WHEN One Nation hit the political scene in the late 1990s, it was a force to be reckoned with. Its right wing policies were divisive and sparked bitter debate within the community.
Its founder, Pauline Hanson (who was in Goulburn last week), was warning that our culture was under attack and she feared that we were at risk of being ‘swamped by Asians’.
To some she was a hero, to others a villain. Undeniably though, she was a testament to the challenging nature of free speech.
Today, the party has a much softer image and its candidate for Hume certainly illustrates that shift.
Lynette Styles is a progressive minded but conservative small business owner and former solicitor with a background in both criminal and family law.
She also has a background in politics, serving as a Wollondilly Shire Councillor for four years and standing as an independent candidate for the State seat of the Southern Highlands in 1999.
Until six months ago, Mrs Styles had never had any ties to a registered political party but when she decided to run for Hume, she knew she wouldn’t be able to do it alone.
Disillusioned by the ‘populism’ of both Labor and the Coalition, she started to look into the minor parties. One Nation seemed to be a perfect fit.
“I think One Nation has the best policies that suit me as an individual and what I believe in for our country,” she explained.
She said if one looked closely at One Nation’s policy platform one would soon realise that it is made up of best bits of existing policies, they’d just been reshaped and improved.
Mrs Styles has a particular interest in law and order; roads and infrastructure; health; and the protection of civil liberties.
She will be campaigning on issues including funding for a hospital in Wollondilly; upgrades to roads and infrastructure across the electorate; better employment opportunities through the creation of industry and infrastructure; scrapping the carbon tax and opposing the PNG Solution.
Instead, she supports offshore processing at Christmas Island and the permanent resettlement of genuine refugees in the community until a better long term policy is drafted; one that puts human rights and border protection on equal footing.
“Being a lawyer, I think (the PNG Solution) is inhumane and un-Australian. I think it’s unfair to those individuals who see Australia as a golden shining light and who are prepared to risk their lives to get here at all costs and then to just be sent to Manus Island…” she said.
“I never supported (John Howard’s policies) either but I think in the interim they need to be processed somewhere and I think the facilities on Christmas Island have been built for that purpose… “Australia has more to offer than Manus Island. I would hate to see us go back to the Howard era, that was too severe and too strict and I don’t support turning people away.”
Mrs Styles is also a supporter of tax cuts for small business, the second Wilton airport, private sector partnerships to establish high speed rail infrastructure and legalising same-sex marriage, which she sees as a civil rights issue.
While One Nation is now a more ‘user friendly’ party, it still possesses some hardline right wing views. Some of which don’t gel too well with the candidate for Hume.
According to its website, the party believes: “Australians have the right to a cohesive society and deny immigration to anyone who does not abide by our law, culture, democracy, flag or Christian way of life”.
When asked, Mrs Styles said she didn’t believe people should have to be Christian to immigrate to Australia.
“I’m agnostic myself. I was never asked the question of whether or not I am a Christian when I signed up (to join One Nation), it’s not on the application form and the fact that the word Christian is in there could be interpreted in various ways I’m thinking,” she said.
“I certainly subscribe to freedom of choice and that is in our constitution anyway ...”
She also said that the she wasn’t aware of that particular wording and suggested the policy may have “mellowed” since the post was authored.
“One Nation does subscribe to ‘Australia for all Australians’ so it doesn’t matter what religion you are,” she said.
The party’s website also proclaims that “Multiculturalism has failed everywhere. It is negative and divisive, a weight that is drowning our once safe and cohesive society. One Nation will abolish multiculturalism and the Racial Discrimination Act and promote assimilation, nationalism, loyalty and pride in being an Australian.”
When asked if she wished to abolish the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975, she once again said she wasn’t aware of this policy and that she didn’t support this type of law reform.
“As a lawyer, I don’t subscribe to discrimination against any individuals and so if that was a policy of One Nation, which I don’t think it is, I wouldn’t support it…” Mrs Styles said.
“(As for multiculturalism), to be fair to everybody who wants to come and live in Australia, number one: there should be one law for all Australians; number two: multiculturalism doesn’t mean you have the right to establish your own legal system within our network, I don’t endorse that and I don’t endorse the abolition of multiculturalism because I believe in freedom of association. “