Thursday, June 7, 2018

Today by Paddy Manning

One Nation: please explain
Whoever they stand, they should get much less airtime


It is hard to take Pauline Hanson’s unravelling circus seriously, but we should. Behind the demise of a parade of Senate clowns, from Rod Culleton to Malcolm Roberts to Fraser Anning to Brian Burston, is the dark truth that One Nation is an opportunistic platform for a racist. As Mark Latham ponders whether to scrape the bottom of the political barrel and join One Nation, it is worth reflecting on how we have allowed so much time and political oxygen to be wasted on it.

You only have to go back to the early days to be reminded of where Pauline Hanson is coming from. Her Beenleigh address, delivered ahead of the Queensland election in March 1998, warned of the “very real concern hundreds of thousands of Asian refugees will head south to Australia”. She warned of imported crimes like home invasions and violent stabbings by Asian gangs, and blamed them for 96 per cent of heroin trafficking. Then she got on to infectious diseases:

Until about 15–20 years ago, hepatitis B, which is 100 times more contagious than AIDS was virtually non-existent in Australia. Today, there are three hundred thousand carriers, thirty thousand new infections every year and an annual death toll of twelve hundred … there is no doubt over the ethnic origin of some 90 per cent of the carriers and no doubt as to why this disease is now out of control and yet if you speak of this it is said you are a racist.

It goes on. Nowadays, according to filmmaker and author Anna Broinowski, Hanson “refuses to talk to Muslim Australians and claims that even Muslims who are moderate are ‘sleeper cells’ – rhetoric that comes from nasty right-wing literature that gets mailed to her from America”. In 2016 Broinowski made a documentary on Hanson for SBS, Please Explain, which is also the title of her book on One Nation. Broinowski describes this book as “Off the rails part two” in homage to Margo Kingston’s original account.

Broinowski says that it is important to remind people what Hanson was saying 20 years ago. “Hanson hasn’t changed, but Australia has, and it’s a horrific change.” In 1996, when Hanson gave her first speech on how Australia was being “swamped by Asians”, it was to an almost-empty House of Representatives. In 2016, in the Senate, when she warned that Australia was being swamped by Muslims, Hanson was “greeted by a conga line of major party politicians”. In her research, Broinoswki watched 700 hours of footage of Hanson in the 1990s. Back then, she says, wherever Hanson went there were thousands of protesters and heavy security. In 2015, at a Reclaim Australia rally in Rockhampton, “there were four cops under a tree watching on as hundreds of people clapped politely and waved flags”. The media’s treatment of Hanson has changed too. Take 60 Minutes. Back then, reporter Tracey Curro gave Hanson a grilling, leading to the famous exchange: “Are you xenophobic?” “Please explain?” Fast-forward 20 years to Hanson’s comeback, says Broinowski, and Liz Hayes does a fawning, hagiographic puff piece.

Broinowski says Hanson’s unravelling this year is “history repeating itself”, even though One Nation Mark II was supposed to be a much more sophisticated political operation. “She expects loyalty, but she hasn’t managed to inspire loyalty with the male politicians she surrounded herself with in the Senate. I suspect Hanson is up against some old-fashioned Australian misogyny.”

She explains that Hanson plays on her image as an underdog. “In her maiden speech, she declared herself an unpolished politician, a woman who’d had her share of life’s knocks, but she’s now a very wealthy woman. She’s owned and managed multiple properties, but still votes consistently against the most underprivileged in society, including single mothers who’ve survived abusive marriages.”

Episode 18: The downsides of democracy
Richard Denniss and former trade minister Dr Craig Emerson discuss democracy’s flaws.


since this morning

Victoria is expected to pass the first legislation in Australia to pave the way for a treaty with Aboriginal people.

A Lebanese military tribunal has been told that 19-year-old Isaak el Matari, from Sydney, was encouraged to join Islamic State by the boss of an Australia-based charity, according to the ABC, which has a Lebanese court dossier containing the allegations.

BuzzFeed reports that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has thrown his support behind a push to have Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg appear before Australia’s parliamentary committee on national security over news the company shared user data with Chinese telecommunications manufacturer Huawei.

According to The Australian [$], the number-one corruption suspect on a new Chinese government most-wanted list – a former director of Yantai Municipal Road Bureau, who is accused of taking bribes – may be living in Sydney.

in case you missed it

ABC’s AM reports that three young festival goers are taking the New South Wales Police to court ahead of this weekend’s Above and Beyond music festival in Sydney, backed by the NSW Greens’ MLC David Shoebridge.

Former Liberal MP and economist Peter Hendy, who has written a book called Why Australia Slept, has told [$] the AFR that he was wrong to have opposed increasing the GST and believes the government’s abandonment of tax reform early in Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership “severely affected” the prime minister’s standing in the polls.

by Shane Danielsen
The elevated horror of Ari Aster’s ‘Hereditary’
This debut feature will test the mettle of even the most hardened genre fans

by Megan Davis
The status quo ain’t working
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is the blueprint for an Australian republic

Paddy Manning

Paddy Manning is a contributing editor (politics) at The Monthly. He is a writer and journalist who has worked for the ABC, Fairfax, Crikey and The Australian. He is also the author of three books, including Boganaire: The rise and fall of Nathan Tinkler.

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