Dark days for #auspol
Political parties have been infiltrated by racists, sexists and homophobes
In the first Australian federal election since the victory of Donald Trump, it is clear that Australian politics is now beset by all sorts of emboldened racist, sexist and homophobic cave-dwellers. Perhaps most shocking is how deeply the far-right has penetrated the parties of the supposed centre-right: the Liberals and the Nationals. Yesterday was a wake-up call for the Liberals, who dumped two candidates over extremist views, in what was described by the ABC’s Patricia Karvelas as the party’s darkest day of the campaign so far. The Nationals, sinking to a preference deal with One Nation, have been in and out of the news for months after the same network’s Background Briefing program revealed that the so-called Lads Society and other extremists had infiltrated the party’s youth wing. Today the Nine newspapers reveal that the head of the very same Lads Society had tried to recruit the Christchurch shooter. Australia, not at all suddenly, is in a very scary place.
This afternoon, Liberal candidate for Lyons, Jessica Whelan, fled the media at an election event in Tasmania after denying she was behind Facebook comments attacking Islam and its supporters. At a press conference, Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested that her account may have been hacked, and said that the had been referred to the police. Labor’s Tim Watts quickly tweeted: “Scott Morrison tells journalists that it’s not hard to believe that the cause of Jessica Whelan, Greg Hunt and Christopher Pyne’s social media issues were all hackers. Yet when the AFP investigated the Hunt and Pyne hacks they found no evidence of hacking…”
Yesterday, the Liberal Party dumped Jeremy Hearn as its candidate for the Melbourne seat of Isaacs over a conspiracy-laden post last year that suggested Muslim Australians were hiding their true intentions, which he said were to overthrow the Australian government and introduce sharia law. The Liberals candidate for Wills, Peter Killin, resigned after publicly endorsing an attack on Goldstein MP Tim Wilson, describing his party colleague as a “notorious homosexual”. Sachin Joshi, the Liberals candidate for the NSW seat of Paterson, kept his job after saying that women lack the “business skills” to get a pay rise. Also hanging on is Liberal candidate Gurpal Singh, standing in the Labor seat of Scullin, who has apologised for linking same-sex marriage with paedophilia during the marriage equality debate.
Karvelas today analyses how extremists, especially from the religious right, infiltrated the Victorian Liberals under former president Michael Kroger. She shows that that the current crop of candidates are part of his legacy, and concludes that a battle between the moderates and conservatives is imminent, pending the election result: “The scale of the Victorian loss will define the scale of the civil war which is about to erupt.” In a separate analysis this morning, The New Daily’s Michael Pascoe points out that the problem will get worse, not better, in the next parliament, with the departure of a swag of Liberal moderate heavyweights, including Malcolm Turnbull, Julie Bishop, Christopher Pyne, Kelly O’Dwyer and Craig Laundy.
Other parties are not immune, of course. Labor’s NT candidate Wayne Kurnoth was dumped this week over previous anti-Semitic posts, and Labor is divided over whether or not to disendorse its candidate for Melbourne, Luke Creasey, who yesterday apologised for sharing a rape joke and porn. The Greens suffered a string of scandals in last year’s Victorian election campaign.
The Christchurch massacre provoked sharp reflection about the culture of white supremacy and the mainstreaming of racial hatred in this country, particularly against Muslims. Imagine how far into the mire this campaign – which was already shaping as a race-card election after the government sounded the alarm over the medivac laws – would have sunk, if Australia had not had that jolt from New Zealand. As former Greens senator Scott Ludlam re-tweeted recently: “Repeating for those at the back: stop waiting to take a stand when the ‘real Nazis’ show up. They’re here. This is what modern fascism looks like.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs, in response to questions about the department’s failure to honour promises made to a Syrian refugee who resettled in Cambodia, leaving his four children without education or health insurance.
“A re-elected Morrison government would increase the threshold for a person or family with a concession card from 60 scripts to 80 scripts, saving them about $80 a year. The threshold for a person or family without a concession card would be lowered from 38 scripts to 36 scripts, based on the full cost of the script being over the co-payment of $40.30, saving them about $70 a year.”
In its most significant health policy announcement of the campaign so far, the Coalition has pledged $308 million to lower safety-net thresholds on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, assisting 1.4 million Australians.
“It sounds unreal to say that News Corp is not a media organisation. It sounds outré to say that it is instead a political propaganda entity of a kind perhaps not seen since the 19th century, one that has climbed to its pedestal through regulatory capture, governmental favours and menace, and is now applying its energies to the promotion of white nationalism, even as white nationalists commit scores of murders.”
“Under the influence of religious conservatives, the vote of ethnic minorities won the 2016 election for the Coalition. It’s a bold statement, but the evidence is there in the data, says Andrew Jakubowicz, professor of sociology at the University of Technology Sydney.”
“Campaign songs disappeared from modern politics years ago – we won’t expect jingles from Labor or the Liberals in the coming weeks – and none have lodged in collective memory like Gough Whitlam’s theme from 1972, ‘It’s Time’. As part of Clive Palmer’s magpieing from political history, he has borrowed its tune for his one of his anthems. ‘Clive for Canberra / Clive for History / For going back in time, yes it’s Clive’, says the chorus. Its verses position Clive in favour of mining, love, brothers, tuckshops, weight loss, dinosaurs and building the Titanic, and against Liberal, Labor and the Greens. I wouldn’t usually offer such detail, except that this is so far the most comprehensive policy document the United Australia Party has released.”
Paddy Manning is contributing editor (politics) at The Monthly and has worked for the ABC, Fairfax, Crikey and The Australian. He is also the author of three books, including a recently updated unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull, Born To Rule?
In the first Australian federal election since the victory of Donald Trump, it is clear that Australian politics is now beset by all sorts of emboldened racist, sexist and homophobic cave-dwellers. Perhaps most shocking is how deeply the far-right has penetrated the parties of the supposed centre-right: the Liberals and the Nationals. Yesterday was a wake-up call for the Liberals, who dumped two candidates over extremist views, in what was described by the ABC’s Patricia Karvelas as the party’s darkest day of the campaign so far. The Nationals, sinking to a preference deal with One Nation, have been in and out of the news for months after the same network’s Background Briefing program ...