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Australia Pauline Hanson is using the Voice to Parliament to become relevant again

17:12  08 august  2022
17:12  08 august  2022 Source:   crikey.com.au

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After being marginalised in the last Parliament, Pauline Hanson is cashing in — both metaphorically and literally — on the debate about establishing an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

  Pauline Hanson is using the Voice to Parliament to become relevant again © Provided by Crikey

Hanson came into the 47th Parliament as a diminished figure. After early returns suggested her Senate spot was in doubt, Hanson was able to scrape in over Queensland LNP’s Amanda Stoker and minor parties United Australia Party and Legalise Cannabis Australia. Despite boasting an increase in support — which can be attributed to the party’s choice to run candidates in more House of Representative seats — the party actually suffered a nearly 3% swing away from it in Queensland Senate voting.

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  Pauline Hanson is using the Voice to Parliament to become relevant again © Provided by Crikey

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One factor contributing to One Nation’s shrinking vote was the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Australian politics. The party’s bread-and-butter policy, reducing immigration, was sidelined as Australia closed its borders for much of the previous Parliament. By the time the election came around, unemployment was at a 50-year-low. The pandemic response was a major issue and One Nation’s anti-vaccine mandate, anti-lockdown stances were both unpopular and indistinguishable from other minor parties.

The makeup of the 47th Parliament has imperilled Hanson’s relevance even further. The Senate’s progressive majority combined with the balance of power being held by Greens and the crossbench means that the Labor government has multiple options for passing legislation without having to deal with One Nation.

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The Voice to Parliament debate has thrown Hanson a political lifeline, but it’s not one she recognised at first. Soon after being reelected, Hanson laid out her plans for the next Parliament in an interview with Paul Murray on Sky News. She posted the interview to her Facebook with a caption that highlighted the COVID-19 response, multinationals taxation, family law, immigration and energy as her top political issues. Voice to Parliament and Indigenous issues were notably absent.

The first time that Hanson mentioned the Voice to Parliament on social media this term was her July 14 interview with Sky News host Chris Smith. The next day, Hanson put out a media release claiming that the policy would create an “Australian apartheid” and that First Nations peoples were already overrepresented in Parliament, and criticising the lack of detail from the government. Hanson’s audience immediately responded. The July 15 media release got 5300 reactions, more than 1100 comments and 700 shares on Facebook — large numbers, even for Hanson’s sizeable audience. It was clear that this issue was one that played perfectly to One Nation’s base.

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It’s no surprise that Hanson, ever the media manipulator, used the first opportunity in Parliament to carry out a race-related protest. Her Acknowledgement of Country walkout garnered an enormous amount of traditional and new media attention. Hanson’s viral post-walkout video statement has been viewed more than 280,000 times on Facebook. In it, she echoes many of the arguments against the Voice to explain why she suddenly opposed the Acknowledgement of Country after having sat through hundreds of them.

Since her first post about the Voice in the middle of July, 15 of the 33 Facebook posts by Hanson have been about either the Voice or the Acknowledgement of Country. In the past week, it’s eight of 12. According to social media analysis tool CrowdTangle, her top two posts during that time have been about the Voice. Hanson and her team saw her audience’s appetite for the topic and leaned into it.

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Hanson’s criticism of the Voice to Parliament is a return to home turf. Hanson infamously started off her political career by being disendorsed by the Liberal Party for a letter to a newsletter about Indigenous welfare. Since then, she has scapegoated different groups — First Nations peoples, Asians, Muslims — but always used race politics and bigotry as her core political messages. This passage from her 1996 maiden speech to Parliament could be repurposed verbatim to her campaign against the Voice:

Present governments are encouraging separatism in Australia by providing opportunities, land, moneys and facilities available only to Aboriginals. Along with millions of Australians, I am fed up to the back teeth with the inequalities that are being promoted by the government and paid for by the taxpayer under the assumption that Aboriginals are the most disadvantaged people in Australia. I do not believe that the colour of one’s skin determines whether you are disadvantaged.

Last Friday, Hanson officially staked out her position: “Pauline Hanson’s One Nation will spearhead the campaign for the ‘no’ vote in the coming referendum on an indigenous ‘voice to Parliament’ [sic],” read a media release. Accompanying the release was a link to One Nation’s store, which is already selling a variety of Vote No stickers to cash in on the interest. She boasted to The Daily Telegraph that she had registered 46 web domains for the campaign (Crikey was only able to find two Voice-related domains registered to One Nation).

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Making Hanson the face of the “no” vote will likely be a mistake for the campaign. Despite her notoriety, Hanson remains an unpopular and incompetent politician who has failed to grow her party from the fringes, even as other populist parties like United Australia Party have found a footing. An alternate, hypothetical campaign featuring a coalition of people from the left and right of politics without Hanson’s political baggage would likely have a much better chance at defeating the push.

  Pauline Hanson is using the Voice to Parliament to become relevant again © Provided by Crikey

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But for Hanson, it’s a gift. The Voice to Parliament referendum will be a national debate about race centring on a complex model that’s vulnerable to scare campaigns. Hanson has already shown she has no interest in good faith debate, falsely labelling a Voice body a “third tier of government” (God forbid she finds out about local government). It will elevate her as one of the few mainstream politicians willing to oppose the popular proposal that came out of the Uluru Statement from the Heart process.

After a close brush with political death, Pauline Hanson is set to become one of the main figures of the 47th Parliament thanks to the Voice to Parliament referendum.

Does Hanson add anything of value to the political debate in this country? Let us know your thoughts by writing to letters@crikey.com.au. Please include your full name to be considered for publication. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.

The post Pauline Hanson is using the Voice to Parliament to become relevant again appeared first on Crikey.

Greens to seek treaty alongside voice .
Negotiations between the Greens and the government on an Indigenous Voice to parliament are set to begin, with the minor party calling for a treaty.Party leader Adam Bandt and Indigenous spokeswoman Lidia Thorpe will begin negotiations with Labor on the referendum to enshrine the voice in the constitution, following a party room meeting.

usr: 1
This is interesting!