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Four Corners reveals the weird and not-so-wonderful world inside One Nation

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If you watched Four Corners‘ incisive and entertaining investigation into the internal workings of Pauline Hanson’s political party last night, you might think One Nation’s popularity now faces a significant threat.

Journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna uncovered a number of potential scandals surrounding the party, including the financial status of a plane used to fly Hanson around regional Australia, and the party’s apparent tendency to burn its supporters.

Meldrum-Hanna spoke to a number of former, disendorsed One Nation candidates, the party’s former national treasurer Ian Nelson, and elderly couple and unlikely former One Nation powerbrokers Ron McLean and Marye Louise Daniels.

What emerges is a picture of a party ruthlessly driven by Hanson’s political and personal goals — hardly the people-led grassroots movement Hanson wants to sell to the public.

What emerges is a picture of a political party operating like, well, a lot of political parties.

But the outlandish views of One Nation and its leader tend to overshadow the kind of scrutiny you might expect to apply to the inner workings of a relatively major party. Meldrum-Hanna focuses more on those details than the overtly racist and provocative policies of the party. (Although she still manages to give a bit of air time to Senator Malcolm Roberts, who amusingly claims the ABC is using Nazi-style mind-control.)


That leads her to the home of Ron McLean and Marye Louise Daniels — an extraordinarily eccentric duo who devoted much of their lives to supporting Hanson but found themselves persona non grata in recent years.

In January this year, Hanson allegedly told them both that they were no longer wanted — and told Ron that he was “too old” to be a candidate — leaving the pair totally devastated.

They’re wonderful characters if not wonderful people; at the end of the episode Marye stands underneath a plane leaving WA, bidding farewell to Hanson in a sing-song voice: “Goodbye thank goodness, you’re gone, goodbye thank goodness you’re gone, all together, bye!”

Although they’re representative of much of One Nation’s base, it becomes clear that Hanson came to consider them a liability as she has sought to cultivate an image of “sophistication“.

You’d expect One Nation might suffer a major hit from these kinds of scandals, but the party has a proven immunity to most internal disruptions. If the ongoing Rod Culleton story couldn’t do any damage to One Nation — and the party’s support didn’t drop at all during that period — then it’s difficult to believe much could.

And if you want proof as to why that might be the case, you only need to watch last night’s Four Corners again. One of Hanson’s supporters puts out a call to: “Get rid of the migrants, the boat people, and just have us.” When asked who those immigrants are, they respond, “ISIS. Pakistanians.”

It raises the question: are many One Nation supporters engaging with mainstream media or politics at all? Are they really even watching Four Corners? They’re unlikely to even find out about the episode through their social media networks — Hanson has ignored the program entirely.

Hers is a movement that’s now building support off the back of widespread distrust of long-standing institutions.

How much of a political impact will the program really have? Probably not a great deal. But it was damn good television.

Four Corners: Please Explain is available to watch on iview

15 responses to “Four Corners reveals the weird and not-so-wonderful world inside One Nation

  1. A quick look at Media Watch after FC would certainly confirm your (if you don’t mind, rather naïve) thought that these people actually watched Four Corners! Of course they don’t and sadly the FC report is simply confirming what those who do watch it already know. A diet of Current Affair, reality TV and the rest of the mindless dross that passes for ‘mainstream media’ is the real propaganda that Malcom Roberts referred to – pacifying, infantilising, insulting, misleading and ultimately destructive.

  2. I watched the Four Corners program last and could not help to be impressed by the program and the reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna. Your review was excellent.

  3. BEN, I could not agree with you more re your comments on Four Corners last night. Pauline Hanson would have to be the last person, on this planet, to look after one’s favourite child, or a much loved pet. She is pitiless. And what is it about One Nation that its acolytes refuse to acknowledge any cracks in its crumbling edifice?

    The only remotely cheerful scenario being the race between Pauline Hanson and James Ashby to destroy each other.

  4. “It raises the question: are many One Nation supporters engaging with mainstream media or politics at all? Are they really even watching Four Corners?”
    No, of course they aren’t. Why would you watch a station that actively despises you and your opinions. It raises the question: why are we funding the ABC when it doesn’t follow its charter? Is the ABC engaging with the broader population or conservative opinions at all?

    1. If you want to know who is voting for One Nation then read David Marr’s Quarterly Essay, published last week, The White Queen: One Nation and the politics of race. He analyses the PHON supporters in great detail. And no, they are unlikely to be viewers of ABC.

    2. Rick:
      You may have missed the plethora of right wing commentators who have stumped up on “The Drum” or “Q&A” (Georgina Downer and the ludicrous Rowan Dean for starters) over the last few years. With regard to the “Four Corners” program, Senator Hanson is a spiv – a sly opportunist who failed for 20 years to be re-elected to Parliament – any Parliament. She hawked her schtick everywhere possible, even the United Kingdom! All for the lure of public funding of her failed campaigns. How on earth does a person who has not worked between 1998 and 2016 (presumably) afford the luxury lifestyle she has? A million dollar plus property in the country and the ability to fly in her own plane, and remain seemingly solvent? Her despicable policies and the way that she treats Parliamentary democracy in this country is open to challenge and she has to be held account for her execrable views and the dim-witted fellow travelers who latch on to her vile campaign. As for James Ashby – a product of the corruption tainted Liberal National Party of Queensland, who, like his erstwhile “boss” is only there for one thing – himself. A more distasteful person such as Ashby is nearly hard to imagine. (Senator Malcolm Roberts, on the other hand, is clearly deluded and not worth spending time debating.)

  5. I must have been watching a different program. I saw a very well practised con artist at work who totally is gaming the gullible and the taxpayer. I have been a member of two political parties in my life neither of whom operate in any way resembling this. The level of accountability is much greater and also the level of internal democracy is vastly different. Also candidates do not fund their own campaigns, but are funded collectively by party members and party units. These parties obviously are not conservative parties. NO individual in parties on the left has the kind of control exhibited by that woman.

  6. I want 4 Corners or similar to investigate and prove that PH has stood for election after election for personal financial gain. How else has she gone from fish’n’cheps owner to rich property holder. I have thought for a long time that politicians gave themselves far too much cash per vote gained in an election, and I think that’s what has carried PH to start her present wealth.

  7. Ah! The Perils of Pauline!

    Let there be no doubt: The brains behind Hanson, one Ashby, James – rightly accused of sinking the slipper into a one-time Speaker of the same name – has
    deep and abiding ties with the right of the Liberal Party.

    One idly wonders if he indeed, is the Trojan Horse the Libs left behind in Pauline’s

    Anyhoo, stop giving her oxygen and we’ll see how long she lasts. Operating on the basis of stealing kudos for other people’s efforts, name-calling and making an arse
    of herself every time she opens her mouth, will only take her so far. (Who remembers her Soap Opera TV performance when she predicted her death?
    It’s a matter of great sadness to me she was proven so spectacularly wrong.)

    Lies and exaggeration are the politician’s tools, However, in Pauline we have
    an unintelligent opportunist, sustained, for the moment, by a would-be
    Machiavelli who’s antecedents are as questionable as his talents as an eminence grise.

  8. James Ashby is clearly a grub that needs to be sat on his ass to remind that some people won’t be bullied or spoken to in the condescending manner in which he was speaking to them. But then again, if any idiot is silly enough to follow any of the rantings of the redhead, they probably deserve what they get. They (One Nation) have already proved their insignificance with the dodgy sell-out preference deal with the Libs in WA and they will lose what little supporter base they have if they continue to be a splinter-group of the Libs. Ashby is delusional enough to think that he is some sort of powerbroker as was evident during his disgraceful treachery towards Peter Slipper. Politics is full of grubs but I doubt Ashby would ever get elected to any position anywhere given his weak character..

  9. yep, the trouble with One Nation is Pauline Hanson.

    I have always supported One Nation’s right to exist and to be taken seriously and not be denigrated, mocked, silenced, ignored and so on just for one simple reason: it represents hundreds and thousands of decent Australians who rightly or wrongly have certain opinions and surely have every right to be heard.

    But as time goes by I more and more feel Pauline Hanson’s party is the Pauline Hanson party.

  10. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

    4 Corners used to be the vehicle famous for the Rainbow Warrior report, the work which triggered the the Fitzgerald Enquiry and the WA Inc Royal Commission.

    Now it is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the loony left. It has chosen to abandon journalistic integrity altogether.

    I will never support One Nation but this show was nothing more than a populist puff piece; another display of ABC groupthink.

    The cool eye of objective journalism abandoned as a result of another ideologically based stitch-up-job. This was not the first (think NSW greyhound industry and Indonesia cattle trade ‘reports’) and of course wont be the last.

    I want my money back.

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