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Qld elections: Perhaps we need feral PHON

  • 28 November 2017


When is a 'fail' a possible example of a longer-term win? When it's Pauline Hanson's One Nation's (PHON) apparent failure to secure all but one seat in the recent Queensland election.

It wasn't long after the booths closed before I started hearing the refrain that PHON was failing spectacularly at the election. Always interested in predictions about the demise of PHON, I paid more attention.

It appeared to be a re-run of the Western Australia election in March this year where the party received a low percentage of the votes (half of what was expected, given pre-polling) and no Lower House seats. In the Queensland election, PHON is on track to win just one seat when they had talked of winning potentially ten.

It's easy to ridicule Hanson and her party, and many have done and are continuing to do so. After all, they are our resident shambolic political show with a line of defecting MPs, racist stunts and statements, and staff arrests. It can be difficult to accept that such a group can hold a large influence over our voting events.

What is not so easy to dismiss is the fact that PHON candidates were steadily clocking 20-30 per cent support in their seats at the Queensland election. Antony Green's tweet outlined One Nation's overall vote, stating that in the seats they contested, they averaged 20.7 per cent of the vote. That's one in five, and up to one in three, people voting for a party that is proudly anti-Islam.

PHON has at least seven specific objectives addressing Islam in its National Constitution. While the party has dialled back its public attacks on Asian and Indigenous groups, the many references against 'international' influences and 'special benefits' shows that those founding ideals are still very much in the mix.

While their national support base is very uneven, with a heartland concentration in its founding state of Queensland, the party draws sufficient votes to still be considered a third party contender in elections, state-based and federal. Its reputation as a feral political party appears unchanged.


"As much as I wish, along with many others, that the PHON party would cease to exist as a political force, perhaps it is useful to have it serve as a signal of extremist politics."


Yet despite this and the repeated statements that PHON is becoming irrelevant, the party endures and appears to remain the go-to catch-all for disgruntled protest voters.

In February this year,