The New One Nation Senators Have Some Wild Backstories

And the maths on why Malcolm Turnbull's job just got harder.

05/08/2016 7:51 AM AEST | Updated 05/08/2016 12:51 PM AEST
One Nation will have four new senators

The Senate results have been finalised and they confirm what many have predicted -- that Malcolm Turnbull's job just got a lot harder, and passing legislation will be quite difficult.

As we reported yesterday, the Coalition has gone backwards in the Senate, losing three seats (going from 33 to 30 in the 76-seat chamber) while the crossbench has gained three. It means Turnbull will need to corral nine of the 11 diverse crossbenchers -- which include Pauline Hanson and her three other One Nation senators, the moderate Nick Xenophon Team trio, the free-wheeling David Leyonhjelm and Jacqui Lambie, the unknown quantity of Derryn Hinch and more -- just to get to a 39-seat majority and pass laws.

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Turnbull's job just got more difficult

Doing the maths, the Coalition needs 39 votes to get legislation through the Senate. That means they either need to sway Labor (already a hard task before the recent bitter election), give up something on the left for the Greens (whose nine seats will scrape the Coalition a majority), or somehow get One Nation and the NXT to line up in agreement; if either of those crossbench blocs turn their back, there won't be enough crossbenchers to get a majority.

Either way he goes, Turnbull is going to have to compromise; either by siding with his major foes in Labor, by heading to the left to pick up the Greens, or to the right to get One Nation.

But who are these new One Nation faces who are set to shake up the parliament? We know about Pauline Hanson, but do you know much about her three other One Nation colleagues also about to enter the Senate? Let's introduce you to some of the faces you'll be seeing a lot of in the next few years, and who -- in the midst of this precarious Senate position -- have suddenly become very powerful.

Pauline Hanson

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You know about Pauline Hanson. The former MP for Oxley, she's had a long period in the political wilderness since her last election win in 1996, and will return to Canberra as a federal senator with three more of her party's candidates. If you've forgotten One Nation's policies on immigration, Islam and multiculturalism, click here.

Malcolm Roberts

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Malcolm Roberts gives his first press conference as a senator, in Brisbane on Thursday

Roberts is the second One Nation senator from QLD, elected behind Hanson. The party's website says he has a "background in engineering, mining, business leadership and has a keen interest in economics; he is also passionate about climate change data and facts". His passion about climate change data is that he claims the data is false. He has been a manager with climate sceptic group the Galileo Movement.

In an interview in 2012, Roberts claimed the climate change agenda had been hijacked by ''some of the major banking families in the world'' who form a ''tight-knit cabal''. On Thursday, Roberts replied "definitely" when asked on 774 Melbourne radio "do you think the UN's trying to impose some sort of global government through climate change policy?"

On One Nation's website, Roberts says he "exposed the corruption" around climate science. In a 2011 letter to former MP Rob Oakeshott, published on the Galileo Movement's website, he said Australia's Chief Scientist had "failed to provide any evidence as proof of human causation of global warming." In the same letter, this is how he signed his name:

The odd style of the name, with colons included, is no mistake. Such a style is reportedly used by people who claim the grammatical flourishes are a fightback to government power. We tried to contact Roberts to chat about his priorities for the Senate, and the way he spells his name, but couldn't get through to him.

Elsewhere in the 774 interview, Roberts talked about addressing free speech and repealing section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act -- the section under which broadcaster Andrew Bolt was famously charged for racial vilification -- and named "the real issues" in Australia as "tax, Islam, terrorism, the economy."

Roberts got 77 first preference votes in QLD -- read that full story here.

Brian Burston

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Burston is One Nation's senator for NSW

Burston is One Nation's senator for NSW. He was a former deputy mayor of Cessnock and is an identical twin; his brother, Graham, also ran for the House of Representatives for One Nation, but did not get elected.

He also has called Islam a "a religion of hate", warned that "the caliphate is coming", and claimed that "90 percent" of Muslim migrants "don't contribute to society" and "live in Centrelink sinkholes" like "Lakemba and Liverpool" in Sydney, according to the Daily Telegraph.

On One Nation's website, Burston says he is "passionate about Australia's future in particular our nation's border security and National Identity".

Burston is not a new face in One Nation. He was actually part of the party's early days, acting as the party's national director. He and former party official David Oldfield were sacked by Hanson in 2000, after claims they locked her out of her office, but has obviously gotten back in her good graces.

Burston got 8,216 first preference votes.

Rod Culleton

One Nation
Rod Culleton, WA senator

Culleton is One Nation's senator for WA. He hasn't even stepped foot into parliament yet and is already facing questions over his fitness to be a politician; as we reported yesterday, he is awaiting sentencing for larceny charges in NSW. Section 44 of the Constitution sets out that anyone convicted of or awaiting sentence for a crime punishable by imprisonment of one year or longer is ineligible to become a senator or MP. The charge of larceny carries up to five years' jail in NSW.

Aside from that, he is also facing trial for stealing a hire car in WA; there are reports that a company he directs is thousands in debt and going into liquidation; and is an avid Facebook user, sharing countless images and statuses around Australia leaving the United Nations, and also writing that it is "Long past [time] to get out of the UN".

Culleton has also called for a Royal Commission into banks to expose the "unconscionable conduct and all the thuggery and corruption", has criticised Turnbull over his "intransigence over the stupid copper NBN" and has a keen interest in rural and agricultural issues. One Nation's website says he has been involved in agriculture for 35 years, "fighting for the farmers who are losing their properties to banks", and speaks at length on Facebook about financial and banking matters. He has featured in media reports about the impact of banks on rural communities and farmers (including this 60 Minutes report), and the One Nation website says he has fought against the ANZ Bank.

"My ultimate aims are to restore people's confidence in the future of our country, to insulate the assets of the Australian people in order for them to be the ultimate beneficiary of all their hard work and to protect these assets being financially harvested without a commercial remedy," he said on the website.

Culleton got 2,164 first preference votes.

As we outlined above, these are the ones who suddenly hold a whole lot of power in their hands, and potentially the power to block legislation, depending on how the rest of the Senate aligns itself. It will be a very interesting parliament.

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