Tony welcomes back Pauline with return of her boat people policy

By Margo Kingston
August 21, 2003
Source: Webdiary

So, the self-proclaimed mother of the nation is in jail, and the man who took her policies and finessed her beliefs is Prime Minister of Australia.

The rights and wrongs of Pauline Hanson’s conviction and sentence aside, her imprisonment is a graphic symbolic representation of the state of Australia and its politics.

Australia’s political, police and legal establishment has put Pauline Hanson – fish and chip shop heroine to the poor, the ignorant and the disenfranchised, the woman who created a party out of nothing in an instant and mobilised Australians never before involved in politics – behind bars.

Big money, big brains, big spin machine politics triumphs – replete with its big, often disguised corporate donations, branch stacking, crony capitalism, deceit and betrayals of the poor and the powerless. Politicians with brains, money and privilege walk free after defrauding the taxpayer, ministers and the Prime Minister survive with a smile after lying to the public- even about the reason for war – and profit from politics with sinecure taxpayer funded jobs or jobs with big corporations exploiting their political contacts.

The big brand names of politics and the big media – with all their considerable assets – worked tirelessly to silence the scream of the Hanson’s disenfranchised. I wrote in my book about her 1998 election campaign, Off the Rails: The Pauline Hanson trip, that Australia had been lucky that our brand of far-right nationalist politics had been amateur, unresourced, and too-quickly put together by carpetbaggers like David Oldfield and David Ettridge. What if a professional had captured the masses’ imagination – where would Australia be now?

Now we know. A professional has stepped in. His name is John Howard. She wanted refugee boat people given five year temporary visas instead of permanent residence. Philip Ruddock deplored her inhumanity, then, once Hanson was out of action, gave refugees three year visas instead. She demanded that the boats be turned around at sea. In August 2001, our SAS boarded the Tampa and our defence force did just that.

The professional John Howard merely engineered the fears and angers of the insecure and economically suffering to his base political advantage. Softly softly suggestions only, then he sat back and watched the flames engulf each utterance, most recently with capital punishment after he gave the States the all clear to reintroduce it. Tick – another Hanson policy adopted.

The professional, John Howard, faced a fragmentation of the conservative vote with Pauline Hanson. Her One Nation Party helped elect Queensland and Western Australian Governments in early 2001. She pledged to put all sitting members last at the 2001 federal election, almost guaranteeing a Labor victory.

But then came Tampa. The One Nation vote collapsed and its voters ran to Howard. So did Labor, in mortal fear. The professional, John Howard, was triumphant, and Labor unelectable. Australia’s march to fascism began (see Howard’s roads to absolute power).

And now? The disenfranchised Hansonites are in the middle ground on social policy, Howard brilliantly manipulating their ignorance to exploit their downward envy as he screws them economically and demands they find the money to pay for their own basic health and the education of their children.

The disenfranchised have empowered a resurgent Greens Party. Those who once saw themselves as mainstream Australians in an Australia committed to the universality of human rights are now grassroots activists, visiting refugees, researching their treatment in detention camps, writing books, lobbying politicians.

And the rest of the old old middle ground?

Former Kim Beazley chief of staff Syd Hickman put it this way this week at the launch of the Reid Group, dedicated to reviving Liberalism:

Understandably it is taking liberal Australians a fair while to appreciate the alarming reality that faces us. After all, liberalism for a long time represented the political middle ground. For much of the past thirty years small l liberals have had the luxury of being the swinging voters who decided who would win federal elections. What we thought about key issues used to matter. Quite frankly, in political terms, now it doesn’t. And that’s why core liberal issues like the future of the ABC, the secular education system and universal health care get such meagre attention.

People who hold liberal values must demand their own place in the political spectrum. To get it they are going to have to work outside the old frameworks. They should stop telling themselves that it’s good enough to be the wets or progressives in political parties which are now openly dedicated to illiberal ends. This is not virtue, its self delusion.(See Can liberalism fight back?)

Hanson was the most hated woman in Australia when she shocked the powerful and the comfortable with the truth – that our construct of a tolerant, progressive, open Australia was a myth. Now, Australians overwhelmingly feel sympathy for her as she languishes in jail.

It’s easy to explain, really, with the benefit of time. Underneath the racism and the ignorance, Hanson triggered a people’s movement. It was crushed with all means at the powerful’s disposal. And we all know it.

One final word. John Ralston Saul made the point in his book, The Doubters Companion, that outbreaks like Hansonism are not the fault of supporters, but of the elites:

“There is no reason to believe that large parts of any population wish to reject learning or those who are learned.People want the best for society and themselves. The extent to which a populace falls back on superstition or violence can be traced to the ignorance in which their elites have managed to keep them, the ill-treatment they have suffered and the despair into which a combination of ignorance and suffering have driven them.”

So blame the Labor elite of 1983-1996 for the rise of Hansonism. And blame John Howard’s elite for exploiting it now. And please, let Pauline Hanson walk free. She’s more innocent than our major parties by miles.

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  1. Tony welcomes back Pauline with return of her boat p… Bet the Libs were furious she beat them at their own game.

  2. @kelseybcooke This is a good one… (from 10 years ago!) (via @NoFibs)

  3. Tony welcomes back Pauline with return of her boat p…

  4. Joy Cooper says

    Nothing has changed, has it? All Pauline has done is plug back into the vile racist streak in the community which she massaged & encouraged the last time, along with the total complicity of Howard.

    The redhead you can trust?? I don’t think so.

  5. Tony welcomes back Pauline with return of her boat people policy via Nothing has changed

  6. Bruce Whiteside says

    There is an irony to the headline, Tony welcomes back Pauline. However this will be lost on those who read this as Abbott viewing Hanson as a reinforcement of ‘his’ policies. Strange isn’t it? When Hanson advocated sending the boats back the howl of racism drowned out everything. Different story now.

    That aside Tony Abbott is seen as the man who brought down Pauline Hanson. Margo herself wrote so extensively on what became known as the Australians for Honest Politics Fund, that it has become the ’bible’ on the subject. So Tony is seen as the bad guy, but was he always?

    In this article written in 2003 Margo Kingston observes rightly that ‘The professional John Howard merely engineered the fears and angers of the insecure and economically suffering to his base political advantage’. She was spot on. In 1997 I wrote that John Howard was using Hanson as a litmus test of public opinion. Many will recall that when all and sundry were down on Hanson like a ton of bricks Howard hardly laid a glove on her …why?

    Back in 1996 there were some very prominent Liberal heavyweights putting a plan together. That plan was to capture the Hanson popularity to destroy the Australian Democrats, who were blocking Waterfront Reforms in the Senate. The idea was to build a Senate team around Pauline Hanson a plan that had to be scrupulously organised and kept under wraps. I remember being told that (he) ‘could not be seen to be involved’. I was informed that two financiers were getting money together and that quote ‘You understand the money will not be there to help Hanson as such, but to clear the blockage in the Senate’. This was not 1998, THIS was in 1996!

    Hanson was the firebrand that the Liberals were going to ’corral’ to break the log-jam in the Senate.
    The comment above is not hearsay, it is not vexatious. This was spelt out to me on my phone on the 23rd December 1996. The time of that conversation lasted from 4.35pm until 4.59pm. It came from one of the highest profile Liberals in the country.

    So where were was the centre of these clandestine operations?

    In Manly there are two offices, one in Sydney Road, the other on the Corso a few metres away . One office is that of the Member for Warringah, the other the upstairs premises of One Nation. One man had access to both. He saw the opportunity of becoming the Leader of Hanson’s Senate Team and to do that had to set an agenda of his own. I believe that he did. He duped Hanson and he fooled Abbott. In a letter to me Abbott claims he knew nothing about his staffers involvement with Hanson. When he found out he acted. It is my reading of what happened that he had to take the action he did. He had to bury the plan and kill any threads that led back to the Liberals. That way the public perception was seen as being anti-Hanson. There has been much written about the ‘indemnity’. Both Abbott and Sharples vehemently deny it ever existed. Excuse me! Terry Sharples spent many days gathering material in my home. When I went to copy a letter with Abbott’s office letterhead and his mention of the $20,000 indemnity followed by his signature Sharples took it from me. He refused to let me copy it. Later he informed me that he had passed it over to ….and never saw it again. What was disturbing in all of this is that Sharples in his final meeting with John Samuel called to see me on his way home. He was visibly shaken.

    Back in 1988 Margo Kingston interviewed me. The occasion was a Foreign Land Ownership meeting that drew the largest political meeting ever held on the Gold Coast, 1300 people. Kingston was there that night. Given that this meeting was a forerunner of what Hanson was to speak out on eight years later I have never understood why Margo never bothered to ask the founder of the Pauline Hanson Support Movement for some background material. If she had of done that the political scene today might have been a lot different. Perhaps one day she might drop in for a chat.

    This link below contains an article by Mike Secombe (SMH) and The World Today interview by Michael Vincent(ABC)

  7. Paul van Belkom says

    We need a new political force as Abbott and Gillard are on the nose. Hanson, Palmer, Katter and others are all mad hatters.

    We need a party that appeals to the middle ground and isn’t beholden to factions and capital. Voters are cynical of politicians with their snouts in the trough.

    The irony is that the current Government has passed some significant legislation which should have earned it some brownie points, but the leadership lacks the communication skills to sell these initiatives to the voters. The shock jocks haven’t made their task any easier.

    Labor brand is tarnished, and a new moderate political force is needed, but time is running out, with the election only four months away. Who knows, maybe we need a Turnbull to do a Don Chipp…..funnier things could happen!

  8. Joy Cooper says

    Cannot understand why some seemingly intelligent & reasonable people will call our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, names such as “on the nose”. All they are doing is echoing the egregious shock jocks & mendacious Murdoch media. Who claims she is “on the nose”? I have heard people call her the most outrageous names, (mainly because she is a woman), None of which bear close scrutiny. On the other hand they trust Abbott????? Give me a break.

    Who tarnished the Labor brand? The media? The LNP brand in Qld is rather putrid,too, with their Federal colleagues not much better but the MSM says nothing!! There are many so-called “faceless men” pulling the strings of the LNP. As for the “Bad guvmint” an Abbott mantra repeated, ad nauseum, with no details given by him. He is allowed to utter any simplistic & dishonest slogan he wishes, not only without challenge but with the full backing of the media.

    As for Turnbull, who can forget the deceitful Utegate & Godwin Grech, which was an effort to bring down a lawfully elected government. Turnbull should have been charged for this. Then, of course, there is the ridiculous Fraudband. He is no better than the rest of the Liberals & will do anything to gain power.

    • Paul van Belkom says

      Let’s get out of the way the hackneyed phrase “that the only poll that counts is on election day” and accept, that in various polls over many months, Gillard is not highly regarded as the preferred PM, nor is Abbott, so to say metaphorically that both are “on the nose” is a fair comment in my humble opinion.

      The sad thing is that no alternatives are in the offing. My comment about Turnbull was tongue in cheek. It is a sad reflection on politics worldwide that personalities hold sway over good policy. In my opinion, the majority of voters don’t assess a political party’s policy initiatives, but tend to look at the leader’s “charisma”……..sadly!

      If policy initiatives were to be the only measure, then Labor should be romping home at the next election (notwithstanding some hiccups along the way).

      So why is Labor in an unwinnable situation at this point in time. The elephant in the room is Rudd. Some would suggest that Gillard’s knifing of Rudd is the tipping point, and others would suggest that Rudd is a megalomaniac that needed to be neutered. His current media appearances might suggest that this trait is continuing.

      Personally I think Gillard has a lot to offer Labor and Australia, but lets get rid of another a hackneyed phrase “working families”. When she uses this tired old phrase she disenfranchises so many other voting Australians……..focus group outcome gone mad!

      My recommendation to Julia…….sack all your advisers who script your formal media appearances and speak from the heart!

  9. Bruce Whiteside says

    Who is ‘Off the Rails’, Margo? I posted a letter on this site re the Hanson/Abbott and two days later it is still awaiting ‘moderation’. Is your version of events to remain the ‘bible’?

  10. Rodney Edwin Lever says

    If we vote to elect a political party and its policies to government, we are also voting to elect the leader of that party. If the elected party decides to change its leader or its policies within its term of government, then surely we are entitled at that point to demand to have another election in order to authorise these changes.

    Without this privilege, democratic elections cease to be democratic and the voters are stuck with it. That’s why the 2010 election resulted in a bizarre hung parliament. That’s why we now have to vote in an election on September 14 when, it seems to me, nobody really wants to vote for either party. Trust in our parliamentary system no longer exists.