Pauline Hanson has cried and raged on national TV about a split in her One Nation party.
“For him to turn around and do this to me … it’s hard,” she told Sky News on Thursday night, choking back tears.
Her meltdown was prompted by front-page news that one of her two remaining senators, Brian Burston, intended to vote, against her wishes, for the government’s tax cuts for big corporations.
“I’m not finished. You think I’m going to let Brian Burston or anyone else to finish me? They will not just sit on the seats and do absolutely nothing and think they can have a cosy ride and collect taxpayers’ funds.”
After changing her position many times, Senator Hanson appears to have settled on opposing the cuts. She said Burston had “stabbed me in the back” by taking the opposite position.
Senator Burston was dumped as party whip last week, for reasons that were unclear at the time.
On Thursday night, Senator Burston spoke out, also to Sky News, claiming the rift began when he asked Senator Hanson if he would remain One Nation’s top pick for New South Wales at the next election.
In response, the party leader demanded to know how he would vote on company tax cuts. Senator Burston said he replied he was unwilling to “backflip” on the “handshake deal” One Nation had made with the government to support the cuts.
“One minute later, she said ‘you are no longer the government whip’. So it was a little bit of a payback. I think it was a little bit of punishment for not supporting her position.”
During her emotional interview, Hanson claimed Burston had attempted to defect to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, but they wouldn’t have him.
Senator Burston said he was “absolutely” still a member of One Nation and had not tried to defect.
“The claim that I’ve approached the Shooters Party is totally and absolutely false.”
One Nation has had a tumultuous few months with Rod Culleton and Malcolm Roberts disqualified from the Senate, and Mr Roberts’ replacement, Fraser Anning, defecting to form a voting bloc with Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi and Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm.
“I’m sorry to the Australian people that this has happened again,” Senator Hanson said through tears on Thursday night.
“But it was the same with Rod Culleton. It was the same with Fraser Anning. They haven’t got the intestinal fortitude.
“It’s all about themselves – self-serving. Well I don’t want people like that.”