David Penberthy, editor-in-chief of news.com.au, decides to take yesterday’s verballing of Bob Brown (seriously, if what Brown actually said was so bad then why did News Ltd need to change it in order to feign outrage?) by comparing him with Pauline Hanson:

Who needs Pauline when you’ve got Bob Brown?

…Brown’s comments could so easily have emanated from the mouth of someone such as Hanson. The fact that we are now living in a global economy is presented not as the basis of our increased national prosperity, but the source of our apparent ruination.

This is a recurring theme in public life in Australia. Groups and individuals often cloak their arguments in this absurdly retro dinki-di rhetoric to capitalise on a misplaced sense of national sentiment.

Coming from a man who was editor of the regularly refugee-bashing Daily Telegraph, that’s a bit rich, but it’s also somewhat telling that Penberthy apparently can’t distinguish between racist and xenophobic complaints about foreign people, and complaints about the behaviour of multinational corporations.

Of course, Brown is quite correct – the coal industry is mainly owned outside Australia, which means that’s where those profits are going. It’s also true that climate change is an international issue, and its effect in warming the seas that then go on to affect weather is not confined just to whichever nation’s nearest to the brunt of that change.

In contrast, Pauline Hanson’s predictions of Ipswich being “swamped” (which came true last week, just in a slightly more literal sense than she probably expected) were complaints about other Australians who just don’t happen to share her racial and ethnic background – they were attacks on people for who they are, not what they do.

The problem with multinationals is not who’s behind them, but where they continue to be based, and what that means in respect of the goods they mine and the money they make.

Can David really not see the difference?

ELSEWHERE: Andrew Bolt endorses a call for us to “choose better immigrants” according to “the statistically valid record of integration into Australian life of the immigrant group a potential settler is a part of. This review could be based on the country of origin or ethnicity or religious affiliation or all of these indicators together.”

There’s a word for that approach, but I can’t publish it here.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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