Chances are you’ve never stopped to wonder what Pauline Hanson’s drink of choice is. But as filmmaker and author Anna Broinowski discovered during her years profiling the controversial politician, Hanson’s go-to tipple is an interesting choice.
When Broinowski first met Hanson at the politician’s Sylvania Waters home in 2009, they sat down to chat over Ginger Bitches, a mix of Bundy and dry.
Their candid conversation that day—and many other revelations about Hanson’s ‘Fed Up’ election campaign—are detailed in the new book, Please Explain: The Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Pauline Hanson.
“The reason I wrote the book was not to normalise Hanson, or to give her a platform,” Broinowski explains.
“It was to take her story out of the 24-hour news cycle so that we could unpack what the hell it really is about her, and the way that the Conservatives have used her, that has helped swing Australia so radically to the right in such a short space of time.”
She adds: “I’m sure she thinks I’m just a self-indulgent, entitled, elitist leftie, and an idiot and a rat bag for trying to cash in on her story, which I’m not.”
Broinowski’s book has a timely release date, with Hanson making international headlines in August after her stunt in the Senate. The One Nation leader donned a black burqa as part of her push to have full-face coverings banned in public.
Broinowski believes the stunt is “no surprise at all” for the controversial politician.
“Hanson, like Trump thrives in the social media space. That is her soap box if you like, and it works for her,” she says.
“Her recent existence as a politician is to get likes on the 'Pauline Hanson Please Explain' Facebook page, and that is indeed how she got elected and largely under the radar.
“She discovered that the three things that would get her the most likes were extreme anti-Islam statements, statements in support of farmers and anti-refugee statements. So they became her three things and they still are.”
Broinowski—known for her documentaries Aim High in Creation! and Forbidden Lie$—was offered complete access to Hanson’s campaign in the lead up to the 2016 election. She charted the process in her documentary Pauline Hanson: Please Explain!
While the pair frequently butted heads on political and social issues, Broinowski admits that “we vaguely liked each other for a while”.
“She was a very kind and generous host and she shared her life with me. And made her house my home a few times when I needed to stay there during the shoot,” she says.
But one thing they fervently disagreed on was Hanson’s stance on feminism.
“Oh, she’s such a textbook feminist it’s hilarious!” Broinowski teases. “She’s self-made, she’s confident, she has a very healthy attitude to men and dating—she’s certainly no one’s little wallflower.”
The author references Hanson’s strength as a single mother supporting four children while working “24/7” at her Ipswich fish and chip shop as an example of her feminist credentials. Hanson single-handedly transformed the shop from a floundering frozen seafood shop to a vibrant fresh seafood business.
“She turned the shop around by herself into a thriving business and she did it through hard work and business acumen and clever promotion,” Broinowski explains.
“Then she goes into politics, and she’s never pulled her punches when it comes to men in politics. One of her favourite statements is: ‘It’s a boy’s club, and they’re out to get me because I’m a woman.’ And she stands up to them, so those two things alone in my book, are fairly feminist.”
But Hanson told Broinowski the ‘feminist’ labelling was entirely inaccurate.
“While she agreed with me that she was a self-made woman, under no account was she a feminist because in her two marriages she always had a hot meal waiting on the table when her husbands came home,” the filmmaker adds.
Broinowski hasn't spoken to Hanson since the book's release, nor has she felt like mixing a Ginger Bitch in her memory.
“Ginger Bitches are not a staple to me. There’s no nostalgia at all, it was a very tough journey, not just for me but for Hanson. We just disagreed so often,” she reveals.
But the author is grateful for Hanson's candour and courage during her years filming. She also concedes that there is a lot to learn from Hanson’s personal and professional journey.
“There’s a lot to respect, if you separate Hanson from her, in my opinion, appallingly bigoted views on indigenous people, Islam and refugees in particular. If you just take that out of the equation and look at her there is a lot that is quite impressive,” Broinowski says.
“The other thing is that if she were a man, this book would have already been written.”