A conga-line of suck-holes and the odd cross-bencher form a blue-grey-suited crush up the raspberry carpeted steps of the senate, Tuesday, as members of our government’s upper house file up to shake Aussie racism’s latest White Australian, Fraser Anning, by the hand. Are they spell-bound by his five thousand word maiden speech fantasy?
“Fifty years ago Australia was a cohesive, predominantly Anglo-Celtic nation. Most people thought of themselves as Christian of some sort, although most of us didn’t go to church all that often. Everyone, from the cleaners to the captains of industry, had a shared vision of who we were as a people and our place in the world,”
They did? In 1968 when anti-Vietnam demos were at their height here? A year of seismic social and political change around the world? A time when single, aged and invalid pensioners were grateful to get another whole dollar rise to fourteen dollars a week? When a quarter of the population lived on less than $58 per week?
Bear with Fraser; nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. Behind him, Tory Cory Bernardi nods agreement. Cory’s part of a tinpot Oz-Tea Party troika with Fantasy-fabulist Anning and deluded David Leyonhjelm. They have a lot in common.
“We want stronger families, limited government, lower taxes…we want to re-install personal responsibilities front and centre of public life,” Bernardi claims. Seriously? Is this code for Leyonhjelm’s “slut-shaming”, now the subject of a defamation case in which, as he admits, he told Sarah Hanson-Young that “… she should stop shagging men”?
In the topsy-turvy, inside-out and back-to-front world of our upper house of mirrors, reality is bent, shrunk and stretched while ignorance, bigotry and even crypto-fascism, defy government tax-cut theory to trickle up. And up.
Anning’s not only out to romanticise White Australia, he calls out Labor as the serpent in the worker’s paradise.
“I think – a European based immigration program has … been a very good policy and it’s been of great value to us … This continued until 1973 when Whitlam and his hard Left cronies adopted Soviet inspired UN treaties on discrimination and banned preferential selection of migrants based on their ethnicity,” Anning rants.
Whitlam had hard left cronies? Whitlam was always on the right of the Australian Labor Party.
But it’s Fraser’s “final solution”, Nazi dog-whistle which earns most censure. Of course, it’s all unfair. Political correctness gone mad. Anning cannot apologise. He casts himself as the victim. He babbles to Sky, which is madly Foxifying Australia’s news that he refuses to apologise. His innocent “final solution” is totally taken out of context.
Besides, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean the bastards aren’t out to get you.
“It was just two words, and the thought police have jumped on it,” he whinges. Andrew Bolt pretends that the words final solution refer only to the last in a series and that the new boy meant nothing by them. Blot aka Bolt, blames vegan cultural Marxists in mung bean sandals on the left for their incessant thought policing, political correctness and witch-hunting.
Sheesh! You incite hatred with a farrago of lies, favourably reference the Holocaust, spread disinformation and people have a go at you. Politics today is so unfair on right wing demagogues. No-one gives you air time. Equal treatment.
Even Pauline rushes back to her spot on Channel 7’s Sunrise to denounce Anning as “appalling” or that could be “a Pauline”, poorly transcribed? It’s a cut-throat business, this stampede to the bottom. Anyone, even a moral politician, could go a bit silly.
By the next day, however, Hanson is tickled pink by the notion of a plebiscite. She totally backs his idea on air.
It comes from a part of Anning’s rambling which would delight arch racist, Babies Overboard’s John W. Howard:
“The final solution to the immigration problem is, of course, a popular vote. We don’t need a plebiscite to cut immigration numbers; we just need a government that is willing to institute a sustainable population policy, end Australian-job-stealing 457 visas and make student visas conditional on foreign students returning to the country they came from. What we do need a plebiscite for is to decide who comes here.”
Making it easier for more dingbats to come into the senate is Turnbull’s 2016 dud double dissolution which halved the number of votes senate candidates required to get a seat. Add a Turnbull government’s sexy decision to take a hard line on dual citizenship and the result is the least representative senate in our nation’s history.
As for the competition to be outrageous, there are other new rules which mean that you have to do a bit of self-promotion if you want to get re-elected; not like the good old days when preference whispering was king.
Happily, Anning’s antics distract from accident-prone Mal Trumble whose own slip-ups mean he is battling to remain top banana. The $444 m Great Barrier Reef Foundation rort explodes in his face, the Hayne Banking Royal Commission, a concept the Coalition vigorously opposed for years, continues to expose such egregious criminal behaviour that the Coalition’s earlier opposition looks increasingly like collusion, while bovver-boy backup group Benito and his Budgie-smugglers go all out to bag their PM as a useless dilettante, a merchant banker, or a closet leftie who even believes in climate change.
“Not every Muslim is a terrorist, but every terrorist is a Muslim” Anning cribs from Pauline Hanson’s response to the 2015 Paris terror attacks, a lie she’s copied from a US 9/11 hate-slogan, debunked in 2005 by the FBI. Anning’s shtick is a tribute to the new senate system which now relies on being noticed. Brand recognition. It’s also his big chance to win Best Bigot from former Dancing With the Stars, celebrity and Sunrise TV regular, Pauline Hanson.
Anning’s done his homework. And nifty Jim Savage of Queensland’s One Nation gives him a vital bit of advice.
“… when you make your maiden speech Fraser – you gotta get up there and say something really controversial…really … hit that fucking nerve, otherwise you’ll be forgotten, no one will know who you are.”
A former National Party supporter, Anning is a big Joh fan-boy. Queensland’s hillbilly dictator, Joh Bjelke- Petersen’s fiefdom is synonymous with endemic political corruption and state repression of protest and dissent. Yet Fraser praises the time when the Kingaroy peanut farmer ruled the Moonlight State as “a golden age”.
And the worst? Gough Whitlam. Why? Because … “he didn’t ask if the nation wanted non-European Migration“?
Cue the Monty Python skit – what have the Romans Empire ever done for us? What did Whitlam ever do for us?
Damien Murphy published a list in The Age four years ago. Whitlam’s reforms include: ending conscription; bringing troops home from Vietnam. His government recognised China a week prior to Nixon in July 1971.
Then there’s Medibank, Medicare’s forerunner, yet to be destroyed by shonky private health cover and the six billion dollars a year subsidy taxpayers generously provide by means of subsidy. Under Whitlam, supporting mothers gained benefits and the homeless could get welfare payments. Humanity in social welfare? Shocking.
Equal pay for women? Abolition of capital punishment? Both arose from the one three year term of office. Turnbull’s managed only to bugger up one energy policy in that time.
The Whitlam government’s Family Law Act 1975 introduced non-punitive divorce laws. He brought in needs-based funding for schools. His free university education initiative hugely benefited women. A 25 per cent cut in tariffs across the board opened up trade. His government set up a precursor to the Productivity Commission, adding the Trade Practices Act and a predecessor of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Whitlam’s Australian Assistance Plan funded regional councils and employment projects. It continues in the concepts of “social planning” and “community development”. His government reduced the voting age to 18 and provided the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory with representation in the Senate.
The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 conferred rights to equality before the law and bound the Commonwealth and the states to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, a fact which our current government mob and its allies could do well to dwell upon.
The Department of Aboriginal Affairs was set up and the first Commonwealth legislation to grant land rights to indigenous people was drafted. Land title deeds were handed to some Gurindji traditional lands owners in the Northern Territory in 1975, a real and symbolic gesture that became a touchstone for the land rights movement.
The Whitlam government also established the National Gallery of Australia, the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Heritage Commission. It introduced FM radio, pushed for the setting up of 2JJ, a radio established to support Australian music and connect with young Australians. It set up multicultural radio services – 2EA Sydney and 3EA in Melbourne – and issued licences to community radio stations for the first time. Oddly none of these are preaching hate-speech or demanding that their audience assimilate. That’s the Tory politicians’ job.
It’s handshakes, hugs and kisses Tuesday; the Tories are all over Fraser. But will they still love him in the morning?
Wednesday, many go on air, stricken with morning after remorse. Regret after a Bex, a good lie down and a sniff of the political wind. Derryn Hinch says he felt “trapped in a Ku Klux Klan rally”. For the former shock jock …it’s one of the most disgraceful, racist, homophobic, divisive, misogynist, spiteful, hateful speeches… I’ve ever heard”.
In a touching, post-modern homage to Thomas Cranmer who in 1556 – thrust the hand that signed his recantation of his Protestant beliefs into the flames as he was burned at the stake for heresy and treason; Derryn tells a fawning press gallery, how he heroically went home and washed the hand that shook the hand of Fraser Anning.
Others claim a post-maiden-speech hand-shake’s compulsory. Don’t shoot the speech-writer, Richard Howard who has also spun gold for former One Nation senator, now Hanson staffer, Malcolm Roberts. Howard also helped Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm to infamy. Not that there’s anything offensive in Fraser’s phrases.
Echoing lying rodent John Howard, Dick Howard helpfully sets the record straight in The Australian Friday,
“This appears to be a beat-up by One Nation to distract attention from senator Fraser Anning’s message that the Australian people are entitled to choose who comes here.”
Who can blame the early responders’ re-think? Turnbull, himself, can do a 24 hour U-turn, as he does this Sunday in dumping any carbon emission target for the NEG and changing his mind back to legislation rather than regulation.
In brief, Fraser Anning is merely following the lead given by other racists. His stunt is neither bi, nor tri but poly-partisan, building as it does on the solid foundations of intolerance, bigotry and racial hatred laid by John Howard and so capably continued by Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton, Malcolm Turnbull and other leading Liberals.
And, sadly, some of it is tacitly condoned by the Labor Party which doesn’t dare rock the boat on immigration.
Even his form has form. Anning’s grab bag of platitudes is a gallimaufry of false assertions, assumptions and is just as incoherent as the Turnbull government’s energy (a work in regress) or its immigration policy. Or its uncosted tax cuts to business.
It may be the political virgin’s maiden speech but he’s already been around the block. The former One Nation, nineteen-vote-wonder, a former Gladstone publican, quit Pauline Hanson’s party two months after being appointed. He turned independent after a blue with Hanson over his elevation to the senate.
Pauline threatens to put his weights up by writing to the senate dobbing him in as ineligible in case the court let him off his pending bankruptcy charges because they saw he’d soon be earning $200,000 PA plus travel and other expenses not to mention a generous parliamentary super scheme, but nothing comes of it. Nor could it.
Anning’s been able to sort the bankruptcy proceedings against himself and his wife, Fiona, last October. Now for the harder task of settling his score with Pauline. Part of this is to poach her anti-immigration extremism; upstage her natural fascism.
Anning is snapped up by another vanity political party, “barking” Bob Katter’s Australian Party (KAP). Mad Bob backs his star recruit “one thousand percent”. “Solid gold.” KAP may or may not boost Anning’s political fortunes.
Fraser’s big legal win enables him to replace Senator Malcolm Roberts and pre-empt the elevation of Judy Smith, Pauline Hanson’s sister. It’s a bitter pill for her younger sister to swallow. Without Anning’s ascension One Nation might have become The Pauline and Judy Show a potential runaway success on Sunrise.
Much has been ventured about the new low, the new depth of disrepute Anning’s “Final Solution” speech has brought to the senate. In truth it’s more of a logical extension of the tactics already favoured by an increasingly xenophobic, racist, dog-whistling government. It bodes not well for the tenor of the next election.
As Paddy Manning notes in The Monthly,
“We have been building up to this steadily. From Pauline Hanson’s return to parliament, to Tony Abbott’s dog-whistling on immigration policy, to Peter Dutton’s attacks on “African gangs”, to Andrew Bolt’s comments about Chinese, Cambodian, Indian and Jewish communities“changing our culture”, to Sky News airing an interview with neo-Nazi Blair Cottrell, the trend is clear: we are sliding ever-faster down a slippery slope towards an ugly, divisive race-card election.”
What is certain, however, is that Katter’s backing of Anning will cost him union support. Katter’s sponsors such as the ETU and the CFMEU are walking away from the KAP. It remains to be seen how much damage it may do him.
Also walking away is the Prime Minister who drops his NEG Sunday in the face of gathering opposition from the moderates, few as they may be – and the right of his party. It is clear that he is in trouble, even if he takes out the carbon emissions target, a legacy dud from Tony Abbott’s cynical attempt to set a ludicrously low and patently unhelpful target in Paris – where Australia pledged under a Paris Agreement, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
And even if he “walks back” his earlier announcement that he’d regulate rather than legislate – making it harder for a Labor government to later increase the NEG’s emissions reduction target – he will not appease his critics. What is clear is that he is facing the toughest test of his Prime Ministership as he sits down to a cabinet dinner at the Lodge Sunday night. Overcooked goose, perhaps?
Somehow, be it his vacillation, poor judgement, poor policy or poor polling, Turnbull has managed to alienate or alarm a substantial portion of his party. A number of MPs are speaking of crossing the floor. The PM’s supporters are trying to avert conflict when the Party Room meets Monday.
Worryingly, Barnaby Joyce’s “flash bit of kit”, The Nationals’ Deputy Leader, Bridget McKenzie expresses support.
“I think Malcolm Turnbull is our Prime Minister and I would like to see him stay as our Prime Minister and that is actually a decision for the Liberal Party,” she tells Sky News, adding ominously,
“And I haven’t heard anything personally that would suggest that that’s not going to continue to be the case.”
Meanwhile, Peter Dutton, Minister for Home Affairs, who earlier in the week ominously takes time to explain he’d resign his commission if he could no longer support the government has his own message on Saturday,
“In relation to media stories today, just to make it very clear, the Prime Minister has my support and I support the policies of the Government,” he tweets.
In the meantime, Turnbull’s ship may run aground on the Great Barrier Reef given that it is clear from statements made by its Managing Director, Anna Marsden, that despite Josh Frydenberg’s assertions last Sunday, there was no consultation.
As if the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s unexpected no-strings-attached gift of $444,000, with no tender, no application or any other due process were not scandal enough, the government lies to protect its Energy and Environment Minister who appears to be as loose with the truth as with treasury purse-strings.
“It’s a most cynical piece of accounting trickery …a piece of chicanery. That’s the only way I can describe it,” says Geoff Cousins, of the Barrier Reef grant. Cousins is a former president of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
More ominously for the Turnbull government, as Mike Seccombe points out in the Saturday Paper, Cousins is a corporate boardroom heavyweight. For 10 years, he was an adviser to John Howard.
The haste to deposit the funds comes, Cousins believes from the government’s promise to UNESCO.
“They made a commitment, the Australian government, to the World Heritage listing committee, to spend $716 million on the Barrier Reef, prior to 2020,” Cousins says. “But they have spent just a fraction of that, and there is no way that in the remaining 18 months or less that they can reach that target, which raises the potential of the reef being put on the endangered list.”
Even if there’s no chance of the money being spent, depositing the funds technically fulfils the Coalition’s promise.
As for due diligence, Cousins has no doubt that this assertion of Frydenberg’s is a palpable lie.
“For the Department of the Environment and Energy to grant over $440 million to a small charity that didn’t even prepare an application form or ask for the grant is inconceivable!”
Government attempts to condemn Fraser Anning appear artificial and hypocritical and serve only to draw attention to Turnbull and Dutton’s African gang scaremongering or Dutton’s earlier charge that immigrants were taking jobs which should go to Australians whilst simultaneously soaking up Centrelink payments.
As it deals with the stench in the senate, the Turnbull government must clean up another mess of its own making, its rejigged energy policy 2.0 or “The Broken NEG” which is now so far from the victory over the party room touted last Monday that it may well be the catalyst to unleash a Coalition hostility, division and mutual recrimination whose only common point may come be its lack of faith in its Prime minister – accentuated by his inept handling of the self-inflicted Great Barrier Reef fiasco.
Late on Sunday, David Crowe reports in The Age that Peter Dutton is readying to challenge his PM like a shark circling, sensing blood in the water.
In the midst of crisis over energy policy and in the wake of a horror new Fairfax-Ipsos poll showing support for the Coalition has slumped from 39 to 33 per cent of the primary vote, Dutton’s supporters claim he has the numbers to win.