Go ahead and visit the website www.paulinehanson.com.au No, really. Click that link. Once you’re done, feel free to revisit this article.
Oh, you’re back? Nice. Here’s the deal: It appears a crafty little bugger has snagged a domain name once linked to noted xenophobe and occasional One Nation politician Pauline Hanson, using it to redirect visitors to the official Refugee Council of Australia site.
As first pointed out by Brown Cardigan, an unnamed Slack user appeared to take responsibility for the switcharoo.
They alleged that ownership of the URL had lapsed, meaning that it was free for anyone to take over.
“Noticed the pauline hanson dot com dot au domain had expired overnight…” they announced.
“Grabbed it and did a redirect… Check it out when you have a second.”
As of Friday morning, the page channels traffic to one of Australia’s pre-eminent organisations focused on the rights of refugees.
The joke here is that Hanson has spent the better part of her political career calling for immigration bans and panicking at the thought of anyone who isn’t a White Australian.
There’s no suggestion the Refugee Council of Australia itself was responsible for the switch or had any part in it, FWIW.
A quick check of internet archiving system Wayback Machine suggests Hanson hasn’t regularly held the domain name since 2016, when she was elected to the Senate and turned her focus on One Nation’s digital footprint.
The domain appears to have lain dormant since then, save for a few spammy placeholders.
Domain squatting, the practice of swooping on a domain name before an individual or company with that name can claim it, is a pretty unique legal issue. Chasing it through the courts can be a hassle, too.
However, Australia’s official internet domain authority offers an alternative arbitration process for anyone who feels they’ve been sideswiped by a ‘cybersquatter’.
The process can cost up to $4,500, meaning it could cost a fair bit to have the URL returned to its ‘rightful’ owner.