Hanson first entered politics as a member of Ipswich City Council in 1994. She joined the Liberal Party of Australia in 1995 and was preselected for the Division of Oxley at the 1996 federal election, but was disendorsed shortly before the election. Although listed on the ballot paper as the Liberal Party candidate, she won Oxley as an independent. In 1997, Hanson co-founded One Nation, a right-wing political party with a populist and conservative platform. She lost her seat at the 1998 federal election.
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