IS IT A JOKE OR A THREAT? Pauline Hanson today confirmed she would run — again — for Parliament; as the “people’s champion” she says it’s important that she returns to “create the debate.” This divisive and barely legitimate political figure, a serial loser, has nothing to add to governance in Australia.
Five weeks after we last discussed the idiosyncracies of Pauline Hanson and her ubiquitous attempts to re-enter Parliament, here we are again; she has now confirmed she will stand at the federal election in September.
That’s the only thing she has confirmed, mind; and even back in March, she announced pretty much the same thing.
Then, as now, she was debating about whether to stand in NSW or Queensland, a mental anguish that apparently remains unresolved. It appears the voters of the lower House seats of Wright (Qld) or Hunter (NSW) are to be the potential beneficiaries of Ms Hanson’s dubious electoral offerings.
In March, there was a lot of noise from Ms Hanson about major parties conspiring to oust her from Parliament by manipulating preference flows; now, it was all the evil Tony Abbott’s fault, and Hanson appears to be on some kind of mission to hold him to “account.”
(Never mind that she said in an interview with Channel 7 some years ago that she supported Abbott’s bid to become Prime Minister, a detail clearly beyond her recall now).
And last month’s announcement was motivated by a claim that there is no “representation” of “Australian life and people” in federal Parliament; today, however: “it’s important I be there again to create the debate, to make sure they are listening to the Australian people.”
I think it’s more likely that having got a taste for life as an elected representative in the mid-1990s, Hanson suffers the fool’s delusion that the masses believe her to be the messiah; she obviously believes it to be so, given the number of times she has stood — unsuccessfully — for election to a plethora of Parliaments around the country since 1998.
A cynic might also revisit the fact that losing candidates can nonetheless pocket a pretty penny by way of public electoral funding — as I also pointed out last time.
At the time of her initial announcement last month (and in my article then) I noted Hanson intended to campaign on water resources and electricity prices — and that such issues sounded a lot more moderate than attacking various immigrant groups.
But in a predictable reversion to form, Hanson today said that she was standing because Australians were “disgusted” with “illegal boat people,” an issue that would resonate in her potential electorate of choice — the Illawarra-based seat of Hunter, in NSW — “because you have a lot of people that move into the country (sic).”
I have said before in this column — several times — that one of the biggest problems with Pauline Hanson is that she is adept at articulating “problems” when it comes to racially based issues; whether it’s Aborigines, Muslims, Asians, or Africans, Pauline knows how to stir the pot to create enormous attention for herself, and to create enormous uproar among more reasonable sections of the political discourse.
And I don’t think — to be fair — that anyone seriously denies that from time to time, there may be issues that affect some or all of Hanson’s chosen targets.
But just as she is a deft hand when it comes to airing the “problem,” she is silent at best, and absolutely clueless at worst, when it comes to a “solution.”
Hanson says Australia will have problems with Muslims “down the track.” What does she propose? What is her brilliant answer that has so far eluded every other political mind in the country?
Hanson has says she fears the country becoming “Asianised.” Does she advocate a reintroduction of the White Australia Policy, the forced divestiture of Asian-owned assets, and the expulsion of Asian residents from Australia?
How would her “Asian” policy then reconcile itself (no pun intended) to the billions of dollars that pour into the country every year from Asian students completing full fee-paying academic courses, and the other consequent economic benefits (spending on housing, foodstuffs, discretionary items etc) that flow from their presence?
I could go on, but I think readers see the point.
Her last attempt to be elected to anything (the NSW Upper House, at that state’s election in 2011) showed how little support she really commands; the Legislative Council in NSW — with its single statewide electorate and its proportional election system — is the easiest House of Parliament in Australia to win a seat in, and she couldn’t manage that.
What, I ask rhetorically, makes her think she can put together 50% of the 100,000 enrolled votes — after preferences — in a federal lower house seat if she couldn’t even win in 2011?
If the answer lies in her “victory” in the seat of Oxley in 1996 — as a disendorsed Liberal Party candidate — I strongly suggest that readers consider this.
Had she stood, from the outset, as an independent in Oxley in 1996 — with a separately endorsed Liberal candidate in the field as well — it’s unlikely she would have won there either, incendiary outbursts about Aborigines notwithstanding.
And I say that simply because even though she had been disendorsed, the local Liberals in the area still campaigned for her and otherwise resourced her campaign; their objective (not knowing the monster they would unleash) was to get Hanson elected, thus terminating the services of the ineffectual, time-serving Labor incumbent (Les Scott) as their member.
And no, I wasn’t one of them — I never lifted a finger on that Oxley campaign.
It was the time before any debate over whether to put Labor or Hanson/One Nation last. And as was customary at the time, beating Labor was the sole imperative of those local Liberals, as it was right around Australia.
We’ll never know now, but I say Hanson won because she was disendorsed as a Liberal candidate after nominations had closed for the 1996 election, thus precluding the selection of a replacement Liberal candidate.
So where is the groundswell of support for Hanson now, and on what historical precedent is it purportedly based?
It’s true that candidates wearing the Pauline Hanson’s One Nation name won 23% of the vote and 11 of 89 seats at the 1998 state election in Queensland. But like any political flash in the pan, One Nation began to disintegrate the moment its MPs took their seats, and most of them were wiped out at the following election in 2001.
Tellingly, One Nation failed to win a single seat at the state level in any Parliament in any other state after its “triumph” in Queensland.
Hanson stated today that Tony Abbott and the Liberals were likely to “walk in” at this year’s federal election, an assessment it doesn’t take Einstein to concur with.
But her assertion of the imperative that she win a seat in Parliament so the Coalition “did not have a free run to pass legislation” simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
Her presence between 1996 and 1998 made no difference whatsoever to the ability of the Howard government to pass whatever legislation it liked, a reality certain to be mirrored in the case of the incoming Abbott government.
And aside from another incendiary maiden speech, or more incoherently communicated stunts, or a lot more counter-productive headlines, it is difficult to see Hanson ever contributing anything meaningful in a resuscitation of her fleeting time in office.
This election — if she actually stands — should, once and for all, kill off the political “career” of Pauline Hanson, with the happy consequence of saving taxpayers some money in the form of the public election funding she receives for each valid first preference vote cast.
And when that outcome presents, her political epitaph will be a simple one: that as a politician, she ran one of the best fish and chip shops in Australia.
I know. I used to buy food there when my parents lived in Ipswich. It was great.
AND ANOTHER THING: The announcement by former One Nation director David Ettridge today, that he is suing opposition leader Tony Abbott, would appear to be a curious — and convenient — development.
The legal action stems from court action taken against One Nation in 1998 — in which Abbott was involved to raise funds to bankroll it — that led to Ettridge and Hanson being jailed for electoral fraud.
Their convictions were later overturned on appeal.
The Red And The Blue notes that Abbott has acknowledged being served papers in regard to the Ettridge matter, and that as such care must be taken to ensure any comment made is not prejudicial to the case.
I would, however, pose two questions:
1. Why has it taken David Ettridge 15 years to take legal action against Abbott? and
2. Why is this matter being made public the same day One Nation founder and co-director Pauline Hanson confirmed her candidacy for the looming federal election?
As I said, it sounds terribly convenient.