Politics

Even The Government Doesn’t Know Why It Supported Pauline Hanson’s “Okay To Be White” Motion

Mathias Cormann blamed an "administrative failure".

Yesterday afternoon in the Senate, our government did something extremely baffling: it voted in favour of Pauline Hanson’s motion claiming there’s been a rise in “anti-white racism” in Australia. And if you’re wondering why the government sided with Pauline Hanson on such a ridiculous motion, you’re not alone — the government doesn’t seem to know either.

This morning at a press conference, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was “regrettable” that his government had voted in favour of the motion, and said Mathias Cormann, the leader of the government in the Senate, would be explaining everything real soon.

And what was Cormann’s explanation? Well, he said that “the government should have opposed the motion”, but accidentally did due to “an administrative process failure”.

This is not a joke. Specifically, Cormann told press this morning that “when the motion was first put forward in September, we made a decision to oppose that motion and to make a statement in our own words that as a government we deplore racism of any kind, but not to actually support the motion”.

“Yesterday, as a result of an administrative process failure, the government senators in the Chamber ended up on advice voting in support of the motion. As leader of the government in the Senate, I take responsibility for that error and I’m sorry that that happened. It is indeed regrettable”.

Sorry Cormann, But What The Fuck Is An “Administrative Process Failure”?

Basically, what Cormann seems to be saying is that government MPs do not actually listen to the motions being read out in Parliament, and instead just vote for whatever the leaders tell them to do.

See, before the vote on Hanson’s motion, a few things happened that would have given any thinking human an opportunity to not accidentally vote for it. The text of the motion was available for anyone to read. It was read out in Parliament. Pauline Hanson gave a one-minute speech explaining her bullshit, or trying to. Derryn Hinch and Richard di Natale also gave one-minute speeches explaining why Pauline Hanson is utterly cooked. The motion then went to an initial vote, but it was too close to call, so a set of bells alerting people to get ready for another vote were rung for four minutes. At any point during this time, members of the government who were paying attention could have chosen to not side with Hanson.

Basically, as a sceptical reporter asked Cormann this morning, “isn’t it just a matter of literacy?”. Cormann’s answer was that “well, it is a matter of administrative error, there is a process involved. There are 50 or 60 motions that get moved this way every week. There is a process involved in determining the position of the government in relation to 50 to 60 motions a week.”

In essence, he’s saying that the members of the government aren’t actually listening to the motions and thinking about them with, y’know, their brains. They’re just waiting for the signal on which way to vote, and in cases like this where the signal supposedly misfires, racism happens. Cool.

Anyway, Cormann said he’s embarrassed and sorry about the whole thing, and that to “make it very clear, we did not support the form of words that were chosen in that motion. We deplore racism of any kind. We should have opposed the motion when it came up yesterday”. I wonder if maybe the government’s support for, say, offshore detention was also an administrative error, or if that one was just actual racism.

Anyway, we’ve either got a government full of people who don’t use their brains, or a government full of people who think that blaming an “administrative failure” is genuinely a passable excuse for making an incredibly bad call. After all, a few of the government ministers who voted for the motion then tweeted to justify their actions (though some have since deleted those tweets). Was that an administrative failure too?