Whither Australian Politics?

Why did Peter Dutton make such an obviously irrational, ridiculous statement blaming Malcolm Fraser’s 35 year old immigration policies for allowing thousands of Lebanese refugees to settle in Australia and produce children and grandchildren, of whom a miniscule number has been involved in current conflicts in the middle east? It is the sort of statement that would appeal only to the chronically bigoted, largely uneducated and unintelligent, who would clutch at straws to justify and validate their racism and xenophobia. It is the sort of drivel I would expect from Pauline Hanson. So, what is Dutton doing here? Is he trying to siphon support from One Nation by appealing to the populist, homespun, unsophisticated right? Maybe, and in the process shoring up support for himself, establishing a power base perhaps to make a tilt at the leadership. I wouldn’t be surprised if he sees himself as a future leader, a more right-wing, far more physically unfit incarnation of Tony Abbott. If One Nation supporters switched to a Liberal party led by him, who knows, he may even be PM one day? Australia will return to the old, cherished, racist, right-wing values the passing of which is no doubt lamented by a good number of worthy, elitist whites, together with their hangers-on and wannabes amongst the non-whites. I think Dutton’s statement is also aimed at his leader. He must know, full well, that Turnbull does not subscribe to most of what he says, let alone his most recent crock of rubbish. I am sure he is relishing the spectacle of a squirming Turnbull as he tries to duck and weave the barrage of questions he is being asked about it. I can almost picture Dutton and Abbott chuckling away, maybe over a beer, as they look on. Dutton is now the spiritual leader of the loony right of the Liberal party. He is a wilful bigot.

In the wake of Trump’s triumph, it seems there is a political tug-of-war happening here to snaffle right-wing populist support. By querying the breadth of 457 visas, and asking for it to be narrowed, even the ALP has taken a few steps down that path . “Australia and Australians First” is the catch-cry of politicians of all hues. The more sane, intelligent and compassionate among us must be shaking their heads in bemusement at this race to the bottom. Fireworks are not far away. When the new Trump government gets under way, anxiety levels here and elsewhere are going to rise as the USA creeps back into its isolationist shell, leaving China and other major players to step in and fill the gap. What is fearful to me is that the changes that Trump has foreshadowed will not be altruistic at all. They will concentrate more wealth than ever with the “haves”, while the “have-nots” get poorer and more numerous. Fat-cats will rule, as the atmosphere becomes more and more polluted, as the climate becomes more extreme, as the world descends into total chaos. I wonder if they think that a mighty cataclysm that destroys most of the human race is not such a bad thing if they survive to make merry with the spoils. It is probably not far away from how elitists think anyway. They are not interested in equality. If the poor are destroyed they will not bat an eyelid. Shared humanity with those less fortunate does not enter their consciousness. All countries have these sorts, living off the fat of the land, leading lives of unimaginable opulence, begrudgingly paying as little tax as they can, lumbering the middle-class and wage earners with the burden of caring for the poor.

Both Dutton and Hanson are basking in the afterglow of the incendiary US election. They see the triumph of Trump as a validation of their own despicable political ideologies. They must think their moment has arrived. Pauline is behaving like a leader as never before, even to the extent of reading the riot act to one of her senators in public, trying to assert her position as leader, with a capital L. Dutton is a total loose cannon, firing at will, as he sees fit, knowing that he has his leader by the balls. I am quite sure he is doing significantly more than just sticking out a wet finger to test winds of change inside the Libs. He probably has people doing the numbers for him as I write this. The polls have the Turnbull government going backwards.


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