It’s official: Pauline Hanson is now the fourth most powerful force in the Federal Senate, with her One Nation party securing that number of seats in the Upper House.
With a sizeable presence in Canberra, Hanson looks set to continue locking horns with Labor’s Sam Dastyari, the ambitious young Senator from NSW who has proved one of the most effective at responding to her various race-based phobias.
In one of the dry campaign’s most celebrated moments, Dastyari made fun of Hanson on election night by offering to share a halal snack pack with her, the suddenly iconic meat dish which has become an emblem of diversity. The cheeky jibe exposed the paranoia Hanson and others have embraced about the halal certification process, throwing the made-for-television bigot off-guard.
The pair then clashed on Q&A where Hanson was again seemingly caught off-guard, gobsmacked when Dastyari discussed his own connection to Islam. On the program, the Labor Senator made an important point: Hanson is not the authentic voice of the people she likes to present herself as but is in fact a true political insider who knows how to leverage the politics of fear.
For his efforts, Dastyari has become a target for Hanson and her followers, who have attacked his identity and accused him of inconsistency. Now they’ve taken it up a notch.
In a move that has encouraged further comparisons to Donald Trump, One Nation’s Twitter account subtly accused Dastyari of disloyalty, and of being ineligible to serve in parliament.
The Party’s concern about Dastyari’s legal position is a little ironic, to say the least, given that One Nation’s WA Senator Rodney Culleton is facing the very real prospect of being excluded from Parliament thanks to a series of criminal charges.
Dastyari brushed the remarks off yesterday, uploading an image of the One Nation tweet to his Facebook page with the following caption:
“Dear One Nation. You’re drunk. Log off.”
The issue of citizenship has been obsessively used against US President Barack Obama during his time in office as part of a campaign driven by none too subtle fears about his ethnicity and race. While former Presidential candidate John McCain was keen to correct the myth, other Republicans – especially Donald Trump – clung to it even after Obama produced his full birth certificate.
In the wake of that racially charged campaign, the issue of ineligibility to serve on the basis of citizenship was also laid against Tony Abbott, with a small but virulent online campaign insisting he produce evidence he was not a dual citizen (which, according to the Australian Constitution, would make you intelligible to serve in Parliament.)
Other voices warned at the time that such conspiracy theories, aside from being detached from reality, would only encourage similar witch hunts in the future.
One Nation’s adoption of the tactic appears to have confirmed that – and no surprises it’s being levelled once more against an MP from a non-European background.