Pauline Hanson calls herself an outsider who stands up for “ordinary Australians” against the elite.
The “Battler Bus” she drove around during the 2017 Queensland election campaign was one expression of this. So was her recent challenge to politicians to forgo their latest pay rise and her comments that Bill Shorten is betraying Labor’s working class base by opposing income tax cuts.
But concern for workers’ rights and living conditions has never been a factor in One Nation’s policy decisions. Last year, the party voted for $24 billion of tax breaks for companies with a turnover of up to $50 million a year. And Hanson initially endorsed Turnbull’s proposal to cut the corporate tax rate from 30 to 25 percent, back-flipping only when it became clear that this would hurt her electorally.
Even then, One Nation’s opposition to big business tax breaks is limited. The corporations Hanson wants taxed are “non-resident foreign companies”. She is silent about the 350 Australian-owned corporations that pay no tax, according to Taxation Office figures.
Hanson doesn’t care about all “battlers”. Some of the worst instances of wage theft come from the farming sector, which employs large numbers of migrants, often in slave-like conditions. Hanson has shown zero concern for these workers.
She supports the government’s $144 billion income tax package, claiming that people earning more than $120,000 are “battlers”. But she has shown no sympathy for debt-ridden uni graduates – their HECS repayment threshold was just lowered to $45,000 with Hanson’s support. University-educated workers who earn as little as $730 a week will be hit by these changes, while Hanson’s six-figure income “battlers” enjoy handouts.
One Nation’s disregard for low income earners doesn’t stop there. In 2014, Hanson said that penalty rates should be abolished “right across the board”. When the Fair Work Commission cut Sunday penalty rates last year, giving a windfall to hospitality and retail bosses, Hanson welcomed it enthusiastically.
These bosses are responsible for some of the worst attacks on workers. Research from the hospitality workers’ union, United Voice, shows that up to 76 percent of hospitality bosses underpay their staff. Yet Hanson wants to remove the legal barriers to this underpayment. While she may have changed her position in the face of public outrage, her record as the Liberal government’s most reliable voting partner in the Senate demonstrates where her loyalties lie.
One Nation has voted for a raft of anti-worker laws, including attacks on apprentices and safety conditions in the building industry. It is also committed to helping the representatives of big business in government by preferencing the Liberal Party in the Western Australian state election last year and in the upcoming Longman by-election.
It’s not just the Liberal policies One Nation backs, but those it proposes, which show that this party represents more affluent people and bosses. Hanson has introduced a bill to limit government borrowing and promote “prudent” spending. This would limit government spending on health care, education and essential infrastructure, all sorely needed to improve workers’ living conditions.
Hanson is no friend of workers. She is a fraud who talks about being an outsider while promoting policies that make the rich richer.