Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pauline, Adolf and Tony

Australian politics can be a little dull at times.

I mean, much as I love it and obsess over it, it doesn't have the same kind of loopy showbiz razzle dazzle that politics in, say, the US does. Or the ever present hint of a kinky sex scandal like what they get in England. Our political leaders are mostly a conservative, middle of the road bunch, as befits the conservative, middle of the road country they represent.

So things like last week's Anti Carbon Tax rally in Canberra are truly to be savoured:

For there they were in all their glory: Australia's lunatic fringe.

Now the lunatic fringe is a small minority in this country (see previous note about middle-of-the-roadness) so to see them all out in the sun in public together is a rare thing indeed. Normally the only time you'd see that many nutters together in one place in Australia would be the Katter family Christmas.

Ostensibly a gathering to protest Federal Labor's embryonic carbon tax policy, the rabid right wing atmosphere of last week's event brought forth not only climate change deniers:

but also fanatics opposed to boat people, multiculturalism, conservation, immigration and even, seemingly, women:

Not that the bloke, Tim, who made the above sign would accept that it was offensive. As he outlined when interviewed the following day on 2GB:

'Not one person at that rally was upset by my poster.'

Well yeah, you know, obviously. If you'd dragged Julia Gillard out of Parliament House, tied her to a stake and burned her alive they wouldn't have been upset by that either, but that doesn't mean that doing so wouldn't have contravened a few good taste boundaries.

Also moving among the protestors was someone who looked very much at home, in the person of Pauline Hanson. You remember her, right?

No, wait, that was one of her many imitators. Of course, there were lots of those at one time. I mean, here's another well known one:

But I'm quite sure that no one with even a passing interest in Australian politics has forgotten Pauline. And there she was last week, signing autographs and shaking hands like it was 1998 and her red hair and excruciating accent were still the hottest thing in Australian politics. Although, at least one thing had changed since those heady days of 12 years ago, when Ms Hanson's 'One Nation' party won eleven seats in a Queensland state election. It was most noticeable when Pauline said this about the Opposition leader:

'Tony Abbott has my full support in his campaign against this unfair tax.'

Tony Abbott has Pauline Hanson's 'full support'? The bloke who organised a private fund to campaign against her and, ultimately, helped organise the prosecution that saw her jailed for fraudulant use of public electoral funds? Strange times indeed.

Strange, but perhaps fitting on a day when the Federal Opposition leader, a man hungrily in search of credibility, saw fit to address a rally where one man held a placard that read:


You can't help but think that any association with Hitler could only be bad for the Opposition leader, who's main problem lately is that a fair chunk of middle Australia are worried he might be an angry nut. In fact, the whole day played out badly for Abbott, to the extent that you wonder why his media people or minders didn't keep him away from the event. Images and videos of him addressing a small crowd of baying crazies would seem to be something that will inevitably appear in the campaign advertising at the next election, which should be entertaining for the rest of us, if not for the Liberal Party.

Sadly, this one brief moment of humorous sunshine is already receding into the background, as the Carbon Tax debate returns to the grim everyday reality of 'We-want-to-save-the-planet/You-want-to-destroy-the-world' rhetoric.

And that's something that's entertaining for no one.

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