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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 05:15 GMT
Australia's Hanson 'quits' politics
One Party leader Pauline Hanson
Pauline Hanson: Big influence on Australian politics
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By the BBC's Phil Mercer in Sydney

The founder of Australia's anti-immigration One Nation Party, Pauline Hanson, has said she is resigning from politics.

She is stepping down as the party's national president, due to stress and to spend time preparing her defence in her forthcoming court case.

Miss Hanson achieved notoriety because of her extreme views on Australia's indigenous community and asylum seekers.

Chinese boatpeople in Australia
One Nation is opposed to the arrival of boatpeople
Her decision to abandon politics comes four months before she is due to face magistrates in Brisbane charged with fraudulently registering her party and dishonestly obtaining $250,000 in electoral funding.

She will appear along with a former One Nation director, David Ettridge.

The former fish and chip shop owner was elected to Australia's upper house in 1996, but lost her seat two years later.

Uncompromising views

Among the targets of her outspoken views were multiculturalism, Asian immigrants and Australia's aboriginal people who, she claimed, received too many welfare payments from the government and did little to help themselves.

Her opinions on asylum seekers were equally uncompromising. Ms Hanson called them common criminals and queue jumpers and said they did not deserve Australia's compassion.

PM John Howard:
Howard: Adopted a tough line on immigrants
Her anti-immigration rhetoric caused widespread offence, but did strike a cord with sections of the conservative, white population.

The party polled up to 10% of votes in last year's state elections in Queensland and Western Australia. Support has been steadily falling since then.

Miss Hanson failed again to win a Senate seat at last year's federal election.

Lasting influence

One senior One Nation official said Pauline Hanson would be missed, but insisted she had left her mark on politics.

He may be right.

Some analysts here in Australia believe the Prime Minister John Howard won last November's election after adopting One Nation-style policies on refugees.

Mr Howard's refusal to allow 400 mainly Afghan asylum seekers rescued by the Norwegian freighter, the Tampa, into Australia played a significant part in his victory at the polls.

Another former One Nation colleague doubted whether Pauline Hanson has left politics for good.

He said she was still addicted to the drug of celebrity and notoriety and would be back.

Her committal hearing on fraud charges is scheduled to start in April. If found guilty, she could face up to 10 years in prison.

The BBC's Phil Mercer
"Her anti-immigration rhetoric caused widespead offence"
See also:

21 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Howard's refugee gamble paying off
22 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Asian-Australians fear far-right return
04 Oct 98 | Australian elections
Pauline Hanson: Voice of nationalism
31 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australian right-winger charged with fraud
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