Remember when Federal MP Andrew Theophanous was convicted of a range of naughties involved with the illegitimate
interplay of immigration, money and politics, and given a longer prison sentence than Pauline Hanson? Do you remember any significant players in public life expressing
the faintest reservation about justice having been done? I don't either.
So what is it with Hanson? It's the same dirty mix: immigration, money and politics, albeit in a package of different style and colour. So why was Theophanous
an instant neo-mafioso in the public eye, while Hanson is already a low-end martyr? Hanson's plight has publicly squeezed some unexpected heart strings. Queensland
Nat Bob Katter
and Queensland-raised Sydney Morning Herald journalist Margo Kingston were just the usual suspects. For somewhat different reasons, they've both long been under the seductive spell cast by the IpsWitch. But pollies like Democrat Natasha
Stott-Despoja and the ALP Centre's Bob
McMullan, clearly at the more prettily progressive end of the political spectrum, came as more of a surprise.
But hey, what about the ALP Right's Mark
"Bone Crack" Latham. He crashed though where angels and Balmain basketweavers feared to tiptoe, pointing out the nonsense of a politician who's
campaigned on "law and order" issues whingeing about the applied personal consequences. It was a nice - and yes, nicely just - touch from someone who's
habitually dissembled on some potential inconsistencies in his own "law and order" approaches to corporal punishment, unpaid taxi drivers and border protection.
As for inconsistencies, or maybe not, what about Prime Minister John Howard? After Hanson was sentenced, he sat and quietly sniffed
the blowing populist wind before whistling two meaningful words: "very severe". How does this sit with his professed fondness for stickling to the rules, as applied
to asylum seekers, dole bludgers and terrorists? How does it sit with his recent, instant approval of the death sentence handed down to a man convicted by an Indonesian
court? Why has he declined to approve the serving of a very much smaller, sweeter spoonful of the medicine of tough justice to one of our own?
That's what it all comes down to in the end, again, "them" and "us".
For all the damage caused by the xenophobic bile that spewed forth in Hanson's maiden speech and her so-called policy vision as One
Nation gained realpolitik credibility in This Nation, Hanson is still seen by many Australians as one of "us". Too many Australians respond to
Hanson with misplaced generosity. With a little help from her friends, we've been fooled into thinking she's something along the lovable, funny lines of Kath or Kim.
That is the enduring testament to and trophy of her success. She may never again be elected to any Parliament, anywhere. But this matters little, especially
as the Coalition has snaffled the worst of her race agenda and the Opposition continues to flop emasculated in the face of it. She has mainstreamed the "right"
to speak with ignorance, prejudice and hostility about recent, aspirational or simply hopeful brown immigrants to Australia. She has left the indelible, tacky
mark of supremely white stiletto heels on the face of our democracy.
Another Queenslander, former Brisbane Mayor Jim Soorley, reportedly suggested that her gaol sentence be commuted to 12 months' work among boat people in a detention
centre. My first thoughts exactly. Lots of opportunity to admire her own hard-line ideological handiwork in application, maybe even spot some ethnics lining up for
handouts (sanitary pads, for example - no queue-jumping, mind). But why let her off so lightly? Why not stick her behind razor wire or an electric fence for precisely
the longest period of time any child has spent locked up immigration detention in this country? That can't be so bad, can it? After all, we know these places
aren't really prisons, that detained men, women and children aren't really being punished … and that, if the truth-that-dare-not-speak-its-name really be told,
they deserve everything they get for breaking Australian law.
So, Pauline Hanson - how about five years, five months and 20 days in Baxter
or Port Hedland detention centre? Fair's fair.
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