While we eagerly await the results of the 2016 Federal Election, one of the more noteworthy issues facing Australia is the re-election of Pauline Hanson. For those unfamiliar Pauline Hanson rose to prominence in the late 1990’s, advocating extreme protectionist economics and aggressive nationalism, particularly focused on white Australians being praised while Asian Australians and Indigenous Australians were targeted as “degenerates”, “foreigners” and “invaders”. If you’re chuckling at the irony of a white Australian complaining about an “invasion” you’re not alone. Hanson served in Australia’s federal parliament from 1996 to 1998, during which time she launched the One Nation party, which at one point had a range of MLA’s, MLC’s in multiple state governments.
Hanson marketed her party to a support base of older Australians and rural Australians, her message to farmers was an anti-competition argument that placed blame for economic difficulties faced by farmers on foreign imports. Her message to older Australians was one of anti-Asian sentiment, Hanson, despite being a baby boomer herself, actually targeted the generation previous highlight the anti-Asian sentiment that had been prominent in the late 40’s through to the 60’s in the wake of Japan’s involvement in World War 2 (Darwin bombing), the Korean War and the Vietnam war. This voter base combined with disaffected working class voters and regional/rural voters who felt left out allowed One Nation to poll as high as 22% of the national vote. Following 1998 Hanson and One Nations decline was fairly rapid, internal disagreements, inability to influence policy and a bipartisan motion by the Liberal/National Party and Australian Labor Party to shut out Hanson and condemn her. (Also they kind of adopted watered down versions of her anti-migrant policies, but let’s not remind them of that).
At the turn of the century One Nation more or less disintegrated getting less than 2% of the vote in the 2004 Federal Election, after which they were never to be heard from again…Until now! So what the fuck happened? Did Australia get more racist? Maybe, but more likely Hanson was able to take advantage of the perfect political storm; it’s easier to get elected to the Australian Senate than it is the House of Representatives. In the Senate your vote is tallied across the entire State/Territory, in the House of Reps your vote is tallied within your own electorate. Here’s an example; Ross Hart has won the electorate of Bass he did this by getting 33,532 votes just within his electorate or 56.4% of the vote. By comparison Hanson got her seat in the Senate as a representative of Queensland with 9.8% of the State vote or 139,000 votes. Now you might be thinking “Taylor, that’s a bigger number!” and you’d be right, but Ross Hart had to get those numbers in a single electorate with a population of about 60,000 people. As a percentage Mr. Hart’s numbers are pretty damn impressive, when you translate them to the entire state you see that Mr. Hart’s party, Labor, achieved roughly half a million votes or 5 times the number that Hanson received. To understand just how small Hanson’s numbers really are; Queensland has a population of 4.7 million, even if you subtract 1 million from that number to account for Queenslanders under 18, the numbers are pretty abysmal and that was her biggest showing of support.
At this point you’re likely to be thinking “Well hang on, if her numbers weren’t really that great how’d she get a seat?”, that would be the fault of our beloved Prime Minister; when Malcolm Turnbull called a double dissolution election he made it far easier for a nutter like Hanson to get elected. In a double dissolution each State has all 12 of its Senate seats up for grabs and due to Senators being determined by proportional voting that means that prospective candidates only needed half the normal number of votes to obtain a seat. Typically a senate quota is 14%, this time around it was 7% and that means that instead of needing nearly 300,000 nutters, Pauline only needed 100,000 to get across the line.
So what does this all mean? Is Pauline Hanson the Donald Trump of Australia? Nah, at best she’s a D-grade Nigel Farage. Her policies targeting Asian-Australians and Muslim Australians are particularly disgusting, but something worth noting is that the Australian Greens, Australian Labor Party, Liberal/National Coalition, Nick Xenophon Team, Derryn Hinch, Andrew Wilkie, Cathy McGowan and Jacqui Lambie have all ruled out working with Hanson in the Senate. Even Senator Lambie who has voiced somewhat ignorant opinions on Australian Muslims has ruled out working with Hanson due to her attitudes toward Indigenous Australians. As it stands, Hanson is unlikely to have much impact on the Senate proceedings and is also likely to be given the boot within three years. While Hanson’s bigotry and racism isn’t something I want to see in the Australian Parliament, it’s worth noting that the last time she had such a platform people were so turned off by it that she was thrown into total obscurity almost immediately after. Given that she only just made the quota this time around, the idea that she’ll be able to double her vote is unlikely. What should be commended is the effort by almost every other represented party to take a stand against Hanson and her batshit insanity. Not to mention the excellent rib by Senator Sam Dastyari (Australia’s first Iranian born Senator) encouraging Hanson to consumer a Halal Snack Pack.
We can only hope for the best from Pauline Hanson’s election and when I say the best I mean the revival of Pauline Pantsdown, a boost in sales of kebabs and HSP’s and of course Karl Stefanovic jokes! Thankfully after last years “Reclaim Australia” anti-Muslim movement fizzled out faster than Clive Palmer’s last orgasm, the majority of Australia is past that period of bigotry and Hanson will remain as little more than an annoying fly that eventually gets sucked out of the window.
PS: Funniest thing ever; anti-Asian Pauline sold her fish and chip shop to a Vietnamese migrant family.