Editorial
Race chasing

So Tony Abbott thinks Australia would be better if it were built in Pauline Hanson’s image. He thinks the Liberals should do preference deals with One Nation.

The former prime minister is willing to defile the prestige of that office to endorse a book of racist speeches. He praised Hanson as a lone wolf, saying the unsayable.

“If, over the last two decades, we had been more ready to heed the message of people like Pauline Hanson and less quick to shoot the messenger,” he says, “I think we would be a better country today.”

What a grotesque spectacle. A man who once claimed decency in sending Hanson to prison, standing next to her to launch a book co-written by a man who unsuccessfully attempted in this paper to prove her party liable for deregistration because of its exotic power structure. What squalor.

In 1996, she was disendorsed by the Liberal Party over her racist views. In 2018, she is sought out as a plank for re-election.

And what does Abbott mean when he says “better”? What should we have been ready to “heed”?

Was it Hanson’s fear, in her first speech to the parliament, of “various taxpayer funded ‘industries’ that flourish in our society servicing Aboriginals, multiculturalists and a host of other minority groups”?

Was it her contempt for native title and her invention of “privileges Aboriginals enjoy over other Australians”?

Should we have repealed the Family Law Act, as she called for in that first speech, a decision that would catastrophically endanger women and children?

Should we have acted when she said she wanted “our immigration policy radically reviewed and that of multiculturalism abolished”? When she said we were “in danger of being swamped by Asians”? When she said that Asian migrants “have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate” and that “a truly multicultural country can never be strong or unite”?

Should we have quit the United Nations, as she said? Pulled out of all international treaties? Ceased all foreign aid? Halted all immigration?

Should we have had a year of national service for every 18-year-old?

“Let’s face it,” Abbott said this week, “we should scale back immigration and we should be more proud of our country. We should build new coal-fired power stations because if it is right to export our clean coal, it is right to use it here.

“We should build more dams because water is wealth. And we shouldn’t be frightened of using resources. And we do have a problem with Islamism that does require decent Muslims to stand up to the ‘death to the infidel’ extremists.”

Hanson is this country’s worst anxieties. She lives in a fever dream of misinformation, mean spirited and distorted by racist insecurities.

Abbott’s decision to associate himself with her politics is a confession of inexcusable opportunism. He is a man without morals.

Abbott’s place in the Liberal Party is an ugly one. This week, he confirmed that he would gladly lead the party back into the racist past, that he would indulge whatever populist delusion a person such as Hanson might represent.

The fact Hanson exists in our politics is terrible enough. That a former prime minister would actively court her is disgusting.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Mar 31, 2018 as "Race chasing". Subscribe here.