After we pretty much turned the clock back twenty years last week with Pauline Hanson’s maiden speech in the Senate, the Prime Minister was quick to distance himself and the government from Hanson and the One Nation Party. But following claims from MP George Christensen, we could be forgiven for wondering just how far apart the government and One Nation really are.

Christensen was quick to praise Hanson after her maiden speech, defending her and echoing aspects of her controversial calls in a speech of his own in Parliament.

By Christensen’s own admission, he got to know Hanson when they were both speakers at anti-Islam Reclaim Australia rallies last year, respecting “each other’s views and have a good working relationship.” The fact that a member of government even spoke at those rallies was questionable enough. But the relationship becomes a bit murkier when you consider their subsequent dealing.

Christensen has admitted that he negotiated with Hanson to avoid having One Nation run someone against him in his seat of Dawson in Queensland, obviously seeking to shore up his position. However the real crunch comes with his latest statements about their relationship. “Obviously, they were not looking at ousting an MP who was advocating the same sort of views espoused by One Nation,” he informed The Australian newspaper this past weekend. “The views of One Nation to a degree are the views of many in the rank and file of the (Liberal National Party).”

We now have a senior member of the Australian government – the Nationals Whip – publicly declaring his support for the views of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party and further declaring that many in our Coalition government also support them. And he has even directly negotiated with her to avoid risking a loss of votes in his own seat.

It is inconceivable that Pauline Hanson and One Nation would agree to not run a candidate in Dawson unless they stood to gain something from such an arrangement. Could it even be that we have a senior member of our LNP government who is now actually working WITH One Nation in some way?

George Christensen and his mate, Pauline Hanson [photo: AAP Mick Tsikas]

George Christensen and his mate, Pauline Hanson [photo: AAP Mick Tsikas ]

Being controversial and a loose cannon is hardly anything new for George Christensen. He has made many wild statements both within parliament and out. During the 2016 election campaign, the Australian Electoral Commission even referred him to the Australian Federal Police over his rash declaration that he would personally donate $12,000 to a Whitsunday turtle sanctuary, but only if he was re-elected. While the AFP did not find evidence to support a criminal investigation, it was Christensen’s foolish directly linking the personal donation to his election campaign which saw him in trouble in the first place.

It is fair to say that George Christensen’s judgement is lacking at times. If it were just a single loose cannon within the LNP ranks, we could dismiss him as a foolish ranter. However he is not on his own. We only have to look at Cory Bernardi to see another wild card. But even more concerning is the Christensen declaration to national media that “ many in the rank and file” of LNP share those views.

Of course we also need to remember that we owe the entire Hanson phenomenon to the Liberal Party. Firstly, Hanson was a member of the Liberal Party branch and held pre-selection for the seat of Oxley in the 1996 election, only having withdrawing just before the election and too late for ballot papers to be changed. Consequently there would have been people in Oxley thinking they were voting for a Liberal candidate but were in fact voting for Pauline Hanson, Independent. Those circumstances gave Hanson a position of influence that she almost certainly would never have achieved off her own bat. It has taken twenty years for Hanson to get back to a position of returning to the halls of power, this time via the Senate, and benefiting by Turnbull’s political machinations in forcing a double dissolution election, where Senators can be elected by far fewer votes than would be the case in a normal half-Senate election.

Questions need to be addressed by Prime Minister Turnbull – does his government contain One Nation sympathisers and potential collaborators or not? Is his coalition harbouring a nest of officials who actually DO want a Pauline Hanson version of Australian? Are members of his coalition normally in that habit of doing deals with One Nation as Christensen must have done?

If Christensen is fair dinkum in his assertion that a significant proportion of LNP support the views of One Nation, then the government of our nation is in serious trouble.

Ross sig

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