And the hits just keep on coming. The LNP’s member for Dawson (via Manila) George Christensen has, along with NRL-player-turned-councillor Martin Bella, successfully called for the removal of two works by Sydney artist Abdul Abdullah from a council-run gallery in northern Queensland.
The artworks depicted soldiers with smiley faces painted over their faces. According to Christensen, taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidising such “political messages that attacked soldiers”.
This, from a supposed free speech warrior. At this stage the disjuncture between Christensen’s words and deeds is almost too transparent. Here’s a look back at his greatest hits.
2015: Online activists GetUp ran a petition trying to convince then-prime minister Tony Abbott to prevent Christensen from speaking at an event organised by far-right anti-Islam group Reclaim Australia in his Queensland electorate of Dawson. Christensen called the petition an act of “intimidation” undertaken by a group that “wants to shut down free speech and the right to peaceful assembly and protest in this country”.
2016: Christensen is on the record as a vocal opponent of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and in late 2016 asked his Facebook followers to “stand up for free speech” and send a submission to parliament’s inquiry into the issue.
2016: In response to protests that saw refugee activists glue themselves to the railing in the House of Reps during question time, Christensen tweeted an image of a whip with the caption “say hello to my little friend, hippies”. Asked by a follower whether the protesters didn’t have the right to be heard, he replied “not in Parliament. If you want to talk in the chamber, get elected”.
2017: During the Yassmin Abdel-Magied “LEST. WE. FORGET.” saga, free speech hard man Christensen surprised everyone by getting really offended, and calling for Abdel-Magied to be sacked because of something she said. This was a month after he approvingly tweeted a Noam Chomsky quote about free speech having to include speech you find abhorrent.
2019: The government’s possibly unconstitutional plan to ban secondary boycotts didn’t inspire a word from Christensen, despite him having previously called for a boycott of (sigh) Ben & Jerry’s over the ice cream company’s opposition to the Carmichael coal mine.