One Nation leader Pauline Hanson says more than half a million Facebook users tuned into her “Lonely Hearts” live stream on New Year’s Eve.
Senator Hanson and her chief-of-staff James Ashby fielded phone calls from people around Australia for six hours until midnight Queensland time, airing it online to an audience of more than 550,000.
“The show is a first in Australian politics … most importantly it gave me a chance to speak openly to residents around Australia, no topics off limits, in a live broadcast,” she said in a statement on Wednesday.
Of about 720 phone calls taken by her staff, some 100 callers went to air, raising topics including family law, dairy farming, bushfires, and Aboriginal issues. Mr Ashby’s appearance in a controversial Al Jazeera documentary alongside the party’s Queensland leader Steve Dickson, meeting US gun lobbyists, was also mentioned.
Talkback guests included a rural firefighter who had been battling blazes in NSW, a Hong Kong student in Sydney who wanted to highlight riots in his homeland, and a cleaner on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast who has struggled to find work.
Senator Hanson said on her Facebook page that the aim of the calls was to reduce loneliness as part of a Lonely Hearts 2020 initiative.
Speaking about family law issues, she said there were calls from men and women who were not able to have access to their children.
“My heart goes out to parents who don’t see their children,” she added.
Senator Hanson noted that the Family Law Inquiry that she instigated would start soon and another of her initiatives, the Mandatory Code of Conduct for the Dairy Industry has come into effect from Wednesday.