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Anti-immigration firebrand to contest Australia polls

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Australian anti-immigration firebrand Pauline Hanson said Thursday she plans to run in this year's general election, saying politicians were out of touch with how ordinary Australians feel.

The controversial former One Nation leader, who once warned Australia was in danger of being swamped by Asians, made the announcement on Channel Seven television, although it was not clear in what capacity she would stand.

"I'm seriously thinking about it and the possibility is yes, I will give it a go. The passion is still there and I'm very concerned about my country.

"I just don't think that there are people there who really understand how Australians are feeling. I don't think there is a representation for our culture, our way of life, our standard of living."

Hanson, 58, shot to fame in the 1990s when she ditched her fish and chip shop to represent a Queensland state electorate in the national parliament, forming the anti-immigration and trade protectionist One Nation party.

She lost her seat in 1998 and subsequent attempts to win office failed, including a 2007 run for a national Senate seat in which she campaigned for an end to immigration by Muslims to protect "Australian culture".

In 2011, another comeback bid failed when she lost the race for an upper house seat in the New South Wales parliament.

Hanson said the rising costs of electricity and the "457 temporary work visa" system for overseas workers concerned her most.

The issue of "457 visas", which allow businesses facing skills shortages to source labour from overseas, flared this week when Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a crackdown on their abuse by employers.

Hanson said that was the only issue in which she agreed with Gillard.

"I think it's a back door for immigration, I think a big investigation needs to be done," she said.

"It stinks to me. I wouldn't be surprised if they're using this to bring people into the country."

Hanson, who spent several weeks in jail in 2003 for fraudulently spending electoral funds before the judgement was quashed, said her political comeback was about standing up for her beliefs.

"I went to jail, it took me over two years to get over that, and it's that determination that I feel can keep me going," she said.

Gillard announced last month that an election will be held on September 14.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130306/anti-immigration-firebrand-contest-australia-polls