scott morrison donald trump state dinner G20
(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

As Americans wince at the smouldering wreckage of the Trump presidency, many in Australia chuckle nervously. Surely, we tell ourselves, this couldn't happen here?

Conventional wisdom has always said no. A lack of open primaries and a compulsory voting system that pushes politics toward the centre makes the chances of a bombastic demagogue storming to the Lodge seem unlikely in the foreseeable future.

Populists, the story goes, have tried and failed here. Pauline Hanson's race-baiting has been a feature in Australian political life since the 1990s, yet One Nation holds power nowhere. Clive Palmer tried shitposting and multi-million dollar scare campaigns but remains little more than a very, very rich troll.