Hanson vows to beat three ministers

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The Independent Online
AUSTRALIA'S CONTROVERSIAL right-wing politician Pauline Hanson said yesterday that her increasingly popular One Nation party will try to unseat at least three senior government ministers in the coming Australian election.

The anti-immigration and protectionist One Nation, which has emerged as a third force in Australian politics, also wants the repeal of anti- discrimination and Aboriginal land rights legislation, she said.

Mrs Hanson targeted the Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer, the Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer and the Primary Industries Minister John Anderson as among the worst performers in Prime Minister John Howard's conservative Liberal-National coalition.

"Tim Fischer has failed the rural sector of Australia," Mrs Hanson said of Mr Fischer, whose rural-based National Party has seen many disaffected voters wooed by One Nation.

Mrs Hanson told Australia's Channel Ten television that she would encourage One Nation voters to direct their preference votes away from the three ministers in the next election, which though not due until mid-1999 is expected to take place within the next two two months.

Under Australia's complicated electoral system, voters select candidates in order of preference. Many candidates, in order to gain a seat in Parliament, rely on these second-choice votes as well as the primary vote.

A poll by a newspaper in Mr Fischer's rural New South Wales state electorate has shown that his primary vote has been cut in half and he would only retain power with the help of One Nation preferences.

The new One Nation party's populist mix of policies, which also include trade protection and looser gun laws, saw it win 11 of 89 seats in the Queensland state poll on 13 June. National opinion polls put its support at about 12 per cent.

Mrs Hanson earlier reiterated her calls for the repeal of Australia's anti-discrimination laws and the Native Title Act, which recognises Aboriginal occupation of Australia before white settlement began in 1788. "Native title is destroying us and splitting us as a people," she said, adding that she wanted a referendum on the issue.

She also called for an English language test for prospective immigrants. "Here in Australia, we speak English. Everyone should speak English," Mrs Hanson said. "I don't want to go to any parts of Australia and don't know whether I am walking into a butcher shop or a hairdresser."