Culture

Pauline Hanson Ripped Into Immigrants, Muslims And Women In Her Completely Bizarre First Speech

The Greens walked out of the speech in protest at Hanson's "racism".

“I’ll be back,” warned Pauline Hanson in 1998, just before she was booted out of Parliament, like some sort of right-wing version of the Terminator programmed to destroy the concept of social harmony instead of John Connor.

And she was right. Hanson is back in parliament with a six year senate term and this afternoon she got to deliver her first parliamentary speech in nearly a decade. The speech canvassed a range of classic Hanson topics  including race, religion and good old fashioned ‘dole bludging’. At one point the Greens actually staged a parliamentary walkout, accusing Hanson of “racism”.

In her speech Hanson rattled off a series of incoherent and at times contradictory policy ideas on everything from immigration, reform of the Family Courts, the development of a national identity card and welfare reform. She kicked off by referencing her infamous comments in 1996 that Australia was in danger of “being swamped by Asians”, by claiming that the country was now in danger of “being swamped by Muslims”.

The fact that Hanson is anti-Muslim isn’t a surprise. It was a key part of her successful election campaign. But today Hanson went even further, listing a number of specific policies that targeted Muslims in Australia. In addition to a ban on Muslim migration (She didn’t spell out how it would actually work), Hanson called for a ban on the burqa and a restriction on the construction of any new mosques and Islamic schools. She also called for existing mosques to be monitored by the government.

Later on in her speech Hanson seemed to call for a wholesale ban on all migration to Australia. A complete “halt” on immigration is a much further demand than anything Hanson has ever said before and makes a specific Muslim ban seem pretty unnecessary, but I guess we shouldn’t be surprised the speech didn’t really make sense.

After laying into Muslims for the first half of her speech, Hanson moved on to attacking the concept of ethnic diversity more generally (It’s “seen our country decline” apparently). From there it was a quick, casual jump over into the territory of women apparently rorting the Family Court system to bleed men dry. Yes, Hanson went full men’s rights activist.

She accused women of making “Frivolous claims in courts” in order to win custody battles. She also called for the government to suspend welfare to parents who had more than one child. Otherwise known as Pauline Hanson’s One Child Policy. You know who else had a one child policy? The government of China, decried by Hanson in today’s speech as a “Repressive communist regime”.

In addition to the predictable rehashing of lazy racist attitudes and general offensiveness, Hanson did give an insight into why she’s able to attract votes from Australians feeling economically disenfranchised. She talked about the housing affordability crisis across the country, high unemployment levels in some areas and the government’s tendency to support trade deals that have led to the decline of Australia’s manufacturing sector.

Despite all the fieriness in her speech, Hanson’s delivery was pretty bloody poor. It was another reminder that despite being a well-seasoned media performer she’s actually not a very compelling communicator. At times it felt like it was the first time she’d ever read the speech. The silver lining out of tonight’s senate dumpster fire is that it was a reminder of Hanson’s weaknesses. Her ‘arguments’ can be easily exposed as misleading, if not outright factually incorrect, and she doesn’t even sound confident rattling off her checklist of offensive attacks.

Over the next six years the responsibility is going to be on progressive politicians to expose the hollowness of her arguments and convince the public that her response to Australia’s social and economic issues is the wrong one.