Pauline Hanson is back: Anti-Islamic senator to control Australia's senate

Story highlights

  • All government legislation will need Hanson's approval to pass, without opposition help
  • Australia's Muslim community worried about rise of anti-Islamic party

(CNN)Australia is being "swamped by Asians", mosques need to have security cameras, halal-certified food is funding terrorism and "Communist China" shouldn't own Australia's electricity.

These are the words of the woman who is now one of Australia's most powerful politicians, newly-elected senator Pauline Hanson.
    Hanson was confirmed elected to the Australian Senate last week, along with three other members of her One Nation party, according to the Australian Electoral Commission.
    The surprise result makes hers the fourth largest party in the Senate, meaning the government will need her support to pass all legislation, unless they turn to the left-wing Labor and Greens parties.
    With 78 overall in the Australian Senate, and 39 required to pass or block legislation, Hanson's four One Nation senators can join with the 35 Opposition and Green party members to stop any legislation.
    Among the policies of Pauline Hanson's One Nation party are surveillance cameras in mosques, banning the burqa, stopping Muslim immigration to Australia and holding a national inquiry into Islam.
    Australia's Muslim community is deeply concerned by the rise of Hanson's party, while Australian National University School of Politics professor John Warhurst told CNN her control of the Senate could drag Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull towards right-wing policies.
    "What Pauline Hanson (did) was capture the floating percentage of voters who wanted nothing to do with either major party," he said.
    Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party did not respond to a request for comment.

    'A sad day for all Australia'

    Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Keysar Trad said his community was "appalled" and concerned by the success of Hanson's party.
    "It's very disheartening and disappointing... this is going to make Australia not look so good in the eyes of people outside the country," he said. "It's really a sad day for all Australia that people with such bigoted views can have so much influence."
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    Trad said an increase in anti-Islamic rhetoric, such as that mentioned in Hanson's policies, would lead to Muslim Australians "looking over their shoulders."
    Warhurst said Hanson's rise in Australia had been caused by a number of factors. "I think she positioned herself to speak for... people who felt left out of (Australia's) economic success," he said.
    "A certain number of conservative voters are (with) them on issues of race and economy and her appeal to an anti-Islamic feeling in the community."
    Australia held a double dissolution election on July 2, which meant both houses of Parliament were completely dissolved and up for a national vote.
    By dissolving the entire senate, Turnbull was hoping to clear out a number of difficult minor party senators who were making it difficult to pass legislation.
    Instead, the move backfired, triggering the revival of Hanson's One Nation and shifting significant power to independent South Australian politician Nick Xenophon. (Tweaked)
    "He's going to have to eat some humble pie," Warhurst said.

    Australia's blast from the past

    This is not the first time Pauline Hanson has captured the political spotlight in Australia.
    Hanson became a national figure in Australia in 1996 when during her first speech to Parliament, after being elected as an independent MP, she said the country was at risk of being "swamped by Asians."
    Despite her One Nation party getting almost 10% of the vote in the next election, in 1998, Hanson lost her seat when both major parties turned against her.
    Things got even worse for her when she was found guilty of fraudulently obtaining $500,000 in election funding in 2003 and spent 11 weeks in jail before successfully appealing.
    Hanson has run in numerous elections, including the 2007 and 2013 general votes, but has failed to win a seat until now. She also appeared on several reality TV shows, including Australia's Celebrity Apprentice in 2011