Hanson's jail alarms Australians

Australian political leaders warned on Saturday of a resurgence of xenophobic politics following the jailing of far right-wing politician Pauline Hanson.

    Prime Minister John Howard said the sentence was too severe

    The warning comes amid a campaign launched by Hanson's supporters accusing the government of the State of Queensland  of orchestrating the charges against Hanson.

    Hanson began her fourth day in Brisbane Women's Prison serving a three-year jail sentence handed to her for breaking political party registration laws.

    Australian commentators also expressed worries that Hansen's jialing was likely to rekindle smouldering issues such as Asian immigration and handouts for aborigines.

    "I think that there is a great danger that just when Hansonism had run its course, the jailing of Pauline Hanson may well reactivate a whole series of debates and issues and disruption of the social fabric of Australia," former Queensland coalition Premier Rob Borbidge said.

    "Politicians...are all terrified of the consequences of the court case"

    Peter Beattie,            

    Queensland's Labor Premier

    Similar fears were raised by Queensland's Labor Premier, Peter Beattie.

    "Politicians...are all terrified of the consequences of the court case," said Beattie, who faces a state election next year.

    The 49-year-old Hanson rose in Queensland from fish and chip shop owner to federal Parliament in 1996, where she attacked Asian immigration, handouts for Aborigines and free trade.

    Her fiery right-wing policies raised alarms through Asia of a revival of the White Australia policy which once closed the country to Asians.

    A heated public debate from both opponents and supporters of Hanson has grown over the severity of her sentence.

    Prime Minister John Howard, a political opponent of Hanson, on Friday described the sentence as too severe.

    Initial reactions that the jail sentence would finally end Hanson's political career were being questioned on Saturday.

    "Jail is not the end", The Sydney Morning Herald said on its front page.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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