- One Nation is in turmoil, with leader Pauline Hanson betrayed by her senate party colleague Brian Burston who has gone rogue and apparently offered to join the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, a conservative rump in NSW politics.
- Burston has defied Hanson in supporting the Coalition government’s company tax cuts.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party leader Robert Borsack has rejected what he says was an approach by rogue One Nation NSW Senator Brian Burston to join his party.
On the same day it was revealed Senator Burston would defy Pauline Hanson and vote for the company tax cuts, Mr Borsack, a NSW state Upper House told The Australian Financial Review that Senator Burston had made an approach in Thursday.
“He approached our state director to have a meeting to discuss coming over to us,’ Mr Borsack said.
“I rejected it. I don’t think he’d be a good representative for us.
“We’re not that desperate for a Canberra representative at the moment and when we do, we’ll use our own people.”
Senator Burston told The Financial Review he “never” approached the party but would not comment further.
But One Nation is in turmoil.
Other sources said Senator Burston had also proposed a new party with other Senate independents including David Leyonhjelm and Fraser Anning over dinner last week but was rejected.
If he does leave, One Nation will lose its balance of power in the Senate.
Senator Hanson rounded on him Thursday night.
“For Brian Burston to turn around and do this to me, it is hard. I am not finished, and if you think Brian Burston or anyone else will finish me, they will not. At the end of the day I will win,” Senator Hanson told Sky News.
Hours earlier, Senator Hanson had refused to guarantee Senator Burston’s preselection on the One Nation ticket at the next federal election.
It is understood Senator Burston has felt his position to be under threat for some time and this, in part, motivated his decision to break ranks on company tax and honour the deal One Nation made with Finance Minister mathias Cormann.
The fragmentation of her party only hardened Senator Hanson’s resolve to scuttle the government’s company tax cuts.
With her authority under challenge, Senator Hanson said late Thursday that neither she nor the third One Nation Senator Peter Georgiou would support any further extension to the company tax package.
“We’ve made our stance very clear and I’m not going to back down on this,” Senator Hanson said, claiming the government was not doing enough about multinational tax avoidance or debt.
“We cannot keep giving tax cuts if we are going to give tax cuts, give it to the ordinary Australians, the PAYE taxpayers, personal tax cuts, they’re the ones who are doing it tough,” he said.
“I understand businesses are doing it tough as well but we’ve got to bring down living costs.”
Her stance sets up a showdown with the government which, despite still lacking the numbers, is intent on putting the legislation to a vote after the Senate returns on June 18.
Senator Burston says he was not consulted by Senator Hanson before last week’s about-face in which she withdrew One Nation’s three Senate votes, following blowback from voters in her native Queensland and ahead of the July 28 byelection contest in the seat of Longman.
A row erupted and he was sacked as the party’s whip and replaced by the third One Nation Senator Peter Georgiou.
Senator Burston told The Australian newspaper he was blindsided by the about-face and, as a “very principled person”, he would honour the deal struck with Senator Cormann in March. The included toughening the Petroleum Resources Rent tax and a new rural apprenticeship scheme.
“I don’t want to cause any angst or division in One Nation, but once I make a handshake with somebody – that’s it. I stick to my word,” Senator Burston said.
Senator Hanson has disputed her colleague, saying she rang him on Monday morning last week to tell him of the policy change, the day before it was announced. She said he agreed with the decision.
“He is a member of the party and he is still a representative of One Nation,” she said.
Senator Burston’s decision is a blow to Senator Hanson’s authority but does not guarantee the passage of the corporate tax cuts.
It does give the government hope.
Senator Cormann confirmed there had been a deal with One Nation to which the government remained “100 per cent committed” and he urged the remaining Senators to rethink their opposition.
“Nine out of 10 Australians work for a private sector business,” he said.
The government has 31 senators and needs at least eight of the 10 Senate crossbench to reach the required 39.
It has stated support of four – Senator Burston, Fraser Anning, Cory Bernardi and David Leyonhjelm,
Still opposed are One Nation’s senators Hanson and Georgiou, independents Tim Storer and Derryn Hinch, and the Centre Alliance’s Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff. The government needs four of these six.
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