The mystery of the Hanson fad

There is every chance Pauline Hanson will win a senate seat at the next election. Voting reforms and the particular quirks of a double dissolution make her a likely contender for the last spot in Queensland.

It is a struggle for the press to decide whether or not to cover Hanson, whether or not to give broad platform to her fringe views. She has proved herself to be unelectable many times over. She has made many failed bids for state and federal parliaments.

Hers is the politics of the ill informed. She lives in a fever dream of fear and indignation.

But Hanson must be reported. Her views can’t be left to fester in the shadows where they were formed. They deserve to be debated and found out for what they have always been: wrong. They are too deluded to be called specious. They are self-pitying nonsense.

Here she is on Aboriginal disadvantage, the issue that defined her first run for parliament: “Present governments are encouraging separatism in Australia by providing opportunities, land, moneys and facilities available only to Aboriginals. Along with millions of Australians, I am fed up to the back teeth with the inequalities that are being promoted by the government and paid for by the taxpayer under the assumption that Aboriginals are the most disadvantaged people in Australia… I talk about the exact opposite – the privileges Aboriginals enjoy over other Australians.”

And on Aboriginal dispossession: “I am fed up with being told, ‘This is our land.’ Well, where the hell do I go? I was born here, and so were my parents and children. I will work beside anyone and they will be my equal but I draw the line when told I must pay and continue paying for something that happened over 200 years ago. Like most Australians, I worked for my land; no one gave it to me.”

Here she is on multiculturalism, again in her maiden speech: “I and most Australians want our immigration policy radically reviewed and that of multiculturalism abolished. I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians… They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate. Of course, I will be called racist, but if I can invite whom I want into my home, then I should have the right to have a say in who comes into my country. A truly multicultural country can never be strong or united.”

Here she is on immigration, 10 years later: “We’re bringing in people from South Africa at the moment. There’s a huge amount coming into Australia, who have diseases; they’ve got AIDS. They are of no benefit to this country whatsoever. They’ll never be able to work. And what my main concern is, is the diseases that they’re bringing in, and yet no one is saying or doing anything about it.”

In her maiden speech she called for the abolishment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, for an end to the policy of multiculturalism and for the ceasing of all foreign aid. “I am going to find out how many treaties we have signed with the UN,” she said. “Have them exposed and then call for their repudiation.” And later: “Immigration must be halted in the short term so that our dole queues are not added to by, in many cases, unskilled migrants not fluent in the English language.”

It is a pitiful thing that Pauline Hanson might once again find a place in public life. But her run for office should not be left uninterrogated. The poison of her views should not be regarded as self-evident; it should be underscored and renounced.

Hanson traffics in thoughtless hate. The only way to combat this is to make people think.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on April 23, 2016 as "The mystery of the Hanson fad".

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