Pauline Hanson met supporters at the politics in the pub event on Australia Day in Buderim. (ABC News: Caitlyn Gribbin)
Pauline Hanson insists One Nation is capable of running a government, as her party prepares to contest the West Australian and Queensland polls, due within the next year or so. But how prepared is One Nation to govern, who are Senator Hanson’s supporters and what do voters think they’re buying from her?
Cafe owner Gary Morris prefers things old-school. His cafe in Laidley, an hour’s drive from Brisbane, transports diners back in time with its 1950s music. It’s also a hub for local workers.
“I have old-fashioned values, Aussie jobs for Aussie kids,” Mr Morris said.
Laidley Eagle Rock Cafe owner Gary Morris is a staunch One Nation supporter. (ABC News: Caitlyn Gribbin)
He wants politicians to focus on similar issues and thinks he’s found the answer.
“Pauline is selling a future for Australia where we’re not governed by the interests of big business and political parties furthering their own agenda.”
A former Labor loyalist, Mr Morris lives in One Nation heartland, where more people support the party than anywhere else in the country.
He says he’s abandoned the established political parties in favour of one that has great ambitions, even if it doesn’t wield any real power in a Government.
“In the case of the Labor Party and all the major parties, I think they’ve lost their way, they are so out of touch with the man on the street.”
He’s not alone. Once you get out of the big cities, it’s not hard to find people warming to Senator Hanson’s style. Not everyone agrees with all her views, but her plain speaking on immigration does resonate and people feel like she’s standing up for their jobs and their towns.
Ms Hanson isn’t afraid to pick a fight with the major political parties, but some supporters concede One Nation may not quite be up to running a Government.
“They may not have not have the people in the party at the moment but by the time it came to that I’m sure they would,” supporter Pam Thorley said.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said One Nation’s plan was ambitious.
“You’ve actually got to run the country, it’s not just, you know, a soap box to say the issue of the day. You’ve actually got to run a department, balance the books,” he said.
Queensland Education Minister, Labor’s Kate Jones, argued One Nation’s policies would not deliver employment opportunities.
“Our focus is on jobs and job creation of Queensland. Banning a burqa does not create new jobs in Queensland,” she said.
Ms Hanson said One Nation is campaigning to win the next Queensland election and insisted her party was capable of running the state’s health, transport and education departments, for example.
“Oh listen, don’t talk about transport system, the trains shut down here they didn’t have the drivers. Then we had the health problems they weren’t even getting the pays right,” Senator Hanson said.
“So it’s about time someone took over the reins, maybe we can deliver far better services.”
Political analyst Geoff Cockfield is based in the regional Queensland town of Toowoomba, at the University of Southern Queensland.
He said One Nation could have more success in regional areas in upcoming polls, but warned they don’t have much power yet.
“One Nation, even with a good Senate result, doesn’t hold the balance of power in their own right so they are a player but they aren’t the only player,” Professor Cockfield said.
Senator Hanson has promised to curb Muslim immigration and ban the burka, but Professor Cockfield said that does not necessarily translate to political success.
“Whether those are policies that ever have any outcome who knows, but that doesn’t particularly matter because that’s not the design of them.”
There’s another group of people following One Nation closely.
Grain grower Wayne Newton, a more “centre-leaning” voter, farms near Dalby on Queensland’s Darling Downs. It’s a pretty safe LNP area, but many feel ignored by the major parties.
Wayne Newton fears his concerns are being ignored by major parties. (ABC News: Caitlyn Gribbin)
“It’s almost like we’re not to be worried about at the moment, either side knows who we’re going to vote for so that’s the end of the matter, let’s move on,” Mr Newton said.
“Whereas you actually go to those seats that are in much closer balance, well they do listen a lot more to the people in those seats. They do consider a lot more of what they’re asking for.”
Senator Hanson will try to capitalise on that voter frustration, as she continues her state campaigns while balancing her responsibilities in federal politics.