Imported: The American far-right origins of Pauline Hanson’s anti-Islam rhetoric

The Australia Institute published a new report today which examines the origins of Senator Pauline Hanson’s statements on Islam. The research reveals much of Hanson’s language is imported directly from far-right groups in the United States.

The Australia Institute report examines, in detail, one of the One Nation party’s most striking claims – that Islam is not a religion.

“Although ostensibly an Australian nationalist party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation is actually serving as franchise for American and European far-right positions and policies,” Report author, Philip Dorling said.

In America this claim has been promoted in an attempt to deny Muslims access to the strong protections of freedom of religion under the US Constitution.

“Pauline Hanson has imported the idea to Australia, where it could also potentially be used to justify the curtailment of human rights for a particular group. If left unchallenged in Australia this has the potential to significantly undermine respect for freedom of religion and gives a green light to acts of overt discrimination towards Australian Muslims and other minorities.

“Investigation of origins of One Nation’s statements on Islam reveals a political and intellectual debt to far-right right-wing groups in the United States, especially American Evangelist Christian opponents of Islam and a handful of obscure right-wing anti-Islam propagandists. These assertions have attracted little media scrutiny to date,” Dorling said.

Deputy Director of The Australia Institute, Ebony Bennett, said One Nation’s presence in the Australian Senate, indications of increased voter support for the party, its controversial positions on issues including immigration and multiculturalism, climate change and the environment, welfare and taxation, as well as wider populist trends in the United States and Europe, all make scrutiny of Pauline Hanson and her party vitally important.

“One Nation has conspicuously celebrated President-elect Donald Trump’s victory in the United States. The idea that Islam is not actually a religion is now espoused by people who will occupy positions at the highest levels of the US Government.

“While claiming a commitment to Australian ideas and values One Nation are effectively importing policies from the extreme right of the United States to the centre of the Australian political debate,” Bennett said.  

This is part of a series of Australia Institute reports being researched by former Fairfax investigative journalist Philip Dorling. Dr Dorling has a long-standing interest Australia’s far-right political groups. While serving as a political staffer he was present in the House of Representatives chamber when Pauline Hanson gave her first speech in the Australian Parliament in September 1996, claiming that Australia was “in danger of being swamped by Asians”.

Media Inquiries: Tom Burmester 0468 926 833, Philip Dorling 0452 538 820

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Media Enquiries

Anna Chang Communications Director

0422 775 161

anna@australiainstitute.org.au