Bibliophile | Hoodwinked: How Pauline Hanson fooled a nation

hoodwinked: how pauline hanson fooled a nation
by Kerry-Anne Walsh
Allen & Unwin

Kerry-Anne Walsh was in the Canberra press gallery 25 years before becoming disenchanted with political spin and the nature of political reporting. Everyone knew Pauline (no last name needed) even though she had only been in parliament for a total of 4 years. With Pauline’s unflattering head shot sliding off the cover, the author of The Stalking of Julia Gillard shatters the facade of the politician who claims to represent the average Australian.

When Pauline Hanson was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1996, “Hanson was like the nudist who accidentally wandered into an Eastern Suburbs high tea party. She shocked and rocked an establishment that was dominated by the two major parties. Her virulent racism was bluntly expressed. Her flag-waving, simplistic Australia-first rhetoric gained her instant stardom in depressed and disgruntled electoral pockets.”

Walsh is scathing as she retraces the fiery red-head’s political pathway from being an accidental local councillor to her 1996 election to parliament and her 2016 resurrection. She traces the origins of her raw brand of Australia-first politics Hanson espouses and the fictions created in pursuit of political prominence and power over two decades. There is no shortage of evidence or people speaking against Pauline and exposing her as “the star of her long-running soap opera”.

History shows that those who support Hanson are repeatedly accused of disloyalty and duplicity and “dispatched to the vast wilderness where Hanson’s ex-friends were rapidly piling up like stenching bodies on a battlefield”. Certainly, Walsh has a better way with words that Hanson, saying that one would have to hire an aircraft hanger if they wanted to hold a get-together of the people Hanson had used.

Walsh exposes the creation of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party as a vehicle to market Hanson as a ‘commercial product’ and analyses how the fledgling party out-polled the Coalition parties in the 1998 Queensland State election. “Eleven unknowns landed in the Queensland parliament … with no support, no experience in politics and few policies.”

It is fascinating and horrifying to read about One Nation’s downward slide, the making of a political martyr and the political shenanigans as Hanson tries again and again to win elections. Then, twenty years after being first elected, Pauline Hanson and three other One Nation Party representatives hold the balance of power in the senate. How did this happen?

Walsh is unrelenting in her dissection and damnation of Hanson’s fluctuating political whims. Everything is scrupulously evidence based … which is certainly more than any of Hanson’s headline rants relying on “the emotions of fear and outrage, not empirical data”.

Many people are aware of Hanson’s bombastic tactics and lack of substance but how many people know about the how much she has gained financially (and sometimes fraudulently)? Pauline might not be able to get away with what she used to get away with but Walsh reveals the trail of money from her party to her personal finances. Meanwhile, the number of disillusioned voters who hang onto her war cries that are “based only the most fleeting of experiences” is increasing. It’s scary stuff.

Lezly Herbert

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