Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

The Pauline Hanson Debate

Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

The Pauline Hanson Debate

Article excerpt

In 1996, an independent Member of Parliament caused a furore in the Australian media, and shortly thereafter in the Asian media, when she made a speech complaining that major political parties were out of touch with ordinary people, that Aborigines in Australia were too well treated, and that there were too many Asian migrants. She formed a political party called the One Nation Party, which won some seats in the Queensland State Parliament. Her party then imploded and she lost her seat. However, the party polled about 10 per cent of the votes in the Western Australian State election on 10 February 2001, and this set off the debate again. A week later, the party polled well in the Queensland state elections, but not as well as it had in 1998. Pauline Hanson is now back in the news.

What is interesting is how this success was interpreted in Asia. Her support comes from people outside the major cities who believe that city-based politicians take no interest in rural Australia, and from the urban poor who believe that the traditional political parties have let the little people down. Globalization is seen as Darwinian economics, which puts business before people. People who are poor and unemployed are tired of hearing learned professors and politicians telling them that the economy is doing well. …

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