It’s not every day international media led by Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and all points in-between has its interest aroused by events surrounding the declaration of candidates standing in an obscure Queensland rural seat.
But then former One Nation founder and ex-Federal MP Pauline Hanson — for all her whinnying appeal to be, yet again, intent on standing up to the bully boys of politics — is no ordinary candidate. After all, as she told reporters at the official declaration of her candidacy for the Gold Coast hinterland seat of Beaudesert yesterday: she’s sees herself as not unlike Abraham Lincoln.
But before any journalist could choke on their microphones in the main street of Boonah, the candidate already under investigation by the Queensland Fraud Squad over the appropriation of more than $200,000 in election funding from her unsuccessful 2007 Senate campaign tilt — had the facts to back her up. Mocked as a professional candidate, Hanson countered that she was no different to Abraham Lincoln as a serial contender. However, the point of difference at its most basic was Lincoln ran for office nine times for eight victories — against Hanson one for nine. You can only wonder what “Honest Abe” would have made of Hanson’s earlier 2004 pledge declaring she was through with politics. Now she says this latest campaign, if unsuccessful, will be her last.
A traditional National Party electorate now up for grabs following the retirement of Kevin Lingard, who held the seat from 1983 with a margin of 5.9% at the last election, Beaudesert can be forgiven for thinking “why us?” as it faces not just the prospect of a resurrected Pauline show, but the late entry of another non-Mensa endorsed aspirant also lodging his nomination papers yesterday. The spectre of a bimbo long-faded AFL star, endorsed and financially supported by a lad’s magazine, standing against Hanson, only added to international curiosity at this oddball electoral face-off. That’s presuming Warwick Capper actually managed to correctly fill in his nominating form.
Capper’s on-camera message on last night’s Channel Nine news: “Please explain Warwick Capper — I will explain. Pauline I think you’re in trouble — you’re going down”, more resembled a boxing hype than political bun fight. But no sooner was Capper laying down that challenge than an enterprising Nine reporter asked him to spell ‘Beaudesert’. A clearly struggling Capper responded: “Yeah that’s hard. B-A” and that’s where the camera left it.
But when it comes to fluffing your lines, Hanson misappropriated the name of Liberal-National Party Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg — even if her recovery line was semi-amusing. “Both Anna Bligh and Borbidge — sorry it’s not Borbidge is it? That’s how much he’s made an impression on me.” Former Queensland National Party Premier Rob Borbidge quit politics in 2001.
Perhaps worthy of further investigation is any role played by Max Markson the Sydney based celebrity rent-a-spruiker who, according to media, acts as manger or agent to both Hanson and Capper. The Capper-magazine tie-in would appear to be a typical Markson wheeze, but whether the normally serious business of politics should be turned into a perverse opportunist self-promotion where Capper is concerned is not only a question for the voters in Beaudesert. What is bound to follow is an inquisitive national media descending on Beaudesert to regularly take voter’s electoral pulse until 21 March.