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Hanson supporters must accept world has changed

  • 08 July 2016
  I could only shrug when it became evident that Pauline Hanson was bound for federal parliament. She never really went away. In the years since she last graced Capital Hill, an assortment of far-right groups emerged across the country. Some of them were on local ballots last weekend.

Given that politicians from both sides, under a pendulum of leaders, have also cultivated xenophobic hostility, it is almost fair to say that One Nation has long been superfluous. The problem is not Hanson but the reality that she embodies: racism will always have political currency in Australia. She just happens to be the most familiar brand — for now.

Rather than her reprise, it was the appeals for civility that I found more disconcerting. Katharine Murphy, Margo Kingston and Tracey Spicer ran variations of the argument that confronting the things that Hanson and her party stand for would inflate her status (apparently, getting elected into the senate has not already done that).

Murphy says that we shouldn't 'patronise' and instead 'attempt to understand the underlying dynamics in play'. Kingston suggests seeking out Hanson supporters for a chat.

Unfortunately, that is not a thing black and brown Australians do, sit down for a cuppa with people who despise them. They seldom have the luxury of intellectualising these interactions. Non-Anglo Australians are under no illusion that polite engagement protects them from assault, vandalism and petrol bombs.

Tolerance is not their burden. Yet they are the ones being told to be more understanding. People who are routinely blamed for things that go wrong in a free market economy — high rent, manufacturing decline, cheap labour — are being asked to contextualise the disaffection of white voters. People who often find themselves at the centre of moral panics are being told to seek nuance.

It is not really about you, people of colour are told. It is that voters have had enough of the political class. It has become de rigueur to cast an anti-establishment patina to analyses around recent political disruptions.

Here's the thing, though: if economic anxiety were the only reason that Americans flock to Trump, Britons voted to leave the EU, and Queenslanders opted for One Nation, then people of colour should be drawn to those options also. In developed countries in the west, minimum wage jobs, casual work conditions, insecure housing and chronic health problems beset minorities the hardest.


"Trump, Nigel Farage and Hanson aren't exploiting a class divide