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Australian anti-migrant campaigner Pauline Hanson to emigrate
Former One Nation leader who said country was being swamped by Asians plans to seek 'peace' in UK
Former One Nation party leader Pauline Hanson at her home, west of Brisbane, in Australia. She is planning to emigrate. Photograph: Dave Hunt/EPA
The fish and chip shop owner who gained international notoriety and a seat in Australia's parliament after warning the country it was being swamped by Asians is packing her bags and leaving – and she's bound for Britain.
Pauline Hanson, the former leader of the One Nation party, who once draped herself in the Australian flag and railed against immigration to campaign for a seat in federal parliament, appears to have changed her mind about the rights and wrongs of migration.
She says she can no longer live in Australia. "Sadly, the land of opportunity is no more applicable. It's pretty much goodbye for ever. I've really had enough."
She said in an interview with the magazine Women's Day: "Our governments lack enough people with the fortitude to speak up without fear or favour. Over-regulation, increasing taxes and lack of true representation are affecting our way of life. I feel very much for the young ones. Once it was common for them to own their own home. Not now. It's a harder place."
After more than 10 years in the spotlight she seeks "peace" and "contentment" and hopes to find it in the UK.
Hanson shot to prominence in the 1996 federal election when she claimed that Aboriginal Australians received an abundance of welfare. Although she lasted just one term in parliament she continued courting attention with her extreme views and unusual behaviour. In a video testimony she once recorded with a television network she alleged there was a conspiracy to kill her.
Once, asked during a television interview if she was xenophobic, she replied "please explain" – a response that only bolstered her kudos among followers who viewed her as a maverick unfairly set upon by the political establishment.
Despite three more unsuccessful attempts at returning to federal parliament and two unsuccessful bids to enter the New South Wales and Queensland parliaments, as well as a stint in jail for electoral fraud, a conviction eventually quashed, in 2006 she was named by current affairs magazine the Bulletin as one of the 100 most influential Australians of all time.
Even as her political fortune waned her popularity grew. She appeared in the primetime TV show Dancing with the Stars in 2004, and wrote an autobiography, Untamed and Unashamed. Now she says: "I know I will never be given a chance to enter parliament again."
Some are sceptical that her departure from Australia will last.
Bob Vinnicombe, a longstanding member of One Nation, thinks she will change her mind. "I think it's a passing fad," he said.
"I don't really understand why she would want to go to the UK. She would realise that there's just as many migrants in England as there are in Australia."
Hanson has never been far from controversy and the attention of the Australian media. She once attempted to drive away at speed from the pack that accompanied her on her campaign in 1998, only to end up with a beeline of journalists following her dangerously in hot pursuit.
From the beginning Hanson positioned herself as an amateur, describing herself in her maiden speech to parliament "not as a polished politician but as a woman who has had her fair share of life's knocks". In that speech she also warned that "a truly multicultural country can never be strong or united".
Yet when asked about her decision to move to the UK she said: "Every country has something unique to offer. And I want to experience that, to live it, and not just for a brief time."
The 55-year-old is eligible for dual Australian-British citizenship because her father is English and her mother Irish. But before she makes the final move to Britain, she says she will spend a few months on the south island of New Zealand.
I have done research on benefits available only to Aboriginals and challenge anyone to tell me how Aboriginals are disadvantaged when they can obtain 3% and 5% housing loans denied to non-Aboriginals …
I am fed up with being told, 'This is our land.' Well, where the hell do I go? I was born here, and so were my parents and children …
My view on issues is based on common sense, and my experience as a mother of four children, as a sole parent and as a businesswoman running a fish and chip shop …
Immigration and multiculturalism are issues that this government is trying to address, but for far too long ordinary Australians have been kept out of any debate by the major parties. I and most Australians want our immigration policy radically reviewed and that of multiculturalism abolished. I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians …