For years Pauline Hanson, Australia's most controversial politician, has railed against immigrants, particularly from Asia. Now Ms Hanson is set to become an immigrant herself – and her new home is to be Britain.
The former fish and chip shop owner turned right-wing firebrand revealed yesterday that she is moving to England, in search of "peace and contentment". She hopes to settle down in the English countryside. Her father was from London, and her mother's family was from Limerick, so there will be no problem securing a visa.
The ultimate patriot, Ms Hanson has lost faith in her home country, she told Woman's Day magazine. "Sadly, the land of opportunity is no more applicable," she declared. "Australia will always be my home. But I love England and Ireland. I love the culture."
Quite what she will make of Britain, which is much more visibly multicultural than Australia, remains to be seen. On her way there, the 55-year-old redhead plans to take a cruise, and also to spend a few months in New Zealand's South Island.
Ms Hanson first burst on to the political scene in 1996, when she won a seat in the federal parliament for the conservative Liberal Party. In her maiden speech, she called for cuts to Aboriginal welfare and warned that Australia was "in danger of being swamped by Asians".
Already disowned by the Liberals even before she was elected, she formed the One Nation party, which won a million votes in the 1998 Queensland state election. However, Hanson lost her seat soon afterwards, and her subsequent attempts to return to politics – most recently as an independent in last year's Queensland election – failed.
She told Woman's Day, which described her as "the iconic copper-haired Aussie battler", that she had given up her political ambitions. "Our governments lack enough people with the fortitude to speak up without fear or favour," she said. "Over-regulation, increasing taxes and lack of true representation are affecting our way of life. I feel very much for the young ones."
Ms Hanson is believed to be considerably better off after receiving an out-of-court settlement from Rupert Murdoch's News Limited over a collection of raunchy photographs published in a Sydney newspaper, the Sunday Telegraph, last year. The photos, which apparently showed Ms Hanson posing in lingerie and semi-naked, were said to have been taken by an ex-boyfriend in the 1970s. Except, as it turned out, they were not of her. The pictures were published a week before the state election, and Ms Hanson blames them for spoiling her chances of a political comeback. Reflecting on the incident, she told the magazine: "As I have always said, politics is a dirty business. I've moved on, but this is another reason why I've had enough. I want peace in my life. I want contentment, and that's what I'm aiming for."
In 2003, Ms Hanson was convicted of electoral fraud and spent 11 weeks in prison before her conviction was overturned. She says it was a relief to return to her home in the Queensland countryside – the place where, as the magazine puts it, "she's found a much yearned for peace in the midst of many turbulent years".Reuse content