One Nation rebellion over Hanson’s tax backflip
PAULINE Hanson has been dealt a stunning blow by one of her One Nation senators who is breaking with the party's position to support the federal government's company tax cuts plan.
NSW One Nation senator Brian Burston has told The Australian he was blindsided by Senator Hanson's decision to renege on support for the plan.
He told the publication he was a "very principled person" who intended to honour the deal struck with Finance Minister Mathias Cormann in March to pass the corporate tax cuts.
"I don't want to cause any angst or division in One Nation, but once I make a handshake with somebody - that's it," Senator Burston said. "I stick to my word."
Senator Burston said he only found out about Senator Hanson's decision to withdraw support after it appeared in The Australian last week.
"I keep finding out One Nation policies when I read them in The Australian newspaper," he said.
Senator Burston's decision will mean the government now needs only four crossbench senators to pass the company tax cuts.
It could be either the remaining One Nation senators, Hanson and Peter Georgiou, Centre Alliance senators Rex Patrick and Sterling Griff, or Derryn Hinch and Tim Storer.
Senator Burston said he wasn't sure why Senator Hanson reneged on her support for the tax cuts but he believed the upcoming by-election in Longman in Queensland was a factor.
"My understanding is that Pauline Hanson is getting a lot of flak in Queensland for supporting the tax cut, but I'm not getting flak in NSW," he said.
"I think Longman may have had something to do with it."
He said he believed One Nation should stick to the deal it made with Senator Cormann, which included an apprenticeship scheme, an overhaul of the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax, a royalty shake-up for Western Australia and the introduction of a "use it or lose it" policy for offshore gas reserves.
"After the hour meeting, we shook hands with Mathias Cormann. We agreed to the deal, signed off by the Prime Minister. And I believe we should stick to it," he told The Australian.
The senator, who earlier this month removed references to One Nation from his Facebook page and has yet to be endorsed as a NSW senate candidate for the party, said his split on the tax cuts was not a sign he was abandoning the party.
"I believe that when I went to One Nation, it was always on the understanding that we had the ability to vote against the other One Nation colleagues," he said.
"We haven't built a solid tax policy, therefore I'm not voting against any One Nation policy."
His decision to back the policy comes after a Newspoll last week found 60 per cent of One Nation voters pack the government's corporate tax cuts.
Two One Nation senators have quit the party since being elected in mid-2016.
West Australian Rod Culleton left the party after months of public disagreements with Senator Hanson in December 2016.
Fraser Anning split with the party on his first day in the Parliament, just one hour after being sworn in to replace former One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts who was ruled ineligible to sit in Parliament for holding dual citizenship.
Mr Anning cited a disagreement between his staff and Senator Hanson.
The Australian reports Senator Burston's stance on the tax cuts could attract the attention of The National Party, which this week welcomed a new member from the crossbench and has approached Liberal Senator Lucy Gichuhi.
Jacqui Lambie's replacement Steve Martin joined the party to become their first Tasmanian senator in more than 90 years.