Pauline Hanson: She’s baaack!

Pauline Hanson was mobbed by a fawning big business media at the ballot draw for the NSW Legislative Council. Photo by Peter Boyle.

Pauline Hanson got the fawning attention of the big business media at the March 10 ballot draw for the NSW Legislative Council elections. But she was nearly upstaged by independent nudist candidate Stuart Baanstra who stripped to his g-string during the draw!

Australia’s most famous racist one-time MP is heading a no-name team for the state’s upper house in the March 26 NSW elections. It wasn’t long ago that she announced that she had had enough of Australia and was emigrating to Britain. But then she changed her mind and apparently she now lives near Nelson’s Bay just north of Newcastle. She announced her candidacy just a couple of days before the close of nominations, securing some free political advertising by making headlines for simply returning to the fray.

Hanson may be just doing yet another tired re-run but is her return part of a new attempt by the far right to get a stronger hearing in Australian politics?

Possibly more significant than Hanson’s come back is an attempt by conservative forces to try and replicate in Australia the US Tea Party movement. This is a movement, headed by right-wing politicians and media shock-jocks, that has been mobilising significant numbers of people in the US around a populist and racist mish-mash of issues and conspiracy theories. Their supporters have turned up with guns to some of their mobilisations.

Apparently Liberal federal opposition leader Tony Abbott has given this project the nod and 2GB Radio shock-jocks Alan Jones and Chris Smith are calling for a “people’s revolt” against the preposterous idea that carbon pollution is causing a climate change crisis. They are calling for a big rally in Canberra on March 23 but a smaller test climate change deniers’ rally will take place in Melbourne before.

While the reactionary US Tea Party movement has Fox News and Glenn Beck as agitators, here we have the likes of 2GB, Alan Jones and Chris Smith.

Last August, a website called the T.E.A. Party in Australia was launched by a David Goodridge. T.E.A stands for Taxed Enough Already, the website explained.

Then in October, Liberal Party’s Senator Cory Bernardi helped establish Conservative Action Network, or CANdo, as a “Facebook for conservatives” according to a March 5 report by Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Already counter-obilisations are being planned in Australia but we need to learn an important lesson from the rise of the Tea Party movement in the US. It has arisen not only because of the agitation of rightwing politicians and media shock-jocks but it is also a direct result of the betrayals of the Obama Administration.

Ordinary people US are suffering the pain of a deep post Global Financial Crisis recession even though the economists have declared the recession over and Wall Street bankers and speculators are back to rewarding themselves with obscene bonuses.

Suffering working people in the US have seen how the Obama administration was quick to blow trillions of dollars to save the bankers from a crisis wrought out of their own greed. It has been estimated that 26.1 million people are either unemployed or underemployed while a record 43.6 million now live in poverty in the richest country in the world.

The rise of the Tea Party movement in the US is a result of the failure of many left and progressive activists to take an independent political stand from the Democratic Party, a longstanding alternative party for the big capitalists in the US. It is a product of deep legitimacy crisis for the two-parties-of-capitalism system in the US.

We need to think seriously about this as the Greens and a section of the environment movement are being tempted to support the federal Labor government’s latest version of a big business friendly pollution trading scheme. If ordinary people, many of whom are wondering how come they are not feeling the benefits of the mining boom, are made to pay higher bills only to see big polluting companies get away with billions of dollars more in government subsidies (already estimated at $12 billion a year), it will be a lot harder to mobilise a real people’s power challenge to the powerful vested interests that are blocking Australia’s transition to a sustainable and equitable future.

We need to build progressive political movements that are independent of the parties that have been revealed to systematically serve the interests of big business.

Green Left Weekly is committed to building independent progressive political movements. If you want to support our work you can make a donation online today at http://www.greenleft.org.au/donate.php.

Direct deposits can be made to Green Left Weekly, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 00901992.

Otherwise, you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007 or phone in a donation on the toll-free line, 1800 634 206 (within Australia).

Nudist rights independent Stuart Baanstra competed with Hanson for media attention by stripping to his g-string. Photo by Peter Boyle.

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