Don’t be fooled by Scott Morrison’s pretend-backflip this morning. Putting Labor ahead of One Nation on the Liberal ticket does not mean Pauline Hanson’s party will be last. It does not compel the National Party to do the same. And it’s unlikely to make much difference to many in the Queensland LNP.
Up until now, One Nation has been an acceptable voting choice for many good people who feel the major parties are ignoring them.
This week should change how those voters see it, and how other political parties deal with it — and Scott Morrison’s move is more about muting the criticism he’s facing than genuinely ensuring One Nation has no place in our Parliament.
In the madcap nature of news, it’s worth revisiting what happened.
Two senior and high-profile One National officials — a state leader and Pauline Hanson’s chief-of-staff — attempted to solicit a fortune from a foreign gun lobby to help defeat their own country’s government, or in their words, to have it “by the balls’’.
They wanted donations from the powerful National Rifle Association in the US — just before new laws in Australia would specifically ban such donations.
They were happy to sell off our gun laws to the highest bidder, allowing the NRA to rally its supporters in Australia and soften the gun laws introduced in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre, which changed our nation forever.
They knew the meeting was just plain wrong, with one of them — James Ashby — saying “if it gets out, it will f—ing rock the boat’’.
And they — Ashby and ON’s Queensland leader Steve Dickson — wanted to use the gun money to win Senate seats, and hold the government over a barrel.
So how can Scott Morrison possibly continue to half-support a party that is led by such unpatriotic, ignorant, anti-Australian, gun-loving, hypocritical, and by their own description — drunk — wannabes?
At what cost is his continued refusal to dump them onto the last position on the Liberal ticket? And how could he — or anyone now — possibly argue that this mob deserves a place in our Parliament?
Their asinine excuses — that they’d downed too many scotches and that al-Jazeera was interfering in our electoral business — are as pathetic as they are embarrassing.
How would it go in court? Yes Honour, my apologies but I drove drunk because I was drunk. Or, your Honour it was the four whiskies that made me hold up the local bank; it wasn’t a serious attempt.
John Howard has never looked so good. His strong move to ban guns was done, despite loud protests from some within his coalition. He didn’t care.
Twice — in 1998 and again three years later — he flicked One Nation to the bottom of the Liberal ticket because it was the right thing to do.
Scott Morrison has used a lot of words this week to tell us how naughty One Nation has been, even citing Howard’s gun laws.
Now, they are still not quite as bad as the Greens, in his view. But actions speak louder than words, and he has still been unable to tear himself away from the power offered by One Nation’s preferences.
It shows the almighty chasm between policy and politics; between good government and the pursuit of power, at any cost.
John Howard did a lot wrong, and you don’t have to be a fan to acknowledge that he showed strong conservative leadership around gun laws. He wielded that leadership, despite some strong opposition within the National Party.
Two clowns full of whisky and self-importance deserve no comfort from the party he moulded.
Madonna King is a leading journalist and commentator who writes for the Brisbane Times. She was an award-winning mornings presenter on 612 ABC Brisbane and is a five-times author.