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One Nation Party

The One Nation Party is a conservative nationalist and protectionist political group in Australia. The party was formed in 1997 by Pauline Hanson, David Oldfield and David Ettridge. She had been expelled from the Liberal Party in 1996 shortly before the March federal elections in that year due to comments against race-based welfare she made to a newspaper in her home town of Ipswich, Queensland. Ironically, the name "One Nation" 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 for Aboriginals policies were the very issues that angered Hanson.

One Nation's peak was the 1998 Queensland State Election, at which they won 22.66% of the vote, and 11 of the 89 seats.

Since that time, the party has been plagued by internal divisions and has split several times. Most of their MPs in the Queensland Parliament deserted One Nation and then lost their seats at the following election. Lawsuits from grass-roots members forced Hanson to repay approximately AU $500,000 of public funding won at the 1998 Queensland election because of the way the One Nation leadership set up the organisation, with two separate parties, a secret one with less than 15 members—the leadership and the MPs— which held all power and controlled the money raised by the other, powerless, outer party which ordinary members were allowed to join. Having now repaid the public funding with the help of donations from the general public, Hanson is currently fighting fresh charges to the effect that she pocketed a portion of the money raised and used it for personal gain.

One Nation currently has two Members in the Western Australian parliament, two MPs in the Queensland state parliament, and one Senator. There is also a separate One Nation Party in New South Wales state politics, the One Nation NSW Political Party. It is led by David Oldfield who sits in the New South Wales state upper house.

Whilst the party is now almost electorally irrelevant, its impact on Australian politics was enormous. The popularity of its policies, particularly its agrarian socialism, with 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 by the major parties. According to many on the political left, including many prominent Labor politicians, John Howard's federal Liberal government took advantage of these latent sentiments in 2001 and since with its stance on "asylum seekers" and hawkish attitudes towards war in Iraq, policies that they regard as particularly dirty politics. Whatever the morality of the situation, it was certainly politically effective with what seemed like a doomed government returned comfortably at the polls.

See also: David Ettridge, David Oldfield, John Pasquarelli