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Pathetic Princess Pauline

07 Dec

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.

Next day

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.

2007 UPDATE

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!

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2 responses to “Pathetic Princess Pauline

  1. Jim Belshaw

    December 8, 2006 at 5:36 pm

    Neil, it is interesting that we have come to something of the same point by different routes. But that is part of the process I have been talking about.

    I am not actually a Howard supporter, although I have known him, not well, in a professional sense for many years. I have commented on this in passing, and one day will explore it in detail.

    I had a high opinion of him when he became PM. I actually wrote a fair bit of stuff at the time on the Headland speaches, exploring the ideas set out. Then I thought that the new Government went wrong in its first days because of the way it dismantled stuff without taking the time to check importance. I think that the results were especially devastating on the industry policy side. Later I developed real personal problems with them because of what I saw as a harshness that was in fact in very real conflict with their stated inclusive rhetoric.

    I make a clear distinction in my mind between the first Hawke Government with its emphasis on consensus – a term that was much maligned at the time – and the later Hawke and then the Keating period. As I have written, the new Labor Government was a liberating experience after (my view) the dead hand of the Fraser years.

    One of the problems with the Howard Government lies in disentangling (fisking?) the Australian and imported elements. My focus, and it is not something that I had articulated before, lies in the way his “Aussie” elements in fact helped change things for the better.

    Now the facinating thing here is the way in which this then provided a base for the development of new views, some of which are themsleves reacttions against other elements of the Howard Government and its policy. Part of this reaction in fact comes from the tension between the Howard rhetoric and other elements of the Howard model.

     
  2. ninglun

    December 8, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    Thanks for this, Jim. I really do hope Kevin Rudd rediscovers Hawke’s idea of consensus. I think we really need it after the extremism of the past few years.

    One small area where I differ with you, perhaps, and here referring to something you wrote a while back, is that John Howard’s Akubra doesn’t impress me much, though I should add I wear one myself on occasion. I suspect John Howard has very little acquaintance with the rear end of a sheep. 😉 (Nor do I, I suppose, but I do have relatives out Wellington way who do…)

    I should add too that Pauline 2006 is not merely misinformed about African immigrants; she is lying. On Muslims she is adopting a worst case scenario that would be laughed out of court if applied to Jews, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Quakers or Scientologists. Opponents of multiculturalism are denying the facts of Australian demographics in 2006: we are a multicultural society; it is the proper management of that in everyone’s best interests and with fairness to all which is at issue, not its existence. Even if all post-1970 migrants and their families were deported from Australia, we would still be a multicultural society, and we have been since 1788.

     
 
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