Outside, the hate-filled faces contorted and spat out simplistic lying slogans. Inside, people chatted quietly and discussed social events and newsletters.
The only time racism was discussed was when a security guard related how he had broken up a fight in a government flatblock between a group of Aboriginal Australians and had been recognised from television coverage of the first Canberra One Nation meeting. "You're one of those Pauline Hanson blokes, aren't you?"
"That's right." replied the guard.
"Cool, man, she's against them bloody Asians."
But that was it.
Outside, the mindless slogans were a strident chant of fear and hatred. Inside, they were a distant mutter, disregarded by all.
A policeman looked in, a bottle of wine was raffled, votes were taken for the formal positions and volunteers sought for committees. I don't know how other political parties conduct their business, but if they are any less exciting than this lot, they must be moribund.
Outside, the police watched as the protesters faded away, then lined up for a hot cuppa at the mobile canteen and munched their sangers. "Are you a racist?" one asked of another. "Yeah, I'm a racist." the second cop grinned. One got the feeling that for an evening on time and a half, standing around staring down scruffy protesters, they'd be racists, socialists, anything but ballet dancers.
Inside, the lookout poked his head into the room. "They've all gone home." he said. Lifts home were arranged, snacks for committee meetings discussed, and phone numbers exchanged.
If you want hatred, bigotry and intolerance; scapegoating and loose thinking, you won't find it at a One Nation meeting. Not inside, at any rate.
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