In 1996, newly elected politician Pauline Hanson swept to national prominence after making an extraordinarily racist and inflammatory maiden speech in federal parliament attacking Aboriginal people and Asian-Australians.
In the wake of this performance, Hanson’s entire speech was printed word for word in most newspapers across the country, while for several months she received more media coverage than John Howard, the prime minister – who for his part virtually endorsed Hanson’s views by saying that he understood why people agreed with her. Capitalising on her sudden celebrity status, Hanson announced plans to form a new political party, One Nation, which would have local branches and a mass membership, and polls indicated she would win widespread electoral support.
Anti-racists, however, had other ideas. Huge anti-Hanson rallies were organised in towns and cities across the country, and every attempt to run a public meeting featuring Hanson or to build a local party branch was met with large and militant protests that disrupted and often shut her meetings down. Support for One Nation dwindled and by 1999 the party had collapsed, never to return to its previous strength and prominence.
In this episode we chat with Vashti Fox, a socialist and anti-fascist campaigner, about the extraordinary movement to defeat Pauline Hanson and prevent the formation of a mass, racist party in Australia.
You can read some of Vashti’s work here, and you can view footage of protests against Pauline Hanson below (some of which is fairly biased and unfortunately also features an interview with Hanson).