The new adventures of old Pauline

Brace yourselves, Australia. Pauline Hanson is venturing forth from behind the fabled fish-and-chip shop counter once more. Like the archetypal horror villain, she refuses to die, but just keeps coming back in lamer and lamer sequels that do ever-worse at the box office. It’s another tilt at the Queensland Senate, and this time she’s actually got her act together enough to realise that she needs a party, because no-one who’s interested in voting for her will have the wherewithal to number every box.


I would have thought the poor sales of her autobiography might have sent her a message. I’ve excerpted the following from Crikey‘s newsletter of 22 May. I just love that they have the time to research delicious little factoids like the following:

(Sorry, I have to leave space before the quote because of the ad.

Hang in there. Or click on the ad, actually. Maybe they’ll pay me more?

Some ads are bigger than others. If you’ve got a small ad, you won’t see the point of this. Trust me, some of them are whoppers.)

OK, quote time.)

Pauline’s political fortunes don’t look too good if her book sales are anything to go by. Despite a healthy boost of pre-release publicity care of the magic combination of David Oldfield, a sexual liaison at a Canberra hotel, a lie detector and TT, according to booksellers, Untamed and Unashamed, has sold roughly 7000 copies Australia wide.

Not a bad run for a little outfit like self-help book publishers JoJo, whose titles include A Pig Called Pete — the First Adventure of a Purple Flying Pig Called Pete and the inspirational Paws for Thought — Animal Wisdom for Your Day.

And it’s certainly not bombing as big as Cathy Freeman’s ill-fated biography, Cathy Freeman — her own story, published by Penguin back in 2003.

But let’s put the sales in context. According to Nielsen Bookscan figures, Untamed & Unashamed, which was released in early March, has sold 556 copies (in bookstores around the nation) in the last week. It’s currently ranked 190th in the bestsellers list.

Even funnier (and also mentioned in Crikey) is the report from a newsagent at Forest Hill in Melbourne, where they’ve sold a grand total of one copy.
So Queensland clearly isn’t voting with its wallets, at any rate. I quite liked Crikey’s suggestion that approximately nobody wants to read the story of her liason with David Oldfield. Personally, I’d have been delighted never to learn that that had happened. I have another theory, though. Pauline’s audience is much bigger than the book sales would indicate. It’s just that none of them read books.

Nevertheless, pauline’s chances aren’t good. She did very badly last time, and in fact, she’s never been elected to Parliament other than that first time, when she ran in Oxley with “Liberal” next to her name, because the party that created this monster kicked her out too late before election day for the ballot papers to be changed.

Even the NSW Legislative Council, where the bar is set so low that someone once got elected purely because he called his party “A Better Future For Our Children”, was too hard for Pauline.

But she’s not the old Pauline that we used to hate. Oh, no. She’s updated herself now. Her 1950s ideas come with a sleek new 2007 rebadging. It’s not One Nation anymore for the most divisive politician since Santamaria. It’s Pauline’s United Australia Party. And she’s not concerned about being “swamped by Asians” anymore. No, she’s learned a lot, and I’d like to think grown a lot, over the past decade she’s been in the public eye. This time, she’s warned us against being swamped by Africans.

And not just any Africans. Not industrious Africans who come in and take our jobs by outrageously working harder than us, like those mythical Asians who have made our country so much worse with their delicious food. No, this time it’s “hapless refugees” from Africa that she’s worried about. That’s right. We’re not talking migration, we’re talking no refugees at all. So, anyone who has been genuinely found to be risking their lives if they stay in their homelands can pretty much bugger off back home and die. And probably quite quickly.

She’s advocating full withdrawal from the UN Convention on Refugees of 1951, to be more precise – since she was. So I take back my jibe about her 1950s ideas. The world was, for the most part, far more progressive in 1951 than she is now. Rather, her decade, it seems, is the 1930s. You know, the fascist one.

Although she’s not fascist, not really. The extent of her political vision comes down to her most famous phrase, “I don’t like it”. She doesn’t have any sensible ideas to offer, just a sneering-toned dismissal of things

I probably shouldn’t have written about her, because it’s the hatred of the inner-city elite like myself that fuels Pauline and her audience. I’ve just had a rare moment of self-awareness about this, and therefore feel I really should confess that I wrote this while drinking coffee at a trendy cafe in Surry Hills. Whoops. I will ensure, in the interests of grounding myself firmly in middle Australia, that I have a meal of proletarian fish’n’chips tonight.

Hmm, maybe at Mohr Fish?

People like me – and come on, this is the SMH website, people like us shouldn’t be too dismissive about Pauline. We shouldn’t laugh at her for not knowing the word “xenophobia”. We should let her have her day in the sun, and bring out her ideas, such as they are, and engage with them, and try to convince her – or at least her potential supporters – that they’re wrong. Putting her in jail, for instance, is probably not a great way of dealing with her.

She does have a legitimate place in public life, you know. And that place is as a figure of inadvertent fun on reality shows. But just because she got votes on Dancing With The Stars doesn’t mean she’s going to get them on election day. For one thing, teenagers aren’t allowed to vote. Also, I haven’t checked with the AEC recently, but I’m pretty sure that SMS votes are still considered informal.

And I have every confidence that when she’s had her chance to present her ideas to the good people of Queensland, they will comprehensively reject them. Again.

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