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Monday, 12 February, 2001, 08:47 GMT
Boost for anti-immigrant party
Pauline Hanson, One Nation
Pauline Hanson: Protest against boatpeople
A surge in support for the anti-immigration One Nation party has helped the opposition Labour party to a landslide victory over the ruling coalition in Western Australia.

One Nation, which has campaigned against the arrival of thousands of illegal immigrants, captured 9.6% of the vote and up to 25% in some constituencies.

We don't know exactly where they're from, and another thing - there's diseases that they're bringing into Australia

Pauline Hanson

Correspondents say the result is likely to hand One Nation the balance of power in Western Australia's upper house of parliament.

The governing Liberal-National coalition of the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, now holds office in only one of Australia's six states.

Antony Green, an electoral analyst with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, said the message from Western Australia is: "Be afraid, be very afraid, because there is a lot of rural voters out there prepared to kick the National Party in the guts and they don't care".

Prime Minister John Howard
John Howard: Vote was a major blow to his coalition

One Nation's leader Pauline Hanson said on Monday her party's electoral comeback was in part a backlash against the Australian Government's "soft" approach to boatpeople.

"At every meeting people asked me about what we are going to do about the illegal boatpeople," she said.

"The general feeling is that people feel forgotten, that the government and the opposition are more concerned about the illegal boatpeople arriving on our shores...

"We don't know if they've got any criminal background. We don't know exactly where they're from, and another thing - there's diseases that they're bringing into Australia," she said. "It's a known fact that some of them have got typhoid. We're leaving our people wide open to catching these diseases."

Chinese boatpeople in Australia
Australia is trying to stem the flow of illegal immigrants
Australia is trying to track down 18 Afghan boatpeople who may be carrying typhoid fever, after six cases of the illness were discovered in detention camps. They were released in January from two remote immigration processing centres.

There has been a dramatic rise in the number of boatpeople entering Australia illegally, many of them of Middle Eastern origin. Three boats carrying nearly 300 illegal immigrants were intercepted in the first three weeks of 2001, while 50 boats carrying 3,080 people arrived in 2000.

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See also:

01 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia celebrates 100 years
03 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Mass march for aborigines
24 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Aborigines attack welfare culture
15 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Sharks used to deter immigrants
27 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Shadow over Australian party
04 Oct 98 | Australian elections
Pauline Hanson: Voice of nationalism
13 Jun 98 | Asia-Pacific
Race dominates Australian elections
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