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One Nation shoots itself in the foot while our gun lobby takes aim at our democracy

“We’ve been importing all these Muslims into Australia. We have about 230,000 people coming in a year. Our population’s only 25 million… some really dangerous people. They’re just breaking into people’s homes with baseball bats and killing people. Basically stealing everything they own. Our country’s going into chaos.” Steven Dickson, One Nation QLD.

“Some really dangerous people” do show up last week, but not the people Dickson demonises as he makes his pitch to America’s National Rifle Association. The enemy is within. In an undercover sting, One Nation’s duplicity is exposed in utterly compromising footage of its attempt to woo the US gun lobby, even tap the billionaire Koch brothers, in a deluded bid to beg enough funds to buy a controlling share in our political system.

Cranking up Islamophobia, trashing Labor, betraying Australia, a well-oiled, trio of desperadoes, Queenslander Dickson, aspiring Senate candidate, Chief of Staff, James Ashby and leader Pauline Hanson, plot to relax our gun laws in return for a $20 million squirrel-grip on our democracy in How to Sell A Massacre, a two-part Al-Jazeera documentary, three years in the making, completed, in September last year, screened by the ABC this week.

Now, the party is campaigning to stop overseas political donations to organisations such as GetUp!, but consistency is one charge you could never level at One Nation nor its fickle Morrison government bed-mate.

In a boozy bull session, the boys are locked and loaded: a $10-20 million donation is a sure-fire way to win One Nation enough House of Reps and Senate seats to give it the balance of power. How? It’s a big picture thing. It fits mainstream media’s narrative: One Nation is back – even if it’s suffered a series of recent failures at the ballot box and in parliament and no matter that its proposals are mainly Trumpist, racist brain farts dressed up as policy.

Steve’s loyal side-kick Jim is played by James Ashby, a natural black ops conspirator whose creative skulduggery includes Hunt the Slipper, a botched plot to character-assassinate Peter Slipper, the black-robed former speaker of the house. Ashby even shirt-fronts Brian Burston after Pauline claims the former PHON senator hit on her in the Rooty Hill RSL. “Pauline’s been propositioning me for years”, replies Brian. A man’s not safe alone with his boss?

Each calls each other out on their alleged sexual harassment. Brian dobs in his former boss to the AFP and plans to sue Hanson for defamation, when all she was doing, she says, was trying to support “Lucky” Jim Ashby for trying to report “the sexual abuse and harassment that was going on with the female staff” in Senator Burston’s office.

His Burston biffo gets James suspended from his workplace, but will Pauline choose Rooty Hill to die on? Happily, ABC Four Corners eagerly screens, the Al Jazeera doco, providing an edifying, if not show-stopping, diversion.

Gold Logies all round for Al Jazeera’s Rodger Muller and his RM Williams Akubra Cattleman hat, in How to Sell a Massacre, co-starring One Nation’s knights errant Steve Dickson and James Ashby’s quest for funding with the help of their friends in the National Rifle Association, an outfit which guides them, almost flawlessly, to the fabulous Koch brothers’ pad. You can take the boy out of Buderim but you can’t take the Buderim out of the boy.

Even in the grainy, groggy, button-hole camera scenes, Dicko is shooting his mouth off. As he did on Safe Schools,

“We are having little kids in grade four at school, young girls being taught by teachers how to masturbate, how to strap on dildos, how to do this sort of stuff — that is the real problem in this country,” One Nation Queensland Senate candidate, Steve Dickson claims of the Queensland Safe Schools program in 2017.

Later, Dicko apologises for using the word “dildo”. He has never retracted the allegation which is based, he maintains, on information provided him by a parent. Anastasia Palaszczuk, Queensland Premier was forced to intervene. Point out that safe schools is not even taught in the classroom but support to teachers and families.

Pauline’s very quick to defend her crack crew. Fake documentary, she cries. Cut and paste job. “I’ve been dubbed and spliced.” And entrapment. This is quickly taken up by Peter Greste (of all people) amongst others and is in danger of having the intended effect of distracting from Hanson’s party of patriots’ betrayal of her nation.

Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Charley tells Guardian Australia that while they had “pushed the boundaries”, his conscience is clear and the public interest in the material justifies the methods used.

Lawyer Michael Bradley argues in Crikey that Al Jazeera’s sting is not only legally watertight it is ethically responsible – if not a necessary and inspiring example of the need for journalists to keep politicians accountable; democracy transparent.

“Entrapment is a sexy word, moreover, he adds, but in Australia, it has no legal meaning. The police routinely run sting operations to catch criminals and, even if they acted illegally, that doesn’t give the accused a defence.”

How to Sell a Massacre is an indictment of One Nation and of US gun lobbyists. But it also reveals an arms industry with its sights on our politics. Above all, it reminds us that the Howard government’s National 1996 Firearms Agreement was a step away from the US path we were following, but a step too far for any state to sign it -yet.

Beneath the Howard idolatry lies the reality, Gun Control Australia points out in its 2017 state by state audit, is that after 21 years Australia’s gun laws are unravelling and “in trouble”. But not fast enough for One Nation.

“We’re not even allowed to own guns in Australia for the self-protection of women”, wails Dickson, One Nation’s “Queensland leader” in a line straight out of the US National Rifle Association (NRA’s) playbook. Dickson’s a mine of nut-jobbery, but How to Sell a Massacre shows his own gun fetish has little to do with protecting women.

“They’re not even allowed to have mace.” Except in WA, Steve, although neo-fascist, “Final Solution”, Fraser Anning, hopes to fix that. One Nation’s one day wonder, whose nineteen personal votes meant he replaced crackpot Mal Roberts, Anning is now an independent. His role in parliament is to make One Nation look good.

Anning wants to expand the use of mace if he’s in politics long enough to live down his censure. Get elected. The former One Nation senator is quick to blame the victims in the Christchurch massacre in a cynical bid for publicity.

“As always, left-wing politicians and the media will rush to claim that the causes of today’s shootings lie with gun laws or those who hold nationalist views, but … the real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”

Hanson will not take part in a bipartisan move to censure Fraser Anning when Parliament returns. “It won’t prove anything,” she says. Nor will her abstaining prove anything, either, but it will suggest sympathy for Anning’s views.

It’s all about the money. Dickson declares. “We want to get funding. That is really the nuts and bolts because we can change everything in this country. We can make that happen. This is the thing I want to get through your head: if we can get $10 million we could fucking win a heap of seats plus a shitload of seats in the Senate.”

Naturally, One Nation cries foul. It’s how you’re caught – not what you’re plotting that matters. “Entrapment” Hanson howls, a call AFR’s Michael Stutchbury duly, outrageously, repeats on ABC The Insiders, Sunday.

Stutch blusters; shakes his head over a doco being “made by a foreign company using foreign funds”. Like CBS? CBS owns Channel Ten, whose recent episode of The Project helped the foreign company expose Scott Morrison’s 2010 Islamophobic proposal; the shameless PM’s patently transparent excuses are no match for Waleed Aly.

Undeterred, ScoMo offers a bad parody of Nelson Mandela, morphs into Morrison the multiculturalist, forever dedicated to bringing Islamic and Anglo Australia together with his hug-a-Muslim, hug-each-other, all you need is hugs manifesto. Hug-me, ScoMo 2.0, possibly an unconscious homage to the Red Octopus, the National Party’s women’s code for Barnaby Joyce and fails its first real test when Kiwi PM, Jacinda Ardern visibly cringes, Friday.

Luckily, the Australian Financial Review and other MSM are there to support One Nation’s crusade.

“Al Jazeera.” Stutchbury insists. Channels his inner anti-Muslim. “Made with Qatari money. Foreign interference in our political system.” What is he saying? You can’t trust an Arab nation? Foreign interference in Australian politics has bedevilled us for decades. It could be foreign CEO, Rupert Murdoch’s, News Corp’s motto.

Yet Stutchbury’s ill-considered comment gives Pauline Hanson’s disclaimer a boost it doesn’t warrant.

“When I first saw the initial hit piece and Steve Dickson’s comments I was disgusted. But having watched my own comments knowing how out of context they were betrayed to the Australian people, I knew he was stitched up,” Hanson says happily settling on her perennial theme that an adoring mainstream media really have it in for her.

Hit piece? Let’s not get carried away. Too Trumpish. Your party was exposed, Pauline. Actions speak. Your boys were sprung betraying their nation – and to the reckless endangerment of the Australian people. The 1996 National Firearms agreement is not perfect, but it is, at least, credited with helping halt mass shootings.

Professor Simon Chapman‘s 2016 study shows 13 mass fatal shootings in 18 years were followed by 22 years with no such incidents, with the probability of this being a chance occurrence calculated at 1:200,000 against.

“I acknowledge Steve, made some inappropriate comments, however, let’s not forget, he was set up.”

This risibly feeble defence which skates over Dickson’s racism and treason may work with rusted-on supporters, where reason and evidence mean little to Hanson’s Trump-like cult following, but being set up didn’t dictate Dickson’s behaviour. Nor can you possibly dismiss his rants as “some inappropriate comments”.

Dickson salivates over guns on camera. He almost humps a pump-action shotgun on show. He waxes priapic over his plan to use up to $20 million to get the seats his party would need to hold the balance of power in parliament – although it’s not clear how. One Nation is but a shooting star in our nation’s political constellation.

Trumpista Hanson, who toadies to the NRA in an embarrassing segment where she fancies herself as a Trump groupie – reminiscing, in her cups, about her party’s champagne toast to Trump’s election and how it represents the power of “ornery people” also tries to argue that it’s fake news.

“Dubbed” and “spliced” she shrieks again; accusing highly reputable veteran journalist, Peter Charley and his Al Jazeera team of wasting three years creating a patently flawed mockumentary. Dream on, Pauline.

What is remarkable is the authenticity of How to Sell a Massacre; how it faithfully preserves Pauline’s own patois, her idiosyncratic syntax and vocabulary. The scene of the well-lubricated, One Nation leader, disputing that one gunman could not be responsible for the Port Arthur Massacre to which Martin Bryant confessed to shooting and killing thirty-five innocent people is compelling Cinéma vérité.

It is also a dangerous myth, however much it may appeal to La Hanson, doyenne of conspiracy theorists, ratbag nutjobs and abusive, misogynistic, men with a grudge against the family court and justice in general.

Within hours, Hanson is forced back into denial. She just didn’t say what the camera shows her saying, (clearly, in a way that appears to show no hint of editing) that Bryant was not alone. The theory is seductive to conspiracists on social media. It is called upon by gun lobbyists and right wing nut jobs to bolster the pernicious and enduring myth that Port Arthur was engineered to deprive Australians of their God-given right to bear arms.

“An MP said it would actually take a massacre in Tasmania to change the gun laws in Australia,” Hanson tells Al Jazeera’s, undercover man. “Those shots, they were precision shots. Check the number out … a lot of questions there.” They weren’t. Bryant missed every terrified being he shot, at apart from those he shot at point-blank range.

Pauline is equally ill-informed on her grounds for legal appeal. Lawyer and writer, Michael Bradley observes in Crikey that even in Queensland, (where much of the local scenes seems to be shot) it’s not illegal to secretly record a conversation to which you’re a party, and it’s OK to publish it – if doing so is in the public interest. Recordings made overseas don’t trigger any Australian laws, so they’re in the clear. Unlike One Nation.

The timing couldn’t be worse. As Damien Murphy notes, ten days after the Christchurch massacre in which homegrown white supremacist, Brenton Tarrant killed fifty Muslim worshippers and wounded fifty others with an AR- 15, his chief weapon, One Nation’s James Ashby and Steven Dickson appear on national television offering to help water down our laws restricting the same semi-automatic weapons, in return for $10-20 million in funding.

Peter Charley’s documentary reveals a lot more as our intrepid brothers in arms, Ashby and Dickson get into a bonding session with US National Rifle Association (NRA) personnel. We get the NRA playbook for (not) responding to a massacre. It’s a chilling reminder that this is a group no-one needs in their politics.

How should you respond to a deadly mass shooting if you are a gun rights advocate?

First, “Say nothing.” If media queries persist, go on the “offence, offence, offence”. Smear gun-control groups.

“Shame them” with statements such as – “How dare you stand on the graves of those children to put forward your political agenda?”

It’s clear that both Ashby and Dickson are already converts to the cult of gun violence. They lust over gun-shops and are wowed by tactical advice from NRA strategists – “you have to weaken gun laws one slice at a time.”

And it’s personal, Steve confesses that to hand in his guns after Port Arthur was “hell on earth” for him.

One Nation’s former Campbell Newman government Minister, member for Buderim and rabid anti-Muslim fabulist, Steve Dickson defected from the LNP in September 2017, (entirely of his own accord, Pauline Hanson wants us to know), to become a big fish in a small pond; One Nation’s Queensland leader and a federal senate candidate in May. Given his cameo monologue where he waxes lyrical about his fantasy to be a drug-lord who’ll “shoot everything up and down the water, with a machine gun”, he may or may not have blown his chances.

Or blown up One Nation. Australia’s Muslim Threat is just one paranoid delusion traded by Dickson bigging up himself to the US National Rifle Association (NRA) captured, along with buckets of alcoholic braggadocio, on button-cam by Rodger Muller, in Al Jazeera’s documentary-sting, “How to Sell a Massacre”.

Jim and Steve get on the ‘ski, schmooze the NRA and plot to strong-arm our political system. Put a nine millimetre to the back of its neck. Visit Koch HQ. It’s boys’ own adventure-Walter Mitty type stuff – if it weren’t so dangerous. Not only are the pair prepared to trade our gun laws for their own gain, they are happy to subvert our democracy by being willing accomplices in the gun lobby’s plan to back minority parties as a means to infiltrate our politics.

This is already happening, of course, given Bob Katter’s son-in-law Robert Nioa’s vast arms empire which makes him Australia’s largest supplier of weapons and munitions to defence and civilian buyers. Rob’s also supplying the New Zealand Police with 70,000 Glock pistols and providing their military with a handy grenade launcher. But he’s still a big police supplier, this side of the Tasman. Seventy per cent of Victoria Police’s ammo is bought from Rob.

Nioa got his big break from John Howard whose 1996 gun buy-back scheme helped the Queensland gun-dealer amass over $1 million, tax-free, which became his capital to invest in a market Howard had helped make less competitive; sending rivals out of business.

Labor alleged at the time Nioa’s stock was overvalued but did not pursue this.

$1.7 million was donated to Australian political parties from the gun lobby since 2011, just from publicly disclosed donations says The Australia Institute’s (TAI) research. Major beneficiaries of gun lobby donations include Katter’s Australian Party, with a tidy $800,000 – plus, and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, which received nearly $700,000.

It seemed to work for Katter, reports TAI. “At the last Queensland state election, Katter’s party increased its seats from two to three. The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party won three lower house seats in last weekend’s NSW election, up from one. The final count will determine if they increase their seats in the upper house, too.”

Major donors, apart from firearms supplier and manufacturer NIOA, include the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia and the Federation of Hunting Clubs.

Thanks, indirectly to Howard, our politics is now awash with gun money which funds campaign such as the recent “Not Happy Dan” campaign in Victoria and the 2017 Flick ‘Em campaign in Queensland. Neither has been hugely successful but they are insidious given that the gun lobby prefers to finance campaigns above parties or candidates. The tactic is straight from the NRA playbook. So too is the amount spent by the gun lobby.

The Australia Institute calculates that now the gun lobby in Australia spends as much per capita as the NRA.

Yet Australia does not need any gun money in its politics. Foreign funding is also likely to corrupt our democracy. It’s time we acted to remove the gun lobby from its unfettered access to MPs, parties and time we made it illegal for the merchants of death to invest in any political party. The Al Jazeera team should be commended on highlighting the issue as much as for their service in exposing One Nation’s dangerous delusions of grandeur.

 

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17 comments

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  1. Phil.

    Great read, full of information I didn’t know.

    Only one flaw in the argument. They have only shot themselves in the foot from the perspective of we normally adjusted boring voters, who can work out the modus operandi of One Neuron ourselves.

    A cursory study of Facebook and a few other social media platforms, reveals the gibbering idiots that support this mob of ‘ Babbling Baboons ‘ masquerading as a political party, think this has all been a set up and has all the intrigue of the Kennedy assassination. Their number of supporters has gone up. I may be corrected. We as a society have well and truly lost the plot.

  2. Kerri

    Truly wish this was one occasion where Mr. Greste had stated “no comment”. No fuel is ever needed for this fire.
    When Pauline finally became recognisable after her run in with the tick
    I commented to hubby the reason for her absence in the media
    His response was “How’s the tick?”

  3. Mel Bone-Manser

    I really found the article started to ramble like a Hanson pine-lime ‘dub and splice’. Also found the change in spelling of ‘Dickson’ to ‘Dixon’ a tad irritating and prevented me from reading to the end.

  4. Aortic

    Have said it before many times and will repeat here. It is beyond time for public funding of all elections. Truman said nobody gives you money and expects nothing in return. The more you pitch in the greater voice you expect to have to the obvious detriment of good public policy. Ghina and Rupert being among the most glaring examples. Not holding my breath for any change though. Great insightful article David, well done and thank you for the contribution you make to the real news.

  5. Patagonian

    That face! The stuff of nightmares! Looks like a badly made Chucky Doll.

  6. Patagonian

    Hmmmm…$10-20 million…wasn’t that what SeeNoDonors had his eye on in the Sydney Water deal taht he can’t recall? A popular set of numbers and no mistaking.

    And as for Sutchbury – has he got on PoorLeaner’s list of ‘good’ journalists yet?

  7. Kaye Lee

    In one particularly tawdry scene from the documentary, a woman says to Dickson “I’ve even got gun porn on my phone”. Dickson excitedly replied “Me too” as they showed each other their phones like naughty kids behind the toilet block.

    It took about 2 minutes for the woman from Koch Industries to work out that Ashby and Dickson were nobodies. They were WAY out of their league. Not surprising that they couldn’t even get the gun lobby to support them. They came across as dumb yokels.

  8. New England Cocky

    Excellent piece David about an excellent sting by a team of professional investigative journalists.

    I lost a friend at Port Arthur, heard the first ABC Radio report of the incident, have read the Martin Pitt analysis of the event, noted the political decision to NOT hold an inquest and the disclosure that the rifle used had been handed in to Victorian Police at a Victorian gun amnesty to later be used lethally at that Tasmanian location. There are many questions presently unanswered about the actions on the day itself that are addressed by Pitt, a serving Australian Army armourer with 30 years service, so no amateur with weapons. Similarly the refusal to hold an inquest may just be protecting the persons responsible for providing access to the rifle.

    As for the James Ashby Only Nutters Parody it is up to Australian voters to remove them from all levels of Australian politics by marking Poorlean’s candidate last in every election. That is how the Liarbrals removed the Democrats.

    The underlying problem remains political and about the the quantum of political donations, the source, both local and foreign plus the desperate need for immediate public disclosure of the corporation and natural person making the donation on a suitable Election Commission public access website.

    VOTE ALL CANDIDATES FOR ONE NATION LAST AT THE 2019 FEDERAL ELECTION & FORM A BETTER GOVERNMENT

  9. David Tyler

    Sorry, Mel – have fixed the irritating typo.

  10. David Tyler

    “While there is no evidence the NRA is donating money to any political party in this country, Australia’s gun lobby is importing the NRA’s tactics and strategies.

    SIFA donated to political parties before the 2016 federal election, and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on political advertising at the Queensland and Victorian state elections.

    These campaigns and donations were remarkable for their size, especially given they came from a gun body that most Australians have not heard of. We calculate that, relative to population, in recent years SIFA has spent as much on political donations and election campaigns in Australia as the NRA has spent in the US.

    SIFA also followed the NRA strategy of running political ads that do not mention guns. NRA ads capitalise on popular grievances such as the Internal Revenue Service and media “elites”, while SIFA’s ads target hot-button political issues such as the price of electricity and the availability of skilled workers.”

    Report from The Australia Institute
    http://www.tai.org.au/content/australias-gun-lobby-and-its-political-donations-laid-bare

  11. Kaye Lee

    You speak about Katter and his gun-selling son-in-law….

    Remember Katter’s campaign video for the 2016 election? He appears to shoot 2 people dead. It was released just after the Orlando massacre. He responded to the criticism by saying he didn’t know about the Orlando shooting because he doesn’t read newspapers and “Can’t we just have a laugh anymore?”

    Mad as a Katter

  12. Adrianne Haddow

    Great piece, David.

    New information for me about Katter’s son-in-law. I knew he was a gun importer but not the extent or the fact that he sells to the police forces of Australia and New Zealand.

    There seem to be many in the MSM willing to argue for PHON’s unfair treatment at the hands of the “islamic-funded” press.
    Let’s hope the cry of entrapment doesn’t take the focus of this report away from the actual collusion of these despicable hypocrites.

  13. David Tyler

    Kaye Lee: An opponent of the tougher gun control laws introduced in the wake of the 1996 massacre in Port Arthur, Tasmania, Katter was accused in 2001 of signing a petition promoted by the Citizens Electoral Council (CEC), an organisation that claims the Port Arthur massacre was a conspiracy.

    25 October 2017, Katter spoke in Parliament strongly opposing the Criminal Code Amendment (Firearms Trafficking) Bill 2017 which will enforce a five year minimum mandatory sentence for firearms offences.

  14. Alcibiades

    One Notion Pauline Hanson’s personal comments in private in the AJ footage promoting the specifics of the conspiracy theorists, stands in stark contrast to the views publicly expressed by One Notion.

    In 2001, nearly five years after Martin Bryant pleaded guilty to shooting 35 people dead in the Tasmanian town, Hanson told the ABC “we do not support any conspiracy theories regarding Port Arthur or Martin Bryant, we do believe that he has been convicted of this and he’s been charged over it, and that he is guilty of the offence and the crime committed at Port Arthur.”

    The same day, One Nation’s Tasmanian leader Peter Stokes took pains to distance the party from conspiracy theories.

    Discussing the incorrect theories that Bryant had an accomplice, or that the shooting was a government ploy to ease the passage of Australia’s sweeping gun law reform, Stokes told the ABC “One Nation’s position is we don’t hold with that theory at all.

    And we certainly will distance ourselves from that statement.”

    Pedestrian TV

    Which should be given greater weight & credence ? Personal views expressed in private in confidence ? Or prepared remarks for public release ? I’m goin’ with the former.

  15. Kronomex

    Aaagghh! That photo is horrifying.

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