The name "One Nation" was chosen to signify national unity, in contrast to what Hanson saw as an increasing division in Australian society caused by government policies favouring migrants and indigenous Australians. The term was used in British politics (where it is used in a quite different sense: see One Nation Conservatism), but was last used in Australian political life to describe a tax reform package by the Labor government of Paul Keating, whose urban-based, Asia-centric, free-market, and pro-affirmative action policies were representational of exactly what One Nation voters were opposing.
Believing the other parties to be out of touch with mainstream Australia, One Nation ran on a broadly populist and protectionist platform. It promised to drastically reduce immigration and to abolish "divisive and discriminatory policies... attached to Aboriginal and multicultural affairs." Condemning multiculturalism as a "threat to the very basis of the Australian culture, identity and shared values", One Nation rallied against government immigration and multicultural policies which, it argued, were leading to "the Asianisation of Australia." The party also denounced economic rationalism and globalisation, reflecting working-class dissatisfaction with the neo-liberal economic policies embraced by the major parties. Adopting strong protectionist policies, One Nation advocated the restoration of import tariffs, a revival of Australia's manufacturing industry, and an increase in support for small business and the rural sector.
At the 1998 federal election, Hanson, after a redistribution, contested the new seat of Blair instead of Oxley, losing to Liberal candidate Cameron Thompson, and the One Nation candidate in Oxley lost the seat to ALP candidate Bernie Ripoll, but One Nation candidate Heather Hill was elected as a senator for Queensland. Hill's eligibility to sit as a senator was successfully challenged under the Australian Constitution on the basis that she had failed to renounce her childhood British citizenship, despite being a naturalised Australian citizen. The seat subsequently went to the party's Len Harris following a recount. At the 1999 New South Wales election, David Oldfield was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council.
In the 2001 Queensland state election, One Nation won only three seats and 8.69% of the primary vote. The City-Country Alliance won no seats.
At the 2001 state election in Western Australia, One Nation won three seats in the state's Legislative Council. One Nation was unable to obtain any seats in state elections in Victoria, South Australia or Tasmania in the following year.
At the 2001 federal election, the party's vote fell and Hanson failed in her bid to win a Senate seat from Queensland, despite polling a strong 10% of the primary vote. This was largely due to the fact that most other parties were unwilling to favourably preference One Nation, under Australia's preferential voting system. Hanson also failed to win a seat in the New South Wales Legislative Council at the 2003 state election, where she ran as an independent, with the support of the official One Nation party. She polled less than 2% of the vote and subsequently withdrew from the party's leadership.
In October 2000, Pauline Hanson expelled David Oldfield, co-founder of One Nation and the sole representative of that party in the NSW state Parliament. Oldfield had been accused of abusing his authority, usurping power and setting up alternative political parties under his control. His expulsion created even more instability in a party which was constantly embroiled in scandal and internal strife. Oldfield engineered a split within the party, thereby creating One Nation NSW in 2001. The new party took advantage of electoral party registration laws to register itself as political party under the ‘One Nation’ name with the NSW electoral commission, and achieved registration in April 2002. The effect of this was that the original One Nation party was now unable to gain registration for NSW elections, and therefore any candidates which that party chose to represent them at state elections could not use the party name. Consequently, the original One Nation could only contest Federal elections in NSW under the 'One Nation' banner, whilst the Oldfield group could present itself as 'One Nation' only at state elections.
At the 2004 Queensland election, One Nation polled less than 5% of the vote and its sole elected representative, Rosa Lee Long, acted as an independent. One Nation attempted to defend its Queensland Senate seat at the 2004 federal election, but lost it (effectively to the National Party). Len Harris's Senate term expired on 30 June 2005.
On 8 February 2005, One Nation lost federal party status but re-registered in time for the 2007 Australian federal election. It still had state parties in Queensland and New South Wales. Soon after it created another state party in Western Australia. In the February 2005 Western Australian election, the One Nation vote collapsed.
In the 2006 South Australian state election, six One Nation candidates stood for the lower house. Their highest levels of the primary vote was 4.1% in the district of Hammond and 2.7% in Goyder, with the other four hovering around 1%. They attracted 0.8% (7559 votes) of the upper house vote. One Nation consequently won no seats in that election.
In the 2006 Queensland state election, the party contested four seats of the total 89, and its vote collapsed. It suffered a swing of 4.3% to be left with just 0.6% of the vote. Its only remaining seat in the state (and country), Tablelands, was retained with an increased majority.
One Nation was subject to a political campaign by Government MP Tony Abbott who established a trust fund called "Australians for Honest Politics Trust" to help bankroll civil court cases against the Party. (see Tony Abbott - Action against One Nation Party) He was also accused of offering funds to One Nation dissident Terry Sharples to support his court battle against the party. Abbott conceded that the political threat One Nation posed to the Howard Government was "a very big factor" in his decision to pursue the legal attack, but he also claimed to be acting "in Australia's national interest".
In the prologue to her autobiography "Untamed and Unashamed", Hanson cites the Howard government's adoption of her policies as an attempt to win back One Nation voters to the Liberal and National parties, stating "the very same policies I advocated back then... are being advocated today by the federal government".
|Election||Chamber||% of vote||Seats won|
|Queensland state election June 1998||Legislative Assembly||22.7%||11|
|Australian federal election October 1998||House of Representatives||8.4%|
|New South Wales state election March 1999||Legislative Assembly||7.5%|
|Victoria state election September 1999||Legislative Assembly||0.29%|
|Western Australia state election February 2001||Legislative Assembly||9.6%|
|Queensland state election February 2001||Legislative Assembly||8.7%||3|
|Northern Territory state election August 2001||Legislative Assembly||1.3%|
|Australian federal election November 2001||House of Representatives||4.3%|
|South Australia state election February 2002||House of Assembly||2.4%|
|Queensland state election February 2004||Legislative Assembly||4.9%||1|
|Australian federal election October 2004||House of Representatives||1.2%|
|Western Australia state election February 2005||Legislative Assembly||1.6%|
|South Australia state election March 2006||House of Assembly||0.3%|
|Queensland state election September 2006||Legislative Assembly||0.6%||1|
|Australian federal election November 2007||House of Representatives||0.3%|