Pauline Hanson has blown up during a fiery interview on Sky News after One Nation’s election disaster in her home state of Queensland.
Labor Senator Murray Watt, sitting on the Sky News election panel on Saturday, couldn’t hide his amusement as he needled his Canberra colleague over the dismal showing, suggesting she had not done enough to differentiate herself from the Liberal-National Party.
“It’s got nothing to do with whether I vote with the LNP, you’re not in government, you don’t put up the legislation,” she said.
He pointed out that she never voted for Labor amendments.
“Murray, can I draw you back to, on the floor of parliament you actually spoke very highly of me on the work I do as a Senator,” she said.
Mr Watt appeared not to know what she was talking about. “I look forward to seeing that,” he said, laughing.
“You know damn well you said it, it’s in Hansard,” Ms Hanson snapped. “You’re embarrassed.”
Mr Watt continued to prod. “Maybe if you didn’t always vote with the Coalition,” he said.
“What a load of rubbish, Murray,” Ms Hanson said.
The paid began to bicker about their respective primary votes, prompting a grinning Mr Watt to point out that “on these figures you’d have to be worried about your Senate spot, wouldn’t you?”
“Wouldn’t you love to think that, Murray?” the Senator replied.
Commenting on the heated exchange, Labor veteran and fellow Sky News panellist Graham Richardson said it “livens up the evening but as usual with Pauline Hanson you learn nothing”.
Prior to her argument with Mr Watt, the One Nation leader lamented the election result.
“The farming sector has been destroyed,” she said.
“People are not really looking at the impact of putting Labor in for another four years, what it’s going to do for farming sector, border security. They have been bad economic managers of this state. You can’t keep increasing the public service, pay increases, $100 billion debt – something has to give, and it’s going to give in extra taxes.”
Ms Hanson added that if Labor was going to rely on the Greens to form a majority, “heaven help Queensland because I think we’re in for a bad run under Labor”.
The change in tune came just hours after Ms Hanson insisted she was “not terribly concerned” about early returns showing big drops for One Nation in North Queensland.
The Australian reports that the statewide vote for One Nation is down six per cent.
Ms Hanson has been unusually quiet during this election campaign.
The Queensland state election marked a dramatic shift in strategy for a modern force in Australia’s political landscape.
Ms Hanson has been criticised by commentators and academics for drawing less attention to her One Nation Party than she has in previous state and federal polls.
Australians have become accustomed to seeing Senator Hanson on our television screens, fiercely dividing opinions on controversial topics such as immigration and refugees.
But the stalwart’s “presence and profile has diminished in this election”, according to University of Queensland political scientist Dr Glenn Kefford.
Dr Paul Williams from Griffith University said the strategy could be “the beginning of the end of One Nation as we understand it”, as Senator Hanson forgoes political stunts such as wearing a burka in the Senate.
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Instead, the minor party leader has opted for a boots-on-the-ground approach, trekking across the wide expanses of the state to visit as many of the 90 seats One Nation is contesting in Saturday’s election.
Ms Hanson told NCA NewsWire her campaign style hadn’t changed, but she had adopted a different approach to the Queensland regions where One Nation typically gained the most support.
“What I’ve noticed throughout this election is regional media has been cut to the bone by way of staff since the 2017 Queensland election,” the senator said.
“There aren’t the resources in regional TV, radio, or newspapers that there was when I was first re-elected, and therefore media coverage for One Nation has also been limited.”
Ms Hanson said her team had focused on “hitting the ground and speaking with people across the whole state from the most northern parts of Queensland up in the Torres Strait to the very southern parts of Scenic Rim, Condamine and further west”.
This shift in style led to a Courier-Mail analysis piece questioning Ms Hanson’s role, claiming the senator has been “missing in action”.
Polling for One Nation has slipped and political pundits doubt it can repeat the success of the 2017 state election when it polled second in 20 seats after preferences.
Dr Williams said One Nation relied exclusively on Ms Hanson’s profile, referencing the burka in the Senate as an example of her power to generate traction.
“The One Nation vote was really tanking and then she did the burka in the Senate thing and it spiked, a really huge spike,” he told NCA NewsWire.
He said her lower profile had left him “bamboozled”, adding it’s “poor politics on her party’s part”.
Dr Williams also said the minor party could be a victim of circumstances as the coronavirus health crisis and its ensuing economic collapse dominated the needs of constituents.
“One Nation doesn’t campaign on economics anymore, it tends to campaign on cultural matters – immigrants, refugees, gays in schools etc,” he said.
“And when people are worried about where their next meal is coming from, those things don’t matter.”
But Ms Hanson hoped to have the last laugh, insisting the mileage she has racked up over the campaign has her well placed to hold the balance of power in a potentially hung parliament.
“If political scientists want to take off their little white coats and come and walk in my shoes for a week, they would quickly realise I’m nowhere near ready to slow down,” she told NCA NewsWire.
“There’s plenty of unfinished business, and if I want to leave a legacy when I finally do step away from politics, I need to get other like-minded people elected here in Queensland.
“One Nation is the only minor party to successfully grow its numbers across this country over the last 5 years, with members holding the shared balance of power in Western Australia and NSW as well as the federal parliament.
“Rest assured I’m not slowing down or about to hand the reins over anytime soon.”
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