Pauline Hanson: First Queensland, then the entire country
PAULINE Hanson's One Nation is launching a bid to boost its influence over the nation in a political offensive stretching from coast to coast, and all signs point to success.
If 2016 was the year of the recognisable redhead's political comeback, 2017 will be when the unique leader really wields her influence and reveals what level of power she's expecting to achieve.
Speaking with news.com.au, Ms Hanson revealed she's planning as far ahead as 2019 when it comes to the party's expansion - a period of time over which One Nation could possibly achieve representation in every Australian state and territory and possibly even a boost at the federal level according to current election schedules.
From the box seat in the Australian Senate, Ms Hanson has announced she will run candidates in next year's Western Australian state election where her party is expected to make a significant impact, particularly when it comes to redirecting preferences.
She's introduced dozens of candidates beginning what's set to be an aggressive, more than year-long campaign seeking seats in the Queensland state election which could be called early next year.
And the influential woman has also announced she'll eye the next Tasmanian state election and eventually run candidates in key seats in western Sydney in the next NSW state election.
Backed by her surprisingly convincing win at the federal election, the highest level of dissatisfaction with major parties the nation has ever seen, and the examples of Donald Trump's election and the Brexit vote buoying her previously unlikely chance at success, Ms Hanson is planning to play hard and watch her rise to power progress.
Ms Hanson says over the next 12 months she's focusing on building the party from a strong foundation.
"If it's anything like the last six months since I've been elected, I know I'm going to be absolutely flat out next year. There's a lot I wanted to achieve," she said.
"We've got potentially three elections in three different states."
Ms Hanson says she wants to build the party slowly, "so it's strong".
"That's very important to me," she said.
But asked at what point she plans on having her party represented all across Australia, she simply replied: "It depends when their elections are coming up".
"The polls are showing we're gaining support across the country, and that doesn't come just by name alone, you've got to put the hard work and yards that you are the alternative and give people, not only hope, but show that you care about their issues," she said.
Commentators have rushed to suggest part of Ms Hanson's boost in popularity can be credited to the US and UK votes that shocked the world this year by turning to alternative leaders and anti-establishment ideals.
But Macquarie University politics lecturer Ian Cook believes that rather than benefiting from them, the One Nation leader can take them as signs her message has a better chance of getting through.
"I don't think she's benefiting so much, they don't increase her chances, but she can look at those votes and determine that it will replicate that pattern over here," he told news.com.au.
Dr Cook says Ms Hanson was "was almost ahead of the game in that sort of conservative populism," and her return to politics has come at the right time.
After a study revealed this week Australians' satisfaction with democracy had plunged to its lowest level since the 1970s, former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said "the winner" to come out of political disengagement would be Ms Hanson.
He also believes it's been long enough since One Nation first appeared on state election ballot papers that the party's disastrous run is almost forgotten. The party's disruptive character remains in people's minds, but its regular infighting and the fraud scandal that brought down its leader are just about forgotten.
"I think the demographic is much the same, I don't think it's drawing from a different set of supporters, but I think people don't have a sense of the history of One Nation," Dr Cook said.
"In 1998, when they got 11 seats in Queensland, they were quite unstable and people don't have that memory of the sort of instability of what One Nation can bring."
Ms Hanson's home state is the one she hopes will be "an example to the rest of the nation".
Announcing 36 candidates to run across the state when it next heads to the polls, Ms Hanson said she was determined to win in every seat she ran candidates in.
The Queensland campaign has had a couple of setbacks already - one candidate dropped out after less than a week after refusing to delete an offensive tweet, and another's comments over "good Asians" stirred controversy only a few days in.
But the Senator is determined the voters she represents federally will support One Nation at the state polls, hoping for a repeat and advancement on the 1998 state election where the fledgling One Nation party scored 11 seats.
Before she plans to take over the Queensland parliament, she's planning to claim seats in the WA state election. Ms Hanson travelled to Perth this week to vet potential candidates who she believes will be able to reduce the major parties' hold on power, particularly the Nationals, in the western state.
Pauline Hanson has a busy agenda in the senate as well as her party's expansion across states. Picture: Gary RamageSource:News Corp Australia
But if voting trends continue along with One Nation's aggressive campaigning and Ms Hanson's effective personal branding, what will happen once the votes start flooding in?
Campaigning to claim a seat in the Senate, Ms Hanson promised to be strong on issues like taking a hard line on immigration and an inquiry into Islam. One Nation's candidates rode on Ms Hanson's name, promises to back an inquiry into banks and talking down climate change.
The state strategies are yet to be seen, and even when those targeted policies are revealed, there's no promising they'll be followed through.
"This is one of the difficulties of One Nation, we don't really have a strong sense of what they'll do if they do get hold of that level of power," Dr Cook said.
"They've never really been able to push a political agenda and when they were in a position to, the party tended to fracture."
Ms Hanson says next she's planning on focusing on issues she hasn't quite got to in her role as Senator. She wants to make changes to the family law courts, halal certification, coal seam gas and continue to support the farming sector, particularly in drought-affected Queensland.
That's on top of heading back and forth to WA to endorse candidates and assist with campaigning for the March election. And if the Queensland election is called in the first quarter of the year as she predicts, being involved in that too.
For Christmas, Ms Hanson would like to rest.