Pauline Hanson's 1996 maiden speech

This speech by Pauline Hanson, Independent member for Oxley Queensland, caused a political, media and public sensation. Pauline Hanson later became leader of the One Nation Party, 1997-2004.

The speech engendered both support and outrage for her statements about migrants, multiculturalism, Aboriginal Australians and national identity. It raised questions about notions of political correctness, what it means to be Australian and wedge politics.

Watch this video with a transcript.

What did you think of Pauline Hanson’s speech? How did it make you feel as a Indigenous Australian or a recent migrant? Do you agree with some of her thoughts?

It is a pity that more of Pauline Hanson’s views have not been incorporated into mainstream Australian politics. -- Maurie Pegrum, 2006

Pauline Hanson's speech makes me feel so ashamed and disgusted at how ignorant and unintelligent she, and other Australian's who support her, are. There is blatant hypocrisy in her statement 'I should be allowed to choose who comes into my country'... did the Aboriginal Australians she so vehemently berates have this choice?!! -- Jess Pike, 2010

To share your response use the Comments Box at the bottom of this page. Selected written responses will be shown on our website and may be chosen to be shown in the exhibition.

Comments (16)

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Janelle Evans 12 May, 2011 15:09
Unfortunately this attitude is shared by many Anglo-Celtic Australians who deny the violence of colonial settler history in this country. They deny that Aboriginal people have been dispossessed of their land and the associated trauma which still affects the lives of many today. While it is true that the agricultural and industrial industries in Australia were forged by the hard work of early settler families, Ms Hanson also denies the many Aboriginal, Chinese, Lebanese, Italian and Greek families who also contributed to the growth of this country. We are a free and compassionate people. We believe in equality for all and the right to a 'fair go'. We have no room in this country for such appalling racism.
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Dave 1 June, 2011 17:17
"...something that happened over 200 years ago..." That line really gets to me, because colonisation is a living breathing thing for most people in the world...
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D. M. Kumarasinghe 2 May, 2013 21:45
I believe that Pauline Hanson is just a racist band-waggon, whose words does not represent the mejority of Australians' view.
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Gunay 1 June, 2013 19:40
She just showed how much ignorant can some people be in this country. She is a symbol of fascism in Australia.Fascism always ends up in self destruction.
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Anonymous 13 June, 2013 17:30
What a disgrace! Rude, ignorant and arrogant. If you are tired of being reminded of "something which happened 200 years ago" - how do you think indigenous people feel having to hear your self interested complaints over and over again - when they continue to be persecuted by racists like you to this day?!
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Pauline Pantsdown 13 May, 2014 20:49
I don't like it. Please Explain
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Anonymous 29 May, 2015 20:29
I believe that Pauline Hanson has a distinctive point. As a young member of Australian society I am repetitively informed about the equality we strive for as a nation but I am somehow oblivious to the equality being demonstrated. Pauline Hanson is not a racist; she is merely a democrat who is voicing the opinion of a large mass of the Australian opinion. As I am of youth many shall respond to my comment with statements of my ignorance and inability to recognise the wrong-doings of my ancestors but that is simply a misinterpretation of the meaning behind my words. I currently attend a highly indigenous populated school and have gained Indigenous friends along the way. Henceforth, I am not racist for I respect the multicultural aspect that is Australian society today but I ask you to consider the following. Is it right to teach a child the same segment of Australian history for thirteen years of their life? Is it not enough to inform a child of these events within the span of one or two years where they are of a mature age? I was not alive for these tragic events of our history and I shall forever remain respectful of the Indigenous who were affected but I will not be forced to apologise for the entirety of my life for something that will never be forgive, nor do I need my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren so on a so forth to be punished and forced to apologise. Degrade me as you wish and taunt my up-bringing but I stand by my point. I will not devote my life to a crime I did not commit, I will shamelessly recognise the evil my ancestors commit but I will not harbour that evil and be demonised by the colour of my skin. I could speak of the unjust benefits the indigenous receive, the inequitble social standings that place anglo-celctic persons below the majority and how I have had to face my own racist battles because of my skin colour but nobody would listen for I am just a child with no idea of how the world works aren't I? Think again for I am part of the generation that is going to be controlling this country one day and you'll finally see how much the dynamics have changed. Indigenous children and non-indigenous children have learnt to work as one. Its time for the adults to play the game that is equality and practice what they preach.
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Gabriella ramsauer 10 September, 2015 11:07
I just listened to the speech, that speech was made with plain commonsense every country has been overcome by other races and nationalities what phanson is saying is that when you do migrate it should be with the intention of accepting the social ideals and respecting the laws of that knew homeland not demanding that knew homeland adapt to you and accept your ways. Eg: basic manners excuse me, please, thank you, being physically clean in body and clothing rather than trying to cover it up with fragrances it doesn't work. Learn the language of the country you move to. On the subject of indigenous australians it is time that they counted themselves as australians and not special projects for fence sitting bleeding hearts. Loyalty to ones country is essential and fellow citizens first and formost. Thank you
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Elizabeth Lam 11 October, 2015 15:40
How would she feel if she was an immigrant..we're all human just because we look different we all function the same and all have feelings, she can bury her speech 6 feet under. It's unfortunate that people like her exist in this world, it's not like people get to choose what ethnicity they are or what they look like or whether they stay or leave their countries. Sometimes people are just forced out of their countries. As for Aborigines, this was their country in the first place so she should respect it, yeah the Europeans came to build it and stuff but they also destroyed so many things that we can't get back and no amount of money can repay what the Aborigines were put thorough. So I suggest her to just be quiet.
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John 2 January, 2016 22:18
Having returned from living in England, and having visited and worked in Paris, brussels and a dozen other 'multicultural' cities, I can tell you that multiculturalism is the very last thing Oz needs, it is dangerous. Europe has BIG problems with ethnic crime, social anomie, low wages. Multiculturalism is all about cutting living standards for You and Your children thru cheap, pliable thirdworld labour.
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Raymond Ng 28 February, 2016 11:18
The following the rebuttal speech from the late Peter Nugent Member for Aston, about Pauline Hanson's speech: "Mr NUGENT(1.16 p.m.) —I rise today to make some comment on a contribution made earlier in this debate by the mem ber for Oxley (Ms Hanson). The member made a number of assertions and statements were made which have received wide publicity outside of this place since that speech. It seems to me that it is incumbent on members in this place to challenge some of those statements and, particularly, to put some of the facts on the record. I believe that many of the statements made by the member for Oxley were not supported or substantiated by facts. I am disappointed that many of our spokesmen on both sides of the chamber have chosen not to challenge some of the statements made by the member in her statement. I think it is important that somebody in this place is seen to be prepared to stand up and point out what I believe is the error of many of her statements. Whilst it is not possible to deal with every single aspect of what the member for Oxley said, I want to comment on three or four or five—if I have time—in some detail. First of all, and I quote from the Hansard, I take issue with the statement made by the member for Oxley where she said: . . . I am fed up to the back teeth with the inequalities that are being promoted by the government and paid for by the taxpayer under the assumption that Aboriginals are the most disadvantaged people in Australia. I do not believe that there is any assumption about the situation of Aboriginal people in this country. There are certainly other disadvantaged people, Aboriginal people are not the only disadvantaged people, but as a group there is no question that the facts demonstrate quite clearly that Aboriginal people are the most disadvantaged people in this country. The first fact that you can look at is life expectancy. Life expectancy is conditioned by a number of factors whether it is infrastructure, housing, health, employment or whatever. If you are a non­Aboriginal male child born in Australia this year—and I have grandchildren who have been born in this country and I had another grandchild born this year—then compared with an Aboriginal male child born in this country in 1996 you have an 18­year better life expectancy. An Aboriginal female child born today compared with a non­Aboriginal female child born today in this country has a 15­year less life expectancy. That is the first, hard, crushing fact of life for the indigenous population of this country, and it is a factual piece of information. There is no assumption about Aboriginal groups being disadvantaged, it is very factual. Look at the health statistics such as the rate of diabetes in Aboriginal women. If we look at the rate of middle ear infection, in many Aboriginal primary schools up to 50 per cent of the children in those schools have middle ear infections. That means that they not only have a health problem, it means that they have an education problem as well. There is no other school outside of the Aboriginal community in this country that has got health statistics of that type. It is not uncommon, because of a lack of infrastructure—clean water, clean housing, sanitation and so on—to find that all the health statistics in many Aboriginal communities are quite appallingly below those of other areas of our community. When we look at education, at the number of children in the Aboriginal community who get a good education, we find that the numbers are appallingly behind those of the wider community. Looking at housing: you travel to many of the Aboriginal and indigenous communities in this country and you will find that the overcrowding in housing is really quite disgraceful and is in fact only comparable often with the most appalling conditions in the Third World countries of this globe. I have said in this place before, for example, on trips that I have made to Aboriginal communities, it is not uncommon to find 20 or 30 people living in a house. In fact, in one community I went to in the Northern Territory, there were 38 people on average living in a three­bedroom house in the 200 houses in that community. Can you imagine 38 people living in a three­ bedroom house, with one toilet and one shower, in a hot climate. It is appalling. There is nowhere else in this community or in this country where those sorts of housing numbers in fact apply. Three years ago the Industry Commission did a study on Aboriginal housing and they came to the conclusion that we required to spend over $2 billion just to bring Aboriginal housing up to the standard of the rest of the community. So how could anybody possibly say that the Aboriginal community is not disadvantaged in terms of housing? When we look at employment—and we talk in this place about employment regularly—we talk about the appalling state of the unemployment rate, which is stuck at about eight per cent. We would all like to see that improved. We may argue between the two sides of politics about how we should go about that. But the reality is that in Aboriginal communities in the length and breadth of the country, even in good times, unemployment rates are usually stuck at about 80 per cent. In many Aboriginal communities, we actually say to that community, `Don't just accept the dole, go on to the CDEP scheme', which is a scheme that I support, but it is a work for the dole scheme. I think that has many advantages, but we do not require that of non­ Aboriginal people in this country. It seems to me that, there again in employment, they are a specifically identifiable group that, in fact, are disadvantaged compared with the rest of us. Then of course we can get on to looking at the legal system and the representation in gaol. The truth of the matter is that if you are a 15­ to 19­year­old Aboriginal youth and you come from Western Australia, you are going to be more than 50 times—five zero times—more likely to be in custody in one form or another than if you are a non­ Aboriginal youth in the same age band. I am not saying that if an Aboriginal youth commits a crime, they should not be locked up. But what I am saying is that, when you get into the areas of criminal activity or substance abuse and so on and so forth, those are usually products of the environment in which you have been brought up and the socioeconomic deprivation that you have suffered. Because Aboriginal kids suffer greater socioeconomic deprivation than the rest of our community, they tend to be overrepresented in our legal system. Then of course you can get into the whole area of substance abuse. Again, it is not a racial thing. Across the world, in eastern Europe, in particular when the Berlin Wall came down, they found in eastern Germany—and since the USSR crumbled, they found in Russia—that, because of socioeconomic factors, crime is rife and substance abuse is rife in many of those countries. Amongst the areas of our community in Australia where substance abuse is most rife is the indigenous community because of the socioeconomic disadvantage that they suffer. The reality of life is that in this country over the last 10 years, certainly over the last 50 years and probably over the last 200, we have tried a number of measures to deal with the disadvantage suffered by Aboriginal people. We have tried full integration, we have tried full assimilation, and the reality is that it did not work. Therefore, we have to say that, as for any disadvantaged group in our community, whether it be the handicapped, whether it be the mentally ill, or any other identifiable group, special measures are needed. The evidence is there that special measures are needed for the indigenous community. I have criticised the former government for its failures in this area. I have acknowledged publicly its good intent but I believe that it did not make much difference, in the 13 years it was in government, to the situation of Aboriginal people. So we need to look for new ways. Just abolishing special programs and saying that these people have to be treated the same as everybody else has been demonstrated to be a failure in the past. If it is tried again in the future it will be a failure again. We have to recognise the cultural differences. The member for Oxley, in her speech, complained that the Aboriginal people say, `This is our land.' To this she said—and again I quote from Hansard: Well, where the hell do I go? The answer is that she does not go anywhere. She sits pat. Freehold, leasehold, whatever land you and I, Mr Deputy Speaker live on, or the member for Oxley, or anybody else in this chamber, is totally unaffected. We have a legal basis on which we stay on the land we are on and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous. Nobody is going to move any non­Aboriginal person off their land as a result of the native title legislation or as a result of the land acquisition fund or any of those things. When we talk about native title—and this is the context in which the member for Oxley raised the matter—we are talking about land that was originally owned by Aboriginal people and has been recognised by the courts as still vacant crown land to which they may have a claim, providing they can prove continuing association over the last 200 years. Again the other side of the chamber and our side of the chamber may have differences of views as to how that legislation is being implemented and whether it is effective. There is no doubt that so far the only people to have benefited since the legislation was passed have been the lawyers. Not a single Aboriginal person has got a piece of native title land. But to suggest that because of things like native title we are all going to be kicked on, frankly, is scaremongering of the base kind. The member for Oxley said also: . . . I draw the line when told I must pay and continue paying for something that happened over 200 years ago. This is a popular line in some quarters of our community, that we are paying for the damage that was done 200 years ago. Anything that this parliament does, and any money and programs that this parliament may decide to put in place in respect of disadvantaged people in our community, has nothing to do directly with what happened 200 years ago. It may be somewhat of an inheritance but what we are talking about is trying to fix the problems that are here today. I recounted earlier a number of the disadvantage factors for the indigenous community. We are trying to address some of those factors, as we should. It was interesting, on a more minor mundane matter perhaps, but one which I think needs to be challenged, that the member for Oxley said: Those who feed off the Aboriginal industry do not want to see things changed. Look at the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. Members receive $290 a day sitting allowance and $320 a day travelling allowance and most of these people also hold other very well paid positions. No wonder they did not want to resign recently! Let me inform the member for Oxley that I am a member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. I am the government nominee and I have been the coalition nominee for the last five years. The fact of the matter in terms of how the council functions is that the rates that are applied are the standard rates for any government body of this type. I have not heard the member for Oxley come in here and complain about the rates in respect of any other body, only the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. She might be interested to know that members like me, who are on the government payroll in other respects, do not get sitting fees. She might be interested to know also that many members of the council from outside of the government payroll choose not to take their fees or their TA, or donate it to their employer organisations or back to the process. In fact, very few take their sitting fees and/or their TA. It is also interesting to note that the 25 people who are involved in that council meet four times a year as a formal council, plus other committee meetings and other activities on behalf of the council on a regular basis, and we meet at weekends. I have to say that I do not regard the fact that I have to go and stay in a hotel and I get a bit of TA which might give me an extra $50, perhaps, over my hotel bill as recompense for having to spend four of my weekends a year away from home. As you would know, Mr Deputy Speaker, and as the other members in here would know, we spend enough time away from home. We do that because we believe in what we are doing, not because we think we are on the gravy train. The member for Oxley went on to say that reconciliation is everyone recognising and treating each other as equals and everyone must be responsible for their own actions. Exactly. When we treat indigenous people in this country like that, we will not have a need for organisations like the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, but the reality is, of course, that we do not treat them like that. Having talked about Aboriginal people, I want to raise another issue. The lady from Oxley said, `I believe we're in danger of being swamped by Asians. They have their own culture and religion and form ghettos and do not assimilate.' I say that is factually untrue and I challenge her to produce any substantive evidence. Of course there are migrants of all shapes, sizes, colours and hues that come to this country who may not be successful in our community, but there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of immigrants that come to this country, including Asian immigrants, who do extremely well and make major contributions for the benefit of our country. Look at some of the doctors, the heart doctors who are Chinese. Look at some of the Asians that we have in engineering and science. Look at some of the Asians who do so well in business or in sports. And what is wrong with coming here with your own religion? Do we say to the non­Asians in our community that they cannot choose their religion? The very basis of our democracy is that we have freedom of choice of religion. How can you criticise people coming here from whatever their background about having their own religion? How can you criticise people, saying they all live in ghettos, when in my electorate alone people who are immigrants, including Asians, are spread right throughout the community and they are integrated into the community outstandingly? The previous government introduced and we have continued a system whereby we give scholarships to the 500 highest achievers in the academic system at the end of the school year. In the last couple of years most of those people tend to have been Asians in my electorate. Those people are contributing, they are involved and they are doing an outstanding job. To make the sorts of comments the member for Oxley made is, quite frankly, nonsense. The member for Oxley also talked about overseas aid. She said: In this financial year we will be spending at least $1.5 billion on foreign aid and we cannot be sure that this money will be properly spent, as corruption and mismanagement in many of the recipient countries are legend. There is no question that corruption and mismanagement in many of the recipient countries is absolutely appalling, but the reality is that the amount of money we spend is something like 0.2 per cent of our gross domestic product—a minute amount of the overall budget. When you go to some of the other countries around the world and you see the conditions that millions of people are living in, for a country like Australia not to have the charity in its heart and the goodwill to actually try to get out there and help some of those people—if we cannot do that, I frankly think we should pack up and go home. I just came back from a delegation to India and Pakistan and some of the conditions in those countries are quite appalling. It is not the individual's fault. I went to a slum in one of those countries where people live in the most appalling conditions, conditions that we cannot even conceive of in this country. If we cannot afford to spend a small fraction of our wealth, which is still considerable in spite of all of our many economic difficulties, on helping those people, I think it is quite appalling. In Pakistan, I went to a project where we were helping young children and where in fact this government has just cut back on our aid, as all members of this place will know. I would have to say that it was one of the elements of the budget that I would personally probably have wished to see turn out differently. However, I am not going to argue about that at the moment. But the reality is that we cut back on our aid and one of the projects that I went to see is not going to get its funding next year. There were children in this project that we are directly funding—not channelling through some government official so that it is all being syphoned off—where we have people on the ground, where we are supervising the project, where we are making sure that we pick the people who work in there and where every single dollar that we are donating in aid is actually having a direct benefit on the poor of this world. It seems to me that if we cannot do that, frankly, I would not want to be in this country or in this parliament. It is something that we have a moral obligation to undertake. The member for Oxley talked about a whole range of other things. She talked about the Child Support Agency, she talked about the economy, she talked about national service—I might add that the green corps is a form of national service—but it seemed to me that the speech was riddled with no research, no facts, very little logic, nothing constructive, generalisations and simplistic solutions that have been proven in the past not to work. It might strike a chord with some, but it seems to me that she does neither the House, her electorate nor this country any service by making those comments. I oppose her views. I will challenge them and I will rebut them at every opportunity because I believe that is one of the reasons why my electorate has sent me here.
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Dennis K Ferrell 25 May, 2016 12:38
Paulines' first speech made me feel proud to be Australian so much so I joined the One Nation Party and was a part of the successful WA foray into politics that spoke a "FAIR GO " for all.
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Eric 7 July, 2016 12:20
@Dennis K Ferrell yeah a fair go unless you look different and have a funny accent right? Or your parents come from a non-white country and we live in a suburb that looks different right?
John 4 July, 2016 23:04
We can't change what happened 200 years ago, we can prevent things from happening now. Comparing the present to the past is vacuous as they are two different times. Learning from our past and bettering our future is what people should be focusing on.
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Dan 6 July, 2016 22:24
I do feel as though the "swamped by Asians" bit is often quoted out of context. Pauline is a bit of a dill, but there's nothing wrong with wanting to preserve your culture and values.
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Stephanie Palmer 25 July, 2016 16:53
Australia is Swamped By Caucasians. Don't believe me? Ask the Aborigines. Reverse racism in your ugly face and ancestors who's behind you. Go back, if you don't like Australia. You won't be missed at all.
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