It’s no secret that Australian Senator Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party proudly see themselves as the Trumpian party of Australia. Following Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections last November, three of One Nation’s Donald Trump groupies – including Pauline Hanson herself – giggled like school girls outside Parliament House as they popped a bottle of French champagne.
To be fair, Pauline Hanson did jump on the Trump bandwagon early – claiming in May 2016 that he was actually copying her. (Perhaps Trump’s orange skin and preference for red ties are Trump’s homage to the Queensland redhead?)
But just how closely are Trump’s and Hanson’s political paths aligned?
As I wrote recently, one of the hallmarks of the Trump campaign was his war against the truth – a war so successful, that fact-checking website Politifact assessed that only 4% of Trump’s claims during his campaign were entirely accurate. A war so successful that Trump’s team are now replacing truth with their very own ‘alt-truth’ supported by ‘alt-facts.’ Here’s just one example:
Trump’s alt-fact: Trump is the most popular politician ever. Period. So, therefore, the crowds at Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017, must have been larger than those at Obama’s inauguration.
Actual fact: The crowds at Trump’s inauguration were significantly lower than at President Obama’s inauguration in 2009. (Thank goodness One Nation Senator and Trump Fan-boy Brian Burston was there to boost numbers – what a champ! )
Trump is clearly a master of the alt-fact – which is arguably one of the key reasons he was elected last year. As Trump wannabes – let’s check out One Nation’s skills in this area…
One Nation’s alt-facts
If you look back at the last six months, it’s clear that Pauline Hanson and her band of merry Trumpettes have some significant talent in the creation and propagation of alt-facts. Here are just some examples:
Actual fact: It turns out that Hanson getting tickets to Trump’s inauguration wasn’t so much an ‘honour’ as a hand-me-down gift that wasn’t actually intended for her. Apparently, after receiving repeated calls from One Nation’s Senator Roberts begging for tickets, the Australian embassy rang around to see if they could find someone who wasn’t using theirs – which they eventually did. The tickets were given to the Australian embassy for them to do what they wished with, and not gifted specially to Hanson as her alt-fact implied.
One Nation’s alt-fact: The Australian Labour Day public holiday is for “left-wing extremists” to celebrate the momentous achievements of Whitlam, Hawke, Keating, Rudd and Gillard – but not necessarily in that order.
Actual fact: It’s a shame this one isn’t true, as in reality, it’s is an excellent idea! Perhaps the Labor party could add a ‘u’ to the spelling of its name and claim this public holiday for left-leaning voters alone. Since One Nation and the LNP typically don’t believe in things like minimum wages, overtime, Sunday rates and extra holidays – I’m sure they won’t mind working an extra day each year.
One Nation’s alt-fact: Climate change isn’t real.
Actual fact: Yeah. It is.
One Nation’s alt-fact: The Great Barrier Reef isn’t dying. (Maybe it’s just resting, taking a nap.)
Actual fact: Yeah. It is.
One Nation’s alt-fact: One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts seems to think he’s a chicken:
Actual fact: Yeah. He is.
The One Nation party – reality or reality show?
Reality shows are all about ‘alt-facts’ – with a just enough ‘reality’ flavouring thrown in to enable them to keep the word ‘reality’ in the title. A bit like when you buy strawberry milk, it rarely has actual strawberries in it, just strawberry flavouring.
Trump is America’s first reality show President – offering simplistic solutions to complex problems, often based on alt-facts. Let’s build a wall between Mexico and the US to stop illegal immigration and drugs he says. Sure – that will stop people entering America illegally by walking across the border. But it won’t stop them climbing over the wall. Or digging under it. Or flying over it. Or going around it in boats. In other words, a wall between Mexico and the US is more security blanket than security measure. But in a world of alt-facts, a world where fiction and reality are blurred – actual outcomes are irrelevant.
The attraction of the reality show approach to politics is pretty obvious. Right now there are serious problems facing the world – climate change, terrorism, millions of displaced people, increasing housing prices, growing debt and jobs being permanently replaced by technology. In a world faced with so many challenges, it’s easy to understand the shiny simplicity and glamour of an individual like Trump or Hanson promising to simply airbrush away people’s problems with alt-facts like “we’ll all be safe if we just stop muslim immigration”. (#InWhatUniverse?)
Pauline Hanson and her team of Alt-Facters clearly embrace Trump’s reality show version of politics. Just look at Hanson’s day trip to an area of the Great Barrier Reef that wasn’t dying off to prove that the parts of the Reef that are dying off – some 1,000 kms to the north – are clearly hypochondriacs. It was the equivalent of Hanson having visited a hospital parking lot, examining the health of someone just going to their car and then declaring everyone in the hospital well because the person she bumped into seemed healthy to her.
One Nation’s visit to the reef attracted them a lot of publicity, but it had very little to do with reality – it was all show and no substance. Similarly, expecting reality show politicians to solve real problems is like expecting you’ll be able to pay off your mortgage when you win the lottery. It’s theoretically possible – but it’s a 13,983,816 to one chance.
This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation.
P.S. Here’s a tip: If you skipped playing the Chicken Roberts video above – go back. It’s a three-second video, and I still laugh every time I play it.