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Hubris and hate speech in Mark Latham's Nation

  • 26 March 2019


Just eight days passed between an Australian-born white supremacist murdering 50 men, women and children as they prayed in their home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, and the people of New South Wales electing the retired former leader of the federal opposition, failed prime ministerial candidate and erstwhile shock jock, Mark Latham, to an eight year seat in its Upper House representing Pauline Hanson's One Nation (PHON).

The whole world, including Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, had praised NZ PM Jacinda Ardern, both for her compassionate, nuanced and respectful response to the Christchurch massacre, and for firmly renouncing Islamophobia. When, six days after she first spoke to her people, her government made it unlawful to possess the kind of high-powered automatic firearms and magazines the killer had, lawfully, bought for his purpose, even Latham supported it.

Yet even as the people and leaders of other countries applauded Ardern's profoundly dignified response to the attack on Muslim immigrants, many empty vessels of the Australian conservative media were calling for the right to incite racial and religious hatred as a necessary part of freedom of speech.

Meanwhile, the federal government equivocated over 'putting One Nation last' as it considered how to campaign for a win at the election due in May. This, despite observing the antics of a former PHON candidate, Fraser Anning, who, with his unabashed fascist tendencies, slipped into federal parliament and promptly became an independent instead of a PHON MP, because of his position on a PHON how-to-vote sheet and deals done with other parties.

PHON's policies taken to the NSW election included commitments to 'maintain the 1996 national gun laws that have played a role in preventing public massacres in Australia for 23 years' and 'crack down on the illegal importation of guns into Australia as a vital public safety measure'. Of course, these commitments were also linked to minimising 'the chance of radical Islamic terrorists getting hold of weaponry for their evil purposes'.

(In case PHON's other policies have not come to your attention, dear reader, they are profoundly anti-Islamic, in recent times portraying lunatics in cars mowing down pedestrians as part of the 'threat' that immigrants of Muslim persuasion bring with them to Australia, especially if they arrive in boats.)

What hypocrisy was on display then when we learned this week that PHON's tremulous leader was well aware that late in 2018 her chief of staff James Ashby and leading policy influencer