About fifteen years ago I spent an inordinate amount of time at One Nation meetings.
The organisation was formed at Sydney’s iconic Rooty Hill RSL, where the parmigianas hang off your plate, and where Pauline Hanson made her first appearance as the party’s national leader before an adoring throng. The adulation was repeated across Australia, at the Gympie Town Hall and Caloundra RSL, in the logging communities of Gippsland, the pensioner enclaves of Bermagui and Batemans Bay.
One Nation received a hefty one million votes at the 1998 election. Its support came from disparate sources – blue-collar voters who disputed the free trade consensus between the major parties, oldies yearning for a whiter Australia – but the political ballast of the party’s support came from tragedy and its aftermath, the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, which prompted John Howard to implement a national guns buyback just two months into his prime ministership.
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