November 15th, 1998
Commentary by Scott Balson, Global Web Builders
What a find. Eleven prize turkeys in one location - Custom House at 399 Queen Street, Brisbane. And what a night it turned out to be for them over a month before Christmas.
But first a bit of background. The following advertisement appeared in The Courier Mail on the weekend of the 8th November:
"THE ONE NATION PARTY: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE"
The text of the advertisement reads:
The One Nation Party received significant voter support in recent state and federal elections. Its rhetoric and policies have provoked discord within Australian politics and invited international scrutiny. Leading political scientists from the Department of Government will examine a range of critical issues surrounding One Nation, such as its political ideology, its relationship with other political groups, electoral support and public policies.
The forum will provide an opportunity for anyone interested in Australian politics to review questions such as:
What is the ideological character of One Nation?
How has the One Nation Party sustained its political momentum?
What are its policies and their impact on Australia's place in the world?
The Venue is: Customs House, 399 Queen Street,
Date: Tuesday 17th November 1998
Time: 6pm to 9pm
Registration fee: $10 (which includes light refreshment)
Spaces are limited. Prior registration is essential.
Contact is Sue Lochran, Department of Government, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072
Phone: (07) 3365 2635 or Fax: (07) 3365 1388
Here are the turkeys:
|Lord Mayor "poody-tat" Jim Soorley||Assoc Prof Peter "Nunavut" Jull||Prof Paul "I'm the boss" Boran||Assoc Prof Jeffrey "populism" Stokes||Michael "The Truth" Leech||Rae "conspiracy" Wear|
|Dr Hall "big mouth" Reynolds||Assoc Prod Don "fairminded" Fletcher||Di "sexist" Zeppelin||Professor "what what" Tarr||Marion "I'm from Asia" Hanson|
The background to this public forum put on by the "Centre for Democracy" is a contradiction in terms. The people speaking as if they understood and were authorities on One Nation were nothing more than a bunch of elite left wing academics.
No person from One Nation was allowed to present the real view on the forum.
The high farce started early as about 250 people gathered in the hall.
What the turkeys had not realised was that their little game had been shot in the foot as about 80% of the people there were One Nation supporters - the email I sent to one thousand supporters ten days ago having had the desired effect.
Amongst the One Nation members there was Senator-elect Heather Hill, Queensland State Party leader Bill Feldman, MPs Sean Nelson and David Dalgleish.
Michael Leech and the Lord Mayor of Brisbane were having an intellectual tete a tete before the start.
The Mayor not one to take things lying down took exception to my taking this second picture just as proceedings were about to get underway.
He commented loudly to Leech after I returned to my front row seat that "He's the Hanson web master. He's got nothing better to do in his life... ha, ha"
"We'll be on the Internet tomorrow..."
This comment was followed by an exchange aimed for my ears.
What poor old poody tat Soorley didn't realise was that I don't take things lying down either so I put my digital camera down and purposefully approached the table on the edge of the raised podium. I looked directly at him and said to Soorley seated just half a metre away, "Listen mate you will be lucky if you make it on the page - there are more important fish to fry".
Talk about a stunned mullet. He just sat there until I returned to my seat and then said to me the weirdest thing "The eyes are the mirror of the soul." To which I replied, "Yeah and yours looks pretty crook".
After the exchange of pleasantries the "forum/farce" began.
The Head of the Department of Government at the University of Queensland, Professor Paul Boran, explained that the forum would be broken up into three sessions with three speakers in each speaking for ten minute. After each session there would be the opportunity to ask questions.
He told the assembled guests that two of his school's division were called "International and Asian Relations" and "Centre for Democracy" (Read Aboriginal land rights).
He introduced Lord Mayor Jim Soorley who would get proceedings underway. Soorley was seated with the first three speakers, Jeffrey Stokes, Michael Leech and (Ms) Rae Wear
Undaunted by our earlier exchange I took this photograph of Soorley. Something which really got under his skin. He told those assembled that I was the One Nation webmaster - expecting the guests to tell me to go home.
Unfortunately for the Lord Mayor there was a loud spontaneous applause across the room as the One Nation supporters made themselves known.
You could have heard a pin drop as Soorley took in the situation.
Here are some points made by Soorley:
Soorley claimed that these are the 3 influences that brought about One Nation:
Soorley, somewhat mysteriously, had to leave early...
The first speaker from the University of Queensland (UQ) was Associate Professor Jeffrey Stokes.
On a bias against One Nation scale he would rate 7 out of 10.
He talked about Australian populism and the One Nation party.
He called One Nation an expression of prejudice (which really went down well with those gathered... a number of rude comments followed) adding quickly this is not necessarily the case.
He said that populist issues reflected a number of issues:
John Howard has now adopted the language of populism - he has criticised the intellectual elites and talks about "working with the people".
Who are these people?
People with little political power. Grass roots people. People in great difficulty. Not members of an intellectual establishment.
What are the threats?
Threat to Australian national identity because of Asian migration. Fear of difference, fear of alienation. Multiculturalism is a big fear. Dissatisfaction in policies. Land rights.
What are the causes?
National elites. The new class elites in government, business and the media. Created by the university system. Elites tell lies. Government has abandoned its responsibility (to the people). Doing the bidding of the UN. Members of main political parties put party before the nation. Community Initiated Referenda will give people a voice.
Who is Pauline Hanson?
She gives people the voice. "I am the voice of mainstream Australia. I haven't got my head up in the clouds".
What is the significance of One Nation ideology?
Strong, honest political leadership. Want to make clear who Australians are. This requires making the boundaries much sharper. This requires scapegoats. Ethnic community is the main scapegoat.
How to respond?
Innoculated against facts because the elites tell lies. Government ready to make more links with the people because of the rise of One Nation. Government bow forced to address material concerns.
The second speaker was Michael Leech who scored a 9 out of 10 in bias against One Nation.
Leech's topic was supposed to be "Hansonism, Discourse and Australian History. But all he did was take selected quotes out of "The Truth" and then ridicule them.
He talked about the nation being in danger of being divided. The betrayal of collective identity by issues such as multiculturalism.
All Leech's research was quoted from "The Truth" which he said, in answer to a question, took weeks to track down in the University library. He could not deny that "The Truth" had been withdrawn in April 1996 after only 1,000 copies were produced because it was "inconsistent with One Nation policy" - making his whole presentation irrelevant.
The last speaker in the first session was Rae Wear.
The question time was most amusing because wherever the moderator Paul Boran pointed a One Nation member asked a question which shot the "elites" forum to bits. By the time the second session started the clear understanding was that this was now "them and us".
Dr Hall Reynolds made a sorry entry into the forum.
On a bias against One Nation scale 10 out of 10.
This is a man who personifies all that is bad about university bureaucracy. He tried to be smart knowing that he had a hostile audience - the moderator of this session, Jeffrey Stokes, having to tell him to shut up because he was inciting those gathered there.
His only comment of relevance was that "we do not have a target sample of One Nation voters", but then he went on to say that One Nation supporters were uneducated, poor , white and older male (basically a lower class Australian citizen). The "hopeless" society who had no get up and go.
At question time One Nation MP Sean Nelson tore him to strips with the simple statement that he did have a target sample of One Nation voters in his seat of Tablelands and that 28% of them were Aboriginal - many having voted for him.
Associate Professor Don Fletcher was the second speaker in this session.
He was the only speaker not directly and personally biased against One Nation. Score 5 out of 10.
He said that economic rationalism and globalism had not been good for all Australians and that there had been no interest in addressing these issues.
Lots of people voted for One Nation.
Presently in Australia we are encouraged to think of cirtizenship in terms of "consumptions". The government thinks of people as consumers and tax payers rather than as communities with equality of participation.
Part of the feeling id that they are left out because they are left out of the system. It is only when things are hard that they realise how badly they have been left out.
Politicians today never really live in the real world. Over 50% of politicians in parliament are professionals and 50% of those are lawyers. Groups like traders are no longer represented. The professionals think differently to other Australians.
While presiding over the policies of economic rationalism they have looked after themselves rather well.
Parties become more exclusive as they become more professional. Policy rotates around guerilla warfare in marginal seats.
We have had the election but we have not had a change in the direction of the policies - this augers well for the future of One Nation.
Di Zeppelin spoke about women in politics.
On a bias scale 9 out of 10 against One Nation.
Her speech was highly sexist - and if the roles had been reversed this would have been a clear cut case for the anti-discrimination tribunal.
She said there was clear cut evidence that One Nation appealed more to men than women.
Pauline hanson, she said, appeals to a specific kind of male - where nationalism is the focus.
One Nation members have a siege mentality.
Their concern is that more and more Australians are working for the internationalists.
Their membership is the downtrodden white male who thrive on the politics of blame. It is easy to blame certain parts of the community.
Pauline Hanson has a certain sexual appeal - ranging from dominance to submission.
Professor Tarr's speech I missed...
It was a jumble of big words and disjointed facts.
On a bias scale 8 out of 10 against one Nation.
Associate Professor Peter Jull (the Nunavut man)
Talked about the UN Draft declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples.
He said that Pauline Hanson was wrong when she said that this treaty would form the basis of a land grab in Australia.
Funny thing that, because this is what he said in his own paper about where Australia's policies on the indigenous people must go in 1994 entitled "Dreaming in Black and White: An Australian Northern Policy":
(3) The regional and local organisation of service delivery, autonomy, and self-governing authority in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is the key to achieving any reasonable social outcomes there (Leas & Wolfe 1993; Jull et al., 1994; Fletcher 1994). As Canadians may not know, Australian Aboriginal peoples are many and diverse in language, history, and customs, often having complex and long-established inter-group relations protocols and multi-lingual skills. Although a political quest is now occurring at local and regional levels in the indigenous community in many parts of North Australia, including a strong interest in "regional agreements" that draw some of their inspiration from the positive features of Northern Canada's comprehensive claims settlements, there is uneasiness and resistance from within sections of the indigenous affairs administration. Some officials simply fear for their job futures.
A reference taken straight out of the UN treaty he refers to.
Ah yes, but then we are the uneducated class and are not supposed to be able to use the Internet to check his facts.
The last speaker was Marion Hanson, was the main organiser of this event.
On the bias against One Nation scale she was definitely 10 out of 10.
Ms Hanson started off by proclaiming that she had come from Asia.
She went on to tel us how "since Hanson's rise two years ago she had faced more racist attacks than in the previous 33 years of her life".
Because of her antagonistic attitude she didn't get much short change from those gathered there.
After her presentation Heather Hill pulled her to one side and asked her why someone from One Nation was not allowed to present our side of the story. Ms Hanson said that no political party had been invited to talk... but hang on there! Which party was the topic under biased investigation by these turkeys?
Heather asked her why the party's policies had not been looked at and discussed during the forum. Ms Hanson said that she had not had enough time... now what did Leech say? "It took me weeks to track down "The Truth"..." so who's telling porkies here?
In summary the elitist academics were severely savaged by One Nation at the forum. Ms Hanson claimed that the panel had been "verbally abused" by the One Nation supporters. I was there I didn't see that. I saw a bunch of unrepresentative left wingers venting their anger because political correctness was being challenged by people who cared about Australia's future.
We left at about 10.30pm