One Nation is a bodice-ripping, shirt-rending, stiletto throwing, screaming, tear-jerking hot mess of a thing. It’s in a state of permanent separation within itself, forever circling the divorce courts and misplacing members of its dysfunctional family.
Pauline Hanson’s latest bout of tears on TV and the follow-up demand for the resignation of one of her dwindling little Senate brood, this time Brian Burston, is merely further proof of her party’s maladjusted nature.
t’s always been teetering on the edge of the precipice, of course, attracted to the depths where darkness lurks.
Back in 1998, you might recall, One Nation shocked the nation by winning 11 seats in the Queensland Parliament. Yes, yes, it WAS Queensland, and no one ought really be shocked at anything that happens there. Clive Palmer, anyone?
But what happened after One Nation won all those seats all those years ago set the tone for everything that would follow. Within a year, One Nation was deregistered as a party, its MPs split acrimoniously – one resigned from parliament, some became independents, some established the so-called City Country Alliance – and the great shining moment dissolved into tears before bedtime.
Since then – and we’ll skate over the years of unpleasantness involving fraud charges, Hanson’s jail time and redemption, the expulsion of her one-time very good friend and colleague David Oldfield – there has only been one federal electoral success of note.
After 13 years in the outer wilderness, Hanson was once again elected by the membership as leader of One Nation in 2014, and began reorganising.
In 2016, she took the grandly titled Pauline Hanson’s One Nation to the election and won four Senate seats, including her own.
The others were Rod Culleton (WA), Malcolm Roberts (Qld), and Brian Burston (NSW). It looked to be a triumph.
Things haven’t gone so well since.
Culleton was stripped of his seat in January 2017 after he was declared bankrupt. For good measure, despite all his theatrical protests, the High Court ruled that his election had been invalid anyway because of a criminal conviction for stealing the keys to a tow truck. Hanson declared Culleton’s departure was good riddance.
The unusual Malcolm Roberts, who declared he was 1000 per cent certain he wasn’t a dual citizen, turned out to hold British citizenship and was given the heave ho by the High Court late last year.
Roberts’s replacement, Fraser Anning, having escaped an ineligibility ruling himself when a bankruptcy action against him was withdrawn, didn’t even make it to the Senate before falling out with Hanson. She issued a statement saying he had “abandoned” One Nation, and Anning responded by accusing Hanson of making his position “pretty much untenable”. He’s now an independent.
And that left Brian Burston as Hanson’s only original Senate colleague.
When Burston broke ranks with Hanson this week and declared he – unlike her – would honour One Nation’s agreement with the Turnbull government and support proposed corporate tax cuts, Hanson went for his throat.
He’d stabbed her in the back, she ranted on TV, adding he’d secretly been trying to join the Shooters Party, which he denied.
“The people of this country don’t even know who the hell Brian Burston is,” she hissed, which surely says something about her recruiting abilities.
And then it was tears, and a soliloquy about how she’s been standing up for the people of Australia because other politicians do nothing, and finally, on Friday, the demand that Burston not only resign from One Nation, but, fancifully, from the Senate.
The precipice and its darkness beckon. Again.