Things Australians were prepared for during the 2016 federal election: long queues, a very close result, a freshly seared democracy sausage.
Things Australians were not prepared for during the 2016 federal election: The resurgence of Pauline Hanson and the One Nation party.
Eighteen years after she first introduced her far-right anti-immigration policies, the leader of the One Nation party is back – and it looks like she has secured at least one seat in the Senate, possibly up to four.
With over 60 per cent of the votes counted, the party has so far drawn 134,000 first preference Senate votes in her home state of Queensland, and 113,000 first preference votes in New South Wales.
For many critics, it’s possibly the most unexpected result of the election.
For others, it’s been a long time coming.
Watch Pauline Hanson discuss her attitudes towards Islam in her press conference. Post continues after video…
Cheryl Reeves is 40 years old, happily married for 22 years and has two teenage children. She grew up on a farm in Northern New South Wales and describes herself as a Christian woman who loves Jesus, her husband and her kids.
She now lives in Caboolture in Queensland where she has lived for four years, in the electorate of Longman where there is a ‘big One Nation vote’.
Cheryl told Mamamia she voted for an independent candidate for the House of Representatives and One Nation as her first preference for the Senate.
I asked her why.
“I am unhappy with the two major parties,” Cheryl said.
“I don’t care deeply about what Pauline Hanson does. What I want is for the major parties to realise they are not representing the people.”
Cheryl said the Australian Labor Party and Coalition “need to start listening to the people.”
Pauline Hanson with an alpaca. She’s is getting out there & traveling around listening to people. Good on her. pic.twitter.com/RptelfQl1s
— Cheryl Reeves (@CasReeves) June 18, 2016
“They need to fix the mess, not Pauline,” she said.
“I come from a farming family and background, I grew up on a farm in northern NSW and a lot of my family are still on the land,” Cheryl tells me.
“The way farmers are being treated is probably the biggest concern. People are worried about Radical Islam and its effects. The well being of rural communities and the protection of jobs and healthcare.”
Cheryl tells me that ‘Pauline went and took the time to really travel around and talk to people in outback Australia’.
She paints her with the descriptors ‘wonderful’ and ‘caring’.
“She was wonderful about sharing [her travels] and answering questions on Facebook. That really helped to make people feel heard and supported by her.
“She is a very caring person.”
Love Pauline Hanson. She is a brave woman with more courage then most! pic.twitter.com/mp77MAbRiq
— Cheryl Reeves (@CasReeves) May 30, 2016
I point out that Pauline Hanson and the policies of One Nation have been identified as inherently racist, particularly the party’s policy to ‘ban the burqa’ and stop people of Muslim faith from entering Australia.
Cheryl tells me she doesn’t want to ban the burqa and has nothing against the Muslim faith.
“Islam is not a race, it’s a religion. I am a Christian and have no issue with someone being Muslim, I don’t want to ban the burqa or stop people having access the halal food,” Cheryl said.
“But I do worry that Radical Islam is a danger. We shouldn’t be financially impacted by the halal certification. I abhor female genital mutilation and unfortunately it is mostly practiced and justified within the context of the Muslim community.”
Cheryl tells me she is a Christian she is “involved in supporting Christians who are being persecuted by Radical Muslims in many different countries around the world”.
“My heart is aching for those Christian families and I want to be sure Australia remains a country where I am safe and protected in my faith”.