This weekend in Queensland the day of reckoning comes for One Nation and Pauline Hanson.
By Saturday night we should know if PHON is going to remain the leading contender to fill the gaping right-wing hole in Australian politics.
We will know then if the fiery redhead from the north will be able to continue her momentum into the next Federal election.
We will know if it remains possible for One Nation to overcome its [re]birthing pains to create a lasting party of the right, pulling Liberals and Nationals towards sanity just as the Greens pull the ALP to the extreme left.
If Hanson and her Party can score over 15% of the vote, matching or beating their polling averages of the past year, then the Pauline train will continue chugging down the line. If the party faces another disastrous gap between promising polling and underperforming at the ballot box like in Western Australia, then the wheels may very well start to fall off.
If Hanson cannot score 10% of the vote in Australia’s most conservative state then we can only hope Cory Bernardi can harness what remains of the right-wing rebellion that has been spurred by the Turncoat Turnbull’s usurpation of the Liberals.
Watching leftist journalists write ever more frantic stories, as they realise it isn’t the ’90s any more and that people are no longer as quick to believe something simply because it’s printed in the newspaper has been fun. In particular, Amy Remeikis, the Guardian Australia’s political reporter, has barely been able to keep her hate-laden bile from filling her mouth and spilling out onto her keyboard.
Attacking Hanson as the evil witch who wants to throw aboriginal babies off cliffs with red hot pokers in their eyes while laughing maniacally from a blood-stained throne made of veal and baby seals doesn’t cut it any more. The public seem far more awake than they were twenty years ago. One ALP MP and former Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller even made sure to be seen on camera giving a hug, a kiss and a present to Hanson for her new grandson. Try imagining that back in the days when ALP Premier Peter Beattie was railroading her into a jail cell.
Signs look promising. Both the LNP and the ALP in QLD have had a great deal of trouble during this election campaign trying to develop a coherent strategy to deal with the looming tide of orange threatening to break up their cosy little clique.
A keen observer can tell from the way they have studiously avoided attacking Hanson personally [and from the way both parties have tried desperately to remind voters that as a federal leader Hanson isn’t actually standing for election] that their internal polling data suggests that Pauline is more popular in her home state than her party. Both major parties have instead for the most part stuck to the issues, a refreshing change for any Australian election.
At the beginning of the campaign both the red and blue teams tried to motivate their traditional voting bases by wailing about Hanson holding the balance of power. Initial polling data suggested that many rusted on major party voters were indeed concerned about such a scenario but the speed with which both sides dropped that line suggest that even they realise in a compulsory voting system the ability to motivate your base doesn’t really count for much.
The changes in voting rules brought in by the ALP may end up robbing One Nation of a few seats. Hanson herself is cautiously pessimistic stating:
“Even to win one seat is going to be a big win for us in Queensland… I personally think it will be more than that. But it is a start and it is rebuilding the strength of One Nation.”
With all respect to Queensland, whether or not One Nation wins the balance of power or even any seats at all in the State poll isn’t really relevant. What is relevant is their percentage of the vote. A good showing here maintains the momentum nationally and builds for the future. A bad result in Pauline’s own home state could be the beginning of the end. PHON could win no seats at all yet still walk away victorious if they manage a high enough vote across the board.
While a new coal-fired power plant and many of the other policies put forward by Steve Dickson and the rest of the QLD One Nation team would be great steps towards getting Australia as a whole back on the right cultural, economic and political track, it’s the federal pollies we citizens need to have feeling the cold drip of terror sweat running down their spines.
As XYZ writers have pointed out many times, there is no improvement for Australia without radical immigration reform, and that reform can only come at the federal level. Regardless of our personal feelings about the outspoken lady from Ipswich, we had better hope she succeeds not only on Saturday but well into the future. We may not get another chance.