Hanson’s new low-vote senator
Apart from a few members of his family, Fraser Anning doubts if he knows any of the 19 people who cast their first-preference vote for him at last year’s federal election.
The father of two and grandfather, who last year was working in the gas industry until “something else came along’’, was yesterday confirmed by the High Court as the newest One Nation senator for Queensland.
Filling the shoes of Malcolm Roberts, among those disqualified from parliament for holding dual citizenship, Senator-elect Anning has the humbling distinction of being elected with what is thought to be the lowest personal vote in Australian history.
The 20-year One Nation member, who secured single votes in some of the towns where he has owned or run pubs, said he thought his chance of election was so remote he didn’t bother telling friends he was running.
Senator-elect Anning was third on One Nation’s Queensland Senate ticket, led by Pauline Hanson and Mr Roberts, who received just 77 votes for himself out of the 250,126 people who voted for the resurgent party.
Even the last candidate on the ticket, Judy Smith, received more than Senator-elect Anning, picking up 47 votes. “Of course, this has snuck up on me ... I never expected to be getting to the Senate,’’ he said.
“I hadn’t told a lot of people I was running, I don’t think most of the people I know had any idea I was on the ticket. Then, the citizenship events came along and catapulted me into that position. Getting 19 votes doesn’t worry me; I will do the job for the people of Queensland and Australia.’’
The High Court yesterday confirmed three of the four names put forward by the Australian Electoral Commission as replacements for senators dumped for being dual citizens at the election. Joining Senator-elect Anning will be the Greens’ Andrew Bartlett (Queensland) and Jordan Steele-John (Western Australia).
The fourth, Liberal Hollie Hughes of NSW, was rejected
because she may have breached a section of the Constitution barring candidates with an office of profit under the crown — a paid position on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
With the declaration, senatorelect Anning said he realised he was in parliament because of the popularity of Senator Hanson, who received 20,927 personal votes from Queenslanders. “Anyone who votes for One Nation is voting for Pauline,’’ he said.
As Senator-elect Anning prepares to travel to Canberra at the weekend, there is speculation of a rift between himself and Senator Hanson, a friend of more than 20 years. They have not spoken since news broke on October 2 that creditors had withdrawn a bankruptcy petition against Senatorelect Anning and his wife, Fiona, over debts associated with an investment in a failed agribusiness scheme. Bankruptcy would have blocked his Senate move, creating a “casual vacancy’’, likely to have been filled by Mr Roberts.
Before returning last weekend from the US, where he was visiting his daughters and two new grandchildren, Senator-elect Anning said he had been out of contact. Ever since, he said he had been playing “phone tag’’ with Senator Hanson, who is now helping her party campaign for the Queensland election.
Asked whether there was a good working relationship between himself and Senator Hanson, he said: “Well, hopefully, with Pauline there is. I am not sure about others around her, but with Pauline, as far as I know, we are fine. Maybe, some of her advisers may not be on side as much and I am not sure why.’’
It is believed Senator-elect Anning was referring to Senator Hanson’s adviser James Ashby, who was the architect for One Nation’s successful campaign at the last election.
Senator-elect Anning said he was a climate-change sceptic and believes Islam is an “ideology of hate’’. Having grown up on a grazing property in north Queensland, he said his focus would be to push for a greater government involvement on regional issues, driving power prices down and boosting infrastructure.