Pauline Hanson takes centre stage again but this time we should listen not lampoon
Sneers and slurs will only increase the Queensland senator-elect’s support so talk to – not at – her followers, and learn something
....Well folks, she’s back, and so are her voters. Will we replay the same script as last time, back in the 1990s, or will we, the educated, the elites, the right-thinking city folks, learn from that nightmare?
As a political journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald I followed Pauline Hanson around the country for the 1998 election campaign, and I learned a few things.
• Her supporters were by and large nice people with little money who were largely uninterested in politics. They were suffering badly from the effects of competition policy, which had seen basic services and jobs stripped out of their towns. They loved Hanson’s grit and plain speaking. Most of all, they loved that she listened.
• Hanson is also a nice person. She’s a Liberal who’d always worked very hard in small business and was surprised to have been expelled from the party for racially charged remarks. She had no idea that what she’d said about Aboriginal people was racist. Because she’d been isolated by other politicians when she got to Canberra, she was easy prey for hard-right carpetbaggers.
• When I tried to converse with supporters about politics I misinterpreted everything they said, and likewise. I thought they were racists and they thought I was a racist. Communication was impossible without getting to know each other first.