One Nation (Australia)

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One Nation
LeaderPauline Hanson (1997–2003)
Founded11 April 1997
Social conservatism,
National conservatism,
Politics of Australia
Political parties
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Not to be confused with the One Nation program of infrastructure works carried out from 1991 to 1996 by the Keating Labor Government.
One Nation
LeaderPauline Hanson (1997–2003)
Founded11 April 1997
Social conservatism,
National conservatism,
Politics of Australia
Political parties

One Nation is a right-wing and nationalist political party in Australia. Pauline Hanson founded the party after being elected as an independent due to her disendorsement as the preselected Liberal Party candidate for the Australian House of Representatives. It gained more than 22 percent of the statewide vote translating to 11 of 89 seats in Queensland's unicameral legislative assembly at the 1998 state election. Federally, the party peaked at the 1998 election on 9 percent of the nationwide vote, electing one Senator in Queensland. The party has never approached these heights again, and while it nominally still exists it attracts a negligible percentage of the vote.



Pauline Hanson's One Nation was formed in 1997 by Pauline Hanson, David Oldfield and David Ettridge. Hanson, an endorsed Liberal Party candidate for the seat of Oxley, Queensland at the 1996 federal election, had been disendorsed by the party shortly before the elections due to comments opposing "race-based welfare," made to a local newspaper in Ipswich, Queensland. 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 new party. He and Ettridge were known as "the two Davids" and were seen as the brains behind Hanson's populist image.[1]

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 favouring immigrants and indigenous Australians. The term was used in British politics (where it is used in a quite different sense: see One Nation Conservatism), but was last used in Australian political life to describe a tax reform package by the Labor government of Paul Keating, whose urban-based, Asia-centric, free-market, and pro-affirmative action policies were representative of what One Nation voters were opposing.

Believing the other parties to be 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 government immigration and multicultural policies which, it argued, were leading to "the Asianisation of Australia."[2] 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.[3]

One Nation became subject to a political campaign by Abbott, who established a trust fund called "Australians for Honest Politics Trust" to help bankroll civil court cases against the Party (see Tony Abbott#Action against the One Nation 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.

Electoral performance

One Nation achieved its peak of support in the 1998 Queensland state election, at which the party won 22.7% of the vote and 11 of the 89 seats. In terms of first-preference votes, One Nation received more than either the Liberals or Nationals. However, since One Nation's vote was spread out across the state, this was only good enough for fourth place in the legislature behind Labor, the Liberals and Nationals. This was still enough to deny Labor a majority, as Liberal preferences resulted in One Nation picking up seven seats that would have otherwise gone Labor. Subsequently, the One Nation contingent in the Queensland Parliament split, with dissident members forming the rival City-Country Alliance in late 1999.[4]

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 the 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 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 subsequently went to the party's Len Harris following a recount. At the 1999 New South Wales election, David Oldfield was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council.

In the 2001 Queensland state election, One Nation won only three seats and 8.69% of the primary vote. The City-Country Alliance won no seats.

At the 2001 state election in Western Australia, One Nation won three seats in the state's Legislative Council. One Nation was unable to obtain any seats in state elections in Victoria, South Australia or Tasmania in the following year.

At the 2001 federal election, the party's vote was halved, from nine percent to 5.5 percent. Hanson failed in her bid to win a Senate seat from Queensland, despite polling a strong 10% of the primary vote. This was largely due to the fact that voters of most other parties were unwilling to favourably preference One Nation, under Australia's single transferable vote voting system. Hanson also 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 official One Nation party. She polled less than 2% of the vote and subsequently withdrew from the party's leadership.

Internal disputes and decline

Since the 1998 peak, One Nation has been plagued by internal divisions and has split several times. Lawsuits from 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 rulers—Hanson, Ettridge and Oldfield (in particular Oldfield)—and that it technically had only two members: Ettridge and Hanson.

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. 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, thereby 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.

At the 2004 Queensland 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 re-registered in time for the 2007 Australian 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 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.[5] Tablelands was abolished prior to the 2009 Queensland state election, with Lee Long failing to win the seat of Dalrymple.

In the 2012 Queensland state election the party unsuccessfully contested 6 seats. The party received only 2,525 first preference votes (representing 0.1 of a percent of the total cast) across the state.[6]


During its brief period of popularity, One Nation had a major impact on Australian politics. The primary effect at both state and federal levels was to split the conservative vote and threaten the National Party's support base.[4] 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 minority 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".[7]

Election results

ElectionChamber %

of vote



Queensland state election

June 1998

Legislative Assembly22.7%11
Australian federal election

October 1998

House of Representatives8.4%
New South Wales state election

March 1999

Legislative Assembly7.5%
Legislative Council6.3%1
Victoria state election

September 1999

Legislative Assembly0.3%
Legislative Counciln.a
Western Australia state election

February 2001

Legislative Assembly9.6%
Legislative Council9.9%3
Queensland state election

February 2001

Legislative Assembly8.7%3
Northern Territory state election

August 2001

Legislative Assembly1.3%
Australian federal election

November 2001

House of Representatives4.3%
South Australia state election

February 2002

House of Assembly2.4%
Legislative Council1.8%
Queensland state election

February 2004

Legislative Assembly4.9%1
Australian federal election

October 2004

House of Representatives1.2%
Western Australia state election

February 2005

Legislative Assembly1.6%
Legislative Council1.6%
South Australia state election

March 2006

House of Assembly0.3%
Legislative Council0.8%
Queensland state election

September 2006

Legislative Assembly0.6%1
Australian federal election

November 2007

House of Representatives0.3%
Western Australia state election

September 2008

Legislative Assemblyn.a
Legislative Council0.6%
Queensland state election

March 2009

Legislative Assembly0.4%
South Australia state election

March 2010

House of Assemblyn.a
Legislative Council0.5%
Australian federal election

August 2010

House of Representatives0.2%

Members of Parliament


New South Wales


Western Australia



  1. ^ Scott Balson (one Nation Webmaster 1997-99)
  2. ^ One Nation's Immigration, Population and Social Cohesion Policy 1998
  3. ^ Charlton, P. 1998. Full Circle. The Courier-Mail, 13 June 1998.
  4. ^ a b Wanna, John (2003). "Queensland". In Moon, Campbell; Sharman, Jeremy. Australian Politics and Government: The Commonwealth, the States and Territories. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. pp. 92. ISBN 0521825075. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "2012 State General Election - Election Summary". Electoral Commission Queensland. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  7. ^ Hanson, Pauline. Untamed and Unashamed, JoJo Publishing, 2007, ISBN 978-0-9802836-2-4

Further reading

External links