Buckley’s chance for suspended solicitor

Wide Bay, Qld


Louise Nilsson

A corflute for One Nation’s Nathan Buckley displayed in Gympie

Controversial and outspoken are two words which may come to mind at the mention of Nathan Buckley – the One Nation candidate, not the former AFL player. The word controversial is commonly used to describe the events that preceded him becoming a One Nation candidate, and being unapologetically outspoken is a trait which has got him in trouble.

Mr Buckley revealed his plans to join One Nation late last year, shortly after he was suspended from his job as a solicitor. Mr Buckley was senior solicitor at G&B lawyers until November when he had his practicing certificate removed over various anti-vaccination posts he made on the G&B Facebook page, including one which encouraged Victorians to get Covid-19 infringement fines and bring them to be dealt with in court.

Mr Buckley was hard to pin down and did not agree to an interview. He did not respond to emails, and his phone repeatedly went to message bank.

Mr Buckley’s promises for his electorate are based predominantly around the Covid-19 vaccine mandate. He shares One Nation’s anti-vaccine sentiment and has taken on the familiar phrase “coercion is not consent” as his campaign slogan.

Part of his description from the One Nation website reads: “I’m standing for One Nation in Wide Bay because Pauline Hanson has been an inspiration with her efforts to make vaccine coercion and discrimination unlawful.”

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved the Covid-19 vaccines and they have been verified as safe and effective. Despite the evidence, many people remain sceptical of vaccine safety amid misinformation surrounding Covid-19.

Mr Buckley’s stance on climate action is also consistent with One Nation’s, according to his posts on Facebook. One Nation’s opinions oppose the work of climate scientists. The party believes Australia should withdraw from the Paris Agreement, arguing Australia has already committed to the toughest carbon emission cuts in the world on a per person basis.

This statement from their website is incorrect, according to Our World in Data, which says in 2020 Australia had the 11th highest carbon emissions per capita. This rating is higher than the US and China.

One Nation’s statements on climate science are unreliable and are disengaged from what the majority of Australians want. Polls from the Lowy Institute show that 70% of Australians said the nation should be joining other countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, to do more for climate change. Three-quarters of Australians believe that the benefits of taking action on climate change will outweigh the costs.

Despite his scandals, Mr Buckley is supported by a large and active following on Facebook. Many One Nation supporters back the party because they feel misrepresented by the mainstream politicians who often act contrary to their promises.

Tewantin man Derek Jones, 53, says he thinks Mr Buckley will be a good representative for One Nation. “I think he is a good personality for what people need,” he says. “He has gone into bat for a lot of people in what I would call discrimination against unvaccinated people and I guess that’s a nice quality to know about.”

Until the last couple of years Mr Jones had been a long time Liberal supporter, but he has changed tack. “I have been an avid Liberal voter all my life,” he says. “I started to get a little bit more interested in politics since this Covid lockdown … it really became important in the last couple of years.”

Mr Jones grew up in the Northern Beaches in Sydney, where he says almost everyone voted Liberal. “I suddenly asked myself, why am I a Liberal supporter and I thought back through everything I did and I realised it was because my parents told me to vote for Liberal,” he says. “This is what it came down to – the Liberals managed the budget a lot better – they knew how to manage money better.”

After the last couple of years Mr Jones says he has grown weary of the fake promises told by Liberal leaders and has stopped believing that they manage the budget effectively. “I never gave Pauline Hanson the time of day, I was conditioned to believe that the minor parties are just wasting your vote, because they are never going to get anywhere,” he said. “What I find with One Nation is that they say exactly what needs to be said with what’s going on right now.”

Mr Jones is concerned about vaccine safety issues and the vaccine mandate. “I’m not trying to say that there is no Covid, I’m not trying say that vaccines are bad,” he says. “It’s not about that … I’m not anti-vax, I know that label anti-vax covers so much, so maybe I come under that category. It’s terrifying how fast everything has changed and how quickly our rights have been taken away, even without asking us. Why aren’t we getting a choice?”

One Nation political advisor James Ashby was contacted for his opinion of Nathan Buckley but declined to comment.

In the 2019 federal election, One Nation received 10.83 per cent of the vote in the Wide Bay electorate, ranking third with 836 more votes than The Greens, and received roughly half as many votes as the Labor Party.

A screenshot of a previous Tweet by Nathan Buckley targeting Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

Mr Buckley is an uncompromising and active social media user and has been suspended from Twitter for violating its user rules more than once. “Hahaha Australian Labor Party and Liberal Party don’t like me,” he posted on his Facebook account. “They have sorted out Twitter and suspended my Twitter account.”

His posts on Twitter are blunt and can be aggressive in nature. A common theme is referring to Labor Premiers Annastacia Palaszczuk and Daniel Andrews as dictators. He has also shared posts which discriminate against and deny the existence of transgender people.

Wide Bay includes those who live between Maryborough to Gympie and in the northern suburbs of the Sunshine Coast. But will Buckley win One Nation more votes than in the last election?