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Thursday, 22 February, 2001, 18:59 GMT
Asian-Australians fear far-right return
Pauline Hanson
Many Australian Asians are uneasy about Hanson
In Sydney's Chinatown area, Evylin Lee is busy sorting out bright red chillies in an oriental grocery store, but her thoughts are troubled by recent political events in neighbouring Queensland state.


Pauline Hanson is igniting racism in Australia

Action Against Racism group
One of millions of Asians who have immigrated to Australia, she is troubled by the resurgence of the far-right Australian politician Pauline Hanson and her One Nation party, which only a few weeks ago, was written off as a spent force.

Evilyn Lee
Lee has been in Australia for 25 years
On a platform of halting Asian immigration, foreign aid and getting Aborigines off welfare, the party performed well in recent elections in Queensland and Western Australia states, polling up to 10% of votes.

Ms Lee, an emigre from Hong-Kong, says that she is frightened by the fiery redhead.

"If she got more power, I think there would be trouble," Ms Lee told Associated Press news agency.

Australian Asian in Sydney
Australian Asians do not see her as a major threat, but feel uneasy
"All the Asian people and others would try to escape or run away from Australia... They'd rather look for somewhere peaceful"

"Pauline Hanson is igniting racism in Australia," said Action Against Racism protester David Charlton.

While many Asian do not see Ms Hanson as a major threat, the former fish-and-chip shop owner still causes unease - and she is also creating waves on the political front.

Splitting votes

Although Ms Hanson's party won just two of the 89 state parliamentary seats in Queensland state polls last weekend - far short of the 11 seats it won in 1998 - the party's impact was significant, as it split the votes for major parties.

Pauline Hanson
Hanson won protest votes in recent state polls
The party stole protest ballots from conservatives voters who traditionally support Prime Minister John Howard's Liberal-National party coalition.

As a result, the Labor party won 67 states - two-thirds of the parliament - in Queensland, leaving the coalition to suffer a humiliating defeat.

The BBC's Sydney correspondent Red Harrison says that by all normal calculations Labor Premier Peter Beattie's party should have been beaten soundly.

But voters seem to have chosen to ignore an electoral fraud scandal which forced three Labor MPs to resign last year, as well as the resignation of another parliamentarian in connection with sex offence charges.

National polls

Many see it as a sign of things to come in national elections, expected in November or December.

Prime Minister John Howard
Howard: Queensland results "are very bad... there is no point mincing words"
The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that the National Party has now been plunged into acrimonius in-fighting.

Ms Hanson, meanwhile, has continued to stoke fresh controversy, calling for the government to stop sending aid to Indonesia and saying Aborigines only wanted an apology for acts of discrimination in order to get compensation.

She has announced other plans - she wants to win one of six federal Senate seats up for grabs in Queensland state later this year.

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See also:

01 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia celebrates 100 years
12 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Boost for anti-immigrant party
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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