On Saturday night, we witnessed another spectacular crash by One Nation Party in the Queensland state election, following their less than inspiring performance in the WA state election earlier this year.
It seems the more attention the media give them, the worse they do.
During the lead up to both these elections, the mainstream media salivated over the possibility that ON could hold the balance of power, casting them as kingmakers, placing the fear of a missed opportunity clearly in the sights of the major conservative parties.
The Liberal government in WA chose unwisely as it turned out, to preference One Nation ahead of Labor. Ignoring that unhappy experience, the Queensland LNP similarly, decided they too would favour ON with their preferences in key seats.
Political opportunism at its worst.
One would have thought they might have taken note of the WA result and shown some backbone. Then again, backbone is not something that comes to mind when trying to second-guess the Liberal and National parties.
The mainstream media, not surprisingly, seemed oblivious to One Nation’s WA experience and went ballistic with their predictions of how ON would hold the balance of power in Queensland and win more than a dozen seats, ridding Queensland of their nemesis, that awful Labor government.
Ably assisted by a blatantly biassed media, the One Nation juggernaut stormed along in the battler bus, concentrating on particular sections of the Queensland community whose voice, it was said, was not being heard.
So, on Election Day last Saturday, everyone from Hobart to Darwin held their collective breath expecting to see a result that would bring great uncertainty to the sunshine state. Were Queenslanders going to send themselves down the road to chaos?
Not quite. Despite the media hype, the electorate chose a different path. They returned the incumbent Labor government and rejected the One Nation juggernaut restricting it to 14% of the primary vote. Moreover, they punished the conservative LNP for not showing sufficient backbone to stand up to ON.
One Nation’s support base is strongest in QLD and WA. It has some support in NSW, but in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia, it is a non-event and treated more as an amusing distraction.
Opportunistic politics has never caught hold in the broader Australian psyche. It will, however, always attract those who have been left behind, those who have an axe to grind, those who want to hit back.
The marginalised and the deprived, will always look for ways to punish the major parties whose interest in them is as shallow as their pathetic displays of sincerity. They will always be fodder for the one-issue candidate, the voice that preys on the disaffected.
This is the legacy of the neo-liberal era. It has seen the wealth of the nation transferred from the majority to an ever-shrinking minority. Neo-liberalism has created the super-rich to the detriment of the majority and seen the emergence of a sub-class that toils continually, that contributes to the wealth, but never gets to enjoy its rewards. Little wonder they are so anti-immigration.
One Nation plays to this sub-class and will always have its support unless we address the root cause of their dissatisfaction. If we allow the sub-class to get bigger and bigger, we will indeed bring chaos to our system of government.
Far better that we stop it now, by ensuring full employment, just wages, adequate universal health care, free education, cutting edge communications and equality of opportunity. The alternative is to continue seeing the weak, the marginalised and less educated excluded from their rightful share.
If anyone still wonders why people like Pauline Hanson find a niche market in politics, it is the selfishness and greed of the majority, the not caring, which leads to the deprivation and inequality of the minority.
And it’s not peculiar to Australia, either. It’s called neo-liberalism.