Politics

One Nation’s Newest Senator Defected From The Party Immediately After Being Sworn In

Another one gone.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party has lost yet another senator, with freshly minted Queenslander Fraser Anning quitting the party immediately after being sworn in.

Last Friday Anning was confirmed by the Australian Electoral Commission as One Nation’s replacement for senator Malcolm Roberts, who was expelled from the Senate after the High Court found he was a dual citizen and therefore ineligible to hold office.

This morning at 10am, Anning was officially sworn in as a senator. However, eyebrows were raised when he was accompanied into the chamber not by Hanson or any of his One Nation colleagues, but by Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm and Cory Bernardi.

Hanson was absent from parliament this morning and even missed the election for the new Senate president. At 11:20 this morning, just 80 minutes after Anning’s swearing in, One Nation released a statement announcing the new senator had defected from One Nation and would serve as an independent.

According to the statement Pauline Hanson “believes previous employees of Malcolm Roberts made contact with Mr Anning several months ago, encouraging him to move to Cory Bernardi’s party should Malcolm Roberts lose his seat”.

The statement goes on in quite some detail to explain Hanson’s unsuccessful attempts to contact Anning during the High Court process. It looks like she never managed to get in touch him with so she ended up getting in contact with his brother Harry instead.

In an extraordinary twist it appears the first time Hanson actually managed to speak to Anning was this morning, just before he was sworn in. According to Hanson, Anning walked out of their meeting. After the two other One Nation senators, Brian Burston and Peter Georgoiu, tried and failed to calm things down Anning announced he would “stand as an independent”.

Anning’s defection means One Nation has lost three senators in just 16 months. It’s also a blow to the party’s Queensland state election campaign, where Hanson is hoping to pick up several seats, and possibly the balance of power in parliament.