Pauline Hanson’s political diatribe finds many similarities with Trump Any commentary on the 2016 election in America can’t be explored without the lingering artifacts of surprise. Surprise that despite all the racist, sexist, demeaning things that Trump said, he went on to win the presidential election in the US.
Australia hasn’t been without its political challenges as well. In particular, 2016 saw the resurrection of the political career of one Pauline Hanson. In the run up to Australia’s 2016 election, she served up soundbite after misguided soundbite to the media, just like Trump. Many might suggest that Hanson is Australia’s answer to Trump; but while her policies are problematic, it’s not fair to compare the two. For a start, unlike Trump I’ve never heard Pauline state that it is her right as a powerful public figure to grope people.
However, the biggest difference is not about policies or how their abhorrent statements can somehow gain traction on both sides of the globe. The difference is that nearly half the American electorate vote for Trump. Back in Australia during the July election, only 4 per cent thought Hanson was the one Australia needed. Statistically speaking, that’s not a lot of people. Particularly if we factor that 96 per cent of the compulsory Australian vote went to literally others on the voting form.
Twenty years ago, Hanson campaigned on a platform that was fundamentally based on immigration. Specifically the problems she saw with the levels of people coming to Australia from Asian countries. She regularly used the terms “we will be swamped by Asians” and claimed that she wanted to “take our country back”. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Exchange the word “Asians” for “Mexicans” and one must seriously consider whether her old speechwriter ditched her for a lucrative deal writing for The Donald.
In 2016 Australia there has been no swamping by Asians, or anyone else for that matter. So, like someone who predicts the end of the world and then looks for excuses when the sun continues to rise, Hanson made more predictions. Predictions that have been widely touted by insecure nationalists and their ludicrous figureheads the world over: The Muslims are coming!
There’s no denying that Hanson has some support within Australia, and it comes from a support base that 96 per cent of Australians are not proud of. However, the Trumps and Hansons of the world need only open their mouths, and the tabloids are willing to quote them as viable and rational human beings. Even when they get their facts wrong. Perhaps next time Pauline’s political platform could be about immigrants that have actually gone on to do horrendous damage to Australia. Like cane toads or the crown of thorns starfish – just to name a few. At least then Pauline would have some credibility in her argument.
The writer is the Chairman of Gulf Australia Corporation