Han­son’s new low-vote sen­a­tor

The Weekend Australian - - FRONT PAGE - MICHAEL McKENNA QUEENS­LAND EDI­TOR

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.

Roberts

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