Pauline Lee Hanson (née Seccombe; born 27 May 1954) is an Australian politician and former leader of One Nation, a right-wing political party with a populist, conservative and anti-multiculturalism platform. In 2006, she was named by The Bulletin as one of the 100 most influential Australians of all time.
Hanson was a City of Ipswich councillor in the mid-1990s. Following her disendorsement as the Liberal Party candidate for the federal seat of Oxley for the March 1996 election, she was elected as the independent member in that election. Her profile increased dramatically later that year when she gave her maiden parliamentary speech in which she criticised immigration and multiculturalism, government assistance to Aboriginals and political correctness, and called for a return to high-tariff protectionism.
She co-founded One Nation in 1997, but lost her seat at the 1998 election and subsequently has made several unsuccessful attempts to be re-elected to both federal and state parliaments in Australia.
Hanson was an independent local councillor in the City of Ipswich from 1994 until an early election due to administrative changes in 1995. Narrowly losing her seat, she joined the Liberal Party of Australia and was endorsed as the Liberal Party's candidate for the House of Representatives electorate of Oxley (based in Ipswich) for the March 1996 Federal election. Oxley had once been held by Bill Hayden, and at the time was thought of as a Labor stronghold.
Hayden's successor, Les Scott, held it with a 12.6 percent two-party majority, making it the safest Labor seat in Queensland. Just prior to the election, Hanson made comments to The Queensland Times – a daily newspaper in Ipswich – advocating the abolition of special government assistance for Aborigines above what was available for other Australians. These comments led to her disendorsement by the Liberal Party during the campaign. However, ballot papers had already been printed listing Hanson as the Liberal candidate, and the Australian Electoral Commission had closed nominations for the seat. As a result, Hanson was still listed as the Liberal candidate when votes were cast. Hanson subsequently won the election easily, defeating Scott with 54 percent of the two-party vote—a 19.3 percent swing to the Coalition. Her victory was due in large part to Labor's collapse in Queensland; the party lost all but two of its 13 seats in the state. Due to her disendorsement, she entered parliament as an independent.
In 2006, ten years after her maiden speech, its effects were still being discussed within a racism framework, as well as being included in resources funded by the Queensland Government on 'Combating racism in Queensland'. Also, in December 2006 The Age reported that Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown had labelled Hanson a "bloodsucker" over her suggestion that Africans are bringing AIDS into Australia. She also said she was concerned by the ease with which people were able to gain Australian citizenship, especially Muslims and Africans. She also made claims that "You can't have schools not sing Christmas carols because it upsets others". Liberal Bruce Baird said Hanson had her facts wrong in her suggestions of immigrants bringing disease into Australia.
He also said "Ms Hanson will never let the truth get in the way of a good story". In relation to African immigration, Hanson also said: "Do you want to see your daughter or a family member end up with AIDS or anyone for that matter?". In relation to this, the Federation of African Communities Council said that the group's lawyers were lodging a complaint of racial discrimination with the Australian Human Rights Commission. In 2007, Hanson publicly backed Kevin Andrews, then Minister for Immigration under John Howard, in his views about African migrants and crime.
Hanson contested the electoral district of Beaudesert as an independent at the 2009 Queensland state election. After an election campaign dominated by discussion over hoax photographs, she was placed third behind the Liberal National Party's Aidan McLindon and Labor's Brett McCreadie.
There were conflicting media reports as to whether she had said she would not consider running again. On 15 February 2010, Hanson announced that she planned to deregister Pauline's United Australia Party, sell her Queensland house and move to the United Kingdom. The announcement was warmly welcomed by Nick Griffin, leader of the far-right British National Party (BNP). On 23 July 2010, while at an event promoting her new career as a motivational speaker, Hanson expressed interest in returning to the political stage as a Liberal candidate if an invitation were to be offered by the leader Tony Abbott in the 2010 election. No such offer was forthcoming. In March 2011, she was an independent candidate for the New South Wales Legislative Council in the 2011 state election, but was not elected, receiving 2.41 percent of the primary statewide vote but losing on preferences.
On 7 March 2013 Hanson announced that she intends to stand in the 2013 federal election. She has rejoined the One Nation party and will be a Senate candidate in New South Wales.