There appears to be only one consistent truth in Australian politics that you can absolutely count on no matter what else is going on: whenever One Nation rises, it will instantly and catastrophically fall on its own sword and implode without anyone else really doing anything.
Last night we saw a classic Pauline Hanson moment at the absolute peak of a One Nation meltdown: she was unable to stop herself from crying on Sky News while being questioned on news that her relationship with fellow senator Brian Burston had broken down to the point that he was shopping his limitless talents to other political parties. Why was she so upset? Well, despite the fact the major parties have more or less ignored poor Pauline since she joined the Senate, she’s managed to alienate basically every single politician she managed to catapult into office during the One Nation surge of the past few years.
Maybe it should be of some comfort to us all that Australia has dodged some of the impacts of the worldwide far-righ revolt purely because our designated nutcase politician completely sucks at actually doing politics. Either way, here’s a little rundown of exactly how Pauline’s world collapsed this time around, for those playing along at home.
The return of Pauline
Right-wing parties began to surge in popularity around in the world in the mid 2010s – obviously culminating in Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, among other victories – and Pauline shrewdly saw which way the pendulum was swinging. Embarking on her ‘Fed Up’ tour in 2015, she lay the groundwork for a return to politics. It was sort of like a John Farnham return tour, except with racism instead of songs.
Yes, there was a plane involved, inexplicably.
(Possibly as a grim vision of what was to come, this plane later became embroiled in political scandal when it was alleged it was donated to Pauline’s campaign illegally.)
Her grievance tour paid off, though – come the 2016 double dissolution election, a revitalised One Nation nabbed four Senate seats. There was Hanson and Malcolm Roberts in Queensland, Brian Burston in New South Wales, and Rod Culleton in Western Australia.
A truly incredible showing from Pauline and her band of merry men! Well…
Rod Culleton instantly bites the dust
It was widely anticipated that something would inevitably fuck up when it came to the new batch of One Nation politicians, given none of them had any real political experience beyond administering Facebook groups where extremely ill-looking blokes post links to Islamophobic YouTube videos. Few realised the problems would start basically instantly.
When Rod Culleton was elected, he was embroiled with two separate larceny charges, which you’d feel is something you should check before you try to get someone into the Senate. One – which was eventually set aside and not put on his record – involved the very One Nation crime of stealing the key of a tow truck that was trying to repossess Culleton’s vehicle. The second larceny charge was a reasonably convoluted matter involving a hire car he did not return.
You’re not allowed to sit in the Parliament if you’re “under sentence, or subject to be sentenced” for any crime with a sentence of over one year in prison. To that end, the High Court ruled on the 3rd of February 2017 that Culleton was not eligible to sit in the Senate.
Culleton seems to still think he’s a Senator regardless of the fact he clearly is not, and sort of just hangs around Parliament hoping someone will let him in. He reportedly owes the government a bunch of money, too. “I’m just going to hang in like a flea in between the shoulder blades of a dog,” he said, in response to a letter of demand regarding said debts. “Right where it can’t scratch.”
One Nation candidates should probably just delete Facebook
It would be a waste of my time and yours to list every single instance of a state One Nation candidate being dumped over insane things they have posted on Facebook or said out loud with their own mouths. The party’s commitment to run candidates in most seats across the country at both the state and federal level ultimately results in some deeply, deeply cooked units being thrust into the national spotlight.
Here are some highlights:
- Peter Rogers was dumped as the candidate for Mulgrave after he claimed the Port Arthur massacre was faked.
- John Cox lost his preselection for the electorate of Redcliffe after he dipped his toe into 9/11 truther conspiracy theories.
- Bundamba candidate Shan Ju Lin lost her party endorsement after making some pretty nutty anti-gay comments.
- Mark Thornton endured one of the most excruciating press conferences in Australian history when he was asked about a post to his business’ Facebook page which read – and I quote – “good sex should be in the grey area between ‘tickle fight’ and domestic violence”.
- In what was easily the grimmest incident, candidate Mark Ellis was put through the wringer for – and I shit you not – kidnapping three Aboriginal youths in the 1990s. Probably disqualifying!
To sum it all up, you can really just look at this wonderful photo of Mark Ellis doing a shirtless Hitler salute at a swastika he mowed into his lawn for reasons science will never be able to explain. Some might say it’s bad optics, but I reckon it’s up for debate.
Presumably now One Nation have implemented a policy of looking at their candidates’ Facebook pages at least once in order to identify any potentially troublesome swastika content. But who knows.
Malcolm Roberts… gawn!
Malcolm Roberts, who has the penetrating stare of a vampire, djinn or similar creature of myth, is absolutely the weirdest unit elected to an Australian parliament in recent memory.
After early reports that he was aligned with the certifiably bonkers sovereign citizen movement, he settled into a standard routine of claiming that global warming was a vast conspiracy perpetrated by a cabal of global scientists with the intended aim of upsetting Malcolm Roberts specifically. Also, and I reiterate this, he looks weird as hell and his smile upsets me.
It doesn’t matter now – he was one of the casualties of the legendary foreign citizenship purge of late last year. Turns out that he was a British citizen all along, having been born in India back when it was under the control of the United Kingdom. It seems he was too busy sticking pins and string on a board to prove global warming was fabricated by malevolent aliens to get his affairs in order. Sad!
Hello, Fraser Anning (also goodbye, Fraser Anning)
Malcolm Roberts’ replacement in the Senate was Fraser Anning, who made the deft, Machiavellian move of instantly quitting One Nation as soon as he was sworn in. The photo of him as he walked into the room flanked by king shitheads Cory Bernardi and David Leyonhjelm will go down in history as one of the most legendary depictions of dog artistry ever captured. I am including all Renaissance paintings of Judas Iscariot in this ranking.
— ABC Politics (@politicsabc) November 13, 2017
Pauline responded to Anning’s treachery with one of the most basic tactics of an online drama veteran: she posted a long, rambling meltdown in a Facebook note cursing Anning to the grave and beyond.
So another wonderful pick, basically.
Brian Burston… seeya!
And now this. Brian Burston, the one guy who seemed like he might be mental enough to stay on the leaky boat that is One Nation seems ready to defect at a moment’s notice.
Burston is bucking One Nation’s recent (and sudden) decision to reject the Government’s corporate tax cuts, putting him at odds with Pauline. Claims are swirling that the beef runs deeper than that, with Burston forced to deny he tried to jump ship to the Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party. This is what led to Pauline’s spectacular breakdown on Sky News, as she sees her modest empire reduced to ash before her.
This is not going to end well. pic.twitter.com/r8UKiK0YAV
— Ben Fordham (@BenFordham) May 31, 2018
If Burston goes, that’ll reduce One Nation’s footprint in the Senate to just two seats – Pauline and loveable oaf Peter Georgiou, Rod Culleton’s brother-in-law and replacement, who doesn’t appear to have any particular beliefs or interests and honestly just seems happy to be there. He seems like he forms most of his stances based on Facebook polls.
Barring the next election, that would essentially obliterate One Nation’s already dwindling power in the Federal Parliament – and even within the conservative coalition they’ve hacked together with Bernardi, Leyonhjelm and the independents. Unless they can steer this ship to victory at the next election, it might be curtains for Pauline and her comeback.
So that’s where we’re at right now. If I may quote Die Hard‘s misquote of Plutarch: when Pauline saw the breadth of her domain, she wept for there were no more worlds to conquer. Or candidates by her side. Or non-insane voters. Or… anything, really. Too bad!