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Look closely – Hanson doesn’t really speak for ordinary Australians

Lenore Taylor comments in The Guardian (11.3.17) on the persistent popularity of Pauline Hanson, suggesting that factual scrutiny of One Nation’s agenda need not be sneering or disrespectful of disenchanted voters, but it will open their eyes to the devil in the details.

‘It was so heartening to see Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten condemn Pauline Hanson’s ill-informed views [on childhood vaccinations] – flushed out in an interview on Insiders last weekend – where she called the withholding of payments “blackmail” and said parents had “a right to investigate” the impact of childhood vaccination for themselves, as if the scientific evidence left room for non-vaccination as a reasonable choice. They stood up for the facts and public opinion was behind them. By week’s end, the usually immovable Hanson was retreating.

‘This rapid slap down of the anti-vaxxers’ latest moment in the national political debate also raises another heartening thought.

‘Perhaps facts and expertise retain some potency after all, despite the rise of “fake” news, and a US president who got elected in blatant disregard of them, and despite the fact that last year’s Essential poll found that 62% of voters agreed with the statement “I might not personally agree with everything (Pauline Hanson) says but she is speaking for a lot of ordinary Australians.” Perhaps it would really help if they knew more details about the policies with which they might not agree.

‘Perhaps when interviewers finally move past the soft questions such as “Why do you think you’re so popular?” (she says it’s because the voters have “had a gutful” of the major parties) to interrogate the substance of what she is proposing, even voters who have indeed had a gutful will stop nodding in general agreement and start to question whether One Nation would actually be a better choice.’

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