The Proudly Australian Populist Discourse Analysis of Pauline Hanson’s Language

Antonella Napolitano


The resurgence of populism across the world has favoured the formation of right-wing populist parties in Australia and energised Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party. The party has enjoyed two iterations of electoral success in the Australian federation, in the 1990s and from 2016. At present, Hanson is the leader of a party with two seats in the federal Senate and supporting the governing Liberal Party in Western Australia. At first glance, she may be seen as a typical xenophobic populist, yet her figure and her message present specific peculiarities which give her surprising popularity with Australian voters.
This paper analyses a corpus of some of the most controversial speeches delivered by Pauline Hanson during her political career, in a timespan ranging from 1996 to 2019. A Critical Discourse Analysis framework is employed to uncover the ideological discourse construed by the populist leader. She portrays herself as an ordinary Australian who acts in the name of the people and gives voice to the people. Her discourse entails the populist division between “the pure people” and “the corrupt elite,” imbued with racism, particularly towards Australia’s Indigenous population and a State perceived as favouring it, but also towards the Asian and Islamic communities.


populism; critical discourse analysis; Australia; immigration

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