25 August 2003

Sydney Morning Herald | Don't cry for a sleazy grub:
And for the record, remember that Hanson, when elected to the Federal Parliament in March 1996, did so still as the candidate of the Liberal Party, even though John Howard, in a panic, insisted she be disendorsed after some of her blunt views on Aborigines and Asians surfaced in a local newspaper interview during the campaign. But her expulsion had come too late to affect her official status on the 70,000 ballot papers which already had been printed. And on these she was still listed, on polling day, as the Liberal candidate. The nonsense later that Hanson was elected as an independent has only been just that: nonsense.

The Liberals might have disowned her but she went into the ballot box on polling day as the Liberals' only identified candidate. And that is what got her elected. Thirty-one months later, in the October 1998 general election, Hanson switched from the outer Brisbane seat of Oxley to the nearby seat of Blair under the One Nation banner. It didn't help. She led on primary votes but lost on preferences to the Liberal candidate. In 2001 Hanson ran for a Queensland Senate seat and failed there, too. And in the recent NSW state election she was defeated a third time.

The national convulsion over Hanson's imprisonment shook even the remote fastnesses of the Golden West of New South Wales, where I've been for the last week. The one thing that I suspect has not been said is that if you commit a crime out of sheer idiocy, the forensic tactic is clear - you plead guilty, throw yourself on the mercy of the court, and try to make a case that there are actually people in the world capable of defrauding half a million dollars by mistake.

Hanson always struck me as more a vehicle for disaffection than anything else and the most extraordinary part of the Hanson saga is that the idiocy defence might well have been a true account of events.

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