Confused about the proliferation of far-right political parties? Unable to tell your Australian Conservatives from your Australian Conservative Party? Where does Angry Anderson fit in, along with all the other angry white men? Allow us to help you with a spotter’s guide to the far-right c.2017.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation
The Nostalgia Right. Professional celebrity/candidate and opportunist Hanson has always been about nostalgia: a longing for an Australia insulated from the world, where immigrants from such exotic places as Italy and Greece were barely tolerated, indigenous Australians were treated as fauna and anyone from a non-European background was told to leave. In her current form, she’s picked up another type of nostalgia, that of middle-aged white men on their third marriage who hate the Family Court and child support laws. In this case, the nostalgia is for a pre-feminism, pre-no fault divorce Australia where women knew their place and a proper bloke kept the missus and kids in line. Hanson is unenthusiastic about same sex marriage but, to her credit, lacks Cory Bernardi’s sex hang-up. And unlike the Twitter eggs who make up her party base, she has also now taken on the most lunatic economic policies of the left, embracing protectionism and economic nationalism — although not the left’s aversion to corporate tax cuts.
Long-term, now ex-Liberal backbencher that even Tony Abbott wouldn’t accept on his frontbench, Bernardi is, in effect, a US Republican (think the two-term Tea Party congressman from Bumcrack, North Carolina who runs for president and “suspends his campaign” the night of the Iowa caucuses): small government, free trade, laissez-faire economics, climate denialism, intensely religious, deeply Islamophobic and with a genuinely creepy obsession with other adults’ sexual behaviour. Convinced of his own political genius, Bernardi believes Donald Trump has shown the path to political glory; he just needs a wealthy backer for his Australian Conservatives outfit. Cue Gina …
You forgot about them, didn’t you? Still technically possessed of a Senate spot for South Australia, FF is harder to pin down since Bob Day “resigned”. Day, frustrated at not getting preselected high enough on the Liberal Senate ticket, had used the party as a vehicle to get him into the Senate. While he deals with the collapse of his property development businesses, who knows what FF — ostensibly your local Christian fundamentalist church at the ballot box — will throw up, since we’re not sure who would replace Day, if and when they get the chance to do so.
Ostensibly libertarian but really about David Leyonhjelm’s obsession with trying to remove gun control — this is the Senator who worships the NRA, says John Howard deserved to have been shot for his gun laws, and makes snide comments about murdered people. Leyonhjelm is also a laissez-faire economic liberal and a free speech enthusiast — although, not unusually among angry white male free-speech warriors, he likes to dish it out but hates copping it back.
If One Nation is the Nostalgia Right, the Nationals are the Rural Idyll Right — they fetishise low-productivity, low-efficiency family farming, pointless regional infrastructure and other agrarian socialist fantasies like marketing boards — but have so chained themselves to the Liberals that they watched ex-National independents and, now, One Nation, steal their seats. Whereas previous generations of Nats fought back against One Nation, the party’s current response is to try to sound more like Hanson and ramp up handouts to inefficient producers via rorts like concessional loans; the more independent WA Nats, facing a surging One Nation, have gone after mining companies.
Katter’s Australia Party
Katter is sui generis. As homophobic as Bernardi, as protectionist as Hanson (and then some), as devoted to the rural idyll as the Nationals from whence he came, Katter is also a staunch union supporter, opposed the ABCC and receives donations from the CFMEU, and, like his late father, has a surprising track record on indigenous affairs. Katter will look on Hanson as a Pauline Come Lately to his brand of militant protectionism, but — understandably, given his background — he’s never had the out-and-out bigotry to seize leadership of the far right.
Shooters, Fishers & Farmers
Another party vying for the Nats Deserted The Bush space, the SFF is already a minor party in NSW, and scored their first lower house seat there recently — aptly for a party based on killing animals, by exploiting a backlash against the ill-fated Baird government greyhound torture ban. They racked up a quarter of a quota in NSW but aren’t just a Revolving Door To The Premier’s Suite state phenomenon; they managed a quarter of a quota in WA as well. The party isn’t overly interested in social issues, just so long as they get to bulldoze the countryside and kill stuff.
Economically at home with Labor and the Greens, Lambie’s obsession with Islam and opposition to same-sex marriage is her ticket into the menagerie of the right. And she’s not backing down, got that? The lasting gift to Australian politics of Clive Palmer — another figure from the right who lacked the bigotry to make a serious go of it.
Australian Liberty Alliance
In essence an Islamophobia party, which managed 0.09 of a quota in NSW even with former Nationals candidate Angry Anderson on the ticket — although Rose Tattoo fans might have been confused by his being listed under his more workaday real name, Gary. With all-purpose bigot Bernard Gaynor on the ticket in Queensland, the party fared better there, with 0.14 of a quota.
Australian Conservative Party
Included as a methodological note: more a stumbling block to registration for Cory Bernardi than an actual party, the ACP is the outfit of another thin-skinned Twitter hero, Peter Wallace, who couldn’t get the party registered in time for the 2016 election and had to stand for the Senate in NSW as an independent, receiving a remarkable 71 votes other than his own.