PAULINE Hanson’s aspiration to return to federal politics has a farming flavour, with Williams farmer Rod Culleton running as the WA Senate Candidate for her self-named One Nation Party.
Mr Culleton has been involved in the Rural Action Movement group that has staged protests against bank foreclosures in the WA Wheatbelt over recent years.
Ms Hanson said she saw him giving evidence at a Senate inquiry into bank practices in Sydney and liked his fighting style and how he presented his case that day.
“He is winning the battle to keep farmers on their properties,” she said as the two set off for a three-day tour of WA this week.
“I want someone who is prepared to keep fighting for the people and bring honesty and accountability into politics and that’s the type of person I see in Rod Culleton.
“For too long Australians feel they’ve been railroaded by a bureaucratic system and by politicians who feel they can do whatever they want and everyone has to kow-tow to them.
“But I’m fortunate to have a number of candidates like Rod who stand up on principal; we have to fight this establishment.”
Ms Hanson was elected as the first female independent in the House of Representatives for the Queensland seat of Oxley in 1996 after starting her political aspirations with the Liberal Party.
She will run at this year’s federal election for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party to try and win a place in the Senate representing Queensland and has other upper and lower house candidates in the race.
Ms Hanson said she was calling for a Royal Commission into the banking sector along with Mr Culleton which would take special interest in the ANZ take-over of the Landmark loan book.
“I’m very proud Rod is standing on my One Nation ticket,” she said.
Mr Culleton said he was also calling for a moratorium on farm foreclosures for cattle producers in Northern Australia who had “unblemished” bank records before the Gillard government banned the live cattle trade to Indonesia in mid-2011 but are still recovering financially from that government decision and the extended drought.
“We want the receivers stopped - that’s what we want,” he said.
“The whole reason I’m seeking to go into politics is to keep people like these cattle families on the land.”
Ms Hanson said the Coalition’s changes to the Foreign Investment Review Board’s rules for assessing agricultural sales “have not gone far enough” with many farm properties still able to be purchased for under $15 million.
“They are buying up properties and subdividing them and bringing out their families – this is a complete takeover,” she said.
“In a lot of countries around the world you cannot go and buy their land - common sense tells you foreigners should not be allowed to come in and buy up all of your land.
“We should actually be the food bowl of the world and grow the food here and then export it to other countries.”
Ms Hanson said she was against any foreign ownership for Australian agriculture with the case in point being the proposed sale of huge the Kidman & Co cattle empire that the government recently considered.
However, she said the foreign sale was not completely ruled out by the government.
“They’ve only said no to it now but that’s not to say, after the election, they will turn around and say ‘yes’ and sell it,” she said.
“Kidman should not be in the hands of foreign investors whatsoever.
“You’re talking about a cattle property that’s larger than the size of London, it’s about 1pc of the total size of Australia and should be utilised here.
“You have 180,000 head of cattle and that’s a big investment in the hands of Australians but why do foreigner investors want to buy it up?
“Because they can see the profits to be made from it, to actually sell or send the meat back to their own country to feed their own people but we should be value adding in Australia.
“I don’t believe in foreign ownership of our prime agricultural land.
“It should be kept in the hands of our own people to produce food and value-add and export products to help feed the world.”
On the current pressures facing dairy farmers in southern Australia with downgraded farm-gate prices, Ms Hanson said Coles and Woolworths would help provide an immediate solution by charging consumers and extra 50c per litre.
She said there should also be a full investigation into the prices dairy farmers are receiving.
“When you can pay $3.50 for half a litre of water and you’re paying $1 for a litre of milk it doesn’t make sense but this has gone on for so long it’s ridiculous,” she said.
“I would pay another 50c a litre for my milk, if it went straight to the dairy farmers.
“Unless we start supporting our dairy farmers we won’t have them anymore and where will our milk come from then?
“Do you think China or anyone else will sell their milk to us?
“We need to smarten up and protect our industries here and ensure we can feed ourselves and look after our farmers.
“You can’t drag people out of cities and put them on a farm and ask them to produce food because they would not have a clue.
“We need to back our farmers and keep them on the land because they feed us.”
On the backpacker tax, Ms Hanson said she’d spoken to many farming representatives who valued backpackers as a source of vital labour but the 32.5 per cent flat tax rate would ensure “backlash” in the farming and tourism sectors and regional communities where the working holiday makers spent their earnings.
“Leave the backpackers alone because the farmers will be screaming out,” she said.
“I know cases where the fruit has been left to rot on the trees because the farmers can’t get the workers.
“But it’s a known fact Australians don’t want to work so our whole welfare system needs a review because we have people sitting around doing absolutely nothing and yet they expect handouts and to be paid for it and that’s why we rely on backpackers.”