Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
One Nation Party
One Nation is a conservative, nationalist and protectionist political group in Australia. After creating a political sensation by winning nearly a quarter of the vote in a Queensland state election in 1998 and threatening to make major inroads into the vote of the traditional conservative parties, One Nation suffered damaging internal conflicts, and by 2005 had ceased to exist as a federal party.
One Nation was formed in 1997 by Pauline Hanson, David Oldfield and David Ettridge . Hanson, an endorsed Liberal Party candidate at the 1996 federal election, had been disendorsed by the party shortly before the elections due to comments against what she saw as "race-based welfare," made to local newspaper in Ipswich, Queensland. Oldfield, a member of the Manly City 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 meant to signify national unity, in contrast to what Hanson claimed to see as an increasing division in Australian society caused by government policies favouring migrants (multiculturalism) and indigenous Australians. The term derives from British politics (where it is used in a quite different sense: see One Nation), 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 savagely rejected by the voters in the 1996 election.
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. At the 1998 federal election, Hanson lost her seat to a Liberal candidate, but One Nation succeeded in electing Heather Hill as a Senator for Queensland, only to see a successful Constitutional challenge on Hill's eligibility to run on the basis that she had failed to renounce her childhood British citizenship, despite being a naturalised Australian citizen. The seat subsequently went to Len Harris. At the 1999 New South Wales election, David Oldfield was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council. At the 2001 election in Western Australia, One Nation won three seats in the state's Legislative Council. One Nation was unable to obtain any seats in Victoria, South Australia or Tasmania.
At the 2001 federal election, however, the party's vote fell and Hanson failed in a bid to win a Senate seat from Queensland. She also failed to win a seat in the New South Wales upper house at the 2003 state election. She then withdrew from the party's leadership.
(For Hanson's subsequent prosecution, conviction, imprisonment and release, see Pauline Hanson.)
Since 1998 One Nation has been plagued by internal divisions and has split several times. Most of the One Nation MPs in the Queensland Parliament left the party and then lost their seats at the 2001 state election. Lawsuits from ex-members forced Hanson to repay approximately A$500,000 of public funding won at the 1998 Queensland election amid claims that the party was fraudulently registered (allegedly having only three technical members - Hanson, Ettridge, and Oldfield) and undemocratically constituted in order to concentrate all power in the hands of the ruling three (in particular Oldfield).
At the 2004 Queensland election One Nation polled less than 5% of the vote and won only one seat. 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 expires on 30 June 2005.
On 8 February 2005, One Nation lost federal party status. It still has state parties in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. In the February 2005 Western Australian election, the One Nation vote collapsed and the party lost its three seats in the Legislative Council.
During its brief period of popularity, One Nation had a great impact on Australian politics. The appeal of its policies to the National Party of Australia's constituency put great pressure on that party. For the rest of Australian politics, the party revealed a substantial minority of discontented voters dissatisfied with the major parties. Prime Minister John Howard's campaigning on issues of "border protection" at the 2001 federal election were widely seen as a successful effort to win One Nation voters back to the Liberal and National parties.
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