West Australian premier Colin Barnett says neither he nor his state take One Nation leader Pauline Hanson seriously, despite his party having signed a preference deal with her.
As Senator Hanson was touring south of Perth on Monday, Mr Barnett was trying to downplay any suggestion of a relationship between their two parties, other than an arrangement in the mechanics of vote distribution.
“We are just simply trying to maximise the Liberal vote and the Liberal result, as simple as that,” he said.
“Its a decision made by the party. I support the decision that the Liberal Party made, but its not a decision that I have any involvement in…I’ve got no relationship with One Nation at all.”
Mr Barnett moved to distance himself from the controversial One Nation leader’s comments on vaccination and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, telling reporters he had never met Senator Hanson.
“I do not take Pauline Hanson’s comments seriously, and can I tell you the vast, vast majority of Western Australians don’t either,” Mr Barnett said.
“Pauline Hanson is not the opinion maker of Australia and my opponent is the Labor Party and Mark McGowan, that’s my only concern.”
Senator Hanson arrived in Perth on Sunday night in a cloud of controversy, standing by her praise of President Putin and defending remarks she made about childhood vaccination, encouraging parents to do their own research on the topic.
Speaking in Mandurah on Monday, Senator Hanson reiterated her party was not in the election to boost Mr Barnett or Opposition Leader Mark McGowan, but said a deal was done with the Liberals to get One Nation seats in the upper house.
Senator Hanson said voters were fed up with the major parties and were looking for change.
She described her candidates as down to earth, upfront and honest “grassroots Australians” who had had enough.