Publicity-shy dancer and celebrity former fishshop proprietor Pauline Hanson (52) is attempting a comeback, this time targeting the boogeymen de jour rather than “Asians” as in 1996. Had she been around in the 50s she would have been rabbitting on about Greeks, Dagoes and Wops.
Her stupidity remains unchanged, but it is no use saying that to her fans, as they tend to think you are thereby saying they are stupid too. Best not to give her the oxygen, and Bob Brown’s predictable and well-intentioned namecalling is poor strategy, in my view. Better Bruce Baird, one of the great jewels of conservative politics:
Liberal Bruce Baird said Ms Hanson had her facts wrong in suggesting immigrants were bringing disease into the country.
Mr Baird said all immigrants underwent strict health and character checks before being granted visas.
“Ms Hanson will never let the truth get in the way of a good story,” Mr Baird said in a statement.
“There are no immigrants from Africa or any other place in the world coming to Australia with diseases. This is pure fiction, designed to provoke racial intolerance in the community.”
Mr Baird said he welcomed reports Ms Hanson might challenge him in his own seat.
“There are suggestions that Ms Hanson is interested in the seat of Cook for her return to politics,” he said.
“All I can say is: bring it on.”
The other group she is targeting is, of course, Muslims — as if they don’t have enough problems these days. She sure can’t be doing it from any kind of knowledge base, but when did she ever do that with anything? If Baird is right, let’s hope the folk of the Shire will see right through her. I actually believe most of them will.
The interesting thing will be to see whether John Howard will be as gutless (or as calculating) as he was in 1996-7.
Jim Belshaw and I were in very different environments from 1988 to 1998, to make it a neat ten years starting with the Bicentennial. His thoughtful response to the Pauline Hanson phenomenon and related cultural and political considerations may be seen at Pauline Hanson and the Australian Way. There is much in what he says, but I found myself embracing much of the spirit that emerged during those years, especially in the first part when Hawke then Keating were Prime Ministers. I still do embrace much of that spirit because I see it as having been the way forward, an emerging national maturity. I especially valued the willingness to acknowledge diversity rather than insisting on assimilation, though I also believe in a context of harmony and some core of shared vision. I think we were developing such a balance in those years, and despite years of reaction since have not quite lost it; Bruce Baird is perhaps representative of that. I valued the willingness to ask hard questions about our past dealings with Aboriginal Australia, and to learn from the culture and experience of Aboriginal people. For me this question was not entirely academic. Then from 1990 I found myself in the midst of people from China, many of whom had direct experience of Tiananmen, heard their stories, got to know them, and also found myself sharing my life with one of them. That experience confirmed that such people had much to offer, and we had much to learn from them.
In short, from 1988 through to 1996 I was very, very proud to be an Australian, and communicated that pride, I am sure, to the Chinese and others I had dealings with.
And then along came Pauline Hanson, to me like a dark storm cloud, an atavistic call from some Id that I thought we were just beginning to master. That’s how it seemed to me, and I wrote to everyone from the Prime Minister down, getting a couple of the best responses, I should add, from a couple of National Party figures.
Funnily enough, despite our very different experiences of the Hanson phenomenon in the past, Jim and I have probably arrived in 2006 at a very similar place. I agree with him that John Howard is a populist politician but perhaps give that a stronger negative connotation. I have always suspected, and my Chinese partner’s first hand experience of the man confirmed this, that John Howard may like people, but quite clearly prefers some people to others.
My older brother, by the way, is a country person through and through, never happier than when he is in the bush, whether that is in Tasmania, where he now lives, or around Sapphire and Emerald in Queensland where he used to live. He can’t stand Pauline Hanson either.
Pauline gave up on Cook. Apparently she is starting yet another party (One Nation having been pronounced dead) and is trying for the Senate in Queensland. I doubt she will get anything other that the requisite number of votes to get her costs covered and some little holiday money. Then perhaps she’ll try “Dancing with the Stars” again on Channel Seven, where she was really quite competent and had her mouth shut (politically) most of the time!