Remember the days in his first term when John Howard couldn’t see anything wrong with preferencing One Nation? He sure changed his tune after the 1998 Queensland election debacle, and after intense pressure from the Victorian Liberals, led by Jeff Kennett and Peter Costello. You’ll recall that the Nationals and the Liberals preferenced One Nation: the Nationals lost five seats to One Nation and the Liberals lost five Brisbane seats to Labor. Since then, he’s been a put One Nation last man. Until now. Sample these quotes to decide whether he’s flirting with the far right again, and is willing to alienate some Liberals to bring One Nation preferences to sitting Liberal MPs. Dangerous, John. Bear in mind that One Nation preferences are important NOT because Coalition preferences could elect THEM, but because Pauline Hanson’s threat to put sitting members last unless THEY swap preferences with her means that many Liberals in marginal regional seats will lose to Labor as a result.
ABC AM program, this morning:
“The Liberal Party’s position I’ve stated and nothing’s changed and in the end the preferences are decided by State divisions but I would expect the position they took last time to be exactly the same position that’s taken this time. But this obsession with where our preferences go is really in the end irrelevant. Our preferences don’t get distributed…”
Darwin doorstop, today.
“I’m not aware of too many Liberal Party backbenchers who are talking about trading preferences with One Nation, in fact as I speak now, I’m not aware of any. But look, this preference issue has got out of proportion. The preferences that matter are the preferences of minor parties. The Liberal Party preferences are not going to be distributed at the next election.”
Preference deals with One Nation irrelevant? Out of proportion? So how come he successfully lobbied former WA Premier Richard Court to put One Nation last at the recent State election? He’s testing the water to see if he can get away with it in seats where it matters. For the sake of history and the echoes of it in Howard’s weasel words today, here’s two news stories written before the Queensland election in 1998.
Liberal vote to bolster Hanson
By GREG ROBERTS(Sydney Morning Herald, 14.5.97)
The (Queensland) Liberal Party is planning to direct preferences to Ms Pauline Hanson at the next election in a move likely to ensure the re-election of the controversial Federal Independent MP.
Ms Hanson’s One Nation party will offer the Liberals an arrangement in which both parties put each other ahead of the ALP on their how-to-vote tickets in the MP’s Oxley electorate.
The offer is acceptable to local Liberals, and the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, said he would not intervene to ensure preferences are directed away from Ms Hanson.
At the same time, the Opposition Leader, Mr Beazley, gave a commitment Labor would direct preferences to the Liberals ahead of Ms Hanson.
Mr Steve Wilson, president of Oxley’s Liberal Party branch, Bremer, said while he would not enter into any deal with One Nation, the Liberals would direct preferences to Ms Hanson ahead of Labor. “We will not be involved in directing preferences to the Labor Party, because we would have no chance of winning Oxley if we did,” Mr Wilson said.
“We may as well join the ALP campaign committee and not field a candidate if we were to direct preferences to them.”
..Asked by Mr Beazley in Parliament if he would intervene to ensure the Coalition followed the ALP’s lead on preferences, Mr Howard replied: “No.”
The Liberals’ plan would almost certainly ensure Ms Hanson’s re-election, obviating the need for her to switch to the Senate.
Hanson ‘irrelevant’: PM
By FIA CUMMING (Sun Herald, 14.5.98)
PRIME Minister John Howard has dismissed criticism of the Coalition’s Queensland preference deal with One Nation, claiming Pauline Hanson’s party was “irrelevant”.
During a one-day visit to the Darling Downs in south-east Queensland, Mr Howard claimed commentators who dwelt on Ms Hanson and her party needed “a bit of a reality check”.
Mr Howard also attacked Ms Hanson’s policies as dishonourable, but only because they promised simple and impractical solutions to difficult problems.
Although the Liberal and National parties’ decision to give preferences to One Nation ahead of Labor has divided the Liberals, Mr Howard said the only real question was who won the election.
“There is only one question in this election and that is whether Rob Borbidge continues to be the Premier of Queensland or Peter Beattie becomes the Premier of Queensland,” Mr Howard told a gathering at Jondaryan. “Any noise on the side is irrelevant.”
Brisbane went wildly Labor on Saturday night. Clayfield, an old money electorate like seats on Sydney’s North Shore, fell to the Reds. So did Indooroopilly, a professional class seat similar to Paddington in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs. So what will the blues who voted Labor – many for the first time – do on byelection day, March 13, in the blue ribbon federal seat of Ryan vacated by former defence minister John Moore when Howard gave him the chop from the ministry? Send a message to Howard about what they think of his renewed flirtation with Pauline Hanson, message him about the impact of competition policy on lawyers, doctors and real estate agents, or warn him about his decision to tax family trusts like companies and his all-too-hard GST Business Activity Statement? Preselection for the seat had already splintered the Liberal Party even before it became a mere splinter in the Queensland Parliament on Saturday night. Urgent plea to Inside Out readers who live in Ryan: Please consider reporting from the ground for us, nom de plume or real name, if you’re game. Howard can’t lose this one, surely. Can he?
Before we get to your reaction to the Queensland result – and I’ve been so swamped with them I’ve had to choose a selection – we’ve got a marginal seat report, a new version of One Nation’s theme song “Sunburnt Battler”, and an accountability check of Pauline.
“JOHN SMITH”, who reported for us on the NSW byelection in the seat of Campbelltown, opens the batting on his take on the race for Bennelong, the Prime Minister’s seat. He wrote it before Howard floated Liberal preference deals with One Nation, and gives us an insight into just how dangerous such a play could be to John Howard personally.
By John Smith
John Howard is stuck with his Hanson-last strategy for one simple reason – he doesn’t want to be the first serving PM since Stanley Melbourne Bruce to lose his own seat (and that was in the Depression).
Bennelong is unrecognisable from the WASPish lower north shore enclave he first won in 1974. It’s moved steadily westward in successive redistributions, long ago leaving behind the Howard family pile in Wollstonecraft. Last year’s boundary changes cut him adrift from the seat’s last really blue ribbon turf, Hunters Hill/Woolwich. It’s now at best a pale blue ribbon seat with a buffer of less than 6% on the 1998 federal vote. He may well have lost on the 1999 state figures when there was an 8% swing to Labor in Ryde. Bennelong recorded one of the strongest pro-republic votes in Australia in the 1999 referendum.
More importantly, Bennelong’s demographics render the Hanson name poison. About 25% of the population are of non-English speaking background, mainly tertiary educated Hong Kong Chinese, Koreans and Indians. The rest have benefited from booming real estate values and the spectacular growth of North Ryde, in Bennelong’s heart, as Australia’s high tech hub. Hanson’s insular, anti-globalisation rhetoric may resonate where people feel left behind – but that certainly doesn’t include Bennelong.
Howard’s prevarications when Hanson first emerged made many locals wonder if he’d lost touch with his own back yard. He’s now got the message.
PS: The critics of anonymity on this page forget the honourable place of the anonymous source in journalism. This web format simply takes it to a new level where we can see more of the source’s own words. Anonymity protects the professional life of people like me who are active in the public policy arena. Without it we simply couldn’t contribute. I understand the concerns, but this is breaking new journalistic ground and the concept should be allowed to develop. Margo is more than capable of filtering out agendas and self-serving contributions. It’s not an exact science but in my experience she’s better at it than most.
By WILLIAM SMYTH SYDNEY
A SAD BITTER REDHEAD
IS UNSURE OF HER FATE
SHE’S BEREFT OF IDEAS
BUT SAYS “LISTEN MATE”
BOAT PEOPLE, BANKERS, ATSIC TOO
HAVE ALL GOT THEIR GREEDY EYE ON YOU
STICK WITH ME WHILE I THINK OF A PLAN
TO COMPLETELY ‘WHITE’ OUT THIS GREAT BROWN LAND
NO POLICY GENERATION
WE’LL HAVE TO THINK FAST
SO LETS KILL THE FUTURE
BY LIVING IN THE PAST
WE’LL RECLAIM OUR STATES
AND TERRITORIES SKIES
FOR THE NARROW MINDED BIGOT
WITH A LOVE OF MEAT PIES
SHOULDN’T BE LONG NOW
I’LL HAVE A PLAN, NO FEARS
BUT NOTHING LEECHES OUT
FROM THE SPACE BETWEEN HER EARS
HOWARD WAS A WALKOVER
HE MAY AS WELL HOLD HER HAND
AS SHE POLARISES PEOPLE
ALL OVER OUR LAND
SOON A MILLION LONE BRAIN CELLS
ARE STRUGGLING TO GEL
WILL THEY COME UP WITH REAL POLICY?
IT’S TOO HARD TOO TELL
BUT THEY EXPLOIT IGNORANCE
AND CONTINUE TO DIVIDE
DO THEY REALLY MEAN ONE NATION?
CHRISTINE TONDARF, a reporter for SBS radio, did the hard yards last week in testing a claim by Pauline Hanson on A Current Affair that 85 percent of Turkish migrants were unemployed after five years in Australia. This is the script of her report.
ONE NATION leader PAULINE HANSON has named migrants from TURKEY and VIETNAM as two of the groups of immigrants who are costing the Australian taxpayer money.
With only three days to go until the QUEENSLAND state election, Ms HANSON has been in media overdrive – giving interviews to radio and TV stations across the country.
Ms HANSON has been vocal on a range of issues, also making controversial comments about indigenous affairs and foreign aid to INDONESIA.
But her comments on unemployment rates among migrants have outraged ethnic lobby groups – who claim the statements are not only insulting but also inaccurate.
CHRISTINE TONDORF prepared this report
Pauline Hanson: “SOMEONE FROM TURKEY ACTUALLY … 85 PERCENT OF THEM ARE STILL UNEMPLOYED AFTER FIVE YEARS, ANYONE FROM VIETNAM ARE STILL UNEMPLOYED AFTER FIVE YEARS, ABOUT 50 PERCENT. YOU DON’T BRING OUT PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO BE BURDEN ON OUR WELFARE SYSTEM, ON OUR HOSPITALS, ON YOUR NURSING HOMES OR ON OUR INFRASTRUCTURE.
She told Channel 9’s Current Affair program that Turkish and Vietnamese migrants are over represented in unemployment figures.
She also told 2UE listeners that the only reason indigenous Australians are seeking an apology from the government is because they want compensation money.
But Ms HANSON was unable to find the time to speak to SBS Radio and answer the question – where does she get the facts and figures to support her claims about migrants and unemployment.
Neither the Australian Bureau of Statistics nor the Departments of Immigration or Social Security keep statistics on the unemployment rates of different ethnic communities.
However the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that some 150,000 people born in VIETNAM now live in AUSTRALIA and close to 29,000 Turkish migrants are here.
The Department of Social Security figures show that there are some 11,000 (11,158) Vietnamese born Australians, and 1,600 (1,639) Turkish born Australians, on long-term unemployment (longer than one year) benefits.
That means that 5.6 percent of Australia’s Turkish community, including pensioners and children, are long-term unemployed, and 7.4 percent of the Vietnamese community.
About five percent of Australians of workforce age have been unemployed for a year.
That would appear to cast serious doubt on Ms Hanson’s claims.
The NEW SOUTH WALES Ethnic Affairs Commission says it’s outrageous to accuse migrants of draining the welfare system.
The commission’s chairman STEPHAN KERKYASHARIAN: “About three years ago, half the graduates of medical and medically related colleges in NSW were of Vietnamese background – half the graduates. You go into the professions now, particularly the medical profession, the other professions and it’s the migrants who are carrying this nation. I cannot imagine and would love to know where Ms Hanson got her statistics.
The chairman of Federal Ethnic Affairs Council, NICK XYNIAS, says he is disappointed that PAULINE HANSON’S claims aren’t disputed more often.
Mr XYNIAS says an Australian radio station invited him on air to refute Ms Hanson’s claims, but he never got a chance to speak because he was dropped from the program at the last minute.
He says it’s too easy to ignore the fact that immigrants often have a lower unemployment rate than the Australian born community.
Instead he claims Ms HANSON gets more airtime than she deserves because she’s what the journalists commonly refer to as good talent.
Nick Zynias: I THINK THE MEDIA IS USING HER, THE PRIORITY IS TO SELL NEWSPAPERS. PEOPLE RING ME UP, QUESTION ME, SAY WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO. FECCA HAVE MADE A DECISION A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO NOT TO RESPOND TO A PARTICULAR PERSON BECAUSE WE’RE MORE INTERESTED BY THE BIG PICTURE.
It seems Mr XYNIAS is right — Ms HANSON has no trouble holding the limelight.
The media monitoring company Rehame has found she was the most talked about person on talk back radio this week (12/2-15/2).
But is Ms HANSON concerned that some of her statements upset certain segments of the community?
This is how the Current Affair reporter responded to MS Hanson’s statement about unemployment levels in VIETNAMESE and TURKISH communities.
I THINK YOU’VE JUST LOST THE VIETNAMESE AND TURKISH VOTE (Pauline laughs)
Now to Queensland reaction. The first two are my favourites to date.
My god, how boring. Surely you don’t really think there is much value in combing through One Nation’s policies.
Last year you did some great work on the Telecard scandal (and the efforts of Chris Ellison and Damien Bugg to cover it up) as well as some other interesting entries on where this country’s political dialogue is headed. You can say that the One Nation stuff is linked to the second of these, but you should take a step back sometimes.
This week has been a week of your most tiresome columns.
Lead the discussion elsewhere. There must be a couple of other issues going around. Analyse the reasons for WA Labor’s stunning victory. Examine the forestry issue in WA and ask whether there is a chance of it being a major electoral issue in other states. Perhaps examine Labor’s partial release of its environmental policy, or the Liberals’ plan to simplify the BAS.
You can’t keep crapping on about a single issue to the detriment of all else, or you’ll end up like that stupid bloody Simpering Errol from the Australian and “his ABC”, or Robert Manne and his endless “talk for reconciliation”.
Pauline, Pauline, Pauline
I love it. I just love it. It is hilarious: the fear, the loathing, the scaremongering. You must be enjoying it as well! Tell me I am not the only one laughing myself silly about all of this!
Margo, I loved the photos! And the tune! GREAT! Those dresses, hot pink and everything, that really red lipstick – why does she dress like a drag queen? Is she really a man? I WANT SOMEONE TO ASK THAT QUESTION!
Those “policies” are a hoot as well. The one about lowering the qualifications to be a police officer was hilarious – that’s right Pauline, dumb them down and give them more guns!
I suppose I should reflect on it seriously… but I suppose I am exactly the sort of person Pauline Hanson would like to drop a
newly-purchased-on-donation-money Hyundai on. My life is 100ks per hour 24 hours a day, living on the edge of emerging new economy (yes it really does exist), calling friends who live in London one day, seeing friends fly off to somewhere else for high paid assignments every other day.
Globalisation is great for my circle… maybe not a child labourer in India however. Or a steel worker in a shrinking BHP.
Maybe we are a horrible bunch of young-smart-things that live in some sort of strathosphere, where nothing really matters, certainly not domestic politics. It isn’t indifference, Margo, it is just time. No one I know has it, and to be quite frank, I am probably spending too much of it writing this email. But one thing I know, though I am a tender young thing, is that “nothing is new under the sun”. Pauline will have to cough up some policy details shortly, and they are sure to be absolute shockers, and she will then fade away into moronic obscurity.
But what a shame… hopefully it will be fun until the eventual collapse.
And what are we left with then… 2 major parties making Australia an easier
place for people like me to fill up seats on flights to and from the US or
UK. And screw the rest.
Oh well, I shouldn’t get morbid about it… it’s nearly happy hour! Off I
Competition policy is horrible because it reduces people to winners and losers. We need government policies that address the need for social cohesion not just that throw money at people to get out. I am not a dairy farmer but I can imagine the indignation of being offered money to get out of farming when it isnt enough to cover my costs, and more importantly fails to recognise how closely tied to identity being a dairy farmer is, and what it means in terms of my familys lifestyle and expectations. Talking economic factors in the face of overwhelming social ones is woefully inadequate. I’d be angry too.
Human society has always undergone change. It isnt constant and there have short periods of intense change where the lives of people have changed dramatically, such as the Industrial Revolution. Resistance to change is often broken down by the appeal of the benefits that it brings such as the end of child labour, equality of civil rights and improved living standards for the majority. It has costs though – and these need to be talked about in other than economic terms.
I think that some of the current discontent (and subsequent problem for Howard) is that he offered a relaxed and comfortable future with promises of no great changes. There was no way he could deliver and it was just a matter of time before it all came tumbling down.
The Coalition has a perennial problem satisfying both the conservatives and small l liberals that form its voter base. As you have pointed out, attempts to appease One Nation mean the city will bite back. The Queensland results show that liberal Liberal voters dont like flirtations with One Nation (nor do they like the current policies on refugees and an indigenous apology).
One Nation voters are fascinating, largely because it is hard to see just how to address them and their concerns. They seem to happily hold quite contradictory opinions and think that simple solutions can be found for quite complex problems. What I can’t understand is how they can be so indignant that their pleas for compassion are unheard (or so they believe) but they show an absolute contempt for those worse off than them. How many of them could actually turn back a boatful of refugees? But they expect others to do it because we are too soft on them they want softness from the rest of us, but seem incredibly heartless in their policies to me. City dwellers could argue “hey, it wasn’t me, so why should I worry about their failure to cope”. Such strong echoes of the apology arguments.
Maybe at the century of Federation we need to rediscover the value of commonwealth. Too much political capital has been gained by setting city against country, non-indigenous against indigenous, employers against workers. A “winner take all” philosophy delivers too many losers.
ANDREW CAVE of Kuraby in Queensland, ‘a left of centre bleeding heart from a deep-rural background’.
Goodness me, that was a right bollocking Saturday night.
I wonder why the political parties keep throwing million’s of dollars into their polling when the results are increasingly divorced from what the actual community intends to do.
I think that the boasting by the professional political operators about their ability to read public opinion, and the self-aggrandising publicising of their cynical (and successful) attempts to lead it, have been become so much a part of a general community perception that people are preferring to hide their true opinions rather than have them mis-used. In short, more people are deliberately lying to pollsters. And as people joke about doing so to their friends and family, the practice will spread.
This of course raises the spectre of poll-driven parties trying to cater to a community that doesn’t really exist. And the anger this causes among people who feel left out (and many do anyway) may well destroy all public faith in the political system .
Anyways, what have the Queensland people done? The Labor Party now has the enormous weight of expectation that they will be able to do something about what’s going on. In a year’s time Beattie will be battling bored and restless backbenchers who have realised that a good slice of them will lose their seats in the next election. Almost inevitably, in that self-referential atmosphere of politics, they will have justified to each other their need, right and due to ‘maximise’ their return from public office and will be spatting over how much money they can get their hands on.
People (me!) are so irritated now by politicians that any sign of an “entitlement mentality” (to paraphrase our unlovely Workplace Relations minister) will create a reaction entirely out of proportion to the actual sin. I think that the British election this year will show exactly this dissatisfaction snapping back on Tony Blair (or Tory Blur as I prefer to call him).
On a personal note, being a left of centre bleeding heart from a deep-rural background, I have had a number of heated disagreements with family and other people over the merits of the Government of the time. But I can’t find anyone (even National party members) who are willing to put up a strong defence of the current Federal Government.
Yet I digress. I have gone to join the Labor Party on a number of occasions and each time have been repelled by the thought of the stacking and the dishonesty about what they are there for. I think Beattie can go through the party now and pull out the people who cling to the modern command and conquer style of politics. If he does, I at least will be able to join without feeling like I am part of the problem.
While it would be nice to see this as one big graffito for the Liberal Party’s federal demise, I’m not entirely sure how much one can generalise from the Queensland result to the rest of the country. Since the time of Joh, Queenslanders have always been very influenced by personality politics, and I’m sure this landslide victory was really a vote for Peter Beattie personally rather than anything indicating support for the national Labor party.
Anyway, while the QLD state election might not be a portent, the WA one certainly is, and there are others, namely the PM’s falling popularity ratings and anger over petrol prices. I’m sure the ALP is just waiting for the small business insolvency figures for the two immediate post-GST quarters. (Again, though, Howard and Costello have been unspeakably conniving in engineering a situation where they’d be able to blame a complex BAS rather than the GST itself. Was it deliberate? I wouldn’t put it past them–in every country where GST has been introduced, there has been a significant rise in small business insolvency, so they knew it would happen.)
DIANA LYONS, Port Macquarie in NSW.
Sorry, Pauline Hanson did not deliver victory to Labor in Saturday’s election. Even John Howard has admitted that Peter Beattie won all by himself. With 50% of the primary vote Beattie had no need of One Nation preferences. The idea that the Coalition was defeated because One Nation voters did not allocate preferences is ludicrous.
The National Party vote is diminishing as people come to realise that a National Party MP is useless. No matter what side is in power, safe National seats are ignored by both State and Federal governments because they are just that. It’s not worth spending money and effort on a bunch of farmers who will always vote the same way because their fathers did. Fortunately, with increasing numbers of former city-dwellers moving to rural areas to work or to retire and with increasing interest in politics the old voter stability and predictability is changing for the better. This new awareness of receiving value for one’s vote and an increasing willingness to try someone new is something political commentators seem not to consider. Take note of Peter Beattie’s comment that many people have voted Labor for the first time in their lives. A good many of these would have voted for One Nation last time and on finding that the sky did not fall when they abandoned their traditional allegiance were only too happy to actually think about who they would vote for this time. Wow! A politically aware electorate! No wonder Howard is worried.
Please note well – the One Nation vote was well down this time, with only 2 or 3 members of the new parliament instead of the 11 elected last time. Even though they did not contest as many seats this time, if they were as important and powerful as you seem to think they would have achieved much more. The real danger of One Nation is not in how many Federal Coalition seats are won or lost on their preferences (no-one can save the Coalition now) but in the rash of ill-conceived and retrograde policies that John Howard will now fling together in a frantic attempt to win over One Nation voters.
MARC PENGRYFFYN (yes, that’s my real name) of Katoomba, NSW
I’m on a disability pension, but I’ve still got my brain and I’m a keen-if-amateur historian and a complete politics junkie. I almost always vote Democrats, but have occasionally strayed to Green or Independent. I was born in the US, but have lived here most of my life and am now an avid anti-Nationalist citizen. Enough background?
I’m very, very glad the media is giving so much attention to Pauline Hanson. Yes, I’d be ecstatic if the Dems or Greens were to get similar coverage, but I think at the moment One Nation is much more important. I’m glad that I’m not the only one who thinks of jackboots and the sound of breaking glass. And I’m really glad that fin de siecle Australia isn’t
Weimar Germany. Is it?
You see, every time I calculate all the ways that Hansonism isn’t really dangerous, a little voice reminds me of the Beerhall Putsch, of the Gracchi’s attempt to control Republican Rome, of the Terror. Ok, so nobody’s talking violent revolution, and to do so would be paranoid delusion, but people who support Pauline Hanson have genuine grievances behind their simplistic solutions. Grievances which many Hanson opponents share. Which I share. And if we fail to address those grievances, we do a great injustice to our democracy. If we push all these people further down the road to desperation, it will adversely affect the whole country. Nobody wins that scenario.
So we have to be smart and creative and ruthless about the bigotry and deceit of Hansonism, and actively work to find genuine solutions to the legitimate concerns of a large number of our population. Smart solutions that work for all Australians, don’t disenfranchise any minority, and position us for a prosperous future.
Otherwise, no matter how likely it seems that Hanson will burn out (or fizzle along more-or-less ineffectively for a while), there is always a slim chance that she may just pull it off. She might go all the way and be a Hitler, or a Robespierre, or a Caligula. Don’t keep that idea in the foreground of your thoughts. Save it for sleepless nights. Most nightmares are unforseen. Yes, Hanson scares me, and I don’t think I’m paranoid.
PS- I’m actually a political optimist! Reading history has led me to conclude that the world really is getting better, and that humanity is gradually becoming more civilized. Mind you, you do have to take rather a long view, and the upward slope is punctuated by periods of horror, and there’s always the chance that we’ll pollute or consume ourselves out of existence. But if we plug away at it, we might just muddle through!
TONY MOCKERIDGE, Christmas Island
As a parent (and a single parent – shock horror) I couldn’t imagine anything worse than my children being forcibly removed from their home. Ms Hanson’s stance on giving no apology to those thousands of Australians who had their children taken and suffered all the horrors of a totalitarian regime which further legitimised not just child abduction but rape, murder and genocide and whose remnants are still in power just proves that she is completely without scruples, principles or conscience. Her continuing presence on the national stage is just another reminder that as a nation we are not so far removed from any other perpetrators of terror and crimes against humanity as many may try to make out. Thank you Ms Hanson for exposing the hypocrisy which is still alive and well and which you represent so efficiently and without reserve. I know that you have no policies other than colonial supremacy over the indigenous peoples and xenophobic, totalitarian government over the rest, but at least you have exposed the conservative forces in the Australian political system for the sycophants and hypocrites that they have always been.
Imagine the groundswell if all those disaffected PHON voters actually stood up for what they allegedly believe in and joined in the fight against globalisation. S11 and similar groups are made up of all types of people, from young leftist radicals to grandmothers who want their grandchildren to be able to work. PHON voters claim to believe in the same ideals as these groups – but instead of action they opt for whinging. What a waste of energy.
It seems to me that Pauline Hanson bears some striking similarities to the Colonels who staged a coup in Greece in 1967, bringing in seven years of authoritarian rule by junta.
Like the Greek Colonels, Ms Hanson is strongly motivated by desires to defend the nationalistic cultural basis of her country. The Colonels spoke of their love and defence of “Greek Christian Civilisation”. Ms Hanson has said very little on religious matters, nevertheless she sees the Judeo-Christian heritage of Australia as one of its cornerstones and, just like the Colonels,
she wants to return Australia to the monocultural authentic Australian-ness of her upbringing.
“[These things] Australians of Anglo-Celtic and European origin value: a fair go, fighting against corruption and community spirit. Along with these goes a commitment to Judaeo-Christian values and ethics, an honest system of justice and government, and education based on English law.” Pauline Hanson, Hansard, 1996, p. 8091.
Just as the Colonels came from a rural village and middle-class upbringing Ms Hanson comes from rural Australia, and like then she believes she has retained a purity of thought and principle lost by the political elites who govern the nation. (MARGO: Actually she comes from inner-city Brisbane, where her Dad had a cafe in which she worked after school and then after work when she got a job at 15.)
More and more people are waking up and realising that [our government policies] are helping other countries, not Australia. More and more Australians are seeing that the people they elected are working for the internationalists, not the Australian people. Successive Liberal and Labor governments, including this current group of treacherous self-seekers, have worked for the interests of just about everyone except the Australian people who elected them and pay them.” Ms Hanson, Hansard, November 1997, p.11014
The Greek Colonels identified themselves as working-class patriots who wished to cleanse public life and correct injustice and inequality. The correspondence here with Hanson is quite exact. She wraps herself in the flag, trumpets her ordinariness as a fish and chip shop lady and there is hardly a speech in which she does not invoke the great Australian principle of a “fair go” in favour of correcting the raw deal given to rural and working-class Aussie battlers.
The Greek Colonels ambition was to restore Greece to a state of quintessential Greekness, a Greece where every Greek would have the same shared values of the Colonel’s own village past, “conforming to an Orthodoxy which was national as well as religious” (CM Woodhouse, “The Rise And fall Of The Greek Colonels). They wanted to instill in Greeks a sense of oneness and community in which every Greek understood what it was to be Greek and would mutually, willingly, be responsible for defending and upholding these values. If you replace “Greek” with “Australian” in the above passage you have a Hanson election speech.
Margo Kingston has drawn attention to the apparent desertion of policy in Hanson’s political strategy as she cultivates and responds to the Hanson personality cult. But, as Allan Attwood of The Age has said, perhaps it is no longer necessary for Hanson to enunciate policy since voters have a good enough feel for what she stands for.
Hanson does have formal documents which describe the direction in which she wishes to move Australia. It is unfair to say that Hanson does not have policy. Yet One Nation as a whole is no longer coherent on policy. The WA branch is neutral on gun-law reform while the Qld and NSW branches passionately oppose it. The WA branch has deleted racist immigration policies from its platform but who would dare to say Hanson, with the notorious John Pasquarelli in the near background, has repudiated her views on the supposed “Asianisation” of Australia?
It is clear that the Hanson bandwagon is now accumulating anyone and everyone with a beef, no matter what, no matter how big, no matter how small. One Nation candidates can stand for as little as crocodile reduction and voters transfer their support to her for anything from air safety regulations to restrictions on prawn fishing to disgust with the Child Support Agency.
One Nation is accumulating a rambling and contradictory nature just like the ideology and actions of the Greek junta of 1967-1974.
A significant portion of Ms. Hanson’s appeal lies in the perception that she is “one of us” and that she speaks for “ordinary Australians”. Initially the Greek population felt similarly toward the junta. The Greek people shared the Colonel’s disgust with Greece’s political dynasties and admired the same Hellenistic values as the Colonels. There was sympathy for various moral positions and a call for moral renewal.
Moves against tax evasion by the rich met with common approval. In 1968 the regime cancelled all debts owed by farmers to the state and gave everyone in the whole country a pay rise. Ms Hanson campaigns on elimination of ‘perks’ to ex-PM’s and wants low cost loans delivered to the rural sector, mirroring the populist and rural focus of the Greek junta.
Historians and political commentators who tried to define the ideology of the Greek Colonels were driven to exotic labels as they tried to accommodate the ideology and actions of a regime which was not truly fascist, not even consistently anti-communist and not populist, but certainly contained elements of all these. In the end however, the Colonels
did not have an ideology – only certain motivations: paranoid fear of Communist take-over; and disgust at corruption in the state apparatus and moral decline. They paid lip-service to “Helleno-Christian values” but their actions of beatings, murder, torture, rape and murder betrayed them as simple and ugly thugs of the most boring and predictable kind.
Similarly, Ms Hanson does not have an ideology or any real policy, only certain motivations: paranoid fear of Asian immigration and Native Title, disgust at the havoc wreaked on Australia’s rural constituency by globalisation policy, affinity and sympathy for the Aussie battler, and fear of and repulsion toward multiculturalism
And she’s semi-fascist. Anyone who can tolerate the junta-style constitution of One Nation Mark I and describe democracy as “mob rule” deserves such an appellation.
Historian Richard Clogg says that the closest thing the Colonels had to an ideology was the similarity in methods to their mentor, the fascist General Metaxas, who attempted to remodel Greek society in the 1930s. This is a concern with Pauline Hanson too. Could a “mentor” ride and grow the Hanson personality cult to a point where it is truly dangerous?
A couple of considerations incline me to believe we are probably safe on this score. Firstly, there is Ms. Hanson’s own very strong individualistic nature. She disassociated herself from David Oldfield when she felt he was influencing her public profile too much and was aware that he used her as a vehicle for access to the public gravy train. While Hanson is not academic, she is not stupid and she won’t be manipulated.
Secondly, Australians are repelled by fascism. It’s just not in our national character to Seig Heil.
So while John Pasquarelli is a noxious influence to have around someone with such unfettered access to the political mainstream I don’t think he could mentor Hanson to the extent she would change her name to Papadopolos.
Finally, at last, our ubiquitous correspondent in Switzerland, DAVID DAVIS, is back!
“Well it really seems like Christmas all over again.
For the past month I have been effectively locked into a small room in England working day and night with virtually no opportunity to access Web Diary. Now I am back in my alpine “homeland” and have had a chance to see what has been going on in Web Diary. I have to admit I am bedazzled.
There is so much content worthy of comment that I really don’t know where to start. That’s what makes it like Christmas! For once this really MAY be a relatively short comment from me for the reason that I cannot possibly hope to cover so many important issues raised.
I am delighted to see some of the same contributors from 2000 back into it in 2001 and equally delighted to hear the views of so many new people.
Firstly I want to give my perspective on the issue of the use of “nom de plumes”. In the past, there have been several topics where I would have given my opinion however I did not because it was a bit “too close to home”. The irony is that I do not comment on topics I know the most about because I have already identified my real name and location! The reality is that most of us are not independently wealthy and are therefore not prepared to become some sort of martyr to this forum to advance views which may be detrimental to our careers.
The purists such as Tim Dunlop may find this objectionable but that is the reality for a huge number of potential contributors to this forum. In the end maybe we are still serfs to medieval lords, the only difference is these days we get frequent flyer points!
I would like to make some comments on multinational corporations, foreign investment in Australia, research and development in Australia, trade policy and Globalization. I do feel however that it would be regarded as inappropriate in some quarters if I did. I am not prepared to get into these topics under my own name! Sorry, Tim!
Therefore I think the idea of “nom de plumes” is not a bad one. In the end you have to be pragmatic about this sort of thing. The reality is that you cannot express every inner most though to the world without the threat (real or perceived) of ramifications. I think some exceptionally valuable and insightful observations could come from people using “nom de plumes”. Anyway, I have absolutely no objection to it. C’mon, get serious, get realistic…….. the issues discussed in this forum are not “light” and without meaning.
The question is: would you rather people “in the know” express an opinion under an assumed name, or would it be better that the opinion not be expressed at all?????
Finally Margo, I see you received some criticism regarding the use of the word “bedazzled” and Pauline Hanson.
I think the word is ENTIRELY appropriate. Anyone who wants to belittle her impact or what it means is living in fantasy land. Quite frankly, I AM bedazzled by this woman and the impact she has. I don’t agree with much of what she says but I believe only a fool now would belittle her impact. She is a compelling and fascinating person who is really shaking up the establishment. Many (such as me) may want her to go away, but she won’t!
I don’t claim to be an expert on the Australian psyche but I am sure most would agree that there is always an element of “knocking the establishment” and admiring the “battler”. Hanson offers NO SOLUTIONS but she IS a battler and she encapsulates dissatisfaction with the establishment.
Sorry, but a woman who mobilises between 5 and 20% of the vote in various elections is worth watching. She can change governments – she is not merely a media obsession.
I say, be bedazzled, be aware, and most importantly, don’t be complacent………. read the Hanson message…… not from her lips but what underlies her message. She “articulates” the complaints. Who has the solutions?”