thus why were Government policies on the practice of multiculturalism required? Where did this word originate? Was the ideology driven initially by factors such as financial and social assistance required for immigrants in adjusting to their new homeland while maintaining some of their cultural practices?

Why has multiculturalism not been accepted by the majority of Australians? Are Australians sceptical of the motives of Governments with their desire to enforce multiculturalism through national policies? Has the initial ideology of multiculturalism been corrupted over the past twenty years? Have Governments wooed the ‘ethnic vote’ with financial commitments based on multiculturalism? Has the policy on multiculturalism as determined by successive Governments, become divisive to Australia? Is maintaining the practice of multiculturalism seen as wasting tax payers money? Should the immigration policy be structured to accept immigrants whose ‘needs’ require fewer resources from the Australian public purse? Will Governments identify all areas where tax payers money is used? Do Australians perceive that the financial cost of multiculturalism is not in the national interest? Is that what Hanson recognised when she called for ‘abolishing the policy of multiculturalism [that] will save billions of dollars’ in her maiden speech? Has the concept of multiculturalism any relevance to Australia in the late 1990s?


Pauline Hanson raised several issues concerning Aboriginal people prior to her election and in her maiden speech. Her statements have been supported by a large number of the Australian people. Why this support is so strong must be examined in the light of the history of Aboriginal and European interaction. Is this support simply in response to political rhetoric by Hanson, or a backlash by Australians against political correctness and reverse racism forced on the country by various governments over the past twenty five years? An overview of the history of government policies related to the Aboriginal people is provided in this chapter. The politics related to the implementation of legislation relating to Aboriginal people are examined. It is an attempt to present a range of issues and opinions relevant to Aboriginal affairs that have culminated in the attitude that many Australians hold towards the Australian Aboriginal people.

What Australian Aboriginal people want, is what every Australian wants - a house, employment, security and to be treated with respect by their neighbour. This is the dream of everyone who was born or has migrated to Australia. This at the heart of the emotive issues raised by Pauline Hanson when she called for equality for all Australians. She has raised the awareness of all Australians on these issues. The time has now arrived to challenge the reader to take up these issues, launched by Pauline Hanson, and make decisions for the future of Australia


There were 303 250 Aboriginal people in Australia on June 1994 which comprised 1.7% of the population. By health, education and living standards of the rest of Australians, Aboriginal people have a much lower standard of living even though $9.67 billion has been spent since 1990-91 to 1996-97 by the Federal Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. This figure does not include State, Local Government and other related Departments or statutory bodies that allocate funds to Aboriginal programs. The order of expenditure from sources other than the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, is difficult to determine accurately but has been estimated at about $500 million in 1994--95. This chapter outlines the findings of two major surveys recently carried out on the Aboriginal population so that the reader can be informed of the health, social and economic conditions of the Aboriginal people. Figures on government funding for Aboriginal people are provided from the most reliable government data. An outline of the role of Aboriginal statutory bodies who administer most of the Commonwealth is provided.

Findings of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

In May 1991, four years after it had commenced, the Royal Commission reported their findings. The following is an extract from the Overview of the Response by Governments to the Royal Commission, 1992.

1. ‘The Royal Commission final report did not confirm suspicions of foul play held by many in the community, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’

2. ‘The Commission did not find that any of the deaths were caused by deliberate violence or brutality by the police or prison officers.’

3. ‘However the Commissioners found that the standard of care shown towards people in custody was generally poor and that a lack of proper care contributed to some deaths. They also found little evidence of appreciation by prison officers and police of the duty of care owed to those in their custody.’

4. ‘The Royal Commission found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody do not die at a greater rate than non-Aboriginal people die in custody. What was overwhelmingly different was the rate at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people came into custody - 29 times higher than the general community.’

5. ‘The Royal Commission found that the most significant factor contributing to the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody is their disadvantaged and unequal position in Australian society, socially, economically and culturally.’

The Minister, Robert Tickner said that the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody evolved into an unprecedented national enquiry into Australia’s indigenous people. He said:
The final report does not accord with initial expectations of foul play. The Commissioners have not found that any deaths were the result of deliberate unlawful violence or brutality by police or prison officers … families and friends in their continuing grief have found this difficult to accept … [but] there is a failure to live up the standards of care for those in custody. The conclusion that they [the Commissioners] reached was that Aboriginal people die in custody at a rate exactly equal to that of non Aboriginal people.

The fact that the incidence of deaths in custody of indigenous prisoners and detainees is no greater than the non-indigenous rate is acknowledged by the Aboriginal people in their Annual Report by ATSIC 1994-95. It is very important to all Australians that the Royal Commission did not find that any deaths in custody were due to deliberate violence or brutality by police or prison staff. An attempt by certain sections of the community to place blame on and to prove that police are actively killing indigenous people has been laid to rest.


Pauline Hanson was the person in the right place at the right time. She voiced issues that were in the hearts of the people but were being ignored by governments. She attracted people to her cause in a way that has never before been seen in Australian politics. She has been attacked, vilified and abused by the media but the media created The Hanson Phenomenon. Mob violence has been perpetrated against her to a level unseen in Australia’s recent political history.

I have observed this woman and have seen the events unfold around her. She was a straight forward, no nonsense person when I first met her several years ago and she still is the same today. Political limelight has not changed her. Some people thought they could change and manipulate her but she has resisted their attempts.

Two years ago when Pauline Hanson sought endorsement as a Liberal candidate for the seat of Oxley, she never imagined in her wildest dreams that she would be the Leader of a National political party and be the most recognised politician in Australia. She has demonstrated that she has the strength to continue her crusade to make Australia a place of equality for everyone.

What does the future hold for Pauline Hanson? Will Pauline Hanson go from strength to strength as she is currently doing? Is she unstoppable? The most recent challenge to her has come with the proposed alteration to the boundaries of the electorate of Oxley and the creation of the new seat of Blair. Pauline nominated four options. ‘Contest Oxley, contest Blair, contest a Senate seat or pack up my bags and go. You can be sure it won’t be the last option’. She could take the safer option and stand for a Senate seat, but Pauline in true Hanson style, will take the tougher option and contest a seat in the Lower House. She will remain in the Lower House for several reasons. This is where proposed bills are debated and framed before being passed to the Senate. The leader of a party which is represented in both the Lower House and Senate usually resides in the Lower House. Pauline will keep faith with other candidates who stand for One Nation in the Lower House. However part of her electorate is in Blair and the other part is in Oxley. Which will she choose? The partnership that she has formed with the electorate will be her guiding light. She will take on any opposition candidate who elects to challenge her and with her confidence and drive, will fight for the same resounding victory that she had in 1996.

Will Pauline Hanson’s One Nation hold the balance of power in the Australian parliament? How will this affect Australian politics and the hard decisions that all Australians have to make for the future of this country? For Pauline - The Hanson Phenomenon - time alone will provide the answers!