CANDIDATE: Neil Smith from Banora Point.
CANDIDATE: Neil Smith from Banora Point. SCOTT POWICK

One Nation candidate is sick of the major parties

The latest in our series of chats with Richmond’s Federal Election candidates

NEIL Smith admits he’s a political virgin but he’s had enough of shouting from the sidelines.

The retired small businessman and former professional tennis coach has thrown his hat into the ring, standing for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party in the seat of Richmond on July 2, in protest against the major parties and the direction in which they’re taking Australia.

“I’ve always had an interest in politics although I never dreamt in a million years of standing for parliament,” Mr Smith said during an interview at his Banora Point home this week.

“But there are so many things wrong with this country in so many ways, I fear for my grandchildren and their lives in 50 years time. I very much want to do something to contribute to this country,” he said.

“I heard Pauline interviewed on the radio last October and I agreed with everything she was saying. So I phoned up and told them I’d like to sign up.”

CAMPAIGN LAUNCH: Pauline Hanson launching Neil Smith’s campaign for Richmond in Murwillumbah in February.
CAMPAIGN LAUNCH: Pauline Hanson launching Neil Smith’s campaign for Richmond in Murwillumbah in February. Alina Rylko

Since then, the retiree who still plays A-grade tennis despite nearing the age of 70, has driven up to Brisbane each week, pitching in at One Nation headquarters as the party prepares for the election.

Since losing her south- western Brisbane seat of Oxley to Labor in 1998, Ms Hanson has contested at least seven federal and state government seats, some say making a career out of campaigning in an electoral system which compensates parties obtaining a certain percentage of votes.

Until now, her chances have been slim, but with a double dissolution election and changes to voting in the Senate, she has a fighting chance of election as a Queensland Senator come July 2.

“On the old chestnuts of immigration and Islam, I am sick of the hysteria around One Nation,” Mr Smith said.

“Everybody has a go at Pauline Hanson but what she says is common sense and not in any way racist,” he said.

“Pauline says you don’t have to be white to be Australian, it’s resoundingly obviously not racist.

“She doesn’t care where you come from, as long as you accept Australian rules and culture.”

POLITICAL NOVICE: Retired businessman Neil Smith discusses his reasons for standing for One Nation in Richmond.
POLITICAL NOVICE: Retired businessman Neil Smith discusses his reasons for standing for One Nation in Richmond. SCOTT POWICK

On Islam, Mr Smith was less accommodating.

“On the Islam side, we regard their culture and behaviour as a bit of a threat. You’d have to be living under a rock not to see it,” he said.

“To wear a burka or a hijab is just so un- Australian. We don’t do things like that in Australia, we’re an open society. Pauline’s policy to ban the burka is steeped in logic.”

Other issues Mr Smith lists as important include housing affordability, euthanasia, family law courts and water.

“Rent and outright house prices are reaching disastrous proportions on the Tweed,” he said.

“Foreign investment in housing, particularly from Asia, is a problem as it elevates the market, they make offers the average Australian can’t match and drive up housing prices.”

Interest rates, negative gearing and capital gains tax are other issues on the One Nation agenda, which Mr Smith refers to in a big black folder on party policies he keeps close to hand.

A former small businessman, Mr Smith owned and ran an office furniture business and shopfitting business in Albury Wodonga over many years, where his three sons and four grandchildren still live. A former Liberal voter, Mr Smith said he had never had any political affiliation until now, adding the major parties were selling Australia out.

“I’m a complete political virgin and I’m learning as I go,” he said.

“We desperately hope Pauline is elected. Even if her candidates don’t make it, at least if she is in the Senate we will have a voice of reason.”

ONE NATION: Pauline Hanson and Neil Smith meeting locals at Murwillumbah in February.
ONE NATION: Pauline Hanson and Neil Smith meeting locals at Murwillumbah in February. Alina Rylko


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