Death of the vile

Through tears, Pauline Hanson announces that Brian Burston has attempted to defect. She knows he has been to the Shooters. He has tried his hand with some crossbenchers, too, but she hasn’t been told.

“It means so much to me, what I’m trying to do,” she says, the fury curdling her voice. “And for him to turn around and do this to me, it is hard. But I’m going to keep going and I’m going to get good people in that parliament beside me because it means so much to me to help the people that need help, that feel like no one’s listening to them.”

Her voice cracks again and her teeth bare. “They’re sick of politicians, because they don’t do anything. And I’ve been able to do so much in such a short period of time. And I’m not finished. And you think I’m going to let Brian Burston or anyone else to finish me? They will not just sit on the seats and do absolutely nothing and think that they can have a cosy ride and collect the pay, taxpayers’ funds, and not work for it. I’ve worked myself to bone because I believe in what I’m doing.”

The footage has the desperate energy of the video she made in 1997, announcing her death. Then, as now, her party was split, her vote was collapsing. “Fellow Australians,” she said, her face tense with self-parody, “if you are seeing me now, it means I have been murdered.”

Despite what she says, Hanson is a politician. She’s just not a very good one. Burston’s defection is the end of her balance of power in this senate. The relief at this is great.

To see One Nation break apart again is to be reminded of the brokenness of racism. Hers is a dried-out vision of Australia, mean and unimaginative. It is a pleasure to see it fail. It is like watching a dirt clod give in to rain.

Hers is a country of racist privilege, of conspiracy theories and clapped-out ideology. It is a godsend to see it founder.

Hanson arrived in this parliament with a party of Brits and car thieves. Scandal has claimed member after member. Those who are left, she cannot hold together. And it is good.

Hate is flawed, and it is all she has. Hanson’s is an anxious hate, convinced of its own vulnerability, a paranoid hate that distorts everything around it. She is always being swamped, trapped, conned. She has only herself to blame.

Hanson is the worst of Australia. That the representative of so little could command so much – could bully the government on policy, make trades, indulge its cruel fantasies – is a sad feature of our democracy. The only mercy is that someone so small-minded lacks the capacity to hold on to such power. And so again, finally, it breaks apart.

She lost Burston to her own duplicity, and then had the gall to be outraged. Indignation is a mark of Hanson’s sense of entitlement. And she is an extraordinarily entitled person.

Fellow Australians, if you are reading this, the Australia of Hanson’s dreams has been murdered. Her power is greatly diminished. Thank god.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on June 2, 2018 as "Death of the vile".

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