Pauline Hanson has had a spectacular meltdown on live television, sounding near hysterical as she denounced her Senate colleague Brian Burston, who has refused to follow her backflip on the government’s company tax cuts.
In an extraordinary Thursday night interview on Sky Hanson, who accused Burston of trying to defect to the Shooters party, said it was not the first time he had stabbed her in the back.
Tearful and shouting, she said: “For him to turn around and do this to me, it’s hard.”
But “I am not finished, and if you think Brian Burston or anyone else will finish me, they will not. At the end of the day I will win.”
“This hurts me, it hurts me deeply… it means so much to me what I’m trying to do”, she said.
“But I’m going to keep going and I’m going to get good people in that parliament next to me.
“I’m sorry to the Australian people that this has happened again. But it was the same with Rod Culleton and it was the same with Fraser Anning. They haven’t got the intestinal fortitude, it’s all about themselves – self-serving.”
Burston also appeared later in the program, saying Hanson “has her moods” and predicting “she’ll come back down to earth”.
He said they had earlier had a phone conversation. “She was very, very angry and raised her voice. I ended up hanging up on her because I could not make any sense of what she was saying”.
The Hanson-Burston rift has come to a head after a report in Thursday’s Australian in which Burston said he would support the government’s company tax cut. He said he didn’t want to cause angst in One Nation, “but once I make a handshake with somebody – that’s it”.
This defied Hanson’s announcement last week that she was breaking One Nation’s earlier deal with the government.
Hanson’s move was seen as pitching to the coming Longman byelection, which will test the One Nation vote. But this spectacular public falling out and the split over the tax legislation – which comes to a vote within weeks – will undermine Hanson’s attempt to keep the party’s support up in Longman.
Hanson said Burston had approached the Shooters party – a claim that party backed up, while saying it was not interested in picking him up. But Burston said “the claim that I’ve approached the Shooters Party is totally and absolutely false”.
He would still be a member of One Nation, “unless Pauline decides otherwise, of course.”
“I think that there is a way through this. I think that Pauline and I should sit down and have a drink and kiss and make up so to speak if she’s prepared to do that,” he said.
“I have no intentions of destroying One Nation or causing angst – perhaps if I thought the article in today’s Australian was going to do that, perhaps I would have had second thoughts. But I had no idea that this would be the reaction from Pauline.”
Burston was recently sacked as party whip – he told Sky this was “a little bit of a payback I think, it was a little bit of punishment for not supporting her position [on the company tax cuts].”
There has also been a suggestion Hanson does not want Burston as the One Nation lead candidate in NSW at the next election.
Hanson, who started the term with four Senate votes, currently has three – which gives her power to veto government legislation for which crossbench support is required. If she lost Burston she would forfeit that veto power.
Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.