The plague is spreading!


Who will be the next prime minister of Australia? Fraser Anning or Bob Katter? Anning made an open call to Australian racists, and as we Americans can tell you, that’s politically potent.

Fraser Anning, from the conservative Katter’s Australian Party, called for migration bans on Muslims and others in his maiden Senate speech on Tuesday.

Political opponents denounced his speech as “disgraceful”. Mr Anning said he did not need to apologise.

“Final solution” was a term infamously used by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

In his speech, Mr Anning said “the final solution to the immigration problem is a popular vote”.

On Wednesday, lawmakers across the political divide moved to pass parliamentary motions censuring Mr Anning for his “racist hate speech”, noting in particular his use of the phrase “final solution”, and his “false, misleading and hurtful statements” about Muslim Australians and other immigrant groups.

The Australians, I’m sure, are torn between indignation and amusement that these two flaming nutters and their party have even a remote chance of taking over the government, but we were laughing at Trump ten years ago, too.

The disease is spreading. I know the racism has been there all along, but the plague in this case is that so many awful people now feel emboldened to preach it openly.

Comments

  1. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    At least our election system isn’t so prone to the kind of problems you had. No first past the post, everyone has to vote. Elections held on same day and administered independently

  2. says

    Ariaflame, the electoral system in Australia is exactly why someone like Fraser Anning is a senator despite receiving only 19 votes (including his own and presumably his wife’s) at the last election.

  3. F.O. says

    Australia is a massively racist country built on the blood of the aboriginals, putting refugees in off-shore concentration camps where journalists can’t enter, and large swaths of the population in utter denial about it.
    It is one of the least compassionate places I’ve ever lived and Anning fits right there.
    Yes the electoral system is still better than in the US.

  4. Matrim says

    Are those the front runners for the position or are there other more likely possibilities? Because they’re both wackos as far as I can tell.

  5. bachfiend says

    Australians aren’t generalised racists. They’re serial racists, demonising whatever group is currently migrating to Australia. In the late 19th century, it was the Chinese. Then it was the Japanese (and Britain’s naval alliance with Japan in 1902 caused a lot of problems for Australian politicians with their White Australia policy). More recently, it’s been Italians, Greeks and Vietnamese. Currently, it’s Muslims. And black Africans.

    Eventually, each group becomes accepted, and the racism moves onto another group.

    If there’s an intractable racist group it’s in the elderly white male population, which fortunately doesn’t have much of a forum for expressing their noxious opinions, besides the Murdoch press (which is dying along with the rest of printed newspapers). Australia doesn’t have anything toxic like Fox News.

  6. nomdeplume says

    Theor party won’t ‘take over’ the country – Australia is essentially a two party country like America. But there are a number of these fringe groups who can pick up a seat or two in parliament as a result of electoral quirks and pockeys of right wing voters. The danger is that their extremism has been pulling political discourse further and further to the right (another factor being the Murdoch media). Things are now routinely said that would have been unthinkable 30 years ago. As usual we are following America’s lead about 10 years behind, although that gap is rapidly shortening.

  7. Roj Blake says

    bachfiend, Is 66 elderly in your view? Because that’s my age and I don’t fit your stereotype.

    When even Pauline Hanson criticises you, you know you have crossed a line.

    Are there racists in Australia? Of course there are, there is no country free of the scourge. However, the presence of racists in any community is less important than the way the community as a whole deals with the problem. Rabblerousers like Dutton and Abbott are trying to demonise “African gangs”, but they are getting little traction. Leaders of the South Sudanese community are appearing in the media and presenting their case very well.

    Have we done everything as well as we could have? No, but as you say, eventually each group is accepted as a part of “Us”, with the us becoming a larger tent each time. The Governor of South Australia is a Vietnamese refugee who arrived by boat. The current leader of the State Opposition is the grandson of Lithuanian refugees.

    We have moved on from the days of Robert “British to the bootstraps” Menzies and Calwell’s “Two wogs don’t make a white” to a more inclusive and welcoming nation, to our everlasting benefit. Sure, there are occasional lurches the wrong way, but we generally settle our racial differences without violence.

  8. says

    There has never been a shortage of public speaking racists in Australia, just that with the advent of modern media more people see it and can call it out. Twenty years ago stuff like this barely raised any ripples because hardly anyone listened to parliamentarians. Now everyone can see and hear them.

  9. bargearse says

    Matrim @4

    No they’re not frontrunners, The way Prime Ministers are chosen means they’re not even in the running and are never likely to be (both in the wrong party and in one case in the wrong house of parliament). The issue is each time one of these guys says something like this it creates a tiny bit of space for our mainstream conservative parties, the Liberals & Nationals, to move a bit further to the right. It happened twenty years ago when Pauline Hanson made her maiden speech and gave John Howard the leeway he always wanted to move to the right and the Overton window is moving again. Fraser Anning hasn’t said anything that former PM Tony Abbott and current Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton wouldn’t say if they could get away with it.

  10. Alt-X says

    Queensland. Church on every corner, brainwashed for the past 200 years into believing white people are literally the center of the universe. This is the mindset you get and why all the crazies are from QLD.

    Sky News is toxic. Commercial TV spews the same lies (all owned by the same pack of wankers). ABC drifted over to the right to appease the conservative government. Saw a “debate” on ABC the other day about Trans issues… they had an American preacher man, a conservative xtian politician and a JBP fanboy. Yeah… it’s like discussing the holocaust and having a Nazi and a Conspiracy nutter on the panel… “all views are equal!” BS.

  11. chrislawson says

    Roj@8–

    As a fellow Australian, I’d love to agree with you but I can’t. While we’re not as bad as the worst parts of the US that’s not much comfort. We still have a vast well of racism to draw from. And I don’t know why you think the current attempt to smear Sudanese immigrants is getting “little traction” when commercial TV news services are running nearly a scare story a week about “African gangs overrunning our suburbs.”

    If the racism in Australia really was a fringe belief rather than normative, One Nation would be getting <1% of the vote instead of its usual 10-15%, we wouldn’t have our current off-shore refugee gulag system (supported by both major parties), Peter Dutton would not be a minister in any capacity, Andrew Bolt would be an unemployed alt-right blogger, synagogues would not need armed security, Nicky Winmar would never have lifted his jumper…and so on.

    What PZ has said is right: there is racism here (as there is everywhere), but recently it has been enabled to the point where a newly elected senator can openly call for a “final solution” to the Muslim problem without fearing that it will cost him politically. And apart from verbal condemnation and losing one advisor who resigned after hearing the speech, Anning is right. His political position has probably been strengthened by this speech. After all, he was not even censured by the President of the Senate, who is responsible for making sure the Senate follows standing orders — and Anning very clearly violated order 9.1 (that free speech in the Senate should be used responsibly and with regard to potential harm to others).

  12. says

    Ariaflame, I realise it’s not your fault specifically, but it is a distressingly common view that rears its head whenever a horrible Senator gets elected on a miniscule first preference vote by virtue of starting well down the ballot paper. Yes, Anning only received 19 first preference votes; not so long ago it was people complaining about his predecessor. Treating below the line votes as the be all and end all is a fundamental misunderstanding of how Senate elections work.
    The first preference votes for any candidate in a Senate election – the below the line votes – are usually irrelevant when the outcome is more often than not determined by the vast majority of voters who choose above the line votes. In 2016 Pauline Hanson’s group eventually received enough votes to elect both her and her second candidate, who likewise received a miserable quantity of first preference votes – that was Malcolm Roberts (who had 77 first preferences). When Roberts was ruled ineligible by the Court of Disputed Returns, the recount effectively moved Anning up into Roberts’ place and it was no surprise that he was elected in turn. Even Pauline Hanson’s below the line votes (20,927 votes = 0.0999 quotas) are a small fraction of the group ticket votes (229,056 = 1.0935 quotas).
    If you really want a system where there are meaningful quantities of first preference votes for Senate candidates you would have to alter the Commonwealth Electoral Act to achieve it; you would probably need to do away with above the line voting (which by the way, is simply not going to happen, as it is was designed to be to easier for voters than casting a vote below the line), and possibly introduce some of the Hare-Clark style ticket voting methods used in Tasmania lower house elections.
    Tasmania uses two methods to alter the order of candidates’ names on the ballot paper: the Robson rotation (each candidate in a group gets an equal proportion of ballot papers where their name appears in first position); and the Hawkey flip (Donkey-style voting down the paper has equal chance of favouring the candidate ‘above’ you as well as the candidate ‘below’ you). Tasmania is also the only state to have recently bucked the trend of the last thirty-five years since above the line voting was introduced (mainly to reduce a huge rate of informal votes, which were more difficult to avoid with increasing numbers of candidates). In 2016 Tasmania elected a candidate directly from below the line first preference votes – Lisa Singh, who had been given an unwinnable position on her party’s ticket in the double dissolution, received nearly 80% of a full quota on her first preferences.

  13. chrislawson says

    Xanthë@13–

    Yes, thanks for this summary. We like to pull up this argument that an awful senator only got x votes to make ourselves feel better about the country we live in. But they didn’t really get in on a personal vote. They got in on a party vote. Anning was elevated to the Senate on the One Nation ticket (~250,000 votes in Qld, making it 9.2% of the state’s vote and giving the party 2 seats). The fact that he only got a handful of votes for himself personally is not relevant to his standing with the electorate at large.

    The only defence you can bring up for the voting bloc that got him elected is that they can’t have known what they were getting. Anning was very much a little-mentioned third candidate for a party that was just able to scrounge enough vote for 2 senators fro the state. He was never expected to win a seat. When One Nation’s #2 person Malcolm Roberts was found to be ineligible, the party vote was pushed down the ballot to Anning. And then Anning defected from One Nation because it wasn’t right-wing and bigoted enough for him.

    (Which is a flaw in our electoral system. At least in the House of Reps, voters are directly electing a person, so if that person defects as Steve Dickson did when he left the Libs for One Nation, his voters might be angry at him for switching parties but at least he can note that they voted for him and he should be allowed to change if he finds his party no longer reflects the values he represents. Which I largely agree with in principle, even if many cases of party defection are transparently about career gain rather than values. But in Anning’s case, he was only elected on the party’s direct vote not his personal vote, so it seems to me that in such a situation the seat should belong to the party not the person and if you leave the party, you have to hand in your seat as well. That would certainly be a test of principled defection.)

    Anyway, as I was saying, the best defence for Anning’s voters is that he was an unknown quantity. But it’s not much of a defence, is it? He was running on a One Nation ticket, which has a very long track record of racist, bigoted and down-right dysfunctional behaviour, and the person he displaced was Malcolm Roberts, who was most definitely not an unknown quantity — he has made numerous inflammatory public statements, he is a diamond-encrusted climate change denialist, virulently anti-same-sex marriage, and the list goes on. Most of his rantings were so extreme they were covered in the news internationally. So voters may not have known much about Anning, but they certainly knew what Malcolm Roberts and One Nation stood for.

  14. bargearse says

    chrislawson @14

    Anyway, as I was saying, the best defence for Anning’s voters is that he was an unknown quantity. But it’s not much of a defence, is it?

    As you say it’s not much of a defence but I still think you’re being too charitable. One Nation voters might not have known what they were getting with Anning but they certainly ended up getting what they wanted.

  15. chrislawson says

    bargearse@14–

    Agreed. That was kind of my point. We can’t hide behind his personal 19 votes and ignore the way our senate voting system works to pretend there aren’t a lot of Australians who like what he stands for.

  16. says

    First an apology: I realised that my comment quoted Ariaflame as having started the ‘X only got a miniscule y votes’ argument, but it was actually Adrian Luca’s comment #2 I was actually addressing. Sorry sorry sorry! In my own defence I claim it was morning here and I obviously am still in a bit of a muddle today.

    Second, my comment should not be interpreted as a ‘defence’ of Anning, who doesn’t need any such treatment from me. He was elected almost entirely on group votes for a party where they thought they would be getting more of the same (i.e. senators like Pauline Hanson, by now a known quantity in Australian politics). However, any previously unelected MP will always be a somewhat unknown quantity in terms of what they actually do once they get into parliament. Any voter who had been diligent enough to look at the history of Hanson’s parties before the 2016 election ought to have known that having had senators elected in the past there would be no guarantee that (a) they would be eligible to be elected – Heather Hill, declared ineligible to be a Senator in 1999; or (b) that once in Parliament they would remain with One Nation – after winning 11 seats in the Queensland state parliament in 1998, six One Nation MPs split to form a different party in 1999. Of Hanson’s 2016 senators, Culleton (WA) and Roberts (Qld) being ineligible were replaced by Georgiou (still with One Nation) and Anning (sat as an Independent before joining Katter’s Australia Party); as for Burston (NSW) he eventually defected to Palmer’s renamed United Australia Party. As is often said: caveat emptor.

  17. says

    Fraser Anning was elected to the Senate with just 19 votes. Our bizarre preferential voting system and preference swaps with equally bigoted minor parties saw him get elected. He came in as a member of the One Nation Party otherwise known as Ein Reich for its leaders extremist views and promptly defected to the Krappy Katter Krazies run by a bighat, (sorry, bigot) from Australia’s deep North. Yes they do like Confederate flags and guns up there. There is a joke about Queenslanders: Their beer is called XXXX because they can’t spell beer (sadly it doesn’t work like America’s XXXX and stop them breeding). In far North Queensland their beer is called XXX because they can’t count either.

  18. bargearse says

    Garydargan@ 19

    Honesty compels me to admit you’re only being a bit hyperbolic about Queenslanders but parochialism requires me to hate you for saying it.

  19. rjw1 says

    F.O @3

    “Drive bys” are easy.

    What ‘massively’ un-racist country do you come from, Japan, South Korea, India some nation in Europe perhaps or the US? Or from the country of champion hypocritical finger pointers, NZ?

  20. chrislawson says

    Xanthë@18–
    I don’t think anyone considered your comment a defence of Anning. Also, as you say, I’m amazed that anyone votes One Nation anymore even if they agree with their noxious policies simply because ON is such a dysfunctional group of jackasses that you can be pretty sure it won’t get through to the next election without a flurry of defections, disintegrations, financial investigations, and incoherent, often contradictory public slanging matches among themselves.

    garydargan@19–
    Please read comments further up the thread. As has been pointed out, his 19 personal votes is a meaningless measure of the size of his electoral support. He got in on the One Nation ticket, around 250,000 votes in Queensland and nearly 600,000 nationally in the 2016 Australian Senate vote. Which made One Nation the fourth biggest ticket in the Senate. And that’s why Anning won a senate seat ahead of anyone from the Australian Sex Party/Marijuana (HEMP) Party which won ~200,000 votes nationally (the highest-voted party to miss out on a seat).

    rjw1@21–
    Nice to see you followup your observation on drive-bys with one of your own.

  21. bachfiend says

    Roj Blake (comment #7),

    Yes, I regard 66 as elderly. I also fall in the demographic of elderly white males. Agreed – not everyone in that demographic are racist, but it’s one that is relatively privileged and also protesting about losing power and influence.

    I almost live in Anne Aly’s seat (a practising Muslim) in the federal parliament until the last redistribution when most of the suburb I live in was transferred to that idiot Ian Goodenough’s seat. But I donated $200 to her campaign to unseat the previous Liberal MHR, which made me very happy.

  22. blf says

    Of course Ozland isn’t racist ! It holds asylum-seekers in concentration camps located in other countries (Nauru and Manus Island) for years and years at a time, especially if they happen to be brown, Muslim, or not-wealthy. Get sick there? Die there. We’re not going to fly you to Australia for treatment. (The courts have had to intervene several times.)

    Australia says hundreds likely to languish in Pacific camps (May-2018):

    Hundreds of asylum-seekers held in Australian-run detention centers in the Pacific are likely to remain there indefinitely as no other country is willing to resettle them, Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said […]. [I tend to refer to Dutton as the nazi-in-“government” –blf]

    Australia’s hardline immigration policy requires asylum seekers intercepted at sea trying to reach Australia to be sent for processing to three camps in Papua New Guinea and one on the South Pacific island of Nauru.

    They are told they will never be settled in Australia.

    As of March 31, there were 1,305 people in the camps, from various countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan and Iran.

    […]

    No, not a racist country at all, no, no, no…

    So what happened to the 1988 promise to sign a treaty with Aboriginals (as memorialised in Yothu Yindi’s Treaty (video)) ? Ozland is the only British former colony(? Commonwealth member?) not to have signed a treaty with at least some of indigenous peoples. No, no, not a racist country at all…

  23. says

    In brief, neither of those two is likely to get anywhere near the levers of power: they’re from a tiny party that is actually named for Katter and established by him.

    Much more worrying is that the actual Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has been engaging in racist dogwhistling in recent weeks, along with several other members of his government.

    There is a racist core in Australia, and obviously politicians think it’s big enough to be worth courting.

    A lot of it is that we have been badly led by both major parties in relation to refugees and immigration for the past couple of decades.

    I don’t want to, as a number of my fellow Aussies seem to have done above, want to say ‘America has it worse as though that excuses us.

    At the same time, ‘this government is such a shambles’ applies pretty well in Australia, the US and the UK at the moment. There seems to be a global wind…

    My optimistic hope is that it’s just the death throes of white privilege playing themselves out in the wake of the GFC, and that in the end our better natures will win out.

    Yeah, call me ‘Pollyanna’.

  24. blf says

    Some of the latest from Ozland’s concentration camp on Naru, Nauru hunger strike: 12-year-old boy at imminent risk of dying:

    […]
    A 12-year-old refugee boy on hunger strike on Nauru for more than a fortnight is at imminent risk of dying, medical staff on the island say, but efforts to move him to hospital care in Australia have foundered.

    He is one of several critical child cases on the island — including a 14-year-old boy with muscle wastage so severe he may never walk normally again, and a two-year-old child whose parents are too unwell to care for him.

    Staff on the island report a looming crisis in children’s health […]

    “Everyone on the island knows how serious this is. We have been saying for months a child is going to die in these circumstances,” an on-island official with knowledge of the medical situation told the Guardian. “A child is going to die. Every day we get closer. It’s never been so critical.”

    The 12-year-old boy has been held on Nauru with his mother, father and sister for nearly five years. The family, from Iran, have been recognised as refugees but were recently rejected for resettlement in the US. Almost all Iranian refugees have been rejected by America.

    The boy has refused food and fluids for between eight and 15 days, medical sources on the island say. He is being sedated so he can be given fluids intravenously to keep him alive.

    “The situation is critical. They know about this in Canberra but nothing is happening,” another source on the island said.

    There are several critical children’s health cases on the island currently.

    […]

    There are currently about 130 children held on Nauru, and all but a handful have been recognised as refugees.

    […]

    Since December, at least 14 legal challenges have been brought before the federal court seeking immediate orders that children be moved from Nauru to a place where higher-level care is available, almost invariably Australia.

    Each challenge has been opposed by the government but each has been successful: every case has either been conceded by the government at the courthouse door, or resulted in an order from the bench that children be moved immediately.

    […]

    There is an upcoming Pacific Islands Forum meeting on Naru. The article notes Ozland is engaging in severe media censorship:

    There are concerns the welfare of asylum seekers and refugees on the island — most particularly the mental health of children — will be exposed by reporters from across the region allowed rare access to the usually off-limits island.

    Media on the island have been limited for the forum — ostensibly for but also out of concern the welfare of refugees and asylum seekers will be investigated by journalists, or the forum will be overshadowed by large-scale protests on the small island.

    The Guardian’s application to attend the Pacific Islands Forum was rejected. The ABC [Ozland Broadcasting Corp, vaguely similar to the BBC –blf] was also publicly told it would not be allowed on the island because of its lack of respect.

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