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Pauline Hanson’s United Australia Party
|We’ve got the guts to say what you’re thinking
If you want to change the government, change who you send there
|Oppose vaccine mandates. Reduce immigration. No Net Zero. Protect and restore “the individual rights and fundamental freedoms of all Australians”.
|Upper House: Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria & Western Australia
Lower House: Barton, Bass, Bendigo, Berowra, Blair, Bonner, Bowman, Braddon, Burt, Calare, Capricornia, Casey, Chifley, Cook, Cooper, Cowan, Cowper, Corio, Cunningham, Dawson, Dickson, Dobell, Durack, Fadden, Fairfax, Fisher, Flinders, Forde, Forrest, Fowler, Franklin, Fraser, Gippsland, Goldstein, Groom, Hinkler, Hume, Hunter, Indi, Isaacs, Leichhardt, Lilley, Lingari, Longman, Lyne, Lyons, Macarthur, Maranoa, McEwen, McPherson, Melbourne, Monash, Moncrieff, Newcastle, Nicholls, Paterson, Pearce, Rankin, Robertson, Scullin, Shortland, Spencer, Warringah, Wide Bay & Wright
The website proudly proclaims that One Nation will be standing in all 151 Lower House seats across Australia, so presumably there are still some candidates to be announced.
|One Nation’s How-to-Vote card is frustratingly opaque. Rather than name parties, it advises voters to vote for the alphabetical letter designated on the ballot. In Victoria, that means the Australian Values Party is number 2, followed by the Liberal Democrats and United Australia Party. Shooters, FIshers and Farmers, and Australian Federation Party round out the top 6. The other states have the Liberal Democrats at number 2, and IMOP gets a look-in in Queensland at number 5. The exception is Tasmania, who places Independents Day and Amadino ahead of the Liberal Democrats. In Western Australia, Australian Values Party is number 2.
|2019 — 2013 — 2010 — all these are on Cate Speaks
Policies & Commentary
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (hereafter abbreviated to PHON) is the latest iteration of the party created by Pauline Hanson after being disendorsed by the Liberal Party back in 1996. Since then, she and her candidates have had something of a rollercoaster ride in Australian politics, virtually disappearing for nearly a decade before making a return to the stage in 2016 with Hanson – its only currently sitting member – installed as both the face and voice of the party. By far its most consistent success has been in Queensland, but in this election PHON is standing candidates all over the country.
Originally a near single-issue party campaigning on a virulently anti-Asian immigration platform, it has broadened its policies considerably. Perhaps the best thing I could say about this is that their policy statements now look slightly less like a Letter to the Editor from “Concerned of Toorak”, and more like the kind of pseudo-scientific, long-bow twaddle being touted by conspiracy theorists everywhere.
Their website highlights four main policies on its landing page, ranked in priority order from 1-4. These aren’t the only policies PHON has put up, but the rest are relegated to a different page, so let’s take a look at the Big Four.
Priority One is Covid-19 policy. Specifically, PHON flatly opposes any form of vaccine mandate. No ifs, no buts, no exemptions. Hanson has been loudly vocal on this subject, bringing a bill aiming to end all mandates to the floor of Parliament, The bill was overwhelmingly defeated, although five Coalition Senators caused a storm by crossing the floor to support it.
Although the policy isn’t specifically anti-vaccination, Hanson and many of her candidates have expressed strong beliefs to this effect, even addressing so-called ‘Freedom Rallies’ on the subject. Hanson is on record as claiming, in the same breath, that she is both not an anti-vaxxer, and that she won’t “put that shit in my body” because she wants to stay healthy. The recent enlistment of George Christensen (whose furious opposition to both mandates and vaccines in general is infamous) as the third candidate on PHON’s Queensland Senate ticket, tends to strengthen the impression that the party’s anti-mandate policy contains a lot more than the few lines on the website.
Hand in hand with that is PHON’s call for a Royal Commission into how various governments have managed their pandemic response. The party wants this enquiry to have sweeping powers to haul representatives from governments at federal, state and territory levels up before a panel to explain each and every decision that was made, and to compel them to table all “scientific evidence” they used to do so. In other words, to prove PHON’s long-touted belief that lockdowns,masks, etc., were entirely unnecessary. Although the website states that the purpose of this proposed Royal Commission is not to “lay blame or find scapegoats”, the language makes it very clear that PHON believes the pandemic was mismanaged by everyone (except them, of course, but honestly, Pauline tried, she really did)..
There’s also this statement they present as a reason for the necessity of a Royal Commission, which I have to admit, rings a few alarm bells for me:
“While we acknowledge that people have died from COVID, there is a noteworthy difference between ‘died of’, versus ‘died with’.”
The strong implication – backed up by statements from Hanson and Christensen – is that governments have grossly inflated the numbers of deaths, and that the “real” number is far lower. Never mind that, across the board, epidemiologists and public health officials have confidently stated that deaths are more likely to be far higher, based on a number of factors like poor reporting and unexplained death reports from areas that are less rigorous about determining cause of death.
Given these sentiments, it’s not hard to see how this Royal Commission would quickly devolve into a partisan witch hunt aimed at ‘proving’ PHON’s baseless claims.
Priority Two is titled ‘Multinational Taxation’. Its first statement, however, is to pledge to oppose any increase in the GST. Given that there is no imminent threat of this, it’s difficult to see how this policy would have any real effect. Likewise, their stated opposition to the reintroduction of death duties is without foundation. Really, these are just vague statements aimed at catching the attention of older voters.
When we finally get to multinational taxation, the policy is one sentence: a pledge to make multinational businesses operating in Australia pay their “fair share” of tax. Very few Australians are going to argue with this idea – who doesn’t want to see Amazon and Microsoft and the rest slammed with a big fat bill to swell our national coffers, after all. PHON’s policy is devoid of detail, though, really only a motherhood statement.
Priority Three brings us squarely into Hanson’s original area of concern, immigration. The new policy, however, goes much further than anything previously proposed. PHON wants zero net migration. This, they argue, will have amazing benefits for the country. For evidence, they point to how much less congested traffic was while our borders were closed.
No, I’m not kidding.
They also claim that closing the borders “allowed Government services to focus on Australians.”
Where do I start with this? These claims are utterly absurd. It wasn’t the closure of international borders that reduced traffic congestion, it was lockdowns – the very measures PHON asserts were so terrible that a Royal Commission is required. As for allowing government services to focus on Australians? PHON would have you believe that deserving Australians miss out because people who aren’t ‘us’ come into the country. There are no specifics, of course – “government services” is a wonderfully vague term, that could encompass everything from welfare to education to the first homeowners’ grant.
That’s nothing more than an extremely loud and extremely racist dogwhistle. There is no evidence – none – that Australian citizens are deprived of government services due to the presence of immigrants.
PHON grudgingly allows that some skilled migrants could be allowed, but only if they are “highly” skilled and can speak English well. They wind up with an exhortation that universities shouldn’t be “back doors” to immigration. Again, there’s no evidence that this is happening at all, let alone to the extent that harsh measures need to be introduced.
All in all, PHON’s immigration policy can be summed up as a hardening of the already extreme alarmist, racist rhetoric with which Hanson and her party have become synonymous.
Curiously, the lowest of PHON’s Priority suite – Family Law and Child Support – is where we find some practical policies. They support grandparents’ rights in the case of family breakdown, an area that historically has been overlooked. They also suggest the child support system be changed to directly benefit the child, rather than the ex-partner – although it’s not entirely clear how they suggest this should be done. There’s also the implication here that under the current system, parents in receipt of child support deprive their children of the benefit of child support payments – again, without any evidence offered to prove this.
Their policy of making the Family Law system fairer seems to come down to financial expense. Under the current system, going through the courts in order to settle questions of custody can be prohibitively expensive, and the parent with the money can gain an unfair advantage by securing strong legal representation which is simply beyond the means of many, if not most, people. In calling for a level playing field, PHON highlights an often overlooked policy area. That this comes as Priority Four on their ticket, however, suggests the party regards it as far less important than its proposed Royal Commission into How Everyone But Us Screwed Up the Pandemic.
The bulk of PHON policies are listed on a separate webpage. And here, we find some of the most hardline stances.
On the environment, PHON is all over the place.
They’re committed to building new water infrastructure, which parts of Australia desperately need, and to increase supply to farmers (although this isn’t without its complications, given the ongoing tussle between farmers’ irrigation needs and environmental needs). But then there’s this. PHON pledges to legislate “full disclosure” of water ownership. This seems linked to a belief that there is a need to ban water sales to foreign investors altogether. The Productivity Commision, in 2021, investigated this issue and found that foreign ownership of water was well-regulated, with mandatory reporting to the Australian Taxation Office. Any inaccuracies, it said, were likely to be inadvertencies rather than deception. The Commission’s draft report also noted that farming and mining interests, which hold the bulk of water entitlement, do not regard foreign investment in water with much concern.
Do you hear the dogwhistle?
On the question of climate change, PHON’s policy comes down to one line: withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The entire rest of the section is given over to a full-throated manifesto-bordering-on-rant about human-induced climate change (spoiler: it doesn’t exist), a dismissal of all scientific proof on the subject (look, sometimes a temperature rise is just a volcano, okay?), and an assertion that it’s simply not possible to declare the climate is changing (because, apparently, we have no past records of temperatures). Back in 2010, as Cate reported, the language on climate change was brief and inflammatory. Global warming was a “swindle”. Now, they’re attacking the science itself. With some of the wackiest pseudo-science I’ve heard since people decided that Al Gore was a communist who hated oil.
PHON proudly states it is the only party to “question” climate science. That’s inaccurate in two ways. Firstly, it’s not the only party running on this agenda (the United Australia Party, for one, is equally deluded on the subject – but more of them in another post). Secondly, it’s not questioning anything. It’s denying.
Although included under a separate section on “Energy and Cost of Living”, the following policies directly impact the environment, so I’m going to deal with them here.
PHON pledges to build “new low-emission coal-fired power stations”, and to investigate nuclear power as an energy option. They characterise solar and wind power investment as “waste”, with Australian money being funnelled to foreign-owned companies. And they want to exploit Australia’s natural fuel resources (oil in particular), and establish onshore refining for domestic supply only.
Now, sure, it’s estimated we have enough oil reserves to more than cover our current annual consumption. The process of refining, however, is dirty, contributing a third of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions. And those low emission coal-fired power stations? Are still twice as dirty as gas-fired power plants, and 50-100 times higher than renewables or nuclear. But let’s not forget, PHON denies climate change altogether. If you don’t accept that the climate is changing, why not build more fossil fuel power plants? Why not pump more oil out of the ground? Heck, let’s burn down the forests! Dump toxic waste into the rivers! Whee!
Okay, that last was an exaggeration, but really, this is what follows from the kind of ideological stance PHON is taking here.
On refugees, PHON calls for Australia to withdraw from the UN Refugee Convention, and for a reduction in intake for the next five years. Quite how far this reduction should go is left unspecified, but, given the rest of its policy, one could be forgiven for thinking the number they’d be happiest with is “zero”. They claim that Australians are being deprived of essential services because we spend too much on refugees: however, they don’t provide any evidence that this is happening. Instead, they point to the cost of keeping the dwindling number of asylum seekers on Nauru. The notion that abolishing offshore detention and processing asylum seekers onshore (either in detention or in the community) appears not to have occurred to them.
Getting deafened by that dogwhistle yet?
Employment is one area where some solid policy appears. PHON wants to increase the apprenticeship scheme, subsidising wages by 75% in the first year, 50% in the second, and 25% in the third. They also want to link the program with infrastructure projects such as rail and roads. On the face of it, this is an excellent policy that supports young people who wish to pursue this career path. This begs the question, however, of the low unemployment rate, and employers’ complaints that they aren’t looking for new apprentices, they’re having a problem finding already skilled workers.
PHON also opposes casualisation of the workforce, an increasing problem in Australia. Which, you know, I agree with in principle. Without any detail, though, it’s impossible to review their policy.
Standing proudly alone on its own page is a call for Citzen-Initiated Referenda. The idea is we don’t leave it to governments to make laws, we do it ourselves. On its face, this isn’t without its attractions. Wouldn’t it be nice, for example, if we hadn’t had to go through that farce of a postal survey in order to get marriage equality because the major parties had blocked every attempt to get it through the Parliament until then? Or maybe we could do something to support small business through tax breaks?
But hang on a sec. There are real problems with citizen-initiated referenda. Firstly, they can theoretically be brought on any issue, no matter how major or trivial. Secondly, they benefit interest groups with money and influence. In California, we saw this with Proposition 8, a citizen ballot created and promoted by opponents of same-sex marriage, aimed at banning marriage-equality through constitutional amendment. A staggering amount of money was poured into the campaign, resulting in the disenfranchisement of thousands of citizens. In practice, such referenda are fraught with problems. PHON hasn’t even acknowledged that, let alone provided some practical solutions.
After spending so much energy on covid-19, it’s perhaps not surprising that PHON’s broader health policy is, well, limited. But it’s actually a good one. They want to address the chronic shortage of medical personnel, particularly in rural and remote regions, by establishing a system of “three-year contracts for newly qualified medical professionals and in return pay their HECS-HELP loans in full”. If only their other policies were half as coherent or as practical.
PHON’s Education policy is a dilly. It manages to be so completely contradictory that it cancels itself out.
On the one hand, PHON is all about getting that “Western, white, gender, guilt shaming” out of the classrooms. Let’s get some “merit-based free thinking” going. By “free thinking”, of course, they mean anything that doesn’t even smell like it might be “woke”. Hanson’s on record condemning everything from sex education that mentions same-sex attraction or trans identities, to teaching kids our horrific history of murder and attempted erasure of indigenous people.
On the other, PHON wants to “restore critical thinking”. Which would encourage kids to question what they’re told, read widely and research deeply, and evaluate the narratives with which they’re presented using basic tools of analysis and logic. The kind of “free thinking” that PHON really doesn’t want to encourage. All in all, then, their Education policy is a zero-sum game.
And now the social policies. Hang on to your hats, it’s gonna be a wild ride.
First up, PHON wants to increase by $100 per week the income threshold at which pensions start being cut. Seems very sensible – although it completely ignores the fact that the major problem with pensions isn’t how much work people are allowed to do, but that the pension is deliberately designed to keep recipients below the poverty line. PHON are also opposed to raising the aged pension eligibility age to 70 – again, a sensible policy.
Oh, you didn’t think you’d get away without a dogwhistle in this policy, did you?
PHON proposes to restrict eligibility to the pension to newer Australians. Unless you’ve lived and worked here for at least 15 years, no pension for you. In other words, no money-grubbing foreign types who might be near retirement age or disabled or single parents should be taking ‘our’ pensions, thank you very much.
And while we’re on the subject of underhanded money-grubbing furriners, take a look at their ‘Stop The Rorts’ policy. Don’t get excited. It’s got nothing to do with car parks, or pork barrelling, or anything remotely resembling a federal anti-corruption body. No, it’s all about the scourge of welfare and Medicare fraud – a scourge, naturally, that PHON claims is perpetrated by “non-Australian citizens”.
They took our jobs! They took our pensions! They took our healthcare!
Real talk here. As recently as March this year, a comprehensive review into this issue of Medicare fraud found that it was indeed “rampant” – but among providers, not recipients. Practitioners bulk-bill their patients and make them pay a ‘gap’ or ‘private’ fee – an illegal practice that vastly overinflates the real figures on bulk-billing. So what PHON is proposing is a solution in need of a problem.
And what a solution. PHON wants Medicare cards to become photo ID. Why? So that dastardly foreigners can’t steal cards and pretend to be law-abiding Australians, of course. Never mind that the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has specifically stated to a Senate committee that such a measure might well increase fraud.
‘Stop the Rorts’ also, apparently, means restricting unemployment benefits to a period of no more than three years in any given five year period “to end long-term unemployment payments to those under the age of 50”. Really, do I need to spell out how bad this policy is?
And, lest you think that disabled people get a free pass from PHON, the party thinks they’re rorting the system, too. It pledges to ban NDIS participants from seeking funding for sex worker services. Understand, we’re not talking about disabled people cruising the streets in their motorised wheelchairs looking for a quickie – “sex worker” in this context includes therapists, as well as sex workers who aim to provide access to a quality of life most of us take for granted, but which is out of reach for many disabled people simply because they are disabled. PHON, apparently, believes that’s just tough. So sad, too bad, no sex or masturbation for you. Go away and be disabled somewhere else and stop trying to have a ‘real’ life.
(Why, yes, I am utterly disgusted by this policy. Talk about punching down.)
Firearms ownership is a bit of a surprise, given PHON’s history of currying favour with the US’ National Rifle Association. They don’t want current laws relaxed, merely preserved. And when it comes to firearms trafficking and gun crime, they want laws strengthened. Tougher penalties, stronger border security.
What do you know? They actually have a policy that I like.
But I’ve saved the best for last. And by “best”, I mean, “arguably most inhumane, deceptive, inflammatory, and cruel”. PHON has an Abortion policy, I mean a “Pro-Life” policy. It’s the single most comprehensive policy of the lot, with detailed objectives. That speaks volumes about how much weight they give this issue – and raises the question of why, if it is this important, it’s not highlighted as a Priority Policy.
A cynical person might conclude that’s because PHON knows darn well this policy would be a decisive factor in a person’s decision whether to support them, and is hiding it so that only those already inclined to do so would go looking for it.
Okay, so first we have the motherhood (pun definitely intended) statement. They’re not beating around the bush. They start with the “scientific fact” that life begins at conception. Strike one. It’s not scientific fact at all, especially not with a fuzzy term like that. Then they claim that in Australia, abortion is legal “up until birth for any reason”. Strike two. This is simply not happening – no jurisdiction in Australia allows it. With the exception of the ACT, abortion is severely restricted beyond a certain point (16 weeks in Tasmania, 24 in the Northern Territory and Victoria). Two medical doctors must provide recommendations. Finally, they exclusively use the term “baby” to describe any pregnancy, no matter what stage of gestation. Strike three. It’s nothing more than a blatant appeal to emotion by obscuring the issue. So even before we get to the policies, we can see how PHON is not the slightest bit concerned with anything remotely resembling reality.
Then there are the specific policies. No sex-selective abortion. PHON alleges this will save female foetuses which would otherwise be aborted by couples seeking to have only male children. Couples, I hardly need add, from ‘other’ (read: foreign and therefore Not Us) cultures. The policy, however, completely ignores the fact that in many jurisdictions, sex-selective abortion is already banned except in cases where the foetus’ sex is linked to life-threatening genetic disorders or similar medical issues (in which case, really, the foetus’ sex is a secondary consideration).Nor does PHON call for an end to sex-selective IVF, which has been shown to be a significant issue.
They also want mandatory counselling for any woman seeking an abortion, “Doctor’s Rights” to refuse to refer a patient for an abortion, general anaesthetic for all abortions (one hopes they don’t expect a woman taking the morning-after pill to be sedated at the time),and mandated data reporting. This last is particularly egregious, since PHON bases its policies on claims of knowledge of terrible practices being widespread, but at the same time claims no one knows the ‘real’ story.
But the worst of these policies are both based on terrible myths imported from the USA’s most rabid anti-abortion activists. And fair disclosure, these policies make me boiling mad, because they are so dishonest and so dangerous to women.
I can’t state this more clearly: THESE POLICIES ARE BASED ON LIES.
The first is the ‘born-alive’ myth – the claim that in late term abortions, babies are ‘born’, then left to die horribly. These ‘children’, PHON says, should be given every life-saving measure possible. George Christensen (remember him? PHON’s star recruit?) tried to bring a bill on this in 2021, making outrageous statements that “babies are left to gasp for breath until they die”.
Torey Shepherd wrote an excellent article debunking the ‘born-alive’ myth in Crikey in 2021. Briefly summarised, nothing of the sort is taking place in Australia. PHON’s claims are based on nothing more than imported propaganda and a wilful misinterpretation of a single study of 27 terminations.
The other myth is the ‘baby organ harvesting’ myth. Yes, you guessed it – PHON claims that organs from aborted foetuses are routinely harvested for purposes unspecified, but undoubtedly nefarious. And if you picked up a whiff of Qanon nonsense in there, you’d be right. Again, it’s based on wilful misinterpretation of the facts. A small amount of foetal tissue is sourced from terminations that are already taking place, and used for medical research into a variety of diseases and disorders; however, this is by no means the norm. Only a handful of researchers are permitted to use foetal tissue, and it’s subject to very strict guidelines. PHON, however, would have you believe that some kind of wholesale slaughter of babies in order to get their precious, precious organs is going on.
The entirety of their abortion, sorry “pro-life” policy is nothng more than a pointless pledge aimed at doing nothing more than restricting (and eventually, banning altogether) women’s reproductive choices, based on lies. Including yet another racist dogwhistle.
So there you have it. The whole sorry suite of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation policies. Entrenched racism. Climate denialism. Wholesale dismissal of science, and deliberate misrepresentation of fact. This isn’t just ignorance or different ideologies. Like Cate, I think they are thugs, and I think they are evil. They’ve bought themselves a place at the bottom of my election preferences, and they’ll stay there unless – heaven forbid – someone worse comes along.
Just a reminder that Loki and I lack the necessary Eurovision knowledge to choose the songs that Catherine liked to include, but we’d love to see what you suggest in the comments below 🙂