Politics

The view from Billinudgel

Oh the hypocrisy
Last week abounds in examples of double standards

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The latest incarnation of the identity politics so despised by the elites of the right (but vigorously embraced when it suits them) is the non sequitur that what people have done previously (even generations ago) can be used as an excuse for their current transgressions.

Last week’s most egregious example was Malcolm Turnbull’s unqualified defence of Jim Molan. Molan, the recently arrived Liberal senator, fell into the job when Fiona Nash was found to be in violation of section 44 of the Constitution, and then Holly Hughes, who was set to replace Nash, was deemed ineligible for having held a government job after the 2016 election.

Molan is a warrior of the far right – one of the architects of immigration strategies that led to Peter Dutton being made the grand panjandrum of sovereign borders. He is also a zealous supporter of Tony Abbott’s push to disempower moderates in New South Wales (or to enhance democracy in the party, as Abbott and Molan call it – well they would, wouldn’t they).

Molan is not exactly a mainstream Liberal, but is a Liberal nonetheless. So when he was found to have shared, without bothering to check either its source or its veracity, a racist and bigoted video from a white supremacist mob called Britain First, Turnbull did not hesitate to say that was fine because Molan was a dinkum Aussie digger – a decorated general, no less.

He could therefore not possibly be racist, because he had fought alongside Muslims in Iraq. And indeed he had; he was involved in decisions that led to the deaths of Muslims in the process. This is what generals do, and it says absolutely nothing about racism one way or the other.

But the video Molan posted did, and it was so appalling that even Donald Trump apologised for sharing it. Molan didn’t; he insisted that the post was aimed at showing the effects of social disruption.

It got messy when the Greens went over the top, as they often do, but by then Turnbull had already spoken: Molan was a great Australian, and that was the end of it. He was, is, and always will be above criticism.

A less dramatic but still disturbing example of this new incarnation of identity politics was the current iteration of the dual-citizenship saga, of which, ironically, Molan was the beneficiary. There have been legitimate and unanswered questions about a number of members on both sides, but two are considered untouchable: Josh Frydenberg and Jason Falinski, because their families were Holocaust victims. And of course this deserves sympathy, but it has nothing to do with the black letter law of section 44.

Labor MP Susan Lamb, who last week tearfully explained the circumstances in which she has been caught up in same morass, was told by a series of Coalition ministers that while her story warranted sympathy, the law was the law. Lamb should not be excused because of her past. Fair enough, but it would be nice if the warriors of the right applied the same standards to their own troops.

Which brings us to the fertile field of New England and the father of the year, Barnaby Joyce. Last week’s so-called scoop by The Daily Telegraph was in fact very old news: Joyce’s new partner and her pregnancy had been around on the internet for months, and had been the subject of discussion even in the distant coffee shops of Mullumbimby.

Just about everyone in both the federal parliament and Joyce’s own electorate knew about it, and presumably didn’t regard it as important. There are arguments both ways, but on the whole I would have left the issue alone, and in fact did.

It is true that Joyce, with his constant rabbiting on about family values, could be accused of hypocrisy and the point is a valid one. But he appears to have adhered strictly to at least one aspect of the teachings of his Catholic church: that it is wrong to use contraception.

Mungo MacCallum

Mungo MacCallum is a political journalist and commentator. His books include Run Johnny Run, Poll Dancing, and Punch and Judy. Visit his blog, The View from Billinudgel.

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