A slow clap to the people of Western Australia. Giving well-deserved simultaneous black eyes to the pathetic Liberal government that has so failed them so comprehensively and to the deceitful opportunism of Pauline Hanson is an impressive feat in today’s political climate.
But while I allowed myself some relief that the ‘silent majority’ that Bernardi and Hanson claim to speak for looks more like a tiny minority, I am not getting to carried away with celebrations around the impending national fall of either One Nation or our hard right Coalition government. The eulogies (which if based on the maxim that, “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all,” will have to be very short) can wait a little longer.
In relation to the massive swing against the Liberal Party, this is obviously heartening, but I would be surprised if it has any impact on the appalling behaviour of their federal counterparts in Canberra. There are two years until the next federal election and in this time the Coalition government could seek to reverse some of its self-serving behaviour and unjust policies, but it won’t.
The WA election results will most likely be seen as a shot across the bow and responded to, not with progressive policy that the electorate craves, but with an increase in the shrillness and rhetoric around the Coalition’s default scare tactic of national security (they can’t even attack Labor over the economy anymore after so comprehensively failing whilst looking massively conflicted and corrupt in the process). A worrying number of people still buy this too, especially when it is so enthusiastically backed by the vested interests of commercial media corporations. Australia needs this government gone and I think many Australians understand this now, but there is still much time for the government and media to collude to obfuscate this reality.
And what of Hanson and her party (if party is the right noun to describe a group that seems to deal with scandalous expulsions and resignations every week)? For a number of years they have prosecuted the lie that they stand for ‘ordinary Australians’ all the while supporting the Coalition government policies that unfairly target the same people (I will write a more detailed analysis of this soon). And they have done so increasingly effectively, helped by a complicit media. But the failure of her campaign in Western Australia, which included a number of bafflingly stupid tactical errors may be the sign that her lie is faltering. We can only hope.
Still for all that, One Nation still received nearly 5% of the primary vote- far less than they hoped for but much more than they deserve. Aside from its bigotry towards Asians and Muslims, this is also a party that denies the science of climate change and vaccination, as well as insulting the victims of Port Arthur, MH17 and domestic violence! One in twenty voters putting them first is still much too many and shows there still exists a baseline of support for their selfish and ignorant brand of politics.
Hanson is just one head of the angry xenophobic hydra. Cut it off and another regrows. Even if One Nation implodes, there is a baseline of support there for whatever takes its place. So while I congratulate the Western Australian people for not succumbing to the easy lies of the right wing populism, I won’t be dismissing the threat of the extreme right after a single poor showing.
We will only safeguard our country against this poison through vigilance and elected governments holding themselves to a much higher standard of integrity and behaviour whilst delivering policies that benefit the voters instead of themselves. And this will not happen under the current Coalition government.