Pauline Hanson takes centre stage again but this time we should listen not lampoon, by Margo Kingston. This is interesting because Kingston is a long-time member of the extreme PC-left in Australia. She says some encouraging things, because she gets past the politically correct narrative and speaks from experience.
As a political journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald I followed Pauline Hanson around the country for the 1998 election campaign, and I learned a few things.
- Her supporters were by and large nice people with little money who were largely uninterested in politics. They were suffering badly from the effects of competition policy, which had seen basic services and jobs stripped out of their towns. They loved Hanson’s grit and plain speaking. Most of all, they loved that she listened.
- Hanson is also a nice person. She’s a Liberal who’d always worked very hard in small business and was surprised to have been expelled from the party for racially charged remarks. She had no idea that what she’d said about Aboriginal people was racist. Because she’d been isolated by other politicians when she got to Canberra, she was easy prey for hard-right carpetbaggers.
- When I tried to converse with supporters about politics I misinterpreted everything they said, and likewise. I thought they were racists and they thought I was a racist. Communication was impossible without getting to know each other first. …
So what to do?
First … She is LIKED by most “ordinary” Australians. It follows that sneering put downs, nasty labels and suggestions she has no right to be in parliament are utterly counterproductive and will, like last time, increase her support.
Second, understand that her high vote signifies a serious scream about what life is like in those areas, and address the issues.
Third, welcome Hanson to the parliament. She has the right to be there and her voters have the right to be represented.
Fourth, have the conversation. Go with her to where her voters are and have a chat.
Western democracies are splitting up into warring tribes. I think Hanson’s return to our parliament is a chance to bring ours together a little bit.
If the politically correct in Australia would just listen, they might learn something from Ms Hanson.