One Nation scored invites to Donald Trump's inauguration by nagging the Australian embassy for them

Senator Pauline Hanson. Photo: Getty Images

One Monday, Pauline Hanson appeared to be Charlie Bucket of Australian politics, finding a golden ticket inviting her to Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration this Friday.

The One Nation leader was thrilled and honoured:

Her Queensland colleague, Malcolm Roberts, couldn’t resist taking a jibe at Malcolm Turnbull for appearing to miss out.

Within hours Hanson decided local matters of state were more important, turning down the offer because “my duties to the people of Queensland and Australia come first”.

She is currently in Western Australia campaigning in the lead up to the March 11 state election. News of the invite generated considerable media coverage for Hanson and her party.

Instead, she offered her spot to One Nation’s NSW senator Brian Burston. He will pay his own way. Roberts also planned to go, but on Monday evening he announced “urgent medical treatment for a incarcerated hernia” would prevent him.

Asked how One Nation came to be singled out, Hanson told Sky News on Monday that the tickets came “from a congressman in the states. Any more than that, don’t ask me”.

She also appeared keen to throw shade on Turnbull, adding: “Only 20,000 tickets have been issued to go to it and two tickets have been issued to me – and the prime minister never got any”.

But US tradition for the inauguration is that foreign political leaders are not invited, with diplomatic officials attending as national representatives.

Joe Hockey, the former treasurer and ambassador to the US, will represent Australia.

On Wednesday, after Adam Kinzinger, the Republican congressman who passed on the tickets, told Buzzfeed he’d not given them specifically to One Nation, saying he doesn’t endorse any Australian political party, it emerged that Roberts had repeatedly lobbied the Australian embassy in Washington DC for tickets, so the diplomats asked around.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed to the ABC in a statement that they’d had “multiple requests from Senator Roberts” and the embassy “asked a number of Congressional offices if they had any spare tickets available”.

“On 13 January, Congressman Kinzinger’s office advised they had two tickets available,” the statement said.

When the details emerged, Roberts returned to social media to defend his initial comments, denying they were misleading because he “never said we were invited, just that we had ‘invitations’ and ‘were gifted tickets’.”

Hanson also sought to downplay the impression the Queensland duo initially created about obtaining the tickets, brushing aside questions from reporters in WA as “fake news”.

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