Pauline Hanson
Pauline Hanson speaks during a news conference in Sydney, February 19, 2003. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

The West Australian Liberals have struck a preference deal with Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. As part of the deal, the Liberals will be preferencing One Nation over Nationals in the Upper House in regional areas. On the other hand, One Nation will preference Liberals in all Lower House seats.

The move has been met with criticism from Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and other federal Nationals MPs. “It's a statement of fact that the most successful governments in Australia are Liberal-National Governments and however that bond is formed it works well. When you step away from that, there's one thing you can absolutely be assured of, you're going to be in opposition,” Joyce said.

Hanson said the deal indicated her party was receiving regard in the political realm. “The primary vote for both major political parties is on a downer. So they know to shore up and try to get themselves back into Parliament and into the government it's with One Nation's preferences," she said.

The move was backed by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Showing his support for the Liberals’ decision to preference One Nation over Labor, he said the One Nation leader is a “better” person than 20 years ago.

“It is not up to me to decide where preferences would go but if it was, I would certainly be putting One Nation ahead of Labor and I would be putting the National party ahead of everyone because the National party are our coalition partners in Canberra and in most states and they are our alliance partners in Western Australia,” he said, speaking with 2GB.

Meanwhile, Labor has said it will never preference One Nation. The party said the government, in striking the deal, was casting aside the effects the move can have on tourists.

"Back when Pauline Hanson and One Nation rose to prominence on the previous occasion, the coalition government had to engage in a full court press in our region ... as a direct result of people hearing the message that Australia wasn't a welcoming country," Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said, as reported by AAP (via 9News).

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo and Treasurer Scott Morrison said it wasn’t Labor’s place to criticise Liberals for preferencing One Nation as Labors have been engaged in preference deals with the Greens.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann dismissed the criticisms, highlighting that the Nationals had previously struck preference deals with One Nation and several other minor parties. "In 2013 both the Liberal Party and National Party preferenced the Shooters and Fishers, the Christian Democrats and the Family First party ahead of each other. This is just business as usual," Cormann said.

Concerns surrounding the deal were cast aside by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said the preference deal was a matter for the Liberals in Western Australia. "They've got to make their judgement based on their assessment of their electoral priorities. Their objective you've got to remember is to persuade people to vote Liberal and return the Barnett Government," he said.