(The following editorial was originally written on the 16th of November 2016 for 2SM, however it was never used. I have posted it now because I think it is becoming increasingly clear that I was right.)
The legitimisation of One Nation as a serious political force has just reached a completely new level, with a former State Premier predicting that the Party will become part of a coalition government in Queensland.
Once regarded as political pariahs, a party that was at best part of the extreme fringe, and at worst a complete joke, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party has now become part of the political mainstream.
It began with the Party winning four Senate seats in the July Federal Election, forcing the established parties to take them seriously.
Now, world events have added to the political momentum of One Nation and its controversial leader, with the unexpected victory of Donald Trump in the United States seen as indicative of a seismic shift in the political landscape around the world.
There is absolutely no doubt that Australia is experiencing that shift, and as the evidence mounts that voters are looking for a new solution to their problems, the major parties are finally sitting up and taking notice.
The impact has been dramatic, with Labor Leader Bill Shorten suddenly springing to the defence of Australian jobs and demanding curbs on foreign workers…
And Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ramped up his rhetoric on asylum seekers and border security.
But it’s probably all too little, and too late, because support for One Nation is undeniably growing stronger.
It is by far strongest in Queensland, the home state of the party, where Pauline Hanson’s personal popularity is higher than ever.
And it’s in Queensland where One Nation expects to do very well at the State Election, due in about a year from now.
In fact, the party is expected to do so well that former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has made a bold prediction that the One Nation Party will win enough seats to demand to be part of a coalition government.
Now, just stop and think about that for a moment… after years of being in the wilderness, One Nation could actually be part of a coalition to form a state government.
It’s a staggering reversal of fortunes.
Speaking on Sky News earlier this week, Mr Newman said “Things could change of course, but I think the next government in Queensland will have to be a coalition government with One Nation.”
He said, “You can talk preferences all you like, but they’re going to win enough seats.”
Mr Newman referred to the recent run of polls that have failed to accurately predict outcomes, underestimating the support for candidates like Donald Trump in the US, and Pauline Hanson here in Australia.
He said, “There was a poll in Queensland on the weekend that says she was at 16 per cent. I think it’s over 20.”
Mr Newman also said that Pauline Hanson is now “an older and wiser politician” than she was 20 years ago.
Of course, Campbell Newman himself fell victim to a shock election defeat when he was bundled out of office almost two years ago, so he should know something about placing too much faith in polling figures.
While the Labor Party has already vowed to place One Nation at the bottom of its preferences at the Queensland election, the Liberal National Party has made no such commitment.
Mr Newman said that the current leader of the LNP in Queensland, Tim Nichols, might be the next Queensland Premier, but “he’s going to have to confront that issue and he’s going to have to answer in the media.”
The clear implication is that if Mr Nichols wants to be Premier of Queensland, he may well have to form a coalition with One Nation to do so.
That would have once been considered to be a deal with the devil… now it’s the cold hard reality of the new political paradigm.
In one simple statement, former Premier Campbell Newman has awarded One Nation an entirely new status as part of the political mainstream.
One Nation has finally arrived as a serious political force, and it would be an enormous mistake for anyone to treat them as a joke now.