An independent political expert says explosive footage of One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson questioning the Port Arthur massacre may be the one act that loses her loyal followers.
A ticked-off Senator Hanson came out swinging in an emotion-charged defence of her party on Thursday, claiming her comments on the 1996 mass shooting were heavily edited.
“Release the whole tape and let’s look at him asking me those questions … because I think those questions are actually dubbed,” Senator Hanson told Andrew Bolt during an appearance on The Bolt Report.
But it may be too late, with a political analyst saying she may have crossed the one line her fans would not accept.
In covert footage filmed by an Al Jazeera undercover journalist, Senator Hanson appears to cast doubt on the authenticity of the tragedy in which 35 people were killed and which prompted gun reforms.
— Pauline Hanson 🇦🇺 (@PaulineHansonOz) March 28, 2019
Monash University associate professor of politics Paul Strangio told The New Daily that her comments about Port Arthur may be “beyond the pale for more rusted One Nation voters”.
“That’s why Hanson is denying that she ever questioned it, that it’s a product of selective editing,” Professor Strangio said.
It has been a turbulent week for the outspoken Senator, who was already facing intense scrutiny after the Christchurch terror attacks.
Then Senator Hanson was uncharacteristically silent for days.
The New Daily revealed she had suffered a tick bite to the face.
But on Thursday, she finally fronted the media’s cameras, launching an attack on Australia’s media and politicians in a meandering defence of One Nation’s attempt to attract sizeable donations from the US gun lobby.
The Senator claimed she was the victim of a set-up, referring to a documentary produced by Qatari network Al Jazeera and broadcast in Australia by the ABC, where an undercover actor recorded her seemingly insinuating the Port Arthur massacre may have been a hoax.
Senator Hanson vehemently denied any wish to weaken Australia’s gun laws, and claimed the footage that showed her suggesting the 1996 Port Arthur massacre was a conspiracy had been “heavily edited” and deliberately taken out of context as part of a “stitch up”.
The footage was captured by Rodger Muller, who posed as a gun lobbyist for three years as part of an undercover investigation and secretly filmed meetings with One Nation.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was also in the Senator’s sights.
She denounced him as a “fool” who had handed Bill Shorten the keys to The Lodge over his decision to direct his party to preference One Nation below Labor.
The PM announced the move on Thursday after sustained pressure from the opposition to direct preferences away from One Nation after the Christchurch massacre, due to the party’s stance on Islam.
Those calls intensified after the release of the Al Jazeera documentary.
— The Bolt Report (@theboltreport) March 28, 2019
During Thursday afternoon’s media conference in Brisbane, Senator Hanson lashed out at everyone from newly appointed ABC chair Ita Buttrose to Rupert Murdoch, Mr Morrison, Mr Shorten and Sunrise presenter David “Kochie” Koch.
The One Nation leader also declared she would not sack her chief of staff, James Ashby, or Queensland Senate candidate Steve Dickson, who were caught on tape plotting to weaken Australia’s gun laws with representatives from the US National Rifle Association.
She accused the ABC of being “unethical” by choosing to air the Al Jazeera documentary to Australian viewers before a full investigation had been undertaken by ASIO and the federal police.
Professor Strangio said Senator Hanson’s “entirely predictable” strategy of attacking the media was designed to tap into her voters’ long-held suspicion of Australian mainstream media.
“It plays very much from the songbook of populist party leaders,” Professor Strangio said.
“This notion that they’re victims of collusion between elites who gang up on them … is entirely predictable.”
The political analyst said the effectiveness of Senator Hanson’s strategy would depend on the audience.
“For the broad mass of the electorate, they’ve already made up their minds about One Nation, that they’re a fringe party,” Professor Strangio said.
“But (Senator) Hanson is talking to a different audience. She’s talking to those who do gravitate to One Nation, who think there is a mainstream from which they’re excluded.
“In her supporter base, that distrust of the media is pretty intense so it may well be the best tactics that she can employ.”
Senator Hanson has thanked her supporters in the media, naming Andrew Bolt, Kyle Sandilands and Alan Jones, among others.
She refused to answer questions from reporters.