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1964 – Pauline’s “Lucky Country”

Redcuchulain takes a look at the growing number of voters attracted to Pauline Hanson and puts forth suggestions for progressive leaders to combat this.

To quote an old Arabic saying , “If people are thirsty enough they will drink the sand”. I do not believe that 23% of Queenslanders are turning to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation because they are racist. It is more that they feel that they are not being listened to by anyone else. They will no longer put up with it.

The Lucky Country

There is no doubt that social inequality is increasing. The poor feel vilified and disenfranchised. All while we hear stories like we did last week about the six executives from Australia post taking home half the profits. Jobs disappear and it is the less educated who are suffering. Jobs are outsourced to countries where labour is cheaper. We are being replaced by machines everywhere from the coal mine to the supermarket checkout.

Back in 1964 Donald Horne coined the phrase , “The Lucky Country”. While this phrase is generally now accepted as a positive reference and has been repeated everywhere from cigarette adverts to patriotic Aussie songs, Horne’s original meaning of the phrase was somewhat different. He noticed that the structure of our economy was more like a developing nation. We export lots of raw material and then we buy back finished product.

We also do not have a great record on the management of our environment. Australia is essentially an Anglo-Saxon culture country in the middle of Asia. However, we haven’t really worked out our place in it. Australia was seen as ‘The Lucky Country,’ as it enjoys a very good standard of living despite all this.

Quite simply there are a lot of natural resources compared to the size of the population. Fifty years on from Horne’s book our luck is running out.

Hanson is the Opposite to What We Need

I believe the future of Australia requires us to structurally change our economy. It requires us to increase our educational standards. Our educational standards aren’t all that great compared with other countries. We need to invest more in science and innovation and actually start exporting knowledge and products. We need world standard infrastructure, like the original NBN.

Hanson is openly anti-science. She supports a dumbing down of educational standards for professionals. Hanson does not seem to have any original ideas other than to collect vastly less tax than even a conservative government would support.

Of course her followers do not seem to be able to deduct that this type of conservatism would flow to vastly less expenditure on everything from defence to education. Perhaps she thinks that everything in the new world will be priced in 1964 dollars as well.

Deny Change. Blame Islam. Easy.

It is perhaps ironic that that Hanson and her party are prepared to sit and deny that the world is changing and are in fear of Islam. They sit like the Byzantines who denied science and clung to their old religious beliefs right up until Mehmet was at their gates with his superior technology and took their city from them.

Except the Hansonites are chasing the wrong foe. It is not the Muslims who will destroy our way of life but our own failure to innovate.

Protectionist policies do nothing to lift productivity. They give a country the economic prowess of the South African rugby team when they first waddled around the pitch at the end of the apartheid era after being isolated for 25 years.

There is a difference between governments creating infrastructure and investing in research to give your industry a fighting chance and putting up trade barriers.

Populist politicians are tapping into the very valid emotion people are feeling that things felt better in the past.

One Nation’s idea seems to be to go back to 1964 when Australia felt lucky. I do not believe that rolling back social attitudes back to 1964, denying climate change or rolling back education to what was required in the 60’s is going to make us lucky again. It isn’t going to bring the jobs back.

Policies Should Be Front and Centre

It is my sincere hope that the next elections are fought over policy issues. I hope our debates move to positive ideas on how we don’t leave sections of our community behind in terms of rising living standards.

The first thing that progressive politicians need to do is acknowledge the lack of hope that sections of the community are feeling at the moment.

In 1964 a person could move from job to job, they had more in life than their parents had (their parents lived through a war but people often forget that) and the idea that growth could not go on forever without destroying our planet was the domain of a few academics.

The more narrow religion dominated social narrative, while abhorrent for progressives may have been easier for many people to understand. There is a large cohort of mainly white, 50 and over Australians who perhaps miss that country that they perceived lucky.

They make up a large portion of the electorate. They have less of their life in front of them than what is behind them.

The ‘serious’ consequences of climate change are always talked about occurring in 2050 and it is human nature to think of something beyond our expected lifetime as abstract and unreal.

They see things harder for their children and grandchildren and if we could just dial back the clock on a few things it would be better. Wouldn’t it? These people don’t care much for celebrating our progressive victories such as improved university participation, women’s rights or social justice. These are things that affect other people. The ‘elites’.

Drinking Pauline’s Sand Will Not Quench Your Thirst

Progressives need to find a way to reconnect with these people if we are to bring them on our journey forward. Part of this will involve acknowledging that there are bits of the old world that had value and that we have lost as well as gained.

These people have not enough hope to drink. They are thirsty.

Drinking Pauline’s sand will not quench thirst. It will make you even thirstier and your guts will end up… well…full of it. It is up to us to provide a different bottle.

29 comments

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  1. Keitha Granville

    How ? How do we do it ? More and more people seem to be jumping on these useless, wheel-less bandwagons spouting hate and racism, it’s all their fault, rant rant, with absolutely no solution. I fight back against racists whenever I am confronted with one, but it’s a drop in the ocean. How do we get politicians on the opposite side to actually listen, talk, put forward job creating economy driving policy ?

  2. paulwalter

    Until now I would not have questioned the premise of the article but think as major parties continue to ignore concerns from locales in a neo liberal world, we may have to admit the opening has been left for people like Trump and Hanson. Some of these concerns have a basis in reality and the idea that people in the bush (and industrial suburbs in the cities) be dismissed as rum-sotted ultra religious or nationalist buffoons needs reexamination.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/bush-mail/2017/feb/11/inside-the-bitter-sugar-dispute-that-puts-one-nation-in-the-political-sweet-spot#comment-93021265

  3. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yes Redcuchulain,

    it is up to Progressives and Moderates to pull back the hysteria from the Hanson world view and offer disillusioned, disenfranchised and displaced constituents alternatives to what she offers and what she is winning against in the antiquated Lib/Lab duopoly.

    We should all be supporting Progressive parties and progressive initiatives in Progressive parties and Independents.

    We should also be demanding the building of bridges between those Progressive elements to form The ALLiance, which will offer those who may be seduced to follow Hanson, effective and alternative Progressive routes to equitable opportunities to employment, industry development, education, community infrastructure and the many other advantages that they want.

  4. Terry2

    So far, One Nation have been a rubber-stamp for the coalition. Do those who are turning to Pauline realize that at this point in time they are just supporting the LNP in drag.

    If there is any depth to One Nation we need to see them standing up on principle for whatever it is they stand for.

    I see that the WA Liberals will be preferencing One Nation ahead of the Nationals so does that mean the coalition is finished and there will be a new coalition between the Liberals and One Nation ? Or does it just mean that the Liberals are happy to get into bed with anybody to cling onto power.

  5. Keitha Granville

    it is deeply depressing, I am beginnning to wonder if I should have had any chlldren – what sort of world am I leaving them ? a dying planet deeply divided between the forces of hate and doom, and the rest crying in the wilderness.

    it seems sometimes that the gains of the 60s and 70s for women and education and health are all being swept away without a chance to salvage.

    where are the forward thinking intelligent candidates stepping up to grasp the mettle and pull us into the real world.

    a world of Trumps and Hansons is looming as the future, and we seem to be unable to stop it

  6. totaram

    No one admits to the real problem: both the Coalition and Labor have swallowed the same neo-liberal macro-economic Kool-Aid. No matter who is elected, we get the same nonsense about “budget repair”, we need to “live within our means” etc. which amounts to cuts to welfare and social spending and “no new taxes”(which will supposedly slow the economy). No chance of fiscal stimulus by the govt. (it will distort the market) etc. Even though the fiscal stimulus of the Rudd govt. was applauded by the whole world. Result? No difference between the two major parties. What do you expect the ordinary simple guy in the street to do? S/he looks for something different in the forlorn hope that it will indeed be different. Of course it won’t be different. One Nation always votes with the Coalition, so what will be different? But that requires a level of analysis that people are incapable of carrying out. So, as you can expect, the Liberal Party in WA will be exchanging preferences with One Nation.

    We can stop it. We have to point out that neo-liberal macro-economics is based on lies and there is another way, when you forget about “the govt debt” and concentrate on the real economy. Private sector debt is the bigger problem. That is what caused the GFC.
    Simple accounting arithmetic tells us that the private debt cannot be paid down unless the govt. runs deficits because we do not have a trade surplus. Govt. “debt” is no problem, because there is no possibility of default. Even the Donald knows this. But will anyone recognise this and give us a different vision? Not a hope!

  7. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    totaram is right until the last few words.

    We, the Informed People recognise that Debt and Deficit are NOT the Big, Bad Wolves we’ve been misled to believe.

    Neoliberalism is the Big, Bad Wolf that has hamstrung Progressive Politics since Keating and has been the excuse for the Lib arseholes to make gaping wounds much, much worse.

    Donny might recognise the stupidity but he only wants to capitalise on it for himself and his, NOT the US and us.

    So, we don’t wait for the powers-that-be to be kind and do it for us …

    … but we demand and put the screws on every political body we can access, so that they respond to our community pressure that Neoliberalism is NO longer tolerated and Fascism cannot get a foothold.

  8. paulwalter

    Fine post from totaram. I despaired of even the political literates at AIM not being able to grasp what lies at bottom of all the shopfront politics, although JMS seems to have got it.

  9. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    If I could share a bottle of champers with you now, paulwalter, I would.

    Spot on.

  10. paulwalter

    Racism can’t grow in isolation. It grows in an environment; an environment where a hermeneutics of suspicion can thrive. If society is built on a mountain of lies and theft, then disillusion, how can there not be resentment and jumping to manipulated conclusions in an information vacuum?

    Hansonism is a symptom of a deeper malaise.

  11. Matters Not

    totaram @ 7:22 pm

    We can stop it. We have to point out that neo-liberal macro-economics is based on lies and there is another way

    Good luck with that. The sad truth is that, because the average voter believes the household budget analogy, politicians who want to be successful also proceed down that track. It’s the ‘truth’ – the ‘common sense’ – that resonates.

    Advocates of the MMT view of the world don’t have an economic theory problem but a ‘political’ problem. Because the vast majority of citizens simply don’t believe the theory. It’s a matter of ‘faith’. And we know how powerful ‘faith’ is when is comes to the ‘meaning of life’ and the like.

    Mitchell et al urgently need public platforms to advance their views. But there’s no light on the horizon, it seems.

  12. paulwalter

    Unfortunately, that is closer than most people realise also.

    We look down on medieval peasants from the safety of this era, but has the world changed that much in five centuries?

  13. nexusxyz

    Australia needs more than just education and the hollow mantra of innovation which is generally pointless as it fails to contribute to national ‘competitiveness’. The reality is that current issues and challenges cannot be solved with the tools, methodologies, etc. that created them. We will go nowhere. To improve national ‘competitiveness’ we have to shift to and embrace the kind of technology centric thinking that Germany, China, South Korea, Japan and a few other countries embrace. The means and capability to do this exists. Australia is a ‘financialised’ and debt ridden basket case as this will become painfully evident when the next economic shock and/or downturn arrives.

  14. paulwalter

    Yep. dismembered.

  15. wam

    absolute pie in the sky totaram the problem is we the voters are simple believers in what is obvious. To us big numbers of noughts following the word debt is ultra scary.
    To show that “We, the Informed People recognise that Debt and Deficit are NOT the Big, Bad Wolves we’ve been misled to believe” is complex claptrap and until it is easy enough to fit into the sunrise/today format, you can bleat all you like about ‘neo-liberalism’ it makes no sense to the voters.

  16. paulwalter

    That’s the point!! “It makes no sense to the voters!!!”

    (Demented laugh, does a Keef Richard, falls out of tree”).

  17. paulwalter

    Just observed elsewhere at AIM that Hanson’s heroinics as to QLD sugar do not extend to a defence the unemployed benefit pittance being tampered with by the government.

  18. Zathras

    I’m still waiting to hear what Hanson proposes to do about things like the deficit, unemployment, homelessness, house affordability, social services, manufacturing and the other things she’s been paid by taxpayers to address.

    Instead all we hear is anti-Muslim, anti-Halal and anti-immigration rants, and problems with burqas – as if these are the key to solving all our problems.

    We all know what she’s against but little else.

    It seems many voters no longer care about the real issues and just want to lash out at somebody to blame for the fact their lives are not turning out as they feel they should.

    One Nation is just a better marketted version of Palmer United, and didn’t that turn out well for everybody?

  19. David Bruce

    We have been lied to and done over by a system of control originating in Great Britain more than 150 years ago. Governments are now corporations and we are “citizens” not Australian nationals. This system of control control is based on Money and it has become so unstable, many expect it to collapse. Maybe that is the only way to fix the system. Otherwise it will be like trying to change a tyre on a racing car while still doing circuits! None of our politicians, Hanson included, have a clue about the current system, let alone how to fix it. Our Australian “democracy” is failing to deliver the governance we expect, and the services we are paying for. We have become the laughing stock of our neighbours, whom we are forever preaching about the Australian way, and bringing “democracy” to the rest of the world! The AIMN articles are good value so keep doing what you do!

  20. Alan Baird

    The die is cast. Education standards fall away, but they don’t overseas, and Malcolm’s “nimble” is a name that means payday debt rather than an ability to grapple with changing economic circumstances and the jobs they don’t create. Some Australians are equipped for this time but most aren’t and don’t have a prayer. The politics reflect this. We can look forward to more “trickle-down” nostrums for our malaise. Trump may have talked about the forgotten people but he’s employed plenty of “trickle-down” folks whose habits will die hard and the “forgotten” will repent at lengthy leisure. Pauline thinks he’s great and there will be many in Oz who agree. We can just watch the debacle unfold and if we’re into schadenfreude, enjoy it. I will get a perverse pleasure but there’ll tears before bedtime. Dear, dear, how sad, never mind.

  21. Sir ScotchMistery

    We could try influencing parents by pointing out that in the decade 2004-2015, the PISA (The Program for International Student Assessment), run by the OECD the following results occurred. Premised on the only variable being funding as far as I can see, that puts us on a downward spiral at an educational level.

    In 2003/4 Australia rated 527 out of a possible 580 in Maths performance. The OECD average in that frame was 505.3.
    In 2006 Australia was again 527 whilst average dropped to 499.7.
    In 2009 the numbers were 519 against an average of 501.
    In 2012 it was 510.1 against the average of 499.4
    In 2015 it was 497 against the average of 494.

    So it’s reasonable to posit that whilst overall OECD numbers are crashing all over, we are crashing much faster. The average dropped in general 11.3 from 2003 to 2015. Over the same period, Australia dropped 30 points. Three times the average.

    https://data.oecd.org/pisa/mathematics-performance-pisa.htm

    We as voters need to make parents understand they are being sold a pup, and we need to try to influence them to move to a more progressive political position, since it is clear that neither of the majors will ever do anything to change since they will always be threatened as private Catholic school educated, self centred twats.

  22. Harquebus

    I’ve had enough of leadership, thank you very much.
    Policies are failing because they factor political and not the physical realities that really do the hurting.
    Cheers.

  23. bobrafto

    Matters Not

    Advocates of the MMT view of the world don’t have an economic theory problem but a ‘political’ problem.

    Yes I agree and they have also have the extra burden of calling it a ‘theory’, when the first MMT article hit these pages awhile ago, I commented that MMT should be changed to MMS, modern monetary system.

    ANd MMT will languish unless it’s re-branded.

  24. Matters Not

    bobrafto, actually I don’t have a problem with the ‘theory’ bit in MMT in much the same way as I don’t have a problem with the Theory of Gravity or indeed any number of ‘theories’ in the social and physical sciences.

    Indeed, I would be disappointed if it was presented in any other way. In my world, ‘theory’ is not a pejorative’ descriptor. Rather, it’s a useful, accurate and desirable one. But that’s just me.

  25. bobrafto

    https://youtu.be/YV2TPVg_xKY very sickening, slightly off topic and the lnp do not give a fcuk about our well-being when it comes to food labelling.

  26. bobrafto

    Matters Not
    Of course that’s just you because you have an analytical mind, however, to the average punter, the throwaway line would be it’s just a theory. A term system is a bit more tangible for the average punter to grasp.

  27. Matters Not

    Point taken. I suppose I take the importance of ‘theory’ too seriously. But maybe not. That anyone can count the number of ‘red’ objects – as opposed to ‘green’ objects – without a ‘theory’ (mental construct) of what ‘red’ is escapes me. In short, I can’t see how people operate in the world without ‘mental’ or ‘theoretical’ constructs.

    But yes the word ‘theory’ like the word ‘academic’ is often used as a pejorative descriptor. But perhaps at some stage we need to rise above the lowest common denomination?

    After all, we have a certain level of intelligence that allows us to do exactly that.

  28. Donandi

    bobrafto……….Phil (PAJ) Holden, Economics Master and Principal of St. Lawrence College, Athens, has re-branded MMT. He now calls it MMP – Modern Monetary Principles.

  29. jimhaz

    [Protectionist policies do nothing to lift productivity]

    This is true, but I say so what. A degree of protection is healthy. Now I’m not talking about highly competitive big ticket items like cars, but smaller products that can be manufactured here, where there is no recurrent support costs payable by the government.

    The costs for protectionism should be born by consumers via marginally higher pricing.

    Shoes and other forms of low end clothing are a good example. Tariffs should be 50%, together with one off capital advances to set up manufacturing businesses.

    Medical and disabled equipment is another. Certain building products could be made here. There are many items not purchased frequently by consumers that we could place tariffs on.

    You just need enough protectionism for about 500,000 manufacturing jobs.

    If you are scared about falling standards of living you are worrying about nothing. It’s a furphy. What actually happens is that prices gouging occurs to take up as much disposable income as possible. Any additional costs due to tariffs across a smallish range of products would only involve extra costs of about 1-2% of the average income, and what you would see is house and rent prices fall as a result of the slightly lower level of disposable income. Consumers would be no worse off.

    Even if MMT was viable as an economic system, and it is not long term, its downside would be far, far greater that establishing a tariff plan to lift and support enough manufacturing to reduce unemployment down to 3.5%. Pollies would use MMT for recurrent expenditure or for the promotion of job creation schemes involving capital outlays that would fail once the stimulus was withdrawn.

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