Pauline Hanson gets a rock star reception in Gympie
SHAPING up to be Queensland's king or queen maker at the next election, One Nation brought its own royalty to Gympie yesterday in the hope of boosting the party's chances.
About 30 people greeted Senator Pauline Hanson with rousing applause just after midday as she rolled into Mary St in her Battler Bus, joining Gympie's One Nation candidate Chelle Dobson to announce an election commitment of future land and $500,000 to create a retreat for the region's veterans.
The visit was a mostly smooth affair, the major hiccup coming when her driver parked the bus next to a light post, leaving her unable to get out on her first two tries.
One Mary St shopper gave the One Nation group a verbal serve about its immigration policies, only to be told by a supporter to "go be racist elsewhere", while another called those in the group "bigots" as they walked by.
To celebrate the $500,000 announcement, Senator Hanson gifted members of the Cooloola Sunshine Coast Military Brotherhood Military Motorcycle Club an Australian flag.
"I didn't come here with millions of dollars, but it's something I can give to you with deep appreciation," she said.
Senator Hanson's second visit to the region in the past 13 months comes as polls showed the party could hold the balance of power in the next government.
The Senator said One Nation would push for the retreat to be established regardless of the election outcome.
"This is something that we will continue to push for," she said.
"We will see this happen for these guys in Queensland. It's there, we want this and it's definitely going to happen."
She said people living in regional areas like Gympie did not want to be taken for granted any more.
"You've had flooding in the streets, and you really haven't had the help or assistance you've needed here," she said.
"I don't want that for Queensland, I want everyone to feel their taxes are working for them."
She said she kept hearing the same refrain in regional areas: that residents were not being looked after by the current crop of politicians.
"Infrastructure is being run down... we're getting too many people who are leaving these areas and moving to the cities and getting jobs.
"Forget about these big sculptures or arts, and the waste of money there, and look after the little people."
Senator Hanson said it was important to keep people in places like Gympie.
"I want to keep people in these towns."
The youngest person at the rally, Miss Parkin said she felt her questions on child support and university costs were "deflected" by Senator Hanson, who she felt was "too much on the move" to really connect with people.
"They have to sit down and talk to the people," she said.
Miss Parkin said she started looking for an alternative after she no longer felt proud about the country's direction.
"Australia was a great country, but not so much any more," she said.