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A Pitchfork for Setka. A Soft Kitty for Hanson: A Tragic Tale

As the media chase CFMEU John Setka down the road with their pitchforks, they stop to slip a hero’s cape over Senator Hanson’s shoulders. Our National Conversation is a tale of two cities. One which contrasts how bigots are protected and those who speak up are condemned.

A Soft Kitty for Hanson

Time and time again we hear Pauline Hanson vilify and deride the vulnerable. Media and Politicians alike then protect her derision and hail her as a hero.

The ‘Autism in Schools Debate’ is a mark where the media and politicians aren’t all beating the same drum.

However, there are still a number of commentators and journalists staying true to the traditional mantra. “Pauline has it right” and “This is what Pauline actually meant.”

Hanson is prone to Dog Whistling – about well anything now. No vulnerable group is immune it seems.

There are those who like to throw Soft Kitty at the Dog Whistle, to muffle it and silence it.

They do this by taking it upon themselves to falsify the meaning of what Hanson said and then explain it to the public as something good (which she did not say).

Soft Kitty Warm Kitty

Singing Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty, makes everyone feel better. Those who agree with Hanson, don’t need to be ‘labelled’ as racist, xenophobic, or ableist. Those who cling onto the hatred espoused by Hanson, are touted as the ‘thinkers.’ As the one’s who ‘know’, but never say it.’ AKA – The Silent Majority.

From “the conversations we need to have” to “This is what Pauline meant to say. There are those who continue to stroke the shitty opinions of those in agreement, by singing this song:

We do not need journalists singing their readers and listeners a soothing song. We can all cope with discussing the harshness and contempt of Hanson’s words.

No other politician is afforded this type of pandering. None.

Singing Soft Kitty

The “Autism in Schools” debate is peppered with hailing Hanson as a hero who highlights the issue of funding on the basis of inclusion. It was not. It was about exclusion and segregation.

Some consistently falsify the meaning of Hanson’s words to mean something she did not mean. Why?

Insiders on Sunday 25th June (see from 25:10) also put a positive spin on Hanson’s intent.

This example of falsification of meaning from Insiders:

“People got a better sense of Autism from this if there was a positive aspect to it all” (Barry Cassidy)

“…If in a class with an Autistic child or something, it can take up more of the teachers time…..you need an extra teacher or extra resources or staff…. Hanson I think was trying to say all that but it came out all wrong and mean…..it just came out all terrible and that is why everyone jumped ugly on it” (Phillip Coorey).

You can watch the entire ABC The Drum Segment Here.

This example from – The Drum

“……..I don’t think that is what she meant. I think that what she meant was that it is very, very difficult in a mainstream school. If you are not funding the classroom and funding the teacher and funding the aides to take care of large numbers of children with special needs”

These are examples of respected journalists on widely watched programs. They falsify the meaning of Hanson’s segregation speech as one of ‘misunderstood goodwill.’ It was not. So why reconfigure it?

Pauline Hanson knows exactly what she is doing. She knows her words cause division, upset and harm to others. Her speeches over 20 years which poke and prod at minorities are not just a coincidence.

Hanson means every word she says.

Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty, purr, purr, purr…..

Pimping our National Conversation with Douchebaggery

Hanson also said in her speech that “we can’t hold these other kids back” She spoke about the fear of ‘other kids’ missing out on jobs due to kids with disabilities in the classroom getting too much attention. This means “the other” kids will lose their jobs to overseas workers.

Take note from 14:00

Why is it a part of our national conversation that Hanson’s racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and now ableism is ‘because she means well?” Media reporting and discussing Hanson in this manner is simply pimping our national conversation with bucketloads of douchebaggery.

Hanson does not mean well at all. For over 20 years she never has. Never will.

If Bill Shorten or Malcolm Turnbull said what Hanson said, would they have excuses made for them? No. No, they would not.

The constant falsification of “What Hanson said” is delegitimising the experiences of anyone who is offended by Hanson’s words, particularly those who are the target of her words.

*No disrespect to the journalists who actually stand up against trash talk by Hanson.

A Pitchfork for Setka

In a compare and contrast, a Union Official emotional at the high number of worker deaths in construction and angry at the Government implemented ABCC which only makes workplaces more unsafe; is slammed backwards to sideways by all and sundry, for an emotionally laden shout down to ABCC Inspectors.

The media have reconfigured Setka’s words to mean something he did not say. That his main intent was to ‘be a thug’ for the sake of it, rather than highlight the plight of workers.

We have seen Malcolm Turnbull’s rant at the Liberal Love-In this week.

There have been countless headlines condemning Setka, focused particularly for including children in threats and a referral to the Police.

Setka threatened to expose who the secret ABCC inspectors were to family, friends and footy clubs.

“The’ve gotta lead these secret lives because they are ashamed of what they do…We will lobby their neighbourhoods, we will tell them who lives in that house and what he does for a living, or she, and we will go to their local footy club. We’ll go to their local shopping centre. They will not be able to show their faces anywhere. Their kids will be ashamed of who their parents are when we expose these ABCC inspectors” (ABC 23/06/2017)

Setka Clarified his Speech

Setka has clarified the emotion behind his speech.

“But as a family man and father of three beautiful children, if my comments were taken out of context or if they came across in a manner that was threatening, then I truly apologise,” he said.

“We’ve never gone to people’s homes or involved their families and we never would,” Mr Setka said in his statement.

“The thought of anyone going to someone’s home is reprehensible. My speech reflected the depth of anger construction workers feel about the persecution they face from the ABCC.”

What Setka Really Means is…

Imagine if the media treated John Setka the same way they do Pauline Hanson. Imagine if they listened to his accusation that he was deliberately taken out of context. (ABC 23/06/2017)

Imagine if they pandered to Setka and excused him. Just ‘An uneducated do-gooder, who just can’t can’t get his words right.’

What if the media reconfigured Setka’s speech and framed it all about ‘what he really meant?”

Imagine if the media and politicians framed Hanson as a thug whose words threaten and intimidate minorities and may incite hate crimes and insist she is referred to the police – every time.

What If?

What if Setka was just a man “Brave enough to say what the Silent Majority think?”

If only panel shows around the country discussed that, “He meant he was just angry at the ABCC being a tool of the Government – A Government that clearly shows they have contempt for the working class. A tool that provides an enabling environment for more injury and deaths of workers and rendering the Union powerless to prevent them.’

What if they said – Yeh – we should talk about that?

What if Setka was framed as “A well-intentioned man who just wants to highlight that workers deaths are a huge issue and no one is talking about that?”

Imagine if workers, risking lives every day in a high-risk industry, made even more dangerous by the ABCC, were treated as the ‘Silent Majority.”

Imagine if Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese instead of agreeing with Turnbull that the this is just ‘Thuggery’ stepped forward and shouted down the Liberals and the ABCC.

What if they said that they don’t agree with the way Setka said it, but understood the emotion behind it and then insisted the ABCC be abolished and this is what he really meant?”

If only all Labor MPs and media used this speech as the impetus and insisted we need to have a national conversation about safety at work.

What if the Media chased Turnbull with a pitchfork and insisted he explains the high number of worker deaths?

What if….

A Soft Kitty For Setka

If the media and politicians sang Soft Kitty the way they do for Pauline Hanson and spoke about what they ‘assume’ the underlying intention was, then more conversations would look like this, instead of tirades about Unions being thugs and good for nothing else. Workers deaths and Worker Safety would be highlighted as a real issue of national concern.

Bosses threatening Unionists who are trying to ensure the safety of workers on site, dangerous conditions and worker deaths and how to prevent them, would be the topic of talk-back shows and panels all around the nation.

A Tragic Tale

We have heard post the Grenfell Tower Inferno phrases used such as ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ contrasting the treatment of the poor and the wealthy in the UK.

Our National Conversation is also a tragic tale of two cities. One where the powerful bigots with platforms can demean already vulnerable groups. These bigots then have more powerful people cover up their bigotry. They falsify the meaning of what bigots actually say into something ‘nice’ they did not say and then explain “What they really meant.”

Then we have the underdogs, screaming for someone to notice their plight. Trying to highlight what the rich and powerful are doing to those who do not have full agency, who are not empowered, who do not have a voice.

Whether this is workers, the unemployed or asylum seekers or any other vulnerable group. The same powerful people be it politicians or media, cover up this contempt for these groups, and label them thugs, bludgers and terrorists.

Corbyn’s For the Many, Not for the Few – is not a platitude. It has the ability to change life as we know it. It is time we too, looked at our own national conversations through the lens of a Tale of Two Cities, where the powerful reign and the powerless suffer.


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  1. Wayne Turner

    Spot on article except this part: “examples of respected journalists” – Sorry in what country? Certainly none in Australia.

    These examples yet again show how BIASED & UNDEMOCRATIC the MSM is.In fact they are the cheer squad for the likes of Hanson,and most often the COALition.We haven’t had a democracy for along time.We are a “mediaocracy” – The MSM conned enough of the gullible and ignorant,and that was just enough to get the COALition back in,just.

    The Australian Mediaocracy continues…

  2. Kaye Lee

    Setka apologised and clarified his statements. When Abdel-Magied offended some with her ANZAC Day tweet, she immediately apologised.

    Hanson defiantly refuses to apologise despite having caused great hurt to families who have children with a disability. The three amigos who attacked the impartiality of the judicial system were dragged kicking and screaming to a third person apology when it dawned on them that they could lose their jobs.

    Conservatives can threaten whoever they please, usually the most vulnerable or those who are striving for a safer, more inclusive Australia, but woe betide anyone who criticises them.

  3. Annette

    Sekta ““The thought of anyone going to someone’s home is reprehensible”.
    Right. An idea is reprehensible so I’ll say that.
    Sekta “My speech reflected the depth of anger construction workers feel”.
    Look over there, angry construction workers channeling thoughts into my brain.

    At the end of the day, Sekta showed poor impulse control and exposed his inner thug.
    But as noted by Kaye, at least he apologized.

    Being irresponsible is actually how many people operate – virtual sleepwalkers, cut off from their innate power of discrimination they just bump along, flotsam – first thought best thought, numpty-headed streams of consciousness. I have also worked with people like that who thought that verbal death threats have no repercussions – but they always do. Sekta may have just learned the lesson, veiled threats of violence indicate an inner world in need of a clean-up.

    Sekta and Hanson could both benefit from counselling.

  4. James Cook

    Thanks for this. I now have my arguments refined to use against a right-wing mate.

  5. win jeavons

    If she can’t speak clearly and unambiguously she may represent the illiterates in Aus. but she should not be paid to represent them in preference to the rest of citizens in parliament and she should never be quoted in intelligent media ( if such still exists) . No doubt she approves the language test for citizenship, though inept in the national language herself?

  6. Christian Marx

    Good article. The only thugs are the corrupt capitalists who engage in endless propaganda
    against the working class. The only solution is to stop watching and reading their lying bile.
    Mainstream media is on its last legs anyway. These right wing clowns only hasten its demise.
    More and more are waking up to the lies and spin.

  7. Kyran

    Funny thing. The rally that Setka spoke at was one with many issues. One of them was that the commonwealth government will not contract with agencies that utilise union labour in the next few months. I’m no fan of Setka, anymore than I was a fan of Gallagher. But, sometimes, you need someone to propose the unconscionable. Setka’s comments, from what I have read, did not threaten harm to the inspectors. He threatened exposure of their lives, their families, their associates. Just like the ABCC does.
    Just exactly how many prosecutions have the ABCC, in both of its incarnations, prosecuted?
    I misread your title, Ms Corry. I thought your ‘Soft Kitty’ reference was to that Kathy Jackson whistle-blower. The bastion of trade union activism. Apparently, she was in court again last week. They have upped the charges to one hundred and sixty four.
    How do you spin that your advocate of unionism is bankrupt, devoid of principle and facing criminal prosecution?
    Oh, look over there. Setka doesn’t speak well.
    Thank you Ms Corry and commenters. Take care

  8. kerri

    Having been a teacher for a mere 11 years, when students with disabilities were first included in mainstream classes, it astounds me that people buy Hanson’s line that teachers forego helping ” normal” students and spend more time with kids with disabilities. In many circumstances this is utter crap. One thing I have learned as both teacher and parent is that when kids fight and toheir parents take up the cause, you will still find the parents squabbling long after the kids have made up and are now best mates again. Kids are remarkably resilient. They do not hate until they are taught to do so by bigots like Hanson. If there is a kid in the class who is having difficulties the other kids will usually help long before the teacher gets the chance. In the case of kids on the Autism spectrum, more often than not they are the helpers. My daughter attended kindergarten with a boy who had Down’s Syndrome. One day in the car (at age 4-5) she says “I wish I was a magician? Cause then I could magic it so Sam would know his alphabet” one of the proudest moments of my life. In year 6 at primary school , Sam was voted, by his peers, to be school captain. No “White Queen’s” in that school parent body. I taught a boy with ” cotton wool” syndrome. Extremely brittle bones. Kids lined up to push his wheelchair. He got in trouble one day for showing off by putting his ankle behind his head and breaking his own leg. Another boy traumatised from a family visit to Iraq became obsessed with a very intelligent and capable girl in his class. She was counselled regularly but said she was fine and could manage his attention herself. A girl with Cerebral Palsy at my daughters school helped raise money by hiring her new electric wheel chair for rides at lunchtime.
    Pauline would never have coped with any of these situations which is precisely why she does not deserve to be in the parliament. In a mainstream class today Pauline would be the one with the disability. That being her clouded, negative, bigoted outlook.

  9. Phil

    Conservatives are always spoiling for a fight. Authoritarian by nature, they are compelled to respond to every challenge to their authority. First with verbal aggression then with violent oppression if the threat continues. Hanson is a stupid and hopelessly ignorant person who only threatens to take a small percentage of votes from the conservatives – they will deal with her when the need arises.

    Unions on the other hand are a real and serious threat to the assumed authority of conservatives and their financial puppet masters, the corporations. Unions in solidarity can bring governments down. Hanson by comparison is a pathetic side show.

    Hence the union crushing ABCC (better that workers risk dying on site than threaten profits and authority) and Turnbull’s love for the pejorative ‘thugs’ and all manner of rage to demonise and denigrate unions.

    Corbyn in the UK has shown how vulnerable the Tory authoritarians are when ordinary people stop drawing from the well of toxic fear and begin imagining a new order. It’s looking increasingly like the UK folk are genuinely interested in having a shot at implementing actual Democracy – a system no modern state has so far been willing to tryout.

    Unions are the only organised force representing Australian workers interests in the escalating battle with the vested interests of the government/corporate state. Our farcical un-representative political system has failed – it must be replaced. CFMEU and the union movement overall – warts and all – retains my support.

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