Today marks a significant anniversary for Sen. Pauline Hanson and her relationship with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
Twenty years ago, Ms Hanson delivered a watershed speech to the people of Longreach, Queensland that laid out chapter and verse, her plans to dismantle Native Title, ATSIC and Abstudy while reforming the Constitution by Referendum to stop the rorting of taxpayers money by— what she called —"Aboriginal Industry".
Strongly opposed to being labelled a racist, Ms Hanson claimed that her agenda was to "rattle the cage and rock the boat of elites" when she spoke to the people of Longreach, a regional town that sits on the traditional lands of the Iningai, Malintji and Kuunkari peoples.
However, it was not the "elites" in the firing line on 11 September 1998, but instead, a severe analysis given on Indigenous affairs in attempt to win a seat in Parliament. With a Federal election looming and Ms Hanson back in politics, one asks whether she and her party still hold the same opinions and policies espoused twenty years ago?
NITV contacted Sen. Hanson, asking whether One Nation stands by the past policy commitments. She responded,
"I fully stand by the sentiment and the policy aims of the Longreach speech and I would happily give a similar speech tomorrow," Sen. Hanson said.
In 1998, the country had just held its first National Sorry Day, the Federal Court blocked construction of the Jabiluka uranium mine in favour of the Mirarr Traditional Owners and five years prior, the momentous Native Title Act overturned Terra Nullius; that the land 'belonged to no one'.
In her speech, Ms Hanson characterised Native Title as, this shameless grab for land is not about reconciliation, but in fact an exercise in remuneration and introduced her "patriotic desire" was "for all of us to truly be One People under One Flag".
Ms Hanson’s pitch was couched in the following;
We Australians are a young people and our nation relatively new when compared to others but our love of this land is as great as anyone's love of their place.
You cannot claim more attachment to a place because your ancestors were here first.
You cannot claim a greater sense of belonging because your relative was here before the relative of another.
You cannot claim to be more Australian than those who have lived here just as long as you have.
I speak of course of the Aborigines and their much publicised right to this land because their forefathers are said to go back tens of thousands of years.
Does an Aborigine who is the same age as I am and was born here as I was, have anymore feel for the land or cherish its beauty and ruggedness more than you and I do?
Would an Aborigine fight any harder to defend Australia than you or I would?
Does anyone think migrants who have become loyal Australian citizens have less claim or love for this country than someone of Aboriginal descent?
We Australians are a people of multi-racial origins but we must stop this division by race.
The political bleeding hearts and others who seek to line their pockets through greed will only destroy our nation and our people.
The 'greedy' people Ms Hanson was pointing the finger at were the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Ms Hanson advised, We must not peddle guilt for the purpose of gaining compensation or benefits based on race.
The fact that the Federal Government could make special laws such as Native Title on the basis of race, she explained, was taking advantage of the system and has entrenched reverse discrimination and the misappropriation of taxpayers' funds.
Ms Hanson’s One Nation Party called for a Referendum to amend this race based section of the Constitution and adding We must rid ourselves of Native Title and just as laws are made by and for the people so can they be amended.
Our growing population was also cause for concern;
According to recent newspaper reports it is suggested there are 15,000 people in Tasmania who claim Aboriginality but well known activist Michael Mansell claims 9,000 of these people are not Aboriginal and merely claim to be so as to gain benefits.
The Aboriginal population is growing faster than the population of Australia generally.
Despite terrible infant mortality and a generally shorter life span, the Aboriginal population increased 33 per cent from 1991-1996 while the rest of the population of Australia increased by only around 6 per cent.
This increase appears to reflect the availability of various government benefits to Aboriginal people who are not subject to precise qualification as to need or actual Aboriginality.
Under One Nation policy the issue of Aboriginality would no longer exist as benefits by virtue of race would no longer exist.
Has much changed?
While One Nation currently have no explicit policies on issues such as Native Title, Abstudy or Constitutional recognition, Hanson's recent comments about 'defining Aboriginality' in 2016 are perhaps a further revival of her 90s accusations that the boom in our population is merely a claim to gain benefits, and of her party's policy that Aboriginality should no longer exist.
It's safe to say Sen. Hanson was speaking on the wrong side of history. And rather than cease to exist, we’ve grown stronger.
Today the nation contemplates the Uluru Statement from the Heart while a Parliamentary Joint Select Committee is working to relieve the stalemate on Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution. The Victorian Government has passed laws to create a Treaty framework. A poll conducted by the Australia Institute found 49 per cent of Australians support ‘Changing the Date’ of Australia Day.
Indeed we are all awake to old-fashioned race baiting that flowed through the Longreach speech, and as such we are a highly motivated constituency and we are educated on the policies and the people who represent us in Federal Parliament.
We are ready for the next election, One Nation.
To read Pauline Hanson's 1998 Longreach speech in full, see here.
Correction: An earlier version of this story had the headline ''Aboriginality should no longer exist': The Pauline Hanson speech we should never forget' and has been corrected to quote the article.