Redcuchulain takes a look at the growing number of voters attracted to Pauline Hanson and puts forth suggestions for progressive leaders to combat this.
To quote an old Arabic saying , “If people are thirsty enough they will drink the sand”. I do not believe that 23% of Queenslanders are turning to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation because they are racist. It is more that they feel that they are not being listened to by anyone else. They will no longer put up with it.
There is no doubt that social inequality is increasing. The poor feel vilified and disenfranchised. All while we hear stories like we did last week about the six executives from Australia post taking home half the profits. Jobs disappear and it is the less educated who are suffering. Jobs are outsourced to countries where labour is cheaper. We are being replaced by machines everywhere from the coal mine to the supermarket checkout.
Back in 1964 Donald Horne coined the phrase , “The Lucky Country”. While this phrase is generally now accepted as a positive reference and has been repeated everywhere from cigarette adverts to patriotic Aussie songs, Horne’s original meaning of the phrase was somewhat different. He noticed that the structure of our economy was more like a developing nation. We export lots of raw material and then we buy back finished product.
We also do not have a great record on the management of our environment. Australia is essentially an Anglo-Saxon culture country in the middle of Asia. However, we haven’t really worked out our place in it. Australia was seen as ‘The Lucky Country,’ as it enjoys a very good standard of living despite all this.
Quite simply there are a lot of natural resources compared to the size of the population. Fifty years on from Horne’s book our luck is running out.
I believe the future of Australia requires us to structurally change our economy. It requires us to increase our educational standards. Our educational standards aren’t all that great compared with other countries. We need to invest more in science and innovation and actually start exporting knowledge and products. We need world standard infrastructure, like the original NBN.
Hanson is openly anti-science. She supports a dumbing down of educational standards for professionals. Hanson does not seem to have any original ideas other than to collect vastly less tax than even a conservative government would support.
Of course her followers do not seem to be able to deduct that this type of conservatism would flow to vastly less expenditure on everything from defence to education. Perhaps she thinks that everything in the new world will be priced in 1964 dollars as well.
It is perhaps ironic that that Hanson and her party are prepared to sit and deny that the world is changing and are in fear of Islam. They sit like the Byzantines who denied science and clung to their old religious beliefs right up until Mehmet was at their gates with his superior technology and took their city from them.
Except the Hansonites are chasing the wrong foe. It is not the Muslims who will destroy our way of life but our own failure to innovate.
Protectionist policies do nothing to lift productivity. They give a country the economic prowess of the South African rugby team when they first waddled around the pitch at the end of the apartheid era after being isolated for 25 years.
There is a difference between governments creating infrastructure and investing in research to give your industry a fighting chance and putting up trade barriers.
Populist politicians are tapping into the very valid emotion people are feeling that things felt better in the past.
One Nation’s idea seems to be to go back to 1964 when Australia felt lucky. I do not believe that rolling back social attitudes back to 1964, denying climate change or rolling back education to what was required in the 60’s is going to make us lucky again. It isn’t going to bring the jobs back.
It is my sincere hope that the next elections are fought over policy issues. I hope our debates move to positive ideas on how we don’t leave sections of our community behind in terms of rising living standards.
The first thing that progressive politicians need to do is acknowledge the lack of hope that sections of the community are feeling at the moment.
In 1964 a person could move from job to job, they had more in life than their parents had (their parents lived through a war but people often forget that) and the idea that growth could not go on forever without destroying our planet was the domain of a few academics.
The more narrow religion dominated social narrative, while abhorrent for progressives may have been easier for many people to understand. There is a large cohort of mainly white, 50 and over Australians who perhaps miss that country that they perceived lucky.
They make up a large portion of the electorate. They have less of their life in front of them than what is behind them.
The ‘serious’ consequences of climate change are always talked about occurring in 2050 and it is human nature to think of something beyond our expected lifetime as abstract and unreal.
They see things harder for their children and grandchildren and if we could just dial back the clock on a few things it would be better. Wouldn’t it? These people don’t care much for celebrating our progressive victories such as improved university participation, women’s rights or social justice. These are things that affect other people. The ‘elites’.
Progressives need to find a way to reconnect with these people if we are to bring them on our journey forward. Part of this will involve acknowledging that there are bits of the old world that had value and that we have lost as well as gained.
These people have not enough hope to drink. They are thirsty.
Drinking Pauline’s sand will not quench thirst. It will make you even thirstier and your guts will end up… well…full of it. It is up to us to provide a different bottle.
How we define who is Australian and what we mean by “Australian” has become strong focus over many years. With the rise of nationalism in Australia, there are those who insist they are the authority on this.
Redcuchulain asks why do nationalist monarchists like Hanson believe they have the legitimate right to dictate to the rest of us who we are? Does a true Australian worship the Queen, or do they stand in solidarity with an Australian President of an Australian Republic? Would Hanson pass the citizenship test?
One of the most wonderful things about Australia day is the number of people who choose to become Australian citizens. They make a permanent commitment to this country. It is easy to understand why.
I still look back fondly on the day when I became an Australian citizen. Yet, I can still imagine what those people are feeling as they take their oath. I fell in love with Australia the first time I visited here. For me it is the egalitarian outlook of most people, the beautiful country. It is also the freedom from the old baggage which holds other places back that makes this country great. We are still young enough to shape our own destiny.
I could not help noticing the oath this year and the irony that some people in the public eye now who claim to be bastions of Australian values would not be able to take the oath with a straight face. “Australian society values equality of opportunity for individuals, regardless of their race, religion or ethnic background”
How could Pauline Hanson seriously take this vow and not choke on the words? Or: “compassion for those in need and pursuit of the public good” when she recently voted to support the LNP’s latest round of cuts to welfare recipients and pensioners.
Maybe it is because Pauline still sees our allegiance to a foreign Queen that she is so out of step with the values of modern Australia?
Perhaps if she was made to take the education, citizenship test and oath herself she may realise who is really a threat to our culture and way of life.
Are we a courageous country, or fearful?
If only I had a dollar for each time I had heard that statement over the last year.
Thankfully it is only true of some people. Those who are frightened. Our country is changing at the moment and for many people that means just one thing, insecurity.
What I see Pauline Hanson doing is exploiting fears for her own popularity.
That is, utilising fears to override logical thinking.
This country needs leaders who bring hope – not fear.
When we have hope we have courage.
A courageous society takes responsibility for its own problems.
A cowardly society finds some ‘others’ to blame and scapegoat.
It is courageous to take responsibility for our climate and environment today.
It is cowardly to pretend there is no problem and leave the mess to our children and their children.
A brave country invests in education and innovation and competes on the world stage.
The easy way out is to put up trade barriers as we don’t believe we are good enough to compete anymore.
You preach the politics of hate and where there is hate there is fear.
This country will not move forward with fear.
It was not built on fear. It was built on enterprise and camaraderie.
And yes, countless waves of new arrivals have helped shape the modern and progressive democracy that has been created in just over two centuries.
I have read through the One Nation policies and the theme that runs through them is fear.
Moving backwards to yesterday’s debunked ideas and values rather than having the courage to move forward.
At least One Nation’s party’s colour is right. It is yellow.
People have been asking me why I would want to start a petition into the war in Iraq? Quite simply, I have been waiting around for our political leaders to do it and have been surprised that it doesn’t seem to be a priority. I think someone has to do it.
I work in the healthcare industry and like many industries we have rigid rules about how we must investigate and learn when things go wrong. Compared to the airline industry we are in our infancy. However, at least these days every death is treated as a tragedy and we take what we learned and apply it to help prevent further tragedy. It doesn’t bring anyone back – but at least in some way we respect and honor those who we have injured by making sure their suffering wasn’t for nothing.
A Royal Commission is the only thing in this country with enough authority to get to the bottom of the matter when mistakes happen in the political sphere. There are too many vested interests in not getting to the bottom of what happened with the decision to invade Iraq. This is not intended as a witch hunt. We should assume that people in public life, regardless of whatever side of politics they are on, act with the public good in mind most of the time. Next time when we are faced with this situation we will have different decision makers. It does not help us to think of the people who made the wrong decisions in Iraq as ‘evil’ or ‘lazy’. If there has been deliberate deception then that of course is a matter which should be referred to the courts. I fear that there are underlying systemic issues both in Australia and in our relationship with our allies. Only a Royal Commission can get to the root of the problems so we can do better next time.
I ask you to please sign my petition which I will deliver to both the PM and the leader of the opposition.