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.
‘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.