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Not to be confused with the One Nation program of infrastructure works carried out from 1991 to 1996 by the Keating Labor Government.
One Nation Party
Leader Pauline Hanson (1997-2003)
Founded April 11, 1997
Ideology Nationalism,
Social conservatism

One Nation is a nationalist and protectionist political party in Australia. It gained 22 percent of the vote translating to 11 of 89 seats in Queensland's unicameral legislative assembly at the 1998 state election and made major inroads into the vote of the existing parties. Federally, the party peaked at the 1998 election on 9 percent but progressively lost ground at the 2001 and 2004 elections.



Pauline Hanson's One Nation was formed in 1997 by Pauline Hanson, David Oldfield and David Ettridge. Hanson, an endorsed Liberal Party candidate for the seat of Oxley at the 1996 federal election, had been disendorsed by the party shortly before the elections due to comments opposing "race-based welfare," made to a local newspaper in Ipswich, Queensland. Oldfield, a councillor on Manly Council in suburban Sydney and at one time an employee of Liberal minister Tony Abbott, was the organisational architect of the new party. He and Ettridge were known as "the two Davids" and were seen as the brains behind Hanson's populist image[1].

The name "One Nation" was chosen to signify national unity, in contrast to a perceived increasing division in Australian society caused by government policies favouring migrants and indigenous Australians. The term was used in British politics (where it is used in a quite different sense: see One Nation Conservatism), but was last used in Australian political life to describe a tax reform package by the Labor government of Paul Keating, whose urban-based, Asia-centric, free-market, and pro-affirmative action policies were representational of exactly what One Nation voters were opposing.

Believing the other parties to be out of touch with mainstream Australia, One Nation ran on a broadly populist and protectionist platform. It promised to drastically reduce immigration and to abolish "divisive and discriminatory policies... attached to Aboriginal and multicultural affairs." Condemning multiculturalism as a "threat to the very basis of the Australian culture, identity and shared values", One Nation rallied against government immigration and multicultural policies which, it argued, were leading to "the Asianisation of Australia." [2] The party also denounced economic rationalism and globalisation, reflecting working-class dissatisfaction with the neo-liberal economic policies embraced by the major parties. Adopting strong protectionist policies, One Nation advocated the restoration of import tariffs, a revival of Australia's manufacturing industry, and an increase in support for small business and the rural sector. [3]

One Nation became subject to a political campaign by Government MP Tony Abbott who established a trust fund called "Australians for Honest Politics Trust" to help bankroll civil court cases against the Party. (see Tony Abbott - Action against One Nation Party) He was also accused of offering funds to One Nation dissident Terry Sharples to support his court battle against the party. Abbott conceded that the political threat One Nation posed to the Howard Government was "a very big factor" in his decision to pursue the legal attack, but he also claimed to be acting "in Australia's national interest".

Electoral performance

One Nation's peak was the 1998 Queensland state election, at which the party won 22.7% of the vote and 11 of the 89 seats. This was more support than received by the Liberal Party of Australia, and third only to the ALP and the National Party. Subsequently, the One Nation contingent in the Queensland Parliament split, with dissident members forming the rival City-Country Alliance in late 1999.

At the 1998 federal election, Hanson, after a redistribution, contested the new seat of Blair instead of Oxley, losing to Liberal candidate Cameron Thompson, and the One Nation candidate in Oxley lost the seat to ALP candidate Bernie Ripoll, but One Nation candidate Heather Hill was elected as a senator for Queensland. Hill's eligibility to sit as a senator was successfully challenged under the Australian Constitution on the basis that she had failed to renounce her childhood British citizenship, despite being a naturalised Australian citizen. The seat subsequently went to the party's Len Harris following a recount. At the 1999 New South Wales election, David Oldfield was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council.

In the 2001 Queensland state election, One Nation won only three seats and 8.69% of the primary vote. The City-Country Alliance won no seats.

At the 2001 state election in Western Australia, One Nation won three seats in the state's Legislative Council. One Nation was unable to obtain any seats in state elections in Victoria, South Australia or Tasmania in the following year.

At the 2001 federal election, the party's vote fell and Hanson failed in her bid to win a Senate seat from Queensland, despite polling a strong 10% of the primary vote. This was largely due to the fact that most other parties were unwilling to favourably preference One Nation, under Australia's preferential voting system. Hanson also failed to win a seat in the New South Wales Legislative Council at the 2003 state election, where she ran as an independent, with the support of the official One Nation party. She polled less than 2% of the vote and subsequently withdrew from the party's leadership.

Internal disputes and decline

Since the 1998 peak, One Nation has been plagued by internal divisions and has split several times. Lawsuits from ex-members forced Hanson to repay approximately AUD$500,000 of public funding won at the 1998 Queensland election amid claims that the party was fraudulently registered. The suits alleged that the party was undemocratically constituted in order to concentrate all power in the hands of three rulers - Pauline Hanson, David Ettridge and David Oldfield (in particular Oldfield), and that it technically had only two members - Ettridge and Hanson.

In October 2000, Pauline Hanson expelled David Oldfield, co-founder of One Nation and the sole representative of that party in the NSW state Parliament. Oldfield had been accused of abusing his authority, usurping power and setting up alternative political parties under his control. His expulsion created even more instability in a party which was constantly embroiled in scandal and internal strife. Oldfield engineered a split within the party, thereby creating One Nation NSW in 2001. The new party took advantage of electoral party registration laws to register itself as political party under the ‘One Nation’ name with the NSW electoral commission, and achieved registration in April 2002. The effect of this was that the original One Nation party was now unable to gain registration for NSW elections, and therefore any candidates which that party chose to represent them at state elections could not use the party name. Consequently, the original One Nation could only contest Federal elections in NSW under the 'One Nation' banner, whilst the Oldfield group could present itself as 'One Nation' only at state elections.

At the 2004 Queensland election, One Nation polled less than 5% of the vote and its sole elected representative, Rosa Lee Long, acted as an independent. One Nation attempted to defend its Queensland Senate seat at the 2004 federal election, but lost it (effectively to the National Party). Len Harris's Senate term expired on 30 June 2005.

On 8 February 2005, One Nation lost federal party status but re-registered in time for the 2007 Australian federal election. It still had state parties in Queensland and New South Wales. Soon after it created another state party in Western Australia. In the February 2005 Western Australian election, the One Nation vote collapsed.

In the 2006 South Australian state election, six One Nation candidates stood for the lower house. Their highest levels of the primary vote was 4.1% in the district of Hammond and 2.7% in Goyder, with the other four hovering around 1%. They attracted 0.8% (7559 votes) of the upper house vote. One Nation consequently won no seats in that election.

In the 2006 Queensland state election, the party contested four seats of the total 89, and its vote collapsed. It suffered a swing of 4.3% to be left with just 0.6% of the vote. Its only remaining seat in the state (and country), Tablelands, was retained with an increased majority by Rosa Lee Long.[4] Tablelands was abolished prior to the 2009 Queensland state election, with Long failing to win the seat of Dalrymple.


During its brief period of popularity, One Nation had a great impact on Australian politics. The appeal of its policies to the National Party's constituency put great pressure on that party. The rapid rise of the party revealed a substantial minority of discontented voters dissatisfied with the major parties. Political commentator B.A. Santamaria attributed One Nation's rise to a "sense of alienation" that many Australians felt towards the political system in the 1990s and the failure of mainstream political parties to respond to this disaffection. [5]

In the prologue to her autobiography "Untamed and Unashamed", Hanson cites the Howard government's adoption of her policies as an attempt to win back One Nation voters to the Liberal and National parties, stating "the very same policies I advocated back then... are being advocated today by the federal government".[6]

Election results

Election Chamber  %

of vote



Queensland state election

June 1998

Legislative Assembly 22.7% 11
Australian federal election

October 1998

House of Representatives 8.4%
Senate 9% 1
New South Wales state election

March 1999

Legislative Assembly 7.5%
Legislative Council 6.3% 1
Victoria state election

September 1999

Legislative Assembly 0.29%
Legislative Council n.a
Western Australia state election

February 2001

Legislative Assembly 9.6%
Legislative Council 9.9% 3
Queensland state election

February 2001

Legislative Assembly 8.7% 3
Northern Territory state election

August 2001

Legislative Assembly 1.3%
Australian federal election

November 2001

House of Representatives 4.3%
Senate 5.5%
South Australia state election

February 2002

House of Assembly 2.4%
Legislative Council 1.8%
Queensland state election

February 2004

Legislative Assembly 4.9% 1
Australian federal election

October 2004

House of Representatives 1.2%
Senate 1.7%
Western Australia state election

February 2005

Legislative Assembly 1.6%
Legislative Council 1.6%
South Australia state election

March 2006

House of Assembly 0.3%
Legislative Council 0.8%
Queensland state election

September 2006

Legislative Assembly 0.6% 1
Australian federal election

November 2007

House of Representatives 0.3%
Senate 0.4%
Western Australia state election

September 2008

Legislative Assembly n.a
Legislative Council 0.6%
Queensland state election

March 2009

Legislative Assembly 0.4%

Members of Parliament



New South Wales


Western Australia


  • For the offshoot One Nation Party in New South Wales see: One Nation NSW
  • One Nation is not to be confused with the One Nation program of infrastructure works carried out from 1991 to 1996 by the Keating Labor Government.


  1. ^ Scott Balson (one Nation Webmaster 1997-99)
  2. ^ One Nation's Immigration, Population and Social Cohesion Policy 1998
  3. ^ Charlton, P. 1998. Full Circle. The Courier-Mail, 13 June 1998.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Santamaria, B.A. 1996. Beware the mass revolt. The Australian. 21 September.
  6. ^ Hanson, Pauline. Untamed and Unashamed, JoJo Publishing, 2007, ISBN 978-0-9802836-2-4

External links


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