It’s make or break time for One Nation and Pauline Hanson

Cartoon by Ryan Fletcher.

The QLD election has been called for November 25th and the results may have impacts well beyond our nation’s banana bending north.

QLD has been a state notorious for the party in power changing electoral rules to suit themselves since back in Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s time.

In April of last year the sitting ALP government shifted the goalposts again to try and outmanoeuvre the Greens who were performing disturbingly well in fashionable inner-city Brisbane. The dodgy move seems to have backfired rather badly, with One Nation in particular set to benefit.

Everyone is terrified of Pauline and her ragtag crew.

The Nationals are blaming the Liberals, with one anonymously telling the Guardian:

“It’s been… the Liberals, They have been running around telling everyone to take her seriously, that she has changed, that she’s a shrewd operator. That it’s different this time. They gave her government funding announcements to make, for Christ’s sake. And now we are fighting her off, and facing returning to government at her bidding, because can you see how we get to 47? Can you see how Labor does it? They have their own battles with One Nation, as well as the Greens. Christ.”

It’s rather rare in today’s Coalition to see the Lord’s name invoked twice in a single rant.

A source inside the QLD ALP blames the Liberals as well:

“The problem is, federally, we have seen Hanson normalised somewhat. It makes it hard to see Brisbane and those outer suburbs reacting the same way to the One Nation threat that they did two decades ago.”

The fear they have smells fantastic, better than the sweetest perfume.

But we’ve been here before, and with Pauline we’ve been here more than once. While this incarnation of One Nation is far more cohesive than its nineties predecessor it remains a cobbled together group of rebels railing against the establishment and as a result lacks stability.

We’ve also more recently seen fantastic polling for One Nation in Western Australia fall apart at the polling booth. QLD is not WA, and I’ve seen first-hand Hanson getting mobbed by supporters in small towns in rural and regional QLD. If a revolution against the establishment is going to happen anywhere it will happen there.

But that’s the problem in a nutshell. If Hanson and her team fail in the fiery redhead’s own home state, the momentum gained from their surprise showing in the last federal election may well be smashed. If One Nation, which is currently polling around 15%, fails to garner at least a tenth of the vote in the most conservative state in Australia then they may not be able to improve their position at the next federal election, which could be held as early as late next year.

Nor will Cory Bernardi be ready to step in and scoop up disillusioned voters on the dissident right. He himself faces a baptism of fire in his own home state of SA with an election called for March next year. Unfortunately for him the unaccountably popular and decidedly oily Nick Xenophon has decided to make the state election a stage to continue the Nick show.

As a result the latest Xenophon party will scoop up a large percentage of the protest vote and a double helping of the press coverage. Cory will be struggling uphill to gain the votes he desperately needs to build credibility for his infant party.

If Hanson fails in QLD the press will shovel the earth on her political grave [while congratulating themselves] and those of us to the right of the Liberal Party will be back in the same unfortunate position as a few years ago, with a multitude of tiny parties screaming at each other in the wilderness.

If Hanson performs as well as or better than expected the train will roll on. Australia desperately needs a single party to pull the Coalition to the right as the Greens pull the ALP to the left. Regardless of anyone’s feelings on the matter One Nation is currently the best chance of achieving that.

One Nation doesn’t even need to pick up the balance of power. It might even be better for their federal performance if they fall short in seats while polling high in votes, thus keeping the rebel outsider tag. A good performance in QLD will set up gains at the next nationwide poll even if the Liberals shuffle the deckchairs and replace the increasingly unsteady Turnbull with UN favourite Julie Bishop.

Hanson has trekked a long journey to get here. Her and her party have fought almost a dozen state and federal elections since her historic House of Representatives maiden speech back in 1996. The media has slimed her and anyone who dares vote for her relentlessly. The far left has shut down her meetings with violence and intimidation, leaving broken bodies of supporters and bystanders bleeding on the ground. The powers that be including then current QLD Premier Peter Beattie and then future Prime Minister Tony Abbott, conspired to have her thrown in a jail cell.

The path has been long and hard. And on November 26th we may very well know if the story of the uppity fish and chip shop owner rebelling against the system has another chapter to go.

For all our sakes we better hope that it does.