Photos Story—Queensland election: inside One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s night from hell

Late in the night, after all the sunlit expectations had turned to shock and tears, Pauline Hanson disappeared into the night clutching a bottle of Bundaberg Black rum.

Though she had declared defiantly that “I still believe there’s a lot of support for One Nation” and “One Nation is not finished”, Queensland voters had delivered Hanson, a daughter of the state, a night from hell.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation had lost its state leader and had not managed to capture a single seat.

When all the counting eventually finishes, perhaps it will have one: Marini, an electorate stretching along the coast and hinterland between Rockhampton and Mackay.

Up there, a gun dealer and feral pest controller named Stephen Andrew was polling well, but he hadn’t even watched the count, it was reported.

When all the counting eventually finishes, perhaps it will have one: Marini, an electorate stretching along the coast and hinterland between Rockhampton and Mackay.

Up there, a gun dealer and feral pest controller named Stephen Andrew was polling well, but he hadn’t even watched the count, it was reported.

If he manages to gain the seat, Andrew of Western Action Firearms and CQ Feral will be One Nation’s leader in Queensland.

Hanson and her followers spent Saturday in Buderim on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, supporting the then state leader, Steve Dickson, a former frontbench MP with the Liberal National Party before he defected to Hanson.

Hanson and Dickson was surrounded by a swirl of upbeat well-wishers for much of the day, leading her and her campaigners to declare that everyone would be surprised: the party was going to perform a lot better than the media’s prediction of just a handful of seats. They dismissed downbeat polls outright.

“That’s what they all said about Donald Trump, and now he’s President,” became the refrain of the day.

But as the sun went down and the blithe One Nation crowd retreated to the double garage of a suburban house for what was supposed to be a down-home celebratory evening, reality kicked in,

Less than an hour after polls closed, joy had fled. Trump wouldn’t be turning up.

Dickson stared at the TV and saw only grief for his political career. Soon, the screen was revealing devastation everywhere for One Nation.

It seemed impossible to some in attendance – Pauline Hanson’s latest faithful adviser, James Ashby himself, had said from his seat on the Channel Nine panel that “we may pick up as many as 10 seats…I would think we will still hold the balance of power in this Parliament”.

But that was then, before the counting revealed the wreckage.

Hanson tried to raise spirits by recalling that she had lost her federal seat of Oxley in 1998, not much more than two years after entering federal Parliament.

“And now look at me,” she said.

It was supposed to be reassuring.

She didn’t mention that she’d come back to Parliament, this time in the Senate, with three victorious colleagues only last year…and that not one of those three are still there.

Especially, she didn’t mention the shambles earlier this year when One Nation was supposed to burst triumphantly into the West Australian state Parliament. The party’s campaign was a dog’s breakfast, its expected vote of 13 per cent barely made it to 5 per cent, and it didn’t get a single candidate into the state’s lower house, though it won three seats in the upper house.. Both One Nation and the WA Liberals emerged torn and ragged, having done a preference deal.

These months later, the same scenario was unfolding in Hanson’s home state, where there is not even an upper house to help her party save some face.

There was only one thing for it.

With a few wall-eyed diehards wordlessly chewing on cold pizza, Hanson bid farewell and took her bottle of Bundy into the night.

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