Our Say: Rise of One Nation finally sets in the west

PAULINE Hanson continues to have an enormous impact on Australian politics even when she is losing.

The result of a Western Australia election would not normally carry much significance for the rest of the country, but that was not the case over the weekend.

The surprisingly poor showing of One Nation in that election will have ramifications for both Labor and the conservative parties as they prepare to tackle elections in NSW and at a federal level over the next couple of years.

There will also be plenty of soul-searching in the Liberal-National coalition at all levels after a cynical preference deal between the Liberals and One Nation in Western Australia ended disastrously for both parties.

The big question for all politicians, though, is why?

Was One Nation’s poor showing a repudiation of what the party stands for?

Was it a backlash against Ms Hanson's poorly-timed and ill-advised foray into the vaccination debate?

Or was it a backlash against what voters saw as a fringe party cutting a deal with one of the major players in a bid to advance its own cause?

And what to make of the Liberal government’s defeat?

Was it the price the party paid for choosing to put One Nation ahead of its traditional coalition partner?

Or was it just the inevitable “it's time” factor at work after more than eight years of conservative rule?

Those questions will dominate political discussions over the next year or two, proving that Ms Hanson remains one of the most influential characters in the country.

One Nation must surely be hurting after the thumping the party took in Western Australia but Ms Hanson remains upbeat – publicly, at least.

While Australia's minor parties remain a long way from winning power in any government they continue to shape the way politics is being played in this nation.

If the effect of that is for the major parties to take stock of their own performance and seek new ways to engage and inspire their communities, then that would be no bad thing.

But if the rise of the minor parties only serves to increase the number of cynical backroom deals like the one we saw in Western Australia, then politics in this country is going to get much worse before it gets any better.