Interview with One Nation Senator,
Heather Hill - 25th October 1998

Commentary by Scott Balson, Global Web Builders

When one meets Heather Hill the first impression is that of a motherly, caring woman with an easy going attitude. You would not be wrong, Heather has two children and is still married to her childhood sweetheart, Ken.

(Right Heather Hill with husband Ken at the Toowoomba meeting of Queensland state candidates in April 1998). 

But there again, as many journalists have discovered in the last few months Heather Hill has far more talents and goals that take her far beyond being house-bound.

She is quick on her feet and an excellent debater.

Heather Hill was, until about two years ago, a true-blue Labor party voter.

Heather is also a very close friend of Pauline Hanson's - a bond which you only understand when you know them both well and get to talk to them about the ups and downs of politics that they have shared together in the last six months.

Image left: Pauline Hanson comforting Heather Hill on the night of the Queensland State elections after she narrowly missed taking the safe Labor seat of Ipswich off David Hamill (Hanson was also asking Heather to go for the Federal seat of Oxley - a request Heather declined).

Pauline Hanson had expressed total support for Heather Hill in my interview with her on Wednesday 22nd October, saying: "I think it is wonderful (that Heather is a Senator). Heather Hill will be a great asset as a One Nation Senator - she has my full support.."

Earlier today I met with Heather Hill at my house to discuss where she saw One Nation going, her relationship with Pauline Hanson and her role in the Senate - a seat she won officially just last week when she secured 14% of the vote in Queensland.

The images and story below reflect the discussion which took place at this interview with Heather Hill earlier today:

SB: Heather Hill how does it feel being a Senator?

HH: The feeling is one of euphoria. Knowing that so much has been put on the line by so many - that we have got at least one One Nation Senator in there and fighting - this is not about Heather Hill.

Image right: Heather Hill holding two historic signs, the first (on right) publicising her push for the state seat of Ipswich and the one on the left her more recent drive for the Senate - in which her determination paid off.

SB: Please tell me how you got into politics?

HH: I had worked at the Ipswich Family Resource Centre for six years as the manager. I had seen, first hand, how the policies of both the Labor and Coalition parties were failing families and even contributing to the breakdown of the family unit.

The Family Resource Centre wrote a paper called "Working Class poor".

While the Labor and Coalition parties just criticised the report Pauline Hanson took on board my findings after I went to see her, almost as a last resort. While the major parties were out of touch with the people they were supposed to represent Pauline Hanson was not.

Image left: Heather Hill will reflect back on this time in years to come - there is a heavy burden on her shoulders right now.

That's when I started talking to Pauline Hanson, reading her speeches and her unedited interviews - which I was able to get from her Ipswich office. I quickly realised that the media were distorting her statements and that the two major parties were pushing a common concept called "economic rationalism".

The Family Resource Centre in Ipswich was defunded and closed by the Coalition in 1997. This gave me the opportunity to pursue and enter a career in politics. One that I had been considering for some time.

Pauline Hanson said to me at this time, "Heather, you come in here and complain a lot. Don't you think that its time you got your hands dirty and did something?"

Image right: Pauline Hanson with Heather Hill at the announcement of One Nation's first Queensland State candidates in January 1998.

We talked about the upcoming state and federal elections - it was then that I decided to take on the state seat of Ipswich for One Nation in the Queensland state elections.

SB: Winning the Senate seat in the face of such co-ordinated and biased opposition was no mean feat. You must be very proud of what you and Pauline have achieved this year.

HH: It's everybody. I look at Pauline, David Oldfield and Peter James. These were the people who made it happen.

The preference debacle by the major parties and the blatant bias of the media were the main reasons we did not win more representation in the Federal government despite gaining one million primary votes.

SB: I recall that on the night of the state election Pauline Hanson asked you publicly whether you would consider running for a Federal seat you said "No".

What made you change your mind?

Image left: Pauline Hanson comforting Heather Hill on the night of the Queensland State elections after she narrowly missed taking the safe Labor seat of Ipswich off David Hamill (Hanson was also asking Heather to go for the Federal seat of Oxley - a request Heather declined).

HH: The main factor was working with the One Nation MPs in the Queensland State Parliament - I realised that I needed to be in there.

Image right: Heather Hill with state leader Bill Feldman at the launch of One Nation's state policies in June 1998

I saw the clout that they actually carried in state government - even though you won't read about it in the press. For example the first two Private Members Bills introduced in the new Queensland State Parliament were based on One Nation policy: Community Based Referenda and Truth in sentencing.

SB: If you could choose which would you rather have won the state seat of Ipswich or your, now confirmed, position in the Senate?

HH: Definitely the Senate seat. Mainly because I know that we will now have a voice in Federal Parliament.

SB: On the night of the state election you never shed a tear when you stood on the podium alongside Pauline at the Ipswich show grounds - even though it was apparent that you had lost your seat narrowly to Labor's David Hamill. On the night of the Federal election you wept openly after it became clear that Pauline Hanson had lost the seat of Blair - even though you looked good in the Senate.

This is the caring side of Heather Hill that the media will probably ignore, but I won't. Please tell me the emotions that were running through your head at that time?

HH: It was the complete unfairness of the political system that hit me at that moment. The vilification of Pauline Hanson by the media empires who were paying people to run her down.

Despite all this Pauline did not dummy spit like Cheryl Kernot.

I could feel everything that she had gone through - from the payment by New Idea of thousands of dollars to her son Stephen to bag her just days before the election to the Pauline Pantsdown banned song issue.

Image right: The lion which is the two party system and the preferences allocated in their "how-to-vote" cards had trampled the mouse (One Nation) which had dared to roar.  Heather Hill sheds a tear when the realisation sets in that Pauline Hanson has lost her seat sets in at the post-election party.

I was sitting there in sheer disbelief that she had not got the seat of Blair despite the fact that one million voters around Australia had voted for Pauline Hanson. At least 99% of those voted for her - not the candidate. Take, for example, Terry Sharples (disendorsed One Nation candidate) who stood as an independent and only got 53 votes!

It was the games of the major political parties that had wiped her out. On that night I said that there were only three or four people who voted for me - my parents and my husband Ken.

Pauline not getting in really took the shine off me getting the Senate seat.

SB: What are your main objectives as a Senator going to be?

HH: Firstly, we (One Nation) have to tackle the racism label that the major parties and the media have stuck on us.

Secondly, I will be tackling the issues of globalisation and economic rationalism and the subsequent loss of jobs and job security in Australia.

SB: How do you think your public profile will differ from that of Pauline Hanson?

HH: I hope that I can hold the same public profile that Pauline did - but I suspect that the media will try to ignore me totally like they did Graeme Campbell and Australia First.

Its funny because people see me as more maternal than Pauline - but, quite honestly, I think that Pauline has more maternal instincts than me. After all, it was her concern for Australia's future which got One Nation going.

Pauline has the ability to stir people into positive action. I might be able to grab a bull by the horns, but I think Pauline will always be able to manage a bigger bull than I could.

SB: What are the major issues that you will want to draw to the attention of the Australian public?

HH: Things like the MAI - and other international treaties that Australians know little or nothing about.

SB: What do you believe will be your biggest challenge in the Senate?

HH: Very hard to say until we know what the composition will be. The biggest challenge, I guess, will be for One Nation's voice - representing one million or 8% of Australians - to be heard.

SB: How will you go about shaking the media's racist tag attributed to One Nation?

HH: Through public speaking and public meetings - people need to understand that our immigration policies are based on capping population and are not race based.

For example I think it would be an excellent idea to encourage the wealthy Chinese business men and women who could create employment here, who are racially vilified in Indonesia, to immigrate to Australia.

However, we need to halt the divisive race-based funding of minority groups in Australia. Australia is a wonderful mix of races, it has always been a multiracial society - it took the Labor Party to start dividing us based on race and through the policy of "multiculturalism".

SB: Some people are writing One Nation off now that Pauline Hanson is no longer in Parliament - how do you see her role in the party now?

HH: Let me just say to start with that the knockers are wrong. We now have funding with which we can establish head offices in most states. We will now be able to channel our messages to all Australians.

If, as the media say, we ran a shoddy campaign this time and got one million votes God help the two major parties in three years time.

As far as Pauline Hanson is concerned she can get out and about talking one to one with people, understanding the issues from direct contact - not through bureaucratic filtering.

Then when she gets back in at the next Federal election she will be an authority on just what the real issues are.

SB: You are recognised in the media as being fast on your feet and able to face the hostile opinions that they traditionally tag One Nation with. They are not sure how to deal with Heather Hill yet - this is quite obvious.

What message do you have for the mainstream media in respect to your dealings with them?

HH: My message to the media is simple. Do not try to be my thought police or Australia's social conscience. I call on them to report honestly and objectively and then let the Australian people make up their own minds.

SB: Many One Nation supporters are of the view that the rise of Heather Hill to the political forefront is the best thing that could have happened to One Nation. Do you agree that Pauline Hanson will have more time to do what she does best, mixing with and talking to Australian people?

HH: I would like to think that she has three years of doing that but then when she gets back into Federal Parliament she will be fully informed on issues affecting Australians from her meetings with the grassroot Australian population.

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