Pauline Hanson's One Nation (PHON or ONP), also known as One Nation or One Nation Party, is a political party in Australia. One Nation was founded in 1997, by member of parliament Pauline Hanson and her advisors David Ettridge and David Oldfield after Hanson was disendorsed as a federal candidate for the Liberal Party of Australia. The disendorsement came before the 1996 federal election because of comments she made about Indigenous Australians. Hanson sat as an independent for one year before forming Pauline Hanson's One Nation.
Federally, no One Nation candidate has ever been elected to the House of Representatives (Hanson was already a member of the House when One Nation was formed). However, one candidate from the party was elected to the Senate in the 1998 federal election, and four One Nation senators were elected in the 2016 federal election. In state politics, however, One Nation has performed better. At the 1998 Queensland state election the party gained more than 22% of the vote in Queensland's unicameral legislative assembly, winning 11 of the 89 seats. David Oldfield was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council as a One Nation candidate, but he was expelled from the party and later formed the unsuccessful splinter group, One Nation NSW. Three members were elected to the Western Australian Legislative Council.
One Nation changed its name back to "Pauline Hanson's One Nation" in June 2015.
At the 2016 federal election the party polled 4.3% (+3.8) of the nationwide primary vote in the Senate. Only Queensland polled higher for the party than their nationwide percentage − the party polled 9.2% (+8.6) of the primary vote in that state. Pauline Hanson (QLD) and three other One Nation candidates − Malcolm Roberts (QLD), Brian Burston (NSW) and Rod Culleton (WA) were elected to the Senate. Elected to the 3rd Queensland Senate spot, as per convention Hanson is serving a six-year term while the three other One Nation Senators who were elected in the last half of spots were appointed to three-year terms. Culleton was stripped of his seat in January 2017 after he was declared bankrupt. In March 2017, the High Court ruled that Culleton's election to the Senate was invalid in any event because of a criminal conviction in New South Wales. After a court-ordered recount, Culleton was replaced by the second candidate on the WA list, Peter Georgiou.
The party has a strongly nationalist platform. Hanson and other party members have denied claims that the party is racist. Hanson says that "Criticism is not racism. There is real racism in this country: black racism, where you will get assistance because of the colour of your skin." A 2001 study showed that One Nation has no formal ties with racist groups, but holds extensive informal ties due to the party requiring "the support of those groups in establishing the party and because of a convergence of interests". These organisations include the League of Rights, Australians Against Further Immigration, the Confederate Action Party, National Action, and several militia groups. In 2019, members of the militant white supremacist group, True Blue Crew (TBC) were linked to One Nation candidate Nikhil Reddy, with members of both groups volunteering for one another.
One Nation was formed in 1997 by Pauline Hanson, David Oldfield and David Ettridge. Hanson was an endorsed Liberal Party candidate for the seat of Oxley, Queensland at the 1996 federal election, but was disendorsed by the party shortly before the elections due to comments she made to a local newspaper in Ipswich, Queensland opposing "race-based welfare". Oldfield, a councillor on Manly Council in suburban Sydney and at one time an employee of Liberal minister Tony Abbott, was the organisational architect of the party.
The name "One Nation" was chosen to signify belief in national unity, in contrast to a perceived increasing division in Australian society allegedly caused by government policies claimed to favour immigrants and indigenous Australians at the expense of the white Australian majority. The term "One Nation" was last used in Australian political life to describe a tax reform package in the early 1990s by the Labor government of Prime Minister Paul Keating (1991–96), whose culturally-cosmopolitan, Asia-centric (internationalist), free-trade, and pro-affirmative action policies were completely antithetical to what supporters of the later One Nation party formed in the late 1990s stood for.
Arguing that other political parties were out of touch with mainstream Australia, One Nation ran on a broadly populist and protectionist platform. It promised to drastically reduce immigration and to abolish "divisive and discriminatory policies ... attached to Aboriginal and multicultural affairs." Condemning multiculturalism as a "threat to the very basis of the Australian culture, identity and shared values", One Nation rallied against liberal government immigration and multicultural policies which, it argued, were leading to "the Asianisation of Australia." The party also denounced economic rationalism and globalisation, reflecting working-class dissatisfaction with the neo-liberal economic policies embraced by the major parties. Adopting strong protectionist policies, One Nation advocated the restoration of import tariffs, a revival of Australia's manufacturing industry, and an increase in support for small business and the rural sector.
One Nation became subject to a political campaign by Tony Abbott, who established a trust fund called "Australians for Honest Politics Trust" to help bankroll civil court cases against the Party. He was also accused of offering funds to One Nation dissident Terry Sharples to support his court battle against the party. Abbott conceded that the political threat One Nation posed to the Howard Government was "a very big factor" in his decision to pursue the legal attack, but he also claimed to be acting "in Australia's national interest".
The party's greatest appeal was in country areas of New South Wales and Queensland, the traditional heartlands of the junior partner in the non-Labor Coalition, the National Party. Indeed, for much of 1997 and 1998, it appeared that One Nation would pass the Nationals.
1998: initial success
At the 1998 Queensland state election, One Nation achieved its highest vote, gaining 22.7% of the vote, behind only Labor. However, because One Nation's vote was spread across the state, they won 11 of the 89 seats in the Legislative Assembly, but only fourth place in the legislature, behind Labor, the Liberals and Nationals. This was still enough to deny Labor a majority, as 7 One Nation seats would have gone to Labor if not for leakage of Coalition preferences. Subsequently, the One Nation contingent in the Queensland Parliament split, with dissident members forming the rival City-Country Alliance in late 1999.
At the 1998 federal election, Hanson contested the new seat of Blair after a redistribution effectively split Oxley in half. Hanson lost to Liberal candidate Cameron Thompson, and One Nation candidate in Oxley lost the seat to ALP candidate Bernie Ripoll, but One Nation candidate Heather Hill was elected as a senator for Queensland. Hill's eligibility to sit as a senator was successfully challenged (see Sue v Hill for information on the case) under the Australian Constitution on the basis that she had failed to renounce her childhood British citizenship, despite being a naturalised Australian citizen. The seat went to the party's Len Harris following a recount.
Political scientists Ian McAllister and Clive Bean, in an analysis of the 1998 federal election, found that although it was assumed that One Nation supporters came from a traditionally conservative demographic, instead:
"... in a number of significant respects it in fact tends more towards Labor’s profile instead. One Nation support, for example, comes disproportionately from manual workers, trade union members, those who describe themselves as working class, the less well educated, men and people who never attend church – a list of characteristics which comes close to defining the archetypal Labor voter … [The evidence] suggests that it is Labor-style voters in rural areas – rather than the much more predominantly urban Labor voter – who are chiefly attracted to One Nation"
1999–2012: internal disputes and initial decline
Since its 1997 peak, One Nation has been plagued by internal divisions and has split several times. Lawsuits involving ex-members forced Hanson to repay approximately A$500,000 of public funding won at the 1998 Queensland election amid claims that the party was fraudulently registered. The suits alleged that the party was undemocratically constituted in order to concentrate all power in the hands of three people—Hanson, Ettridge and Oldfield (in particular Oldfield)—and that it technically had only two members: Ettridge and Hanson. Even though Hanson's fraud charges were dropped, the Electoral Commission of Queensland never reimbursed Hanson for the monies that they collected from the claim.
The first Annual General Meeting of the One Nation party was held in April 1999, which critic Paul Reynolds said demonstrated that One Nation lacked organisation.
At the 1999 New South Wales state election, David Oldfield was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council. In October 2000, Hanson expelled Oldfield from the party. Oldfield had been accused of abusing his authority, usurping power, and setting up alternative political parties under his control.[clarification needed] His expulsion created even more instability in a party which was constantly embroiled in scandal and internal strife. Oldfield engineered a split within the party, creating One Nation NSW, in 2001. The new party took advantage of electoral party registration laws to register itself as a political party under the 'One Nation' name with the NSW electoral commission, and achieved registration in April 2002. This meant that the original One Nation party was unable to gain registration for NSW elections, and that any candidates which that party chose to represent them at state elections could not use the party name. Consequently, the original One Nation could only contest Federal elections in NSW under the 'One Nation' banner, whilst the Oldfield group could present itself as 'One Nation' only at state elections.
Disendorsed One Nation candidate accused the party of not having the 500 members needed for registration, and called for the party to be deregistered, which was carried by the Supreme Court. Hanson appealed the verdict but was unsuccessful. Hanson and Ettridge were later charged with electoral fraud.
In the 2001 Queensland state election, One Nation won three seats and 8.69% of the primary vote. The City-Country Alliance lost all of its seats, and faded into irrelevance soon afterward.
At the 2001 state election in Western Australia, One Nation won three seats in the state's Legislative Council. One Nation did not win any seats in state elections in Victoria, South Australia or Tasmania in the following year.
At the 2001 federal election, the party's vote fell from 9% to 5.5%. Hanson failed in her bid to win a Senate seat from Queensland, despite polling a strong 10% of the primary vote. Hanson failed to win a seat in the New South Wales Legislative Council at the 2003 state election, where she ran as an independent, with the support of the One Nation party. She polled less than 2% of the vote and withdrew from the party's leadership.
At the 2004 Queensland state election, One Nation polled less than 5% of the vote and its sole elected representative, Rosa Lee Long, acted as an independent. One Nation attempted to defend its Queensland Senate seat at the 2004 federal election, but lost it (effectively to the National Party). Len Harris's Senate term expired on 30 June 2005.
On 8 February 2005, One Nation lost federal party status but was re-registered in time for the 2007 federal election. It still had state parties in Queensland and New South Wales. Subsequently, it created another state party in Western Australia. In the February 2005 Western Australian state election, the One Nation vote collapsed.
In the 2006 South Australian state election, six One Nation candidates stood for the lower house. Their highest levels of the primary vote was 4.1% in the district of Hammond and 2.7% in Goyder, with the other four hovering around 1%. They attracted 0.8% (7559 votes) of the upper house vote. One Nation consequently won no seats in that election.
In the 2006 Queensland state election, the party contested four of 89 seats, and its vote collapsed. It suffered a swing of 4.3% to be left with just 0.6% of the vote. Its only remaining seat in the state (and country), Tablelands, was retained with an increased majority by Rosa Lee Long. Tablelands was abolished prior to the 2009 Queensland state election, with Lee Long failing to win the seat of Dalrymple.
2013–2015: Hanson's return and re-election as leader
Hanson was returned as leader by the One Nation executive in November 2014, following encouragement from One Nation members and support from the general public. She contested the seat of Lockyer for the party at the January 2015 Queensland state election, falling only 114 votes short of defeating sitting Liberal National Party member Ian Rickuss.
2016–present: return to federal politics
Pauline Hanson arranged a "Fed Up" tour that began in July 2015 as part of her re-election campaign, flying in a private plane to Rockhampton prior to a Reclaim Australia rally, piloted by James Ashby.
At the 2016 federal election, the party polled 4.3% (+3.8%) of the nationwide primary vote in the Senate. Only Queensland polled higher for the party than their nationwide percentage − the party polled 9.2% (+8.6%) of the primary vote in that state. Assisted by halved Senate quotas at the double dissolution election, Pauline Hanson (QLD), Malcolm Roberts (QLD), Brian Burston (NSW) and Rod Culleton (WA) were elected to the Senate. Elected to the 3rd Queensland Senate spot, as per convention, Hanson is serving a six-year term ending in 2022 while the term of the other three One Nation Senators expire in 2019.
The highest result in the House of Representatives was 20.9% of the primary vote in Wright (QLD).
On 18 December 2016, Rod Culleton (WA) left the party after months of legal troubles and party infighting to sit as an independent bringing the number of party senators to 3. On 3 February 2017, the High Court of Australia ruled that Culleton's election was invalid due to a conviction for which he was subject to being sentenced at the time of the election, notwithstanding that the conviction was subsequently annulled. The resulting vacancy was filled by a recount of the votes at the election, which resulted in Peter Georgiou taking the seat and returning the One Nation representation in the Senate to four.
Since being elected to the parliament One Nation has voted with the government on a number of welfare cuts.
During the 2017 Western Australian state election, several One Nation candidates either quit or were disendorsed. Dane Sorensen provided a copy of the party's Western Australian "candidate agreement" form for this election, which all candidates had to sign. It includes an "administration fee" of $250,000 if an elected candidate subsequently leaves the party.
The Australian Electoral Commission is investigating the financial affairs of One Nation from 2014 to the present. This is due to concerns that the plane used by Hanson in the Fed Up tour was an undeclared gift. Former Western Australian One Nation candidates have said that property developer Bill McNee bought the plane for Pauline Hanson's One Nation, but when approached by Four Corners, McNee denied this. Ashby has declared that he owns the plane.
On 22 May 2017, a new scandal arose when a taped conversation between Hanson and James Ashby was released. The tape showed that Ashby had supported charging One Nation candidates inflated prices for campaign materials.
On 27 October 2017, the full High Court, as Court of Disputed Returns, ruled that Malcolm Roberts had been ineligible to be elected to the Parliament. On 13 November, Senator Fraser Anning took Roberts' seat after a Senate recount. However, on the same day Anning left the party to become an Independent.
On 14 June 2018, Senator Brian Burston announced his resignation from the party to sit as an independent, following a month-long clash with Hanson centred around the Turnbull Government's corporate tax cuts, on which Hanson had reversed her position. This reduced the party to two senators, with Hanson remaining the only member of One Nation elected at the 2016 Federal election.
On 15 October 2018, a Senate motion brought by the party stating "it is OK to be white" was defeated 31–28 in a vote. The government expressed regret at the support the vote received, blaming it to an administrative error in which its senators were mistakenly instructed to vote positively. Critics noted that the phrase "it's OK to be white" has been associated with white supremacist rhetoric.
In March 2019, One Nation was the subject of a two-part Al Jazeera documentary series alleging that the party was soliciting financial assistance from the National Rifle Association and Koch Industries in order to change Australian gun control laws. Al Jazeera used an undercover reporter posing as a gun rights advocate. In response, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson condemned the documentary as a Qatar hit piece and announced that she had filed a complaint with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Similar sentiments were echoed by the One Nation officials, James Ashby and Steve Dickson, who were featured in the documentary. In response to the documentary, the Australian Electoral Commission said that none of the activities shown in the documentary violated section 326 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 since they occurred overseas.
At the 2019 federal election One Nation polled 5.40% (up 1.12%) for the nationwide Senate primary vote. The party polled higher than their national vote in Queensland taking 10.27% up 1.08%, of the primary vote in the senate.
|Election year||# of
overall seats won
1 / 40
1 / 76
0 / 40
1 / 76
0 / 40
0 / 76
0 / 40
0 / 76
0 / 40
0 / 76
0 / 40
0 / 76
4 / 76
4 / 76
|4||Shared balance of power|
1 / 40
2 / 76
|2||Shared balance of power|
New South Wales
|Election year||# of
1 / 42
|1||Shared balance of power|
|Party did not contest elections between 2003 (See One Nation NSW) and 2015|
2 / 42
|2||Shared balance of power|
|Election year||# of
11 / 89
|11||Sole balance of power|
3 / 89
1 / 89
1 / 89
0 / 89
0 / 89
0 / 89
1 / 93
|Election year||# of
3 / 34
|3||Shared balance of power|
0 / 34
0 / 36
|2013||Did not contest|
3 / 36
|3||Shared balance of power|
During its original period of popularity, One Nation had a major impact on Australian politics. The primary effect at state and federal levels was to split the conservative vote and threaten the National Party's support base. The appeal of its policies to the National Party's constituency put great pressure on that party. The rapid rise of the party revealed a substantial number of discontented voters dissatisfied with the major parties.
In the prologue to her autobiography Untamed and Unashamed, Hanson cites the Howard government's adoption of her policies as an attempt to win back One Nation voters to the Liberal and National parties, stating "the very same policies I advocated back then ... are being advocated today by the federal government".
Unlike the Queensland State Leadership, the changes of the Federal Leadership of the party were largely undocumented (besides the Hanson terms), due to low media attention and confusion of the name of office titles within the party. This list comprises the leaders, most definite, of the party.
|No.||Leader||Term of office||Office (or Previous Office)||Notes|
|1||Pauline Hanson||11 April 1997||5 August 2002||Member of the Australian House of Representatives for the Division of Oxley, QLD,
1996–1998 (resigned, seat transfer)
|2||John Fischer||5 August 2002||1 June 2004||Member of the Western Australian Legislative Council for the Mining and Pastoral Region, WA,
|3||Ian Nelson||1 June 2004||13 May 2013||General Secretary of Pauline Hanson's One Nation,
|4||Jim Savage||13 May 2013||18 November 2014||Treasurer of Pauline Hanson's One Nation,
|(1)||Pauline Hanson||18 November 2014||Incumbent||Senator for Queensland,
In August 2017 the party's constitution was changed, for Hanson to become party President for as long as she may wish and to choose her successor, who may also continue until resignation.
Members of parliament
- Senator Pauline Hanson (Queensland, 2016–present) – elected at the 2016 election, term due to expire 30 June 2022. Previously a One Nation MP (1997–98) for Oxley, Queensland.
- Senator Malcolm Roberts (Queensland, 2016–2017, 2019–present), elected at the 2016 election) and retrospectively disqualified in 2017 after being found ineligibile due to his dual citizenship. Re-elected at the 2019 election.
New South Wales
- Senator-elect Heather Hill (Queensland 1998–1999), elected in 1998 and retrospectively disqualified in 1999 after being found ineligibile due to her dual citizenship.
- Senator Len Harris (Queensland 1999–2005), appointed after the disqualification of Heather Hill.
- Senator Brian Burston (New South Wales, 2016–2017), elected at the 2016 election). Resigned after falling out with Pauline Hanson and joined the United Australia Party in 2017.
- Senator Rod Culleton (Western Australia, 2016), elected at the 2016 election) but retrospectively disqualified after being found to have had a larceny charge in New South Wales at the time of the election.
- Senator Peter Georgiou (Western Australia, 2017–2019), appointed after the disqualification of Rod Culleton.
- Senator Fraser Anning (Queensland, 2017–2019), appointed after the disqualification of Malcolm Roberts). Anning left the party the same day he was sworn in and became an Independent.
New South Wales
- Bill Feldman MLA (Caboolture, 1998–2001, formed City Country Alliance in 1999, leader of One Nation in Queensland from 1998-1999)
- Jeff Knuth MLA (Burdekin, 1998–2001; became an independent in 1999, formed Country Party Queensland later that year, and joined the City Country Alliance in 2000, rejoined One Nation in 2014, parliamentary whip of One Nation from 1998 to 1999)
- Dorothy Pratt MLA (Barambah 1998–2001, later Nanango, 2001–2012, became an independent in 1999)
- Harry Black MLA (Whitsunday, 1998–2001, joined City Country Alliance in 1999)
- David Dalgleish MLA (Hervey Bay, 1998–2001, joined City Country Alliance in 1999)
- John Kingston MLA (Maryborough, 1998–2003, became an independent in 1999)
- Shaun Nelson MLA (Tablelands, 1998–2001, became an independent in 1999)
- Jack Paff MLA (Ipswich West, 1998–2001, joined City Country Alliance in 1999)
- Peter Prenzler MLA (Lockyer, 1998–2001, joined City Country Alliance in 1999)
- Charles Rappolt MLA (Mulgrave, 1998)
- Ken Turner MLA (Thuringowa, 1998–2001, became an independent in 1999)
- Bill Flynn MLA (Lockyer, 2001–2004, leader of One Nation in Queensland from 2001 to 2004)
- Elisa Roberts MLA (Gympie, 2001–2006, became an independent in 2002)
- Rosa Lee Long MLA (Tablelands, 2001–2009, leader of One Nation in Queensland from 2002 to 2009, national leader of One Nation from 2004 to 2013)
- Steve Dickson MLA (Buderim, 2017, defected from the Liberal National Party in January 2017)
- John Fischer MLC (Mining and Pastoral, 2001–2005, became an independent in 2004, leader of One Nation in Western Australia from 2001 to 2004, national leader of One Nation from 2002 to 2004)
- Frank Hough MLC (Agricultural, 2001–2005, became an independent in 2004, joined New Country Party later that year, leader of One Nation in Western Australia from 2004 to 2004)
- Paddy Embry MLC (South West, 2001–2005, became an independent in 2003, joined New Country Party in 2004)
- Charles Smith MLC (East Metropolitan, 2017–present, became an independent in 2019)
A 2019 report found that Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party had received over $6,000 in disclosed donations from pro-gun groups during the 2011-2018 period, with concerns these donations threatened to compromise Australia's safety by undermining gun control laws.
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