PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 March, 2007, 12:00am

The flame-haired firebrand is at it again. Pauline Hanson may not have been much good as a lawmaker, but she excels at shoe-horning herself into the limelight.

This was the woman who warned in her notorious maiden speech to Parliament in 1996 that Australia was in danger of being swamped by Asian immigrants.

Her political fortunes have taken a pounding since then, and she briefly went to prison in 2003 for electoral fraud.

Despite numerous failed attempts at a political comeback, the former fish and chip shop operator is adept at getting herself talked about. She has crooned with country music singers, starred in a TV commercial for doughnuts and appeared on the tacky Dancing With the Stars show.

Now she has written an autobiography, Untamed and Unashamed, in which she claims she had a torrid affair with David Oldfield, a fellow leader of the right-wing One Nation party she founded. Ms Hanson says Mr Oldfield came to her room in a modest motel in Canberra one night in late 1996. He cooked dinner, they opened some wine, and one thing led to another.

Mr Oldfield, who is now married, strenuously denies the affair, insisting his former friend and colleague is just trying to sell books. 'She's putting out her third biography. The first two have failed, she's simply after money,' he said this week. 'The answer is, it did not happen.'

Mr Oldfield's glamorous wife, Lisa, also has weighed into the debate, calling Ms Hanson delusional and comparing her with the manic Glenn Close character in Fatal Attraction. 'She is like some crazy estranged aunt,' Mrs Oldfield said.

But why the continuing interest in this political has-been? One Nation was a force to be reckoned with in the late 1990s but has since withered and all but died.

The answer depends on what kind of Australian you are. For the latte-sipping classes, Ms Hanson is an embarrassment, a strident rebuke to the idea of Australia as a successful multicultural society looking towards a future increasingly intertwined with that of Asia. Left-leaning progressives retain a morbid fascination with Ms Hanson. She is the woman they love to hate.

For some of the working-class 'battlers' she professed to represent during her time as an MP for the seat of Oxley in Queensland, there is lingering sympathy for her anti-immigration views.

Her former political foes have greeted the latest bout of publicity with a weary sigh.

'We get used to it and try not to take any notice of her,' said Jack Passaris, chairman of the Ethnic Communities' Council of New South Wales.

'The whole thing is a joke. One minute she's running for the Senate, the next it's the lower house and then she changes state [from Queensland to New South Wales]. 'At the beginning she was a threat to multi-culturalism, but not any longer. We try to ignore her.'

But the public, it seems, can't get enough of the salacious claims, and the book is not even out yet. It will be officially launched next week by Sydney shock-jock Alan Jones.

Expect another round of muckraking once journalists have pored over every last detail of what allegedly happened in that drab little motel room on the outskirts of the national capital more than a decade ago.