Pauline Hanson has made comments in the Senate over the racial discrimination act
NATIONALS leader Barnaby Joyce today declared war on One Nation’s “complete mischief and bastardry” amid Coalition fears the far-right party is gaining electoral support.
His comments followed a tactical bungle by Pauline Hanson and Senate colleague Brian Burston last night, which cost the government millions in revenue.
Mr Joyce, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture, accused the renegade party of sabotaging government policies.
“They don’t want a solution right now,” he told Radio National.
“They want to create complete and utter political mischief and bastardry right now. That’s what they want to do.”
He levelled the same charge at Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. But it’s not Labor electoral inroads that are worrying the Nationals leader.
One Nation has threatened to stand 60 candidates at the next state election in Queensland, home of Senator Hanson and party colleague Malcolm Roberts.
And the Nationals, who lost the NSW state seat of Orange recently to a minor shooters and fishers group, is feeling the pressure.
Last night, the government attempted to increase the passenger movement charge on international airline tickets — the so-called departure tax — by $5 to $60. The extra revenue was intended to cover a cut in the so-called backpacker tax, to be debated in the Senate today.
The government sprang a vote on the passenger movement charge just after 7pm but lost it 30-31.
But just after lunchtime on Thursday the passenger movement increase was passed, 35-34.
Last night it failed because Senator Hanson and Senator Burston did not turn up, apparently thinking it was a vote on something else. Coalition senators were not impressed.
The government today could seek a “recommittal” of the departure tax legislation, arguing the vote was the result of a mistake and not a true representation of the chamber.
However, Senator Hanson may have complicated matters by changing her position on the passenger charge, demanding any alteration be set in stone.
“Although the vote was unsuccessful last night, I am hopeful that once it is reintroduced into the (upper) house it will pass with our amendment,” Senator Hanson said in a statement.
“All we want is for the tax to remain steady for five years so the travel and tourism industry has some certainty.”
However, it is unlikely the Labor Opposition will readily agree to it being voted on again.
One Nation is facing its own problems, particularly with the performance of West Australian Rod Culleton. Senator Culleton, who has been accused of owing creditors and has faced a larceny charge, is party spokesman for banking and justice.
However, the High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, is now looking at whether a larceny conviction disqualified him from standing in the July 2 election.
And Senator Hanson had to summon him in imperious fashion to contact her to discuss a letter he had written to a Queensland judge related to the legitimacy of courts.
The legislative battle today will be over proposals to reduce the backpacker tax. The government wants it cut from 32.5 per cent to 19 per cent. Labor and Jacqui Lambie want 10 per cent.
If not resolved in the coming week, the 32.5 per cent tax will continue to operate from January 1.
Pauline Hanson is back, but how did this feisty fishmonger become one of the most divisive politicians in Australian history? This film reveals the inside story of Hanson’s growing prominence and what allowed her brand of politics to flourish.