Newspoll: Turnbull Slide Resumes After Election “Win”

EVIDENCE that “victory” will do nowt to lift the federal Coalition continues to trickle in, with the first Newspoll since last month’s election showing the government and Prime Minister on the slide after their narrow escape at the polls. Malcolm Turnbull now flounders at levels of public esteem that cost him the Liberal leadership in 2009. Unless he produces tangible results — and quickly — leadership ructions are likely to paralyse his government.

Regular readers of this column will be well aware of the fact that prior to the election eight weeks ago, I was emphatic that the Coalition would be better off in opposition than re-elected to government with virtually no authority whatsoever in a photo finish.

As I have elaborated before and since, both publicly and within forums of the Liberal Party that I occasionally attend, a narrow loss would see the counter start rolling on a Shorten government accruing “demerit points.” A narrow win, by contrast (and with the judgement that the Prime Minister and his cabal are useless in any meaningful sense) would see the government limp through whatever portion of a fresh parliamentary term it managed to survive for ahead of a likely belting that consigned it to opposition for at least two terms — and probably longer.

Everywhere you look, there are signs this rather bleak assessment is shaping up to be absolutely correct.

Today’s Newspoll, published in The Australian (and you can peruse the breakdown of it here) assumes rather more significance than early post-election polling otherwise might; for one thing, the poor light it casts upon the Coalition validates similar findings by Essential Media polling in recent weeks that actually shows the government behind the ALP, and for another, with Labor and the Senate crossbench giving every indication that the government will struggle to deliver even the narrow agenda it took to the electorate, today’s poll might quickly come to represent the kind of numbers Malcolm Turnbull wishes were even possible.

The 50-50 result published by Newspoll on the two-party measure is, technically, a very slight further movement away from the Coalition since the election; whilst a uniform application of it at another election wouldn’t see any more seats lost to Labor, it does go halfway toward the 0.7% movement that would see the Liberals lose three additional seats. And government. Re-elected governments are expected to get a bounce out of victory. But this government seems adrift: just as it has all year.

The Australian, in its analysis of the findings, has observed as much, noting that in the past 30 years only John Howard’s government in 2005 and Julia Gillard’s in 2010 went backwards at their first post-election Newspolls. In Howard’s case, the government was quickly beset by vigorous debate over how to use its new-found Senate majority to deliver labour market reforms that were never mentioned during the 2004 election campaign; in Gillard’s case (and notwithstanding the 17-day “negotiation” period to form a government after the 2010 election), the PM was quickly crucified for lying to the electorate over her intention to implement a carbon tax during the campaign and never really recovered from the fallout.

By contrast, there is no such definitive marker to punctuate Turnbull’s fortunes. Simply put, Malcolm is simply being judged on being Malcolm, and it shows.

In this sense, Turnbull’s personal approval ratings have now deteriorated to the level that saw him ejected from the Liberal leadership seven years ago; as Newspoll tells it today, just 34% (-6% since the pre-election survey) of voters now approve of the job he is doing as Prime Minister, with 52% (+5%) disapproving; these numbers are a far cry from the stellar heights of last October, when Malcolm foolishly declined to call a December election to capitalise on what would almost certainly have been a landslide of popular support.

Instead, he now boasts numbers that hardly show predecessor Tony Abbott in a poor light, and any advantage he once held over Bill Shorten has now evaporated.

Shorten, for the little he is worth, is now more “popular” than Turnbull, with 36% of respondents approving of his performance and 50% disapproving — erasing one of the key advantages held out to justify the Liberal leadership change — and Turnbull’s lead on the “preferred PM” measure continues to be eroded, with 43% (-5%) opting for Turnbull and 32% (+2%) for Shorten.

In other words, whilst Turnbull probably retains an edge over Shorten from an overall perspective, that “edge” is now heavily qualified, not very clear, and virtually encased in semantic arguments about margins of sampling error.

So much for economic leadership — or, indeed, any kind of leadership — that Turnbull professed to offer after the 30 consecutive Newspolls featuring two-party leads to the ALP which he used to justify knifing Abbott.

On “jobs and growth,” Turnbull’s ambitious tax cut already appears doomed in the Senate, as the ALP, Greens and minor players give every indication it will at best be heavily emasculated to the point the aim of the policy will be all but destroyed.

On superannuation, Turnbull’s plans appear destined to suffer a similar fate.

On the fraught issue of gay marriage, Turnbull appears unlikely to be able to deliver the Coalition’s long-promised plebiscite, as a Senate majority to block it appears set in stone.

The justification for the double dissolution — Registered Organisations legislation and a bill to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission — is an outside prospect of passing at best; even if it does, the chances it too will be heavily doctored (and rendered toothless) are very high indeed.

And on the repayment of Commonwealth debt and fixing the haemorrhaging federal budget, Labor under Bill Shorten has already signalled it will refuse to co-operate unless the government adopts the “Labor plan” of $110bn in tax rises and economically destructive measures such as abolishing negative gearing: an agenda only a foolish, class-obsessed government would even countenance.

In other words, little of any significance is likely to be achieved by this government. Off the back of a timid, woefully thin election agenda, this is an indictment — the finely poised numbers in Parliament notwithstanding.

It remains to be seen, of course, how the government performs, although the signs are far from promising; just to tighten the screws on it a bit further, the next half-Senate election must be finalised by 30 June 2019: meaning another election is at the very most two and a half years away, not three.

And the sum total of all of these pressures is leadership instability: sooner, rather than later, in my view.

There will be time enough in the weeks and months ahead to canvass and discuss the ongoing unsuitability of the ALP (and especially Shorten) for office, the defects in Turnbull’s leadership that I believe are probably terminal, the thin field of realistic contenders to replace him, and the effect any leadership change might have on the overall political landscape.

Personally, I am already of the view that the transaction costs of a leadership change (if one occurs) are likely to be lower than persisting with Turnbull for some or all of the next two-and-a-bit years: even if it is assumed both scenarios would end in defeat anyway.

But the key takeout from this poll, which is a very inauspicious start indeed, is that unless Turnbull produces significant, tangible results — and quickly — then leadership ructions are likely to consume the Coalition, and sooner rather than later in my view.

I don’t think the Parliament will permit any such outcomes, which means the key to the government’s survival — under Turnbull or someone else — will come down to its execution of political tactics and strategy, and its ability to frame and communicate a case to the public that skewers Shorten and Labor with the accountability for the mess government in Australia has become that they should have been held to after 2013.

These are not areas in which the Coalition has performed well, let alone excelled, for at least a decade. The scale of the challenge is clear. But an objective assessment of Turnbull’s ability to grasp and respond to it suggests any confidence in his ability to turn things around is probably misplaced.

 

Taking The Piss: Greens’ “Reshuffle” Defies Sanity

IMMUNE TO REALITY, the Greens’ belated post-election reshuffle would be risible were it not monument to the obsequious agenda of the far Left; the ongoing presence of Sarah Hanson-Young — at all — is indecent, and any party according “healthy oceans” ministerial status is perverse. But by making Lee Rhiannon responsible for “democracy,” it is clear that when it comes to the intelligence of the electorate, the Greens are taking the piss.

With the exception of actual video media directly relevant to our discussions in this column, it has been a long time indeed since I last gave readers something to listen to as an accompaniment to an article; today I renew that occasional practice, with a brilliant Australian song from the 1980s (and its official music video, replete with a distinct and appropriately keystone flavour) the perfect choice to go with what I want to cover this morning.

Enjoy this as you read…

…for by now, I think most people will be aware of the reshuffle the Communist Party Greens deigned to execute late last week, ostensibly on the peculiar pretext of “aligning MPs’ responsibilities with their particular states,” and whatever fatuous spin might be offered by leader Richard Di Natale to justify it, the Greens have become even more dangerous to the national interest as a result.

If, of course, such a consequence is even possible.

At first blush, the removal of the contemptible Sarah Hanson-Young from the Immigration portfolio is a triumph for anyone who values the sanctity of human life; her “accidents happen” dismissal of the deaths of 1,300 asylum seekers at sea as the direct result of a policy the Greens championed and which was initiated during her tenure in that post is a cause for great shame, and should have led to Hanson-Young’s defeat at the 2013 election.

The fact it did not underwrites a very big clue as to why the Greens are so trenchantly supportive of proportional representation in Parliaments across the land; even with that easy ticket to undeserved parliamentary leather in hand, Hanson only just squeaked home on that occasion, and this year — with the quotas almost halved — only just managed to survive that too.

Clearly her papers are marked; but before her career can finally be terminated, this reshuffle has only widened her scope to wreak havoc.

The failed bank teller will now be the Greens’ official spokesperson on Finance and Trade matters; this quisling, whose life experience of the commercial world barely registers above zero, is now the voice of the key crossbench bloc deciding pivotal matters affecting Australia’s $1.5tn economy, the half-trillion dollar debt Labor and the Greens saddled it with when they last held office, and the $450bn in annual government spending which — contrary to the Greens’ world view — must be drastically slashed (especially where lefty-trendy social programs are concerned) if Australia is ever to pay its way again among the nations of the developed world.

It gets worse, however, when the Senator is also now to be the spokesperson on “Lifelong Learning” — every aspect of the educative process from day care to universities — and Youth, and the idea of this scion of the hard socialist Left, utterly divorced from common sense and sanity in the orthodox sense, being even remotely able to influence the development of young Australians is enough to send a shudder down the spine of any fair-minded individual. “Education” and “brainwashing” are not the same thing, although with Hanson-Young’s propensity to refuse to interact in any way with those who dare to question her position on things, that distinction is likely to become impossible to spot when the Greens’ policy prescriptions in these fields are revealed.

Senator Hanson-Young is also the Greens’ shadow minister for the Arts, and it is to be hoped the Arts community — usually a friend to the Left — recognises the imbecilic new ally it has been shackled to, and takes aim accordingly.

What any of these things uniquely shares with South Australia is difficult to ascertain.

Queenslander Larissa Waters has been given responsibility for Women, Gambling and Tourism (and of course, we don’t have any of those things south of the Tweed), as well as Mining and Resources — an industry her utterances over the years suggest she would be happy to shut down altogether.

In keeping with the Greens’ tradition of putting parliamentary neophytes in charge of Immigration, new Tasmanian Senator Nick McKim takes over this role from Hanson-Young; it’s an interesting choice, based on Di Natale’s criteria, for Tasmania typically receives the fewest migrants (both in raw terms and per head of capita) of any Australian state.

McKim will prove no match for Attorney-General George Brandis — and his claim to shadow the country’s First Law Officer is as opaque as the rest of the Greens’ claims to adequacy — and it remains to be seen what input he might have in Small Business other than collaborating on taxation and workplace relations laws with the ALP that might help drive enterprises in the sector to the wall once and for all.

It’s a similar story with McKim’s fellow Tasmanian, Peter Whish-Wilson, who apparently seeks to emulate titans of Australian politics such as Paul Keating and Peter Costello as treasury spokesman; the likelier event is that he makes Wayne Swan on a terrible day look comparatively brilliant, for the one thing nobody is ever going to accuse the Greens of is economic competence.

Putting him in charge of Consumer Affairs, or “Waste and Recycling,” seems standard enough fare for the Greens, even if some of his party’s members need a dictionary to spell the terms correctly.

Making him shadow minister for “Healthy Oceans” is patently ridiculous, and betrays the rank amateurism and puerile, university-style politics that still underpin the Greens’ efforts despite its solemn declaration a few years ago that it was finally a mature political party. It wasn’t, and it isn’t, and it shows.

And aren’t there oceans around the rest of Australia too?

To kill two birds with one stone — promoting wimmin into key posts and prosecuting the Greens’ own peculiar brand of social misadventurism — Rachel Siewert and Janet Rice cover “portfolios” ranging from “LGBTIQ” to Ageing, and from “Forests” to Disability Services: the latter, of course, so dear to the hard Left as a means by which to simultaneously entrench welfare dependency whilst locking in votes from the underprivileged. At $24bn per annum once the NDIS is fully operational, expect the Greens to nevertheless advocate loudly for increases in expenditure in this area, and steep tax rises on the rest of us to pay for them.

Scott Ludlam takes responsibility for just about everything no thinking Australian would ever want a Greens politician to have any influence over: Foreign Affairs, Defence, Veterans’ Affairs, International Aid, Communications, Sustainable Cities, and “Nuclear.” The scope for permanently ruptured international relationships, combined with a “reach out” to despotic regimes in third-world countries is obvious, as is the abandonment of the defence community altogether and a move to compost-powered houses. I am not directing these remarks at Ludlam personally, but the idea that any Greens’ edict on any of these matters would be anything other than stone-aged is preposterous.

It’s clear where the Greens think their “brains” trust lies: Adam Bandt is assigned Climate Change, Energy, Industrial Relations, and Science. On one level, Bandt (a Melburnian) is clever enough to handle such a workload; on another, he is just as affected and addled with the disease of hard socialism that nobody ought to take much notice of what he has to say about any of it. Climate Change and the Greens? If you want impartiality on such a hotly contested issue, the last person who should be consulted is the most partisan combatant in the group.

And again, how is any of this particularly aligned to Bandt being domiciled in Victoria? It just shows what a nincompoop Di Natale is if this is representative of his idea of leadership.

And this brings us to the pièce de résistance of the entire reshuffle: actual Communist Lee Rhiannon, who as a former fellow traveller with the USSR and propagandist for Moscow during the Cold War shouldn’t be entitled to sit in an Australian Parliament at all.

Rhiannon is charged with “Industry:” something the Greens desperately want to shut down.

Rhiannon is simultaneously charged with responsibility for “Animal Welfare” and “Gun Control:” draw your own conclusions there.

Rhiannon is to be responsible for “Housing,” which we take to mean the compost-powered variety containing bare-footed residents who munch broccoli and lentils by candlelight and ride bicycles all over the place.

But most obscenely, Rhiannon is to be the Greens’ spearhead on “democracy,” and the idea this antediluvian, vituperative battleaxe, with her roots deep in hard Communism and her well-known hatred for anything even marginally to the Right of Marx, will in any way constitute a champion for anything remotely democratic is as fanciful as money growing on trees.

Then again, with the Greens’ notorious ignorance of economic reality and their insistence that “government money” is a bottomless pit from which to fund endless adventures in social engineering and statist interference, who would know?

The bottom line (excuse the pun) is that whichever way you cut it, the output from the Greens is unlikely to change; this isn’t a party of consultation, much less one of accountability, whatever its MPs claim to the contrary. They might or might not be answerable to their rank-and-file, as they regularly protest whenever their “credentials” as democrats are questioned, but none of them are accountable to the Australian public.

To the extent they are, anyone can replace a beaten Greens MP: all they need is the wherewithal and the commitment to “the cause.” The storyline stays the same even if the storytellers change once in a while.

One constant that remains unaffected by this reshuffle is the propensity for the Greens to regard the intelligence of the average voter with utter scorn; safe in the knowledge too many unthinking voters still believe their party is a benign assortment of tree-hugging, fairy-loving hippies with whom it is safe to park a protest vote, the Greens simply get on with spreading the insidious cancers of socialism and social subjugation that are beginning to tear at the social fabric.

It’s why those in the mainstream need to find effective voices to slap down the leftist PC rubbish — and the sinister, deeply destructive agenda it cloaks — before the damage it does to this country becomes irreversible.

But in announcing such a defective line-up — one so apparently well thought through, and carefully contrived — it is clear the Greens are taking the piss, not posturing as a serious force to be entrusted with the duties of high office.

Sarah Hanson-Young on Finance and Education. Lee Rhiannon on “Democracy.” And a slew of spear-throwers all allocated parts of the overall Greens project to destroy Western values and to change Australia into something it isn’t, and which most people (rightly) don’t want.

It’s a mistake, all right. The Greens have had an easy time in Parliament ever since they took the balance of power in the Senate in 2008. For the present Parliament to be viewed favourably by history, it’s about time something was done to change that.

 

NT Election: Mediocrity, Cynicism, Hypocrisy The Only Winners

THE LANDSLIDE recorded by the ALP at yesterday’s Northern Territory election should be a cause for despair for anyone interested in sound governance in Australia; on the one hand, a fractious conservative administration with a penchant for self-immolation has been ejected from office with the force of a missile, whilst a Labor Party responsible for shocking miscarriages of justice has been restored. There is nothing to celebrate here.

I wasn’t going to even bother commenting on the circus that is NT politics, but lest ALP triumphalism spiral out of control, a few passing comments are probably warranted.

They say things are done differently in the NT, but as I see it, politics there are following the same cynical trajectory as is being pursued elsewhere in the country: and the same disastrous consequences — not least, the continued disenfranchisement of increasingly jaded voters — are likely to ensue.

Just as this column declined to publish so much as a congratulatory syllable after the Coalition “victory” at the 2 July double dissolution, we similarly see little reason to do so in relation to Territory Labor today; the ALP may indeed have prevailed in elections for what passes as the Territorian equivalent of a state government, but the circumstances in which it has done so are tasteless in the extreme.

In the blue corner sits the Country Liberal Party: racked by divisions and the competing agendas of misplaced egos, elected four years ago and ravaged by leadership ructions ever since, the CLP has paid a predictable price for self-indulgence, petty bickering, and the utter political ineptitude that now seems to permanently infect conservative administrations comprised of MPs determined on factional grounds rather than merit, and aided and abetted by advisers who in the main are bereft of a skerrick of political judgement, strategic or tactical nous, or the ability to convincingly sell ideas or policies to an electorate that expects better of its parliamentary representatives.

In the red corner sits a Labor Party which, like its interstate and federal counterparts, boasts precisely nothing to recommend it: a classic illustration of the adage about oppositions not winning elections and governments losing them, the new ALP Chief Minister — the aptly named Michael Gunner — may come to rue the fact his election triumph was sealed in a controversy over prison abuses that were perpetrated on his own party’s watch in office several years ago.

The defeat of the CLP — never in any doubt — was almost certainly amplified by some appallingly partisan “investigative” journalism by the ABC, which saw its way clear to run an explosive expose about the torture of young offenders in the NT and other outrages on its Four Corners programme just as the NT election approached: never mind the fact these excesses occurred during the last administration Labor formed, and never mind observing quaint notions of impartiality like declining to broadcast such material during an election campaign; the result of the Four Corners production was to ensure the fallout hit the CLP with laser-like precision, as intended. The kneejerk reaction of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in announcing a Royal Commission into the affair, made it a certainty.

Territory politics are notoriously volatile, and — since the end of almost 30 unbroken years of CLP rule — have been a template for instability. The projected 18 of 25 seats Labor is expected to finish with will guarantee it one term only, and whilst a further term must be considered likely, such is the nature of the beast that the resurrection of the CLP after a single term, whilst difficult to foresee today, cannot be ruled out.

But in this sense, the NT is merely following the pattern of politics that is starting to become entrenched everywhere else in Australia these days.

We have arrived at the point at which the ALP and, by extension, a broad coalition of like interests — the unions, the Communist Party Greens, the teachers, the churches and the welfare lobby, among others — simply refuse to acknowledge or accept the election of conservative governments and, whenever such a government holds office, the singular priority of these groups is to destroy it.

Aside from extending the reach of unions and kowtowing to the faceless thugs who run them, the Labor governments subsequently formed either achieve nothing or (as in the case of the Andrews government in Victoria) cause massive economic and social division, as inept MPs propelled by self-interest and greed for power prove spectacularly unsuited to the task to which they have been elected.

This is also a theme that will continue to play out across Australia in the years to come.

I’m not interested in the welfare or good fortune of the parties of the Left and their fellow travellers; even so, the ascent of the ALP in a minor regional assembly merely underlines even further the challenges faced by parties of the Right and their seeming inability to grasp them, let alone resolve them.

An abjectly pathetic approach to electoral politics, in which the hierarchy of the Liberal Party is run as a clubhouse rather than a bona fide war machine, means the actual business of winning elections and prosecuting arguments is relegated to an afterthought as alliances and crony cohorts are elevated above ensuring the best possible people are installed to engineer the triumph of right-of-centre policies and the sustained success that increasingly eludes it.

In the process, Labor becomes more and more the default choice of voters, thanks to compulsory preferences that reward the ineptitude and indulgences of the Liberals in office with defeat.

It doesn’t matter that Labor is guiltier of the same sins, or is demonstrably incompetent when it comes to the business of government: the Coalition parties across Australia is increasingly incapable of carrying even those arguments publicly. This result in the Northern Territory is simply further proof of it.

Turnbull can probably feel lucky in that directly at least, the NT can inflict no further damage on the federal Coalition; Labor controls the Territory assembly, and holds both federal electorates as well as one of the two NT Senate spots.

But any national interpretation of the result can only invite the conclusion that the Liberal Party’s current decline is not just continuing, but accelerating.

Of the remaining Liberal state governments, the one in WA is likely to fall when it goes to the polls early next year; the one in Tasmania appears to have run aground in a state not noted for goodwill toward the conservative parties, and in which the perennial threat of minority ALP-Greens administrations seems once again poised to consign the Liberals to opposition. Mike Baird in NSW is beginning to look as if his party is readying to surrender office to a discredited ALP just two terms after claiming office, as did the Greiner-Fahey outfit 20 years ago.

Liberal oppositions in SA and Victoria — for different reasons — seem certain to remain in opposition in 2018. What happens in Queensland, where Labor has rigged future elections by abolishing its own system of optional preferential voting with neither consultation nor a mandate, is anyone’s guess.

What is certain is that the only victors from yesterday’s field trip to the polls in the NT are the forces of mediocrity, cynicism and hypocrisy: and today at least, that means unjust reward for the ALP, which will simply be emboldened everywhere else.

Once again, the real losers are the poor bastards forced to choose between two unpalatable options.

If anyone finds this state of affairs worthy of celebration, it says much about the insidious narcissism and obsession with power at any price — with flagrant disregard for the consequences — that continues to infect politics and elections in this country.

Make no mistake, there is nothing to celebrate here. It is a reality that the predictably shattered CLP, the more decent adherents of the ALP, and their counterparts across Australia would do well to contemplate.

 

18c Farce: Leyonhjelm Right To Sue Uncle Fairfax

A DAY after we opined on the “horse shit” of the socialist Left and the opaque institutional and judicial edifice it hides behind, a test case emerges; Senator David Leyonhjelm — branded an “angry white male” by SMH writer Mark Kenny — has taken action against Fairfax Media under S18c of the Racial Discrimination Act. It is vexatious and may fail, but in showcasing the double standards of a fatuous, contemptible law, Leyonhjelm’s action is right.

I am in Brisbane for the day today once again, so this morning’s post will be reasonably succinct; even so, it was probably only a matter of time before the infamous “18c” reappeared on our radar, although I didn’t expect it would happen quite so soon.

Literally a matter of minutes after I published yesterday on the issue of free speech — including, coincidentally, the need to abolish S18c of the Racial Discrimination Act — news broke that the Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm, who had been branded an “angry white male” by Fairfax scribe Mark Kenny, was instituting proceedings against Fairfax Media, claiming he had been offended or vilified on the basis of the colour of his skin.

First things first: the “offending” article from the Sydney Morning Herald may be accessed here; readers can find some additional material on the subject, from The Guardian and The Australian, here and here.

18c is objectionable for precisely the reasons that are now being lobbed at Leyonhjelm, in the form of ridicule, to underpin suggestions his action against Fairfax is frivolous.

Leyonhjelm himself admits he wasn’t offended by Kenny’s characterisation of him as an “angry white male,” and even seemed to imply the proceedings he has instituted are destined to fail.

But he is right to proceed, as he acknowledged, on the basis that Kenny’s remarks singled him out for the colour of his skin, and also correct to note that had the reference been to an “angry black man,” nobody would be laughing, groaning, or otherwise making any attempt to dissuade the pursuit of legal action against whomsoever made such a reference.

Just as S18c provides recourse, among other things, for those who are insulted or offended on the basis of their race, S18d offers some cover if the utterances are made as fair comment: it is this provision Leyonhjelm’s detractors are pointing to in suggesting the good Senator might have shot his bolt.

But speaking of bolts, 18d didn’t stop Andrew Bolt from being prosecuted, ostensibly in making a reasonable argument in relation to Aboriginal issues, so there goes that theory.

The problem here (as with so much of the rubbish the Left is peddling in this country, and which persists even with Labor and the Greens in opposition) is that minorities are “protected” by the Racial Discrimination Act, but when the shoe is on the other foot in any way, those affected can — to use the vernacular — get stuffed.

In other words, there are two sets of standards at play: just as we talked about yesterday.

Leyonhjelm, however, has set up a perfect storm.

Declaring he is taking action against Fairfax to demonstrate the stupidity of the law, as opposed to being motivated by a real sense of grievance, what the Senator is doing probably kicks the door to either modifying or abolishing S18c wide open.

If his case is successful, it will demonstrate just how petty the scope for using S18c to pursue ambit agendas really is: handing ammunition to those who want it changed on the pretext the potential for abuse is clear.

If his case is unsuccessful, it will clearly and graphically show that there is indeed one set of standards for the majority population and another for minorities, gifting ammunition to those who want S18c abolished on the basis the law itself is discriminatory.

Either way, the Left — which fashioned this dreadful piece of legislation in a too-clever, too-smug attempt to arm itself for future action against political opponents (like Bolt, for instance) will be shown up as the cynical frauds they are.

This column does not suggest Mark Kenny set out in any way to deliberately offend or vilify or humiliate Senator Leyonhjelm: quite the contrary. Whilst it is clear Kenny is no political friend of Leyonhjelm’s, it is difficult to infer there was any malice in his article.

But that’s the whole point, and it seems that however the action by Leyonhjelm plays out, the continuity of S18c is far from certain if any concerted attempt to change it emerges from the ramshackle new Parliament elected six weeks ago.

Gillian Triggs must be choking on her corn flakes this morning.

If she is, who could complain about that?

Free Speech: Governing For The Majority Might Save Turnbull’s Hide

THE FANCIES of the Left — veto over thought, word and deed, and favour for minorities with votes — persist after three years of “conservative” governance, and will be entrenched by a change of government; alleged “thorough liberal” Malcolm Turnbull is no conservative, but abolishing sinecures and fiefdoms of the Left may find him favour with Australians fed up with being told others are more important than they are in their own country.

Three years ago, almost to the day — and three weeks out from a federal election that produced a large swing against a Labor government that had unashamedly spent years pandering to the hard Left — I published an article in this column that singled out a predominantly government-funded “community organisation” that appears dedicated to little more than the dissemination of propaganda telling people how to think, speak and act; that article, despite being one of the better-read pieces of the election campaign, generated just three comments which, even accounting for the fact this form of media usually has an interaction rate of about 1-2%, was…very low.

What is interesting is that in the time since then, the material from the website of the organisation we looked at that day — FECCA — was moved at least twice, so the link I inserted to it in my own piece led to an error message if followed; like a dog with a bone I have fixed the link twice, too, and no doubt after today’s discussion, I will probably need to fix it up a third time.

But the takeout? Just as people in Australia have grown understandably reticent about laying into the mouthpieces of the Left, lest they attract prosecution for having an opinion that isn’t a sop to some minority or another, those mouthpieces are highly intolerant of any form of scrutiny whatsoever, and will go to silly lengths to ensure they remain beyond reproach and immune to criticism.

I begin my remarks thus this afternoon on account of a slew of opinion pieces that have appeared in various organs of the Murdoch press today, and it is no coincidence that these items were published by an organisation that sends the Left into mouth-foaming paroxysms of incandescent rage; the pliant, pliable (and reliable) tomes of Uncle Fairfax, Crikey! or “their ABC” would never stoop to the depths of opining against the pet fancies of the finger-shaking, Chardonnay-swilling, bullshit-dribbling imbeciles of the nanny state Left, but Murdoch scribes are fair game: and the main reason is that their mastheads usually (but not invariably) lend their support at election time to the Liberal Party.

First things first: for interest, readers may wish to peruse the selection of material I’ve been reading this morning here, here, here and here; these articles are really just for extra reading today, for the specific issues in them — whilst mostly outrageous, and uniformly a national disgrace — are, sadly, nothing new to intelligent people who are routinely told that unless they think and speak and act in a predetermined fashion, they are racists or bigots or homophobes and God alone knows what else.

The sub-plot to this, of course, is that there is a “class” of people who know better: those opinion “leaders,” unionists, bureaucrats, left-wing academics and other idiots bent on the insidious slither and spread of socialism at the expense of societal vigour, individual liberty and the entrepreneurial spirit, and the prioritisation of a sick ideological dogma over the national interest and the rights of the majority of people who live in Australia.

To be sure, this sad state of affairs is not unique to Australia; it’s happening across the Western world: “diversity” — a term more related in this context to punching socialism and social change down the throats of sullen, hostile majorities who were never consulted than to any real sense of multiculturalism (and to a plurality of cultures not limited to race) — is the dirty word used by left-wing activists to justify the insidious cancer of the doctrine they seek to propagate, the abuse doled out to anyone who dares speak against it (“Islamophobia,” anyone?) and to a gushing torrent of taxpayer dollars handed out to “community organisations” and other euphemisms for social engineering that the country neither needs nor can afford.

The reach of this odious, insidious hand is almost without end.

As readers will see from the pieces I have linked to this afternoon, it extends from public funding of so-called “think tanks” like the Grattan Institute all the way to insignificant flyspecks like FECCA, which nevertheless consumes half a million in taxpayer money every year; it runs from a national broadcaster whose “news” sense starts and ends with plugging the agenda of hard socialism, all the way through university social science schools; and it spans expensive QANGOs that pointlessly and unproductively consume hundreds of millions of dollars every year for little tangible purpose beyond providing high-paying citadels from which socialist troglodytes like Gillian Triggs are free to shake their fingers and lecture at us: the great, unwashed, uncouth, morosely silent majority.

These people do not know better than us, irrespective of whatever delusional self-assurances they fortify themselves with.

Sometimes they work in lockstep, with Triggs’ Commission coming to the party to help crucify some white Australian students facing prosecution for daring firstly to use “Aboriginal-only” computers at the Queensland University of Technology, and secondly, to complain about being asked to leave the computers alone: the heavily tokenised Aboriginal student population might be growing impatient, after all.

Sometimes they just work with Labor, like the Grattan Institute’s provision of convenient “research” that just happened to dovetail perfectly with ALP policy before the election on Negative Gearing, or Professor Triggs’ outfit (again) waiting until a Liberal government had all but solved the mess of thousands of incarcerated asylum seekers (including children) before releasing a ridiculously biased report that all but sought the roasting of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in hell over the fact a small minority of the kids were still awaiting the finalising of their processing, whilst remaining mute on any culpability on the part of Labor or the Communist Party Greens, who put them there in the first place.

And sometimes, they just feed like-minded fellow travellers out in the big wide world, with the AFL’s diversity and “compliance” regimes a stark illustration of just how stupid it is possible to be over a game of football: every football stadium in the country now has a number to dob in “anti-social” crowd behaviour — so the AFL’s goons, under the auspices of its New World Order social policies, can eject the perpetrators. We’re not just talking about the odd fight between supporters, either, much less any racist catcalls or “vilification.” A bit of blue language, I’m told, is sometimes enough to attract the attention of Security even without a complaint being sent.

Is this country so insecure, so immature, and so unintelligent that it requires socialist masters to tell its inhabitants how to think, speak, and/or act?

I don’t think so.

The problem is that all of this bullshit (yes, bullshit), whilst a latent presence to varying degrees over the past 30 years or so, really got a leg-up on the watch of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard; that’s fine, so long as her government lasted, but it didn’t — and all of this crap should have been abolished in quick order once the change of government occurred in 2013.

To its credit, the Abbott government tried, taking aim at the notorious S18c of anti-discrimination legislation: the problem, of course, was that the minister charged with prosecuting the case, Attorney-General George Brandis, chose unwisely to associate “freedom of speech” with the “right to be a bigot.”

Needless to say, that was the end of the Abbott government’s campaign for change: after Brandis’ remarks, any attempt to proceed would have been futile.

It goes without saying that racial persecution, or vilification on the base of gender or sexuality or whatever, simply isn’t on. But it does not follow as a logical extension of that sentiment that an army of do-gooder Chardonnay drunks is required — at usurious and unmerited public expense — to preside over its execution, showering fortune and assistance over ideological soulmates, and seeking to destroy anyone who dares question them.

And it should surprise nobody that when the Donald Trumps and Pauline Hansons and Geert Wilders of this world appear on the far Right — as a populist, if defective and inadequate, response to the most frustrated sections of the electorate — nobody bellows louder than the same entitled band of socialist finger shakers. Heaven forbid anyone should derail their gravy train, after all.

Self-interest and the public benefit coincide, happily, for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull: if he chooses to seize the opportunity, that is, the small matter of his wife being a director of the Grattan Institute notwithstanding.

A clear majority of the aggregate primary vote was cast at last month’s election for parties opposed to Labor, the Greens, and the handful of more openly socialist parties that receive negligible direct support; there are those on the Left who argue that because the preferences from many of these non-Coalition sources ultimately flowed to Labor, it is reasonable to assert the hard Right finds the soft Left more palatable than the Coalition. But such an assertion ignores the fact groups like One Nation regard the Liberal Party (and Turnbull especially) as an enemy, not a friend.

I use the Nixonian term “the silent majority” regularly, for I believe in this country that is exactly what we have: these people, who are not brimming with racial hatred or a desire to inflict harm on gays, lesbians, Muslims or anyone else, nevertheless want to be heard: and just as the musings of the Left on One Nation preferences are based on a false premise, so too is the idea that an election in Australia is an opportunity to be heard.

The compulsion to preference parties and candidates one would sooner spit on dilutes the intended messages of voters; whether that is the effect or not, the two major parties (thanks in no small part to Turnbull’s famed leftist social instincts) are caricatures of each other. The only real alternative lies further along the Left of the spectrum; and to them, equivalent interlopers to the Right must be slapped down and demonised at any cost.

The problem is that unless something definitive is done to rein in the rampant entrenchment of the hard Left as a force for the governance in Australia, the chance to do so will be lost: based on present realities and the current political climate, it would be a brave individual who sought to proclaim anything but a Labor win at the next election as the likely outcome.

And if Labor wins the next election — under minorities-obsessed Bill Shorten, or either of the Left’s candidates in Anthony Albanese or Tanya Plibersek — these people will become impossible to get rid of or to defund.

How the government finds the intestinal fortitude to make such changes (or the communications nous with which to sell them) is unclear, but the abolition of the Human Rights Commission, the Anti-Discrimination Commission, and scores of ideology battalions like them would save hundreds of millions of dollars at a stroke with few deleterious effects in terms of the “constituencies” they claim to represent.

The complete and instant abolition of funding to groups like FECCA, and to others like them who specialise only in the socially noxious purpose of telling people what they should say or think, would yield a hefty boost to a budget bottom line that simply cannot afford to bankroll the doctrinal misadventures of socialist lunatics and the wholesale demonisation of the majority of the Australian public.

And having failed to bring “their ABC” to heel when he was directly responsible for it, Turnbull should use Prime Ministerial imprimatur to orchestrate a review into the ABC’s news standards that forces balance on the public broadcaster. “Independent” and “impartial”are not the same thing. Nobody is advocating an ABC that goes out and roots for the Coalition: this would be equally offensive. But as it stands, the ABC’s “independent” editorial policies merely provide a fig leaf of cover for it to be independently biased, and it isn’t on.

Turnbull might actually discover just how much support is up for grabs from the millions of people who are sick of being told how to behave as cardboard cut-outs if he goes down this path. It might even save his beleaguered Prime Ministership, or at the very least, provide him with a firmer platform from which (shock, horror) to make more meaningful attempts at serious reform than the complete botch he made of it earlier this year.

He might also find that a new Senate can be convinced of the merits of drastic action to put the socialist genie back in  its bottle, if not to support such action outright.

The alternative is to permanently entrench the thought Police and a nanny state, with controls over speech and thought that are Stalinist at best and downright evil at worst: it might satisfy the Triggses of the world who personally pocket hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars per year for their trouble, but the average voter has had enough of such trifles.

The whole stinking edifice of left-wing thought control and the stifling of free speech is a putrefying pile of horse shit: it might gratify those at the top of the incestuous little pyramid but it is no way to run a country.

Horse shit has some value in terms of fertilising the garden, but its misuse as an instrument of governance has gone far enough. There is strong public support for change. The question is whether Malcolm has the bottle to enact it.

Senate Terms: Human Headline Constitutionally Skewered

BY allocating six-year terms to the first Senators elected in each state, the new Senate will replicate the act of all others convened after a double dissolution since Federation; Derryn Hinch, aggrieved by a three-year term but worthier of six than most, offered a surprisingly undemocratic alternative his colleagues and precedent will sink. A touted lawsuit is constitutionally doomed. He should eschew pointless brawls in favour of more salient issues.

Short of criticising Malcolm Turnbull and the tentative early missteps of his re-elected government — over Kevin Rudd, the Don Dale fiasco, the continued triumphalism of moderate factional hacks in the Liberal Party in rubbing the majority conservatives’ noses in the dirt, or over his diminished authority and continued exhibition of poor or non-existent political judgement — there has been little to discuss over the past week, and as I am waiting to see how Turnbull fares when Parliament reconvenes in ten days’ time, I am reluctant to tear into his government. For now.

After the appalling election campaign and the events that led to it, readers can be well assured that whilst this column’s guns have not fired at the Prime Minister in recent weeks, they are trained in that direction and will do precisely that if my view is that Turnbull and his smug moderate cohorts are pushing the Coalition nearer to the electoral abyss: not that there’s very far to push these days, given the government was re-elected with the barest possible majority in the lower house and a diabolical position in the Senate.

But the news this week that the Coalition and Labor have “done a deal” to put a majority of the Senate crossbench on three-year terms is unexceptional, albeit one of the first items of real business for the new Senate to resolve, and even in the current era of rank negativity, pointless populism and incendiary tactics to achieve outcomes counter to the national interest but conducive to one political agenda or another, it is hard to have any sympathy for any of the Senators who have got it into their heads that they should have been installed for six years if they ended up being relegated to three.

Readers can access coverage of this issue, depending on preference, by the Fairfax and Murdoch stables; the allocation of six-year terms to 16 of 30 Coalition Senators and 13 of 26 from Labor is hardly excessive, and I would make the point that if this were indeed a conspiratorial stitch-up claimed by the likes of idiotic Communist Greens leader Richard Di Natale, then most or all of the seven of the 18 crossbench or Greens Senators in line for six-year terms would be contemplating just three years in the red chamber this weekend.

So let’s dispense with the bullshit: there hasn’t been a hatchet job done on the crossbenchers, even if obsessive self-interest has deluded some of them that there has.

The “order of election” method for allocating six-year and three-year terms to Senators after a double dissolution is the exact method used after double dissolutions in 1914, 1951, 1974, 1975, 1983 and 1987; it is impossible to argue that the utilisation of this method now is inconsistent with historical practice.

As part of its 1984 electoral reforms — which, at root, are responsible for the mess the Senate has descended into over the past ten years — the ALP enshrined in the Electoral Act a “countback method” (the so-called Section 282 recount) as an alternative mechanism for allocating terms based on the votes obtained by the 12 winning candidates in each state to the exclusion of preferences obtained from eliminated candidates; significantly, the Hawke government did not use this mechanism after the 1987 election, and as the article I’ve linked from The Age notes, the electoral commissioner advised the Clerk of the Parliament after the election that the Senate was in no way obliged to use Section 282 of the Electoral Act in determining the tenure of Senators.

And the reason is brutally simple, and brutal in its finality: the Constitution.

I have provided links to the Constitution in the past, and do so again today here; in the context of how three-year and six-year terms are carved up, the matter is entirely dealt with by S13, and that section itself makes no prescription whatsoever for the method to be used, merely noting that the Senate itself is responsible for dividing Senators into short-term and long-term Senators following a double dissolution.

As there is no recourse where the Constitution is concerned — clearly, any finding by a Court against the provisions of the Constitution would, by its nature, be unlawful — it is safe to assert that the method for this practice is as the sole discretion of the Senate; the fact the same method used on six previous occasions is again being used now merely adds the strengthening hand of precedent to the allocations announced yesterday, and it would be a foolish and wantonly expensive misadventure indeed for any aggrieved party to run off to the High Court seeking an intervention against the Constitution in their favour. It isn’t going to happen.

Family First Senator Bob Day found this out the hard way earlier this year, when he launched a ridiculous High Court challenge to changes to the way the Senate is elected, believing his interests and those of minor parties generally were disadvantaged; whether they were or not is irrelevant (and with a record 20 Senators set to take their places on the crossbench on 23 August, it’s problematic to argue the point), for S9 is unequivocal that the Commonwealth Parliament may prescribe the method of electing Senators provided such a method is uniform for all of the states: which, earlier this year, it did.

Assessed against the backdrop of constitutional provisions that confer unequivocal authority on Parliament to determine these matters at its absolute discretion, the actions of Victorian Senator Derryn Hinch are curious, to say the least.

Surprisingly, for a decent man ferociously (and rightly) obsessed with standards in public life, Hinch’s proposed alternative — that all represented parties be allocated at least one six-year Senator — not only flies in the face of both constitutional provision and parliamentary precedent, but also exudes a distinctly anti-democratic odour.

Taken to its logical conclusion, the Hinch proposal would have seen the Australian Motorist Enthusiasts Party Senator Ricky Muir, with his 0.5% of the primary vote, given six years in the Senate had that result and outcome been replicated last month; the Hinch proposal gives every appearance of being an unashamed attempted sop to minor parties at the expense of the traditional major parties, and those who rail against the major parties too often conveniently lose sight of the fact that they generally do win an awful lot more votes than their tiny counterparts.

Long-term readers know I have a lot of time for Hinch — and have had for decades — and I welcome his presence in the Senate; some of his positions (such as his support for gay marriage) I do not support, but others (such as disclosure and tougher sentencing for sex offenders) I wholeheartedly endorse. I am not having a go at Derryn today. But it does seem that in trying to push a proposal that would in fact benefit him, he has highlighted problems not just with Senate elections more broadly, but with the conflict that erupts at the intersection of standard parliamentary practice and the “modern” political practice of doing business with a sledgehammer and voluble amounts of intimidatory hot air designed to force opposition into submission.

But as I said earlier in today’s piece, were this simply a stitch-up, there would be worse things to bleat about than Derryn only being given a three-year term.

The good news is that odious actual Communist and national disgrace Lee Rhiannon has been added to the list of those who must face election before June 2019: an opportunity to get rid of an appalling blight on the national polity once and for all. Diversity be damned; this is someone whose past activities verge on treason, and who should be permanently disqualified from holding elective office in this country altogether.

Also to be welcomed is the fact Rhiannon’s rival as the Greens’ most contemptible parliamentarian — the obsequious Sarah Hanson-Young — will also be forced to provide voters with a further opportunity to get rid of her the next time a federal election is held.

And all three of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation buddies will be forced back to the polls at the same time; the prospect of any or all returning to Canberra after the next election must be regarded as low given the almost doubled quotas they will require in order to do so.

The bad news is that good people — like Hinch, Day, and Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm — will likewise be marched off to the polls again; this is not the result of any personal targeting but the even application of a system that has been used repeatedly at double dissolutions. In this case, it has produced outcomes that are not desirable.

Similarly, the news that Pauline Hanson and Jacqui Lambie will spend six-year terms in the Senate is a cause for rue; Hanson, by virtue of the vote recorded in Queensland, is entitled to such a term whether you like it or not, but Lambie — in my view the stupidest person ever elected to an Australian Parliament, and much, much worse than Hanson in any case — is a presence whose voice adds precisely nothing of value to the national debate in any way, shape, or form.

But “the system” is just that — the system which, by consent under law, we agree to abide by — and too often in recent years, the refusal of some (mostly, but not exclusively, on the Left) to accept the outcomes it delivers is a disturbing symptom of anti-democratic momentum that runs counter to the national interest, and it is for this reason I was dismayed by Hinch’s “give all parties six years” approach when such a position lacks merit, credibility, and legal integrity.

My criticism of Hinch starts and ends there, but my ongoing critique of others in Canberra — whom we have repeatedly discussed this year in their attempts to subvert process in one way or another — does not.

If I was honest, I would have to say I’m just about fed up with the Senate: the niceties of allocating three and six-year terms aside, it’s not democratic, it’s not representative, and it most certainly isn’t functional in the sense a reasonable person would understand the term to imply — just like proportionally elected Parliaments in Europe, which are usually gridlocked and are a direct cause of the economic and social malaise that now afflicts the EU and its neighbours on the continent.

Perhaps all of this lends weight to the possibility of constitutional change to overhaul Parliament itself, along the lines we have discussed in this column across the journey: breaking the nexus between the Houses that dictate their relative size, along with a recasting of the Senate into upper house districts that return a single member at a half-Senate election and two members at a double dissolution.

But any such change would require the courage and perspicacity of MPs and their organisational structures to formulate arguments for such change, and the skill to sell those arguments and carry public opinion: attributes I don’t think anyone believes exist right now, to any great degree, among the group currently charged with governance in Canberra.

To be clear, the changes made to Senate election procedures earlier this year were entirely within the Parliament’s jurisdiction to make, but were in fact little more than a Band-Aid on a suppurating sore: they were no more “real reform” than the idea a superannuation tax rise and a business tax cut was a “clear economic program.”

In this context, whatever merit or otherwise might rest in Hinch’s musings on the carve-up of terms for Senators, the point is moot: and even if his concept were valid (and I don’t believe it is), such a change would be just as much a rearrangement rather than an overhaul as those electoral reforms are already proving.

Hinch was elected on credible (and in some cases, urgently indicated) policies: he should shun the allure of picking a pointless legal fight guaranteed to end badly, and focus instead on those policies. The Constitution has him snookered. The High Court would simply pot the black on him. It would be a silly waste of time, money, and public goodwill.

But this wouldn’t stop him attempting to explore, as a Senator, substantial ideas for genuine reform of the Senate, although the record level of self-interest and obsession with keeping their snouts in the trough means that whatever else is said of Australia’s MPs, the interest factor will be virtually zero.

Best to get on with the job at hand. Most of the people in Canberra, despite their protestations to the contrary, are really only concerned with staying there. If Hinch is to be different, there’s a big opportunity to prove it by standing out from the pack.

The clock is ticking.

 

In Dealing With Pauline Hanson, Remember Rob Borbidge

COALITION MPs who think Pauline Hanson must be vilified and her party smashed must reconsider; the inherent risks in any attempt at accommodation of the right-wing party are tempered by the dangers of literally ignoring it. A procession of state Coalition figures 15 years ago — headed by former Queensland Premier Rob Borbidge — offers an object lesson in the consequences of crucifying Hanson, One Nation, and the people who vote for it.

If there’s one thing that has generally been missed in much of the published commentary since last month’s election, it’s that the overall swing that occurred — in raw terms — was to the Right, the success of Nick Xenophon in South Australia notwithstanding, rather than to the Left.

Certainly, it’s the ALP and Bill Shorten who ostensibly emerge as the biggest winners and, in the House of Representatives at least, this is also certainly true; Labor now requires just seven additional seats to win an outright majority, and a swing on paper of just over 1% of the two-party vote would deliver them.

But with the Labor primary vote still languishing at a near-historical low of 35%, it would be unwise for Shorten to get too carried away with his own importance; votes obtained on preferences are every bit as valid as primary votes, but it is preferences — not outright support — that have pushed the insidious Shorten far closer to the finish line this time than any reasonable assessment would suggest was either merited or warranted.

And in that sense, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s coterie of “strategists” (and I use the term despairingly) would do well to look to the past, for just as night follows day, history is repeating itself in ways that could cost the Coalition very dearly indeed.

I have been relatively quiet these past few weeks; something rather splendid — sarcasm intended — that made its way into the general population from my son’s daycare centre six weeks ago performed a spectacular 180-degree rebound on me a couple of weeks ago with all the fury and malevolence of a Sarah Hanson-Young rant against reality, and despite being OK now, the past week has seen my workload ramp right back up including the resumption of my weekly field trips to Brisbane. There are things we should discuss, and over the next few days, we will cover some of them.

But the emergence of four Senators from One Nation, with Pauline Hanson at its helm, is a development than can scarcely come as much of a surprise in view of increasingly frequent Islam-related terrorist attacks this year, or given the vocal intentions emanating from some sections of the Right to abandon the Coalition in retaliation for the ascension of Malcolm Turnbull to the Liberal Party leadership late last year, and it is with this matter we restart our conversation this evening.

Let’s slip back in time: firstly to 1998 and then, more ominously, to 2001.

It is an irony lost on many, but had the Liberal Party not disendorsed Pauline Hanson in 1996 over remarks she made about Aborigines leading up to that year’s election, it is doubtful she would ever have broken through as a political force; her disendorsement oxygenated her campaign in the media, and — with no other local campaign to work on — the foot soldiers of Liberal Party branches in the seat of Oxley continued to toil for Hanson: delivering the manpower and resources to mount a credible campaign without the weight of the Liberal brand to back her.

That’s a matter of history, of course, and the Queensland Liberals probably had little choice but to show Hanson the door; since then she has used Asians, and now Muslims, as her pretext to stir up resentment among lower socio-economic groups and rednecks, and the proof lies in the fact (as we’ve said many times) that just as she’s adept at articulating “problems” in these areas, there is never a rational, credible “solution” in sight.

This time, the “solutions” — such as insisting on CCTV cameras in mosques to capture evidence of radicalising activities for use by law enforcement agencies — miss the obvious point that even were this silly idea to be implemented, the activity it contrived to target (if any, indeed, occurred) would simply be conducted at other venues, rendering the entire exercise pointless. But that’s a detail lost on the redoubtable Ms Hanson.

Even so, her win in Oxley in 1996, and the media attention it enabled her to generate, sounded a clarion call to every redneck in Australia to embark on race-related crusades in politics; it should be pointed out that aside from the lunar right-wing fringe, others who backed Hanson couldn’t be accurately described as “racist” at all: these were the people who felt alienated by rapid economic change, the digital revolution, and by globalisation, who feared for their jobs and livelihoods and their ability to provide for (and hold together) their families. These were (and are) the people who saw in Hanson a voice of “reason” that merely articulated their concerns without any deeper contemplation of the validity of her arguments, and as condescending as this might sound, it is not reasonable to expect every voter in Australia to be an expert on social policy, economics, and/or the minutiae of the political process.

In other words, some of the people attracted by Hanson were well-meaning and honest (if poorly informed) folk supporting someone they believed spoke for them, as was their right.

Where all of this crystallises into relevance in terms of the present situation federally begins back in Queensland, ahead of the 1998 state election, at which Hanson’s One Nation party scored 23% of the primary vote and 11 of the 89 seats in Parliament.

One constant about One Nation has been its appeal to voters in regional and provincial areas — hardly a shock, given communities in these areas are statistically much more likely to experience downturn and decline even in the face of overall economic expansion — and in a textbook illustration of how the National Party routinely called the shots in Queensland state politics, the Coalition government of Rob Borbidge went to the 1998 election with a strategy of preferencing One Nation ahead of Labor in all 89 seats.

For those who don’t recall, this strategy was a prescription for vicious internal brawling in Coalition ranks (and especially in Liberal-held areas in Brisbane where the Liberal moderates held sway), which allowed Labor — then led by Peter Beattie — to deploy the age-old Queensland argument against Borbidge that the ALP was united, but the Coalition was at war with itself over how to deal with the threat from the racist Right: a proposition the Coalition couldn’t (or wouldn’t) convincingly refute.

It didn’t help that some Liberal candidates (such as Steve Wilson, standing in the One Nation target seat of Ipswich) took it upon themselves to break ranks and refuse to issue preference recommendations placing One Nation ahead of the ALP: Wilson was instantly disendorsed for his trouble, and the ALP retained the seat that would arguably have fallen to One Nation (and thereby prevented Beattie taking minority government after the election) had the episode not occurred.

Most of One Nation’s 1998 Queensland votes — as they did federally on 2 July — came from people who in 1995 had voted for the Coalition.

The loss of government (with 31 seats and just 31% of the primary vote) was embarrassment enough for the Coalition, but worse was to follow; believing it had learned its lesson, by early 2001 the conservative parties had decided One Nation must be placed last in any and all circumstances, and — just to repay the favour — Hanson went on an “anti-incumbents” crusade, with One Nation preferences directed to the ALP and helping to blow away a seemingly unassailable Liberal state government in Western Australia and the conservative CLP regime in the Northern Territory.

By the time the tortuously conflicted Queensland Coalition faced off against the Beattie government in early 2001, the damage was done; now bent on placing One Nation last, Hanson’s outfit once again lined Borbidge up: and as some of his terrified backbenchers in provincial seats, sensing imminent annihilation, attempted to do seat-by-seat deals with One Nation in their own electorates, the facade of Coalition unity was rent asunder, and One Nation preferences poured onto ALP piles across Queensland, turning a likely Labor landslide into a near-existential shellacking. Labor won 66 seats; the Liberals just three, two of which were in doubt days after the election. One Nation lost most of its MPs, but the damage was done, and the Queensland Coalition commenced what would prove to be more than a further decade in opposition.

By contrast, the Howard government — itself facing an election — suddenly became very keen to mollify a lot of One Nation’s grievances, and by the time the MV Tampa appeared on the horizon, the government’s credentials on dealing with what would otherwise have become a signature issue for One Nation to latch onto were set in stone.

My apologies for the history lesson, but recent events bring what happened 15-20 years ago sharply back into focus; already, in the lead-up to the July election, we have witnessed Turnbull’s declaration that Pauline Hanson wasn’t welcome in Canberra — followed in short order not only by the resurrection of One Nation as a parliamentary force, but by One Nation preferences in lower house seats either contributing to the defeat of Liberal MPs (for example, Longman and Herbert) or contributing toward the overall swing against Liberal MPs in marginal seats who have held on, but with their margins drastically cut, in some cases to next to nothing.

Hanson holds a grudge, and so too do those who vote for her; the more fervid of her supporters, on the hard Right, view the Liberal Party as no different or better than the ALP: far from having “nowhere else to go,” as Liberal pollster Mark Textor infamously decreed of the party’s conservative and harder Right contingents following Turnbull’s replacement of Tony Abbott last year, the hard Right at least is more than happy to both withdraw its support in favour of a Hanson (or the ALA, or some other hard-right entity), and to double the insult by directing preferences to the ALP in the certitude that Labor is no better and no worse than the party lined up in their sights.

To these people, it matters nowt that the Liberal Party is nominally a conservative party, nor that it offers — at face value — an easier ticket than the ALP to getting the measures it wants into legislation; to Hanson’s supporters, the Liberal Party is filled with people who want to destroy their leader, put her back in gaol, and to tell them they are stupid and ignorant and bigoted: to them, the Liberals are just as bad as Labor and the Greens. There isn’t even a distinction to draw.

Perversely, the years of conniptions over what to do on the fraught issue of preferences and One Nation has probably only exacerbated this malignant assessment of the Liberals in One Nation eyes; by making such a big deal of it, the clear invitation was sent to the ALP to make an even bigger deal of it. Never mind that the Greens are, arguably, exponentially more odious and contemptible than One Nation: the Coalition has never sought to punish Labor electorally for its proximity to the Greens. No, even when the decision is to put Hanson last, there is a ready reservoir of shit to be tipped all over the Liberals, and when the decision is to put her before Labor, the tactical ineptitude on show merely invites being belted from arsehole to breakfast by literally every conceivable opponent.

Whether anyone likes it or not, the arrival of Hanson in Canberra — replete with garbled sentences and half-baked conclusions drawn from idiot-simple ideas — has put the issue of Muslim immigration onto the mainstream political agenda once and for all; it is the issue the major parties do not wish to talk about, let alone even acknowledge exists, for the ALP milks votes from the Islamic community whilst the Coalition is too scared to mention or acknowledge it, lest it be labelled “bigoted.”

I am no apologist for Pauline Hanson — and it’s so obvious that even certain long-term readers who once suggested I had much “in common” with her now concede my aversion to her is genuine — but I have always been emphatic that MPs of all colours are people first and politicians second, and deserve to be treated as such; there are exceptions (such as the liar Bill Shorten, and the cretinous pathology case Kevin Rudd), but the treatment doled out to Hanson personally over the years (and especially by the Liberal Party) borders on sub-human.

Whilst I agree with Derryn Hinch that Hanson is “full of shit” — after all, her views on Islam are so defective it’s clear she has no clue how to solve the problems she raises — I also believe she’s a damned side smarter than Jacqui Lambie, and treating her like a real person with bad ideas might be a bit more productive than treating her like Frankenstein with leprosy.

It is also the case that in the Senate, Turnbull is going to need every vote he can cobble together if his government is to pass any legislation whatsoever: Labor plus the Greens command 35 of the 76 Senate spots, and the Liberal-hating Jacqui Lambie makes that a lock for 36. If the left-leaning Nick Xenophon and his team of three can be enticed by Shorten, the opposition can block whatever it likes, which means that whatever he thinks of Hanson, Turnbull has no choice but to deal with her.

The first sign of any bullshit about “not accepting” the votes of Hanson and, ridiculously, the grotesque spectacle of Coalition MPs vaulting out of the Senate whenever Hanson and her minions line up with them during votes, will be a sign the Coalition has learned absolutely nothing.

The ALP has never had the slightest compunction in accepting parliamentary support from wherever it originates; it doesn’t get crucified over such matters: it doesn’t even get crucified over its links to violent, thuggish unions. Perhaps Coalition efforts might be better directed dealing with the predictably vacuous onslaught and turning it back whence it came, where the Senate votes of Hanson are concerned, than to negating those votes.

The people who vote for One Nation (and other entities of the harder Right) — almost three-quarters of a million in the lower house, and roughly double that number in the Senate — deserve better from national leaders than to be noisily dismissed as racist, bigoted, stupid, ignorant or offensive: and in demonising Hanson in these terms, Coalition MPs of the past were also guilty of demonising her supporters.

It isn’t like Jacqui Lambie, by whose own admission flitted from party to party seeking money, support and leverage simply to get her arse into a seat; Lambie’s only apparent principles seem to be based on getting taxpayer money thrown at various constituencies to buy their support, and nobody could accuse Hanson, at the very least, of that.

During the week, Turnbull announced, rather unconvincingly, that he could deal with Hanson; it’s a start, and it needs to go further.

John Howard understood that politics is the art of the possible and — in some cases, when confronted by circumstances he would prefer not to have to deal with — pragmatism dictated that giving a little bit away was a worthwhile price for the protection of his government and its ability to otherwise deliver the platform upon which it was elected in the first place.

I think that if Hanson is made to feel she has been listened to, taken seriously, and can see some kind of return on at least a portion of her wish list, the flow of preferences from One Nation next time will almost certainly favour the Coalition rather than its opponents.

The alternative storyline has already been played out once, and it isn’t pretty: One Nation preferences destroyed the Court government in WA; brought down a 23-year CLP administration in the NT; and helped lift Bob Carr to a landslide in 1999 over a first-term Liberal opposition that rated itself half a chance of returning to office.

It also destroyed Rob Borbidge in Queensland — not once, but twice — and left in a smoking ruin the political career of a good man who in other circumstances could have been a natural long-term Premier in the Sunshine State.

And as I said at the outset, the movement of votes at the election that has just concluded was toward the Right — not the Left, the appearance conjured by the final results in the lower house notwithstanding.

There are plenty of challenges Turnbull will face as he attempts to govern with minimal parliamentary authority, and we will return to some of the others in short order, but how he manages Hanson is probably the pivotal relationship he faces: not just now, for his government, but in terms of the fortunes of the Liberal Party federally in the medium term.

The potential for error — and disaster — is considerable, as is the scope to inflict collateral damage elsewhere: the excellent new leader of the Queensland LNP, Tim Nicholls, is already feeling the impact of resurgent One Nation poll numbers in state voting intention surveys.

History is repeating itself. Hanson is back, against all odds. Her party carries more clout (and oddly, more credibility) than the likes of Clive Palmer could ever have dreamed of.

The ball is in Malcolm’s court, but if the Liberal Party’s response echoes that of the late 1990s, its repercussions will be disastrous — and not just for the Coalition.

Snivelling, opportunistic grub Bill Shorten doesn’t care how he gets to be Prime Minister, so long as he gets there: and if the response to Hanson delivers Shorten that office, the effects on the Coalition might be bad, but the effects of a Shorten government would be cataclysmic for Australia.

Let’s hope those “strategists” have learned a bit during the parliamentary recess. They will have had to.