Whatever happened to… the One Nation Party?

Having lost its one remaining Parliamentarian in the Queensland State election last year, the One Nation Party (ONP) nevertheless continues to dribble along. While standing no candidates in the Tasmanian State election, in the South Australian State election last weekend, ONP received 3773 votes (0.5%) in the Legislative Council (Upper House); in 2006, it got 7559 votes (0.8%); and in 2002, 16,829 votes (1.81%). The Party stood no candidates in the Legislative Assembly (Lower House), but stood six in the 2006 election, their most popular candidate (David Kleining in Hammond) receiving 4.1% of the vote. By way of contrast, the Party stood no less than 47 candidates in the 2002 State election (including the APP’s Andrew Phillips in Colton, who received 220 votes or 1.1%), for little return. Further afield, One Nation in Western Australia was deregistered in July 2009; it currently promotes the work of David Duke on The Jew. In Queensland in January 2010 the Party failed to overturn an earlier decision to deregister it, meaning that at present only the Federal party is registered with the state.

Mr Abbott’s pitch, beyond his base, is to a cohort of voters whom Labor secured in 2007, many of them the so-called “Howard battlers”, who in turn emerged from the Hansonites of the late 1990s. This group of Australians can relate well to a straight-talking Opposition Leader prepared to shoot from the hip and take the consequences if things go wrong. Mr Abbott has a keen sense of the anti-big government, anti-elite thinking that runs through Australian society. It was John Howard who at the 1996 election argued that he would govern “for all of us”, subtly exploiting the suspicion of Paul Keating’s interest in Indonesia, Aborigines and French clocks.

Mr Abbott is already dogwhistling on political correctness. His weekend claim that “welcome to country” ceremonies were often just “tokenism” was less about the ritual and more about reminding Australians that his interest in indigenous affairs does not make him a soft touch on black Australia or white guilt.

It is an appeal, however subliminal, to the million or so Australians who voted for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party at the 1998 federal election, many of whom were won back by Mr Howard at the next two polls. By 2007, Mr Rudd’s appeal to “working families”, bolstered by a $30 million ACTU campaign against Work Choices, convinced many of those “Howard battlers” that Labor offered more security for their jobs or the jobs of their children or grandchildren.

Faced with a social conservative in Mr Abbott, the Prime Minister must resist the temptation to move further to the Left and get back in touch with who he really is – a right-wing politician who hooked up with the Labor Left in Victoria in order to gain the leadership. He needs to build bridges back to the the Australian Workers Union in Queensland and sections of the Right that backed Kim Beazley. In short, Mr Rudd should remember Australians elected him in 2007 to be a right-wing Labor Prime Minister. This is the only hope he has of surviving the challenge to his leadership that could come his way after the election, unless he wins in a landslide.

His dalliances with intervention and protectionism must be put aside as the damaging compromises they are. Mr Rudd must know that flirting with the Left is one thing, but his salvation does not lie there. The Left will gravitate instead to his powerful rival, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, already openly touted as the next leader…

Moar later…

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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