Was Pauline Hanson really invited to Trump's party?
PAULINE Hanson tweeted her surprise at being 'gifted' tickets to Donald Trump's inauguration.
But that's not exactly how it happened.
The ABC reports that One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts lobbied Australian diplomats in Washington for tickets to US President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration, prompting them to ask Congressional offices for spare tickets.
Senator Roberts said he would attend the event "as a guest of the US Government" and said he and Senator Hanson had received invitations, while the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had not.
@elfsox Never said we were invited, just that we had 'invitations' and 'were gifted tickets'.— Sen. Malcolm Roberts (@SenatorMRoberts) January 18, 2017
But in a statement, a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said diplomatic staff were tasked with finding the senators tickets after a number of requests from the party.
"Following multiple requests from Senator Roberts, the Embassy in Washington asked a number of Congressional offices if they had any spare tickets available," he said.
"On 13 January, Congressman [Adam] Kinzinger's office advised they had two tickets available."
Senator Hanson has declined to attend the inauguration because it clashed with work commitments.
One Nation senator Brian Burston will now attend the inauguration representing the party.
In an interview with ABC radio, Mr Burston revealed the invitation was delivered via the office of Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger.
According to a report by Buzzfeed, Mr Kinzinger has distanced himself from One Nation and stressed he does not endorse any political party in Australia.
The conservative Illinois politician, described by The Hill as "the Tom Cruise of Congress" for his air force pilot background and blue-eyed, chiselled looks, was a critical voice within the party when it came to Mr Trump's presidential bid, but he's since shifted his position to be "optimistic" about the new leader.
According to Mr Burston, Mr Kinzinger reached out to One Nation staffer Darren Nelson, an economist who once worked for Mr Trump and now advises One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts.
The invitation, according to Mr Roberts, was initially intended for the Queensland Senator but he said couldn't due to health issues, specifically a hernia. The invitation was then forwarded to Ms Hanson.
Mr Burston, who was passed on the third-hand invitation after Ms Hanson declined, said he would be representing his party, the state of NSW, and Australia when he arrives in the US capital.
"I will be meeting the congressman and espousing our great country to him," he said.
The Senator assured he would be paying his own way on the trip, and insisted he would have footed the bill himself even if current controversy surrounding parliamentarians' travel expenses had not come up.
"I don't think the taxpayer should be paying for me to go to an overseas political event," he said.
"It's not related to Australia in any way in the sense of policy ... I don't think there's any link in terms of economic advantage or anything of that nature to Australia itself."
Mr Burston said he admired Mr Trump because he "says it as it is", and his political strategy mirrored that of One Nation in Australia.
"He's speaking the language of a lot of grassroots contingency similar to what we're trying to do in Australia," he said.
One Nation senators were popping bottles of champagne on the Parliament House lawn in Canberra following President-elect Trump's surprise victory last November.
When she revealed she had received the invitation to the new president's swearing in yesterday, Ms Hanson said she thought it was a "fantastic opportunity".
The invitation extended to One Nation is a break from tradition as previously foreign delegations, barring official representatives, have not been invited.
"The US State Department has advised that as in the past, foreign delegations will not be invited to Washington for the President-elect Trump's 2017 inauguration and that heads of state and governments will be represented by chiefs of diplomatic missions in Washington," a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman told News Corp Australia last week.
"Ambassador Joe Hockey will attend this event."
A number of Democratic politicians have boycotted the inauguration, and more are expected to announce they won't be attending protest.
Rolling Stone has revealed another embarrassing boycott, reporting the Bruce Springsteen cover group that was scheduled to play at the Garden State Presidential Inaugural Gala as part of the inauguration celebrations, have pulled out of respect to their musical inspiration.
Springsteen publicly supported Hillary Clinton during the election campaign, and labelled Mr Trump a "flagrant, toxic narcissist" with "simply no sense of decency".