Queensland senator Oswald Mosley has a problem. He is unelected, with support barely into double figures at the 2016 election — 17 votes, suggesting he can’t muster a score of friends and family to vote for him; he was undemocratically shoehorned into the Senate after a then-party colleague failed to do some simple paperwork, and his term runs out on June 30. He has walked out on the party on which he rode into the senate, and taken up with a party that got 1.79% of the Queensland senate vote in 2016. His political career is inevitably destined to be a political trivia night question unless he can massively boost his name recognition on the ballot paper next year.

His answer: make the media — social and mainstream — and the rest of the political class give him that boost by so outraging them they collectively turn him into a household name. Just because Mosley has moved on from One Nation, doesn’t mean he hasn’t learnt from the example of Pauline Hanson.

Thus his delivery yesterday of the most toxic and racist maiden speech since either of Hanson’s efforts, not merely attacking Muslims, non-white immigrants and immigration itself but pointedly using a phase infamous from the annals of the Nazis’ extermination of European Jewry, a phrase etched into the mind of anyone familiar with the Holocaust as one of the true extremities of evil in history. Just a coincidence, Mosley insisted, airily professing to be unaware of any special significance to “the final solution”, refusing to apologise, and complaining that he was a victim of the “thought police” — missing an opportunity to refer to the thought Gestapo.

The result was predictable — Mosley’s name trending on Twitter; media commentators queueing up to condemn him, ferocious criticisms from all sides of politics, all delivering what Mosley hungered for, publicity and profile, all helpful in increasing the chances that when Queensland voters take their ballot papers into the cardboard booth next year, they’ll recognise his name. 

The uproar guarantees that Mosley will continue his tactic, conscious that he needs a radically higher profile if he’s to survive in the crowded field of the Queensland Senate ballot paper, especially against big beasts like his erstwhile colleague Hanson and whatever clutch of later-to-fall-out-with-he friends join her under the One Nation banner.

The blatant nature of Mosley’s tactic creates a dilemma. According to Labor’s usually invisible immigration shadow, Shayne Neumann, Mosley’s remarks should be condemned by all sides of politics. Indeed they should. But that condemnation gives him what he needs, the oxygen of publicity. Without that, he’ll vanish from politics on 30 June. Ditto the outrage on social media. Condemn what he says by all means, but never say his name.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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