“This is a typical one of my signs that has been defaced.
I’ve got many residents here who are kind enough to let me put the signs in the front of their yards, but this is what happens. They get defaced. The moment you put them up, they get defaced.”
The sign One Nation candidate Tshung Chang is holding is a picture of himself and the party’s leader, Pauline Hanson.
The word ‘racist; has been scrawled across the sign, with devil horns and fangs drawn on Senator Hanson’s face and a speech bubble from her mouth reading, “I don’t like anything.”
“This is the, uh, the nonsense that’s going on, that people want to perpetrate this myth that we are racist.”
Tshung Chang says he finds the graffiti ironic, considering he is of Chinese-Malaysian heritage.
But it could be argued the slur is directed at Pauline Hanson.
Critics of the One Nation leader say her maiden speech to the Australian parliament in 1996 revealed her racist views.
“I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians. Between 1984 and 1995, 40 per cent of all migrants into this country were of Asian origin. They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate.”
Tshung Chang, whose father is Chinese-Malaysian, was in his twenties at the time of those comments.
“I didn’t treat any of them negatively. I mean, she was just expressing her view. There’s nothing … what people have realised is there’s nothing racist in our policies. I’ve read them all. It’s about equality, treating everyone the same, okay? So it’s not favouring one group over another. That’s definitely not our policy. That’s not the One Nation policy. But people confuse that because of a statement made 20 years ago.”
Tshung Chang says former prime minister John Howard had expressed similar views with the Liberal Party’s One Australia policy in 1988, which aimed to reduce Asian migration.
“Somehow, people have forgotten, or forgiven, him for it because he became prime minister, whereas, Pauline’s view, it keeps on (coming) up. Look, I’ve also met Pauline on several occasions, and I can tell you she does not have a single racist bone in her whole body.”
The father of two says he was drawn to the party because it spoke plainly and he was fed up with the two major parties.
A self-described swinging voter, he joined the party three months ago and became the candidate for the Liberal-held, lower-house seat of Riverton.
State treasurer Mike Nahan holds it with a more than 12 per cent margin.
But Tshung Chang, who works in finance, says the Liberal-National Government has destroyed the state’s economic standing.
He dismisses the Government’s claim that a sharp rise in the state’s population during its mining boom, a dwindling share of the state’s GST* and falling iron-ore prices led to a record debt.
“They’re not listening, you know? Small-business owners can’t understand why they cannot balance the budget. If the government was run like a small business, the government would be bankrupt by now because of the huge deficits. So, these things … it appears to be quite an easy fix for all these things, from a small-business point of view, from many’s household-budget point of view, but it doesn’t seem to be getting through to the major parties.”
The 44-year-old Mr Chang arrived in Australia at around age 5 from Malaysia.
His father had studied in Perth during the 1970s under the Colombo Plan, where he had met his Caucasian mother.
Tshung Chang says, after working at a ratings agency in Hong Kong for nine years, he has adapted a philosophy on immigration derived from his ratings days.
“Anyone who comes here … I call it the Triple-A, being someone from a ratings-agency background. The highest possible credit rating was Triple-A. I think anyone who wants to come to Australia has to adopt what I call the Triple-A, which means ‘assimilate, accept and adapt’ to the Australian way of life. Lots of people have done it. Lots of people in Riverton have done that.”
Tshung Chang says many voters he has spoken with have not heard from the major parties during the campaign.
And political analyst Peter Kennedy says that may be correct.
He says there is strong anxiety in the electorate and the major parties have not been listening, especially to voters in the outer suburbs and regional areas.
“I think there’s a huge dissatisfaction with the major parties. There’s a feeling that the major parties have failed to deliver, and the people who have been attracted to One Nation, I think, they’re concerned about job security, they’re concerned about their families and jobs for their kids and just where the country’s heading. And I think they feel that the major parties aren’t providing the answer, they’re looking for something else.”
Mr Kennedy says One Nation’s views on immigration are not what is attracting people to the party as they may have previously.
He points to the party continuing to gain in popularity, with a recent poll putting them at about 13 per cent of the primary vote.
“It’s a protest against the major parties. It’s not necessarily huge support for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, because I don’t think that they’ve actually looked at all the policies. It’s more they don’t like what the major parties are doing, they’re looking for something else, and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation looks, on the surface, attractive.”