One Nation is a far-right and nationalist 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.
The name "One Nation" was chosen to signify belief in 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 representative of 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." 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.
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".
One Nation achieved its peak of support in the 1998 Queensland state election, at which the party won 22.7% of the vote and 11 of the 89 seats. In terms of votes One Nation received more then either the Liberal Party or the National Party, and was second only to the ALP. 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 voters of 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.
During its brief period of popularity, One Nation had a major 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.
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".