The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race by David Marr

If you’ve not yet read this essay (Quarterly Essay #65) by David Marr and you are concerned about the genesis and influence of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, then I recommend reading it.

The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race by David Marr

‘I’m back! One Nation and the politics of race.’

This essay by David Marr is well worth reading, especially by those of us puzzled by the impact of the Hanson phenomenon.  Who’d have thought, after Pauline Hanson’s brief period in the Australian Parliament as the member for Oxley between 1996 and 1998, that she’d be elected as a Senator in 2016, together with three other members of the Pauline Hanson One Nation party?  And who’d have thought that the state of the Australian Parliament is such that Senator Hanson would have such influence in Australian politics?

Who are Pauline Hanson’s supporters, and why do they support her?  Please explain.

In this essay, David Marr sets out to explain some of the mysteries, some of the appeal of the Hanson phenomenon.   Her supporters are overwhelmingly white and Australian born.  They are also people who, while they left school early, have largely been successful.  They are not poor.  Generally, they want a return to a distantly remembered Australia, one in which Australian industries were protected by tariffs, one in which they felt safe, secure and part of a majority.

How much support does Pauline Hanson actually have, and does it matter?  While Pauline Hanson’s following may be comparatively small, it matters.  It matters because neither of the major parties in Australian politics have had the courage to tackle Pauline Hanson over some of her more outrageous claims.  It matters because not challenging some of Pauline Hanson’s claims and assertions sounds and feels like the major parties agree with them.  It matters because many of those views are racist and are divisive.

Since this essay was published, we’ve had the unedifying spectacle of Senator Hanson wearing a burqua into the Australian Senate as part of her move to ‘ban the burqua’.  While this was broadly condemned, she also had plenty of support across Australia.

The Hanson phenomenon will continue, while ever she can tap into the fears and discomfort felt by many as the world they once felt comfortable in continues to change.  Tapping into anti-Muslim feeling at a time when Muslim extremism is driving many terrorist attacks is guaranteed to get attention for the foreseeable future.

Worth reading, and thinking about.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

RANALD MACDONALD. ABC deal comes back to haunt the Government (Episode Two). | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

Last week I began my summary of the Government’s complex negotiations aimed at getting its Media Reform Bill through the Senate with the words:   “Make a deal for political expediency a…

Source: RANALD MACDONALD. ABC deal comes back to haunt the Government (Episode Two). | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

Cardinal (The Rise and Fall of George Pell) by Louise Milligan

One of the most difficult books I’ve read this year.  Child sexual abuse, regardless of who the perpetrators are, is one of the most horrific things that can befall a child.  Any child.  How could anyone know about it, and do nothing?  That’s the big question for me.

Cardinal by Louise Milligan

‘Truth is the child of time.’

Cardinal Pell is Australia’s most prominent Catholic.  Since this book was published in May 2017, Cardinal Pell has returned to Australia to face (and to fight) multiple charges of historical sexual assault offences.  He faced the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 26 July for a filing hearing.

I approached this book with some trepidation: I’ve read several accounts about the horrific sexual abuse suffered by children and about the effects of this abuse on those children (and their families).  I’ve also read about how some of the priests were moved between parishes, thus allowing for even more children to be abused.  I cannot begin to understand how the church hierarchy permitted this.  And, perhaps, this is why I decided to read Ms Milligan’s book.  Cardinal Pell has claimed that he was the ‘first in the world’ to introduce a sexual abuse protocol, and also claims to have not known about the abuse going on around him.

Ms Milligan certainly covers, in detail, the rise of George Pell. But I think that any talk about his fall is premature.  He is after all, still a Cardinal.  And he has not yet been found guilty of anything.

But I cannot warm to Cardinal Pell.  I would expect a practicing Christian to demonstrate empathy for victims of abuse well ahead of any concern about legal cases, costs and consequences.  I would expect a member of the clergy to want to protect the vulnerable, to be attuned to signs of distress, to investigate as to the cause(s) and act.  I would not expect to read the following exchange between Gail Furness, SC and George Pell at a hearing of the Royal Commission in March 2016:

‘There is a reference in that paragraph to Father Searson stabbing to death a bird in front of the children.’  To which George Pell replied: ‘I don’t know whether the bird was already dead.’

I froze.  Why on earth would it matter whether the bird was already dead?  Surely, in this context, it is the behaviour of Father Searson in front of the children which is most important?  What does this response say about Cardinal Pell?

I don’t want to write more about the contents of the book– the story is not yet complete – there is a court case pending.  This book is uncomfortable and unsettling, but worth reading.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith