America first. That’s the basis upon which Donald Trump was elected to the Presidency of the United States. His commentary resonated with the working man and woman in those US states that have relied so heavily on manufacturing in the past and are struggling to find a new road to prosperity.

But just when you thought America was alone with the ‘me first’ philosophy, think again.

Brexit has proven the British empathise. Nicolas Sarkozy has been defeated in the Republican’s primary race for the Presidency in France. And in my home country, Australia, a movement is afoot that has a similarity to Brexit, Trump and Sarkozy’s defeat. Her name is Pauline Hanson.

Senator Hanson was elected to that position as the leader of her party, a small, right-wing political movement called ‘One Nation’. Despite what you might find on Google, Senator Hanson speaks to what many Australians feel the major parties, both Labor to the left and Liberal to the right, have neglected to consider – the needs of the majority of the voter base.

Senator Hanson speaks to what many Australians feel the major parties, both Labor to the left and Liberal to the right, have neglected to consider – the needs of the majority of the voter base.

And Ms. Hanson has form. She was first elected to the lower house of federal parliament in 1996. More recently, she has been on the fringes of politics, until the federal election in July this year, when four One Nation senators were elected in a swing of popularity.

The One Nation website declares the party to be for “a fair go,” federalism, and freedom of speech, and other basic tenets you’d expect to find on any political party’s website. In essence, they are a right-wing party that’s matured over the past twenty years to the stage they are respected by forward thinkers at least to the extent those thinkers are aware the party will play a role in the political make-up of Australia’s future. Their support lies with the conservative side of the Liberal Party, disaffected National Party voters, and those struggling to see a way forward under either major party.

According to http://australianpolitics.com/2016/07/09/pauline-hansons-one-nation-election-statistics.html, in the recent federal election, in the state of Queensland, One Nation polled 5.48% of the vote. For a party such as One Nation, this was a wonderful result.

The federal election returned the Coalition government to power with a one-seat majority. That is, if one member of the Coalition (Liberal-National) Government were to resign, retire or pass away, a by-election would need to be held. If the Coalition were to lose that by-election, they could lose government. Their main opponent, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) secured their second worst vote in their history, with the swing against the government going to minor parties, like One Nation.

This poses a trend, of sorts, in Australian politics, away from major parties and toward ‘protest parties’. Yet if One Nation can become more than just a protest party they have a strong chance, in the upcoming Queensland state election, of holding the balance of power.

they have a strong chance, in the upcoming Queensland state election, of holding the balance of power.

Just look at what happened in Queensland in 1998. There was an eighteen percent swing away from the government of the day. Yet their major opponent, the ALP, suffered a four percent swing away from them also. The party that gained a swing toward them, the ‘third force’, if you will, was One Nation, with a twenty-two percent swing. This allowed them to secure eleven of the eighty-nine seats, with the ALP finally gaining forty-five in total, a bare majority.

Queensland represents Australia’s version of a Michigan or Wisconsin. If Pauline Hanson’s One Nation can build, both organisationally and in popularity, they may well be able to control who wins government. I see it going something like this.

The State government is ‘on the nose’, so to speak. So too is the opposition. The ALP is in power courtesy of an independent who gives them his vote when needed. The state is in debt, lacking the funds to invest in necessary infrastructure projects. The federal government is politically off-side, and unwilling to find the cash needed to prop up what popularity the state government has left.

            The opposition are out of touch with how the voters think.

The opposition are out of touch with how the voters think. They want to push forward with a plan to ban plastic bags from supermarkets for the benefit of the environment. Such a plan will put not one dollar in the pocket of any Queenslander, except, perhaps, the left-wing environmental lobby. That would create greater antagonism in the mind of the ‘average voter’ as the money to prop up lobby groups comes directly from the hard-working taxpayer.

So One Nation has an atmosphere that is ripe for the picking. It appears their first priority ought to be building up the financial resources of the party, then organising the party in such a way that the people running the campaign have experience and passion. They have already started looking further afield for candidates to stand in various seats, and they are targeting about sixty seats in all. These candidates may come from disaffected members of the major Centre-Right party.

If they succeed, as they are likely to do, it is highly probable they will hold the balance of power in the State of Queensland come post-election. The opposition has already stated they will not negotiate with One Nation. That will have to change if they want to gain power. And the ALP? They are no more tuned in to what the people think than my dog is capable of cooking me a roast dinner.

We live in interesting times. Our Prime Minister recently referred to them as “exciting times.” I didn’t believe him at first. In fact, it sounded false. But, thanks to Brexit, President-elect Trump, the French Republican primary, and Senator Hanson, they are kind of exciting after all, aren’t they?

Now the right have found their voice via the ballot box and that unflinching political system we deride so often called democracy, the time to sit back and accept state-based regulation and nanny-state mentalities is over.

I almost didn’t write this piece. What difference can I make, after all? And then I thought of Edmund Burke, now simply known as a great ‘statesman’. As he once said;

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.

Quite.

Published by Owen Tilley