The media has been centrally focussed for the last week, once again, on Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. This time, it is in relation to a documentary released by Al Jazeera (Part 1 & Part 2) that depicts a many number of things, none of them particularly startling to anyone who has paid attention to political history even in the relatively brief time since Hanson has made her return to parliament. The controversial points of the footage have been discussed at length in the media. Some of these points include:
- Steve Dickson and James Ashby discussing, at length, means of weakening Australia’s gun laws. They received much advice on how to achieve this, though not any significant donations.
- Steve Dickson and James Ashby discussing, at length, means of selling Australian democracy for the price of millions of dollars in donations (they did not receive their asked-for amounts as a result of this trip). This is in obvious contrast to the speech and voting of Pauline Hanson in regard to foreign donations in Australian politics.
- Pauline Hanson’s implication that the Port Arthur Massacre (along with Ashby’s side addition that the September 11 attacks) was a conspiracy (and essentially confirmed this on 9 News with another implication that her evidence was based on a leading conspiracy theorist’s work, Deadly Deception at Port Aurthur by Joe Vialls).
But my issue isn’t with One Nation in all of this. One Nation has consistently shown itself as a party that is self-interested. It has even been consistently associated with figures who espouse conspiratorial view of Port Arthur. And One Nation, especially Steve Dickson, has had a history with wanting to change Australia’s gun laws; their current platform, when taken together, would result in weaker gun ownership laws.
Australian Democracy is Already For Sale
While the attempts to auction off Australian democracy to foreign interests could and probably does surprise you, none of it should. Foreign entities paying political parties in order to influence policy is something that is so commonplace in western democracies (Australia, USA, UK) that it is pretty much accepted as a normal part of democracy. Corporations and groups frequently make donations to political parties in order to influence policy. So, One Nation going about seeking donations from a source that pretty much aligns with their interests shouldn’t really come as surprising.
A great example of foreign interests affecting policy is the fossil fuel industry and their donations in relation to the carbon tax. During the Rudd-Gillard years, fossil fuel mining giants were making significant donations to the Labor party to try and influence their policy and repeal their emissions trading scheme. When this didn’t work, the same fossil fuel companies made heavy donations to the Liberal Party in the lead-up to the 2013 election, which culminated in a win for the Liberals. Almost immediately, the emissions trading scheme was scrapped. This is only a short and oversimplified example of the many ways in which foreign interests, the fossil fuel industry foremost among them, actively seek to shape Australian policy.
The Coalition Government Wants to Expand Aussie Arms Industry
In addition to the current Coalition government receiving many millions in donations in return for political action, I also found it ironic that the Coalition sought to condemn One Nation for seeking to dilute our gun laws. After all, it was not so long ago that the Coalition announced (along with a rather dystopic video) that, under their leadership, Australia would seek to become one to the top 10 net exporters of arms. It seems that the Coalition has no problem with arms, just so long as they are in the hands of someone else, somewhere else.
Australian firms have also been providing military equipment to Saudi Arabia, with the Coalition leading a push for further exports to the authoritarian regime that is currently punishing the people of Yemen. The Saudi and UAE-led coalition war in Yemen has led to what has been termed a humanitarian crisis; with major attacks on water, food and medicine supplies. The Saudi-UAE forces have even been noted as employing child soldiers from Sudan and Yemen in their brutal war. NGO’s have called on the Australian government to end it’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia, though these demands have been ignored.
The displays of hypocrisy in all of this have been staggering, but none more so than the overlooking of the obvious by the mainstream media.