One Nation leader backs penalty rate cuts and likens government’s vaccination programs to ‘a dictatorship’
Pauline Hanson has backed penalty rate cuts, reasserted her respect for Vladimir Putin and described successive governments’ vaccination policies as blackmail.
The One Nation leader asked for proof of Russian involvement in the downing of flight MH17, which killed 298 people, including 38 Australians.
“Did he push the button?” she said. “My comments were I respect the man. He is very patriotic towards his country, the people love him, he is doing so well for the country. So many Australians here want that leadership here in Australia.”
Bill Shorten immediately condemned Hanson’s support of Putin.
The Labor leader tweeted: “37 Australians died on MH17. Putin should not be admired by anyone.”
Malcolm Turnbull responded shortly after the interview when he spoke to reporters in Queensland.
“Vladimir Putin’s Russia is not and should not be an object of admiration in any respect,” the prime minister told reporters in the town of Barcaldine.
“It should withdraw from the territory it’s occupied in the Ukraine and it should provide the information that we know they have on the identity of the people who shot down the MH17 airliner and in doing so murdered 38 Australians.”
Turnbull was visiting western Queensland as part of an ongoing campaign to shore up Coalition MPs against the rising popularity of One Nation.
Hanson was also critical of the government’s coercive vaccination programs. She advised parents to test their children before vaccinations because some parents reported problems.
“What I don’t like about it is the blackmailing that’s happening with the government,” Hanson said. “Don’t do that to people. That’s a dictatorship. I think people have a right to investigate themselves.”
Hanson, who bills herself as an outsider who rejects major party politics, also advised the LNP dissident George Christensen not to desert the Coalition because it would destabilise the Coalition government.
In her first interview on the ABC’s Insiders program since her return to politics, Hanson said she had not changed her policies since she first entered politics in the 1990s – a marked contrast with the Liberal party’s position.
While John Howard refused to swap preferences with One Nation during his term, the senior Liberal minister Arthur Sinodinos defended the WA Liberals’ deal because “the One Nation of today is a very different beast to what it was 20 years ago”.
Hanson said the only difference after 20 years in politics was she was more informed but her policies had not changed and she cited immigration – though her target had refocused from the Asian community to the Muslim community.
“I have grown with it, I think become a bit older, a bit wiser and better informed with politics,” Hanson said. “This time around I’m not just the independent on the lower house floor, I’m a senator with three other senators with me…”