Has Howard delivered on Hanson’s maiden speech goals?

So Pauline Hanson is planning another go at politics. This time the problem isn’t Aborigines or Asians, it’s Africans and Muslims:

“We’re bringing in people from South Africa at the moment, there’s a huge amount coming into Australia, who have diseases, they’ve got AIDS,” Ms Hanson told AAP…..

But Ms Hanson said politicians had gone too far in affording rights to minority groups and she was angered at the loss of Australian traditions because of Muslims. “Our governments have bent over backwards to look after them (Muslims) and their needs, and regardless of what the Australian people think,” she said.

“You can’t have schools not sing Christmas carols because it upsets others, you can’t close swimming baths because Muslim women want to swim in private, that’s not Australian.”

Ms Hanson is not the only person dipping into their bag of prejudices. Christopher Scanlon, a co-editor of the radical left Arena Magazine, is taking the argument that Howard is the respectable face of Hansonism for another trip around the Fitzroy block.

If that sounds like an exaggeration, just note that the party that disowned her has now delivered on every single one of the substantive policies proposed in Hanson’s maiden speech.

Unfortnately for Scanlon’s argument this is an exaggeration, and a big one, as anyone who bothered to check Hanson’s maiden speech would realise. If Hanson stood for anything, it was reducing Asian immigration:

I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians. Between 1984 and 1995, 40 per cent of all migrants coming into this country were of Asian origin. They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate. Of course, I will be called racist but, if I can invite whom I want into my home, then I should have the right to have a say in who comes into my country. A truly multicultural country can never be strong or united. The world is full of failed and tragic examples, ranging from Ireland to Bosnia to Africa and, closer to home, Papua New Guinea. America and Great Britain are currently paying the price.

But Asian immigration has been increased considerably under John Howard. Of course we don’t have racial criteria in our immigration policy, but by increasing the total intake that inevitably meant that more people of Asian background would qualify.

Hanson wanted the economic reform process stopped, and in particular singled out Telstra privatisation:

Now this government wants to sell Telstra, a company that made a $1.2 billion profit last year and will make a $2 billion profit this year. …. Anyone with business sense knows that you do not sell off your assets especially when they are making money. I may be only `a fish and chip shop lady’, but some of these economists need to get their heads out of the textbooks and get a job in the real world. I would not even let one of them handle my grocery shopping.

That’s a view she shared with the left, but the government ignored them both and finally got rid of its majority shareholding just recently, after many years of trying.

The left would also agree that:

If this government wants to be fair dinkum, then it must stop kowtowing to financial markets, international organisations, world bankers, investment companies and big business people.

And, last time I checked, the left thought that the government was in fact acting in the interests of big business, eg WorkChoices.

These are not the only Hanson policy suggestions that the government overlooked:

I call for the introduction of national service for a period of 12 months, compulsory for males and females upon finishing year 12 or reaching 18 years of age.

As far as I can tell, the government has only delivered on three of Hanson’s maiden speech demands. First, she said that unemployment was 8.6% and that this was a ‘crisis’. Unemployment is now down below 5%. She complained that people’s standard of living had dropped over the previous ten years. It clearly increased over the next ten. And she called for the abolition of ATSIC, which occurred more than eight years later.

Two of the three Hanson demands that Howard delivered on have been politically orthodox goals of both parties for decades, and no credible link can be made with Hanson. What about ATSIC? Here too, there are more obvious explanations, such as its very dubious leadership and its failure to improve indigenous welfare (though, alas, the same can be said of just about every policy ever tried in this area).

Far from Howard delivering on ‘every single one’ of Hanson’s substantive policies, he’s ignored most of them and only pursued goals that any government would have pursued, or at least any conservative government in the case of ATSIC (though Labor did support them). Scanlon’s intellectual methodology is all too similar to Hanson’s: ignore facts and use prejudices instead. But she has a better excuse. She is a fish and chip shop lady turned TV dancer. Somehow, Scanlon has scored himself an academic job.

37 thoughts on “Has Howard delivered on Hanson’s maiden speech goals?

  1. It’s very difficult to get an academic job in Australia in mathematics due to scarcity of positions (and massive numbers of applicants for each position). I hope that Christopher does his academic job very well.


  2. “Ultimately, these people have no shame.” That’s the amazing thing. A quick google and a few minutes reading show that he was wrong. In my years of writing about left-wing critiques of right-wingers I have repeatedly come across this same indifference as to whether or not easily checkable facts are true. Do they work in an academic culture where they don’t expect anyone to fact check? Where what they are saying fits with their prejudices, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this is the case. I just hope that it is not true more generally.


  3. He might just be not that careful in checking facts for newspaper pieces, or this piece, as opposed to his academic work. Reading the newspaper piece, the tone of language is similar to that used by socialists I once knew – it’s unsubtle and doesn’t to me appear designed to illuminate, but rather to convince quick readers.


  4. Sacha – That may well be right, but surely he cares something for his reputation? The Age’s op-ed editor should have known better as well.


  5. One would hope that he would care for his reputation. I certainly would! An academic really has a moral responsibility to deal with matters of truth – the values are a bit different to most other jobs in which other things (eg meeting deadlines or winning tenders) may have more importance. Being slack in public doesn’t help one’s reputation much.


  6. His reputation would only increase by slagging off Howard. His fellows on the left wouldn’t hold it against him, they stick together.

    Hanson has a legitimate point about importing HIV cases. Why should we be doing this? I remember reading a while back that a fairly significant portion of HIV/AIDS cases in Australia are imported. Does anyone know where to find the exact figures?

    AFAIK Tuberculosis is an automatic disqualification for a visa applicant but HIV isn’t. Considering we have both a vaccine and an antibiotic treatment for TB but not for HIV doesn’t seem backwards to you?


  7. Yobbo – I could not find any data via Google on HIV among immigrants, though there is a compulsory test for it, with the main criteria the cost to the community. TB (same link) is not an automatic disqualification.

    TB is spread through the air; HIV is much harder to get. But it is expensive to treat, so I imagine that rejections for being HIV+ are high.


  8. Andrew: The test only applies to permanent visas and therefore not refugees (who nevertheless usually end up staying permanently), which are apparently where a lot of the cases are for obvious reasons.

    Besides that, whether someone is here permanently or temporarily, they can still pass on an infection.

    This page also suggests it is possible to get around the health test and that “a majority of applicants are eventually successful”.

    Anyone rich enough can probably get around it. Refugees and Students aren’t subject to it, so who does that leave? – Unskilled people arriving under family reunion migration streams. And they aren’t a big part of our intake.

    The intake of refugees and students from sub-saharan Africa is the biggest risk group, and neither refugees or students are subject to the permanent resident health tests.

    Zimbabwe has an estimated 25% of its population infected with HIV and every country in Southern Africa at least 10%

    The prevalance in sub-saharan Africa generally is over 10% and that region has the highest rate of growth for immigration to Australia.

    Pauline Hanson might be wrong about most things but she is not wrong to say that Australia should not be importing a plague.

    We should be screening anyone who comes into Australia from severely affected regions like sub-saharan Africa.

    There is no stipulation that temporary visa holders can’t have sex while they are here, and in fact quite a few foreign students are involved in sex work as many bloggers have already discussed. They should all be screened and should not be allowed in if they are HIV positive.


  9. Andrew, I have just finished a bruising battle with your former colleagues at Catallaxy (fortunately with a happy ending) so I am reluctant to start another one with your mob.

    But I do believe that while attacking the straw men put up by Scanlon you are putting up a few of your own.
    – Of course Howard has rejected the anti-economic rationalist agenda but Scanlon


  10. Fred – Your argument, like Scanlon’s, seems to rest on the logic that if Hanson said it, any subsequent policy change must have something to do with her. In the absence of any supporting evidence of a causal link, and no consideration of competing explanations, this just won’t do.

    Most things that Howard has done – with rare exceptions like the crushing of federalism – fit neatly with his statements from years prior to Hanson, and general Liberal Party beliefs. That migration should be controlled has been political orthodoxy since federation; it was not something that Hanson dreamt up in 1996. Hanson thought we should tear up UN treaties, Howard has torn up none while not following the UN slavishly (why should we? – its strongest defenders would admit it is a very imperfect organisation). The culture wars started long before Hanson; many people were raging against Keating.

    So the argument would have to be that Hanson created political space – but an argument could also be made that she reduced it, since she allowed guilt-by-association articles like Scanlon’s to get past sleepy op-ed editors.

    Something for another post, but I would also reject the idea that controlling migration is ‘prejudice’, when clearly some migrants can inflict serious costs on those already here.

    We should expect minimum intellectual standards from academics, including respect for factual accuracy and only drawing causal inferences where there is both correlation and a plausible theory. I think Scanlon failed to meet those minimum standards, and this should be pointed out.


  11. Whether there is a causal relationship or not, the fact is that Howard has completely defused old Hansonism. The only way she can move now is much further to the extreme edges.


  12. Fred – Hansonism imploded as much as being defeated by external forces, as Howard would always have predicted it would. Rather like events such as the Cronulla riots, it was the product of an unusual chain of circumstances, but the underlying fundamentals weren’t there to sustain it.


  13. Much as I dislike to argue with a man of Mr Argy’s eminence… wasn’t it Bob Hawke who declared that no-one would ‘by some autonomous action of their own… determine our immigration policy’ (or words to that effect)?

    Isn’t that just a slightly mangled version of what Howard said, which Mr Argy is comparing with what Hanson said?


  14. David, I think there is a distinction that can be drawn between ‘free trade in goods, services and financial assets’ and ‘free movement of people’. After all, how else can people like yourself be against the former but (presumably) not the latter?


  15. If people get HIV from an infected person, it’s usually due to their own choice, with sex and drug use being primary (and preventable) transmission vectors. Allowing HIV+ people into the country is no riskier than allowing citizens with HIV to mingle with the general community.

    Tuberculosis, on the other hand, is an airborne contagion. People typically get HIV while exercising free choice, but TB is spread indiscriminately. Are DIMA’s priorities then so wrong?


  16. So what you are saying is that everyone in Australia should stop having sex so we can let in more HIV+ refugees?

    TB is curable and there is a vaccine. I’m not a doctor but I’d sure be less concerned if I caught TB than if I caught HIV.


  17. David, I’m not saying there is a profound difference between free trade and free movement of people, just that a distinction can be drawn for quite pragmatic reasons that are not racist. For example, given the choice, probably about 6 billion people would like to live in Australia. Where would that leave our physical infrastructure, health system and welfare system? We already have an extensive migration programme but removing all restrictions would lead to utter chaos.

    Moreover, it is not true to say these unadmitted people are excluded from participating in free trade. They do – through (what passes for) free trade in goods and services. When a Chinese factory worker makes Nike shoes for $2 per day, he is benefitting by at least $1 per day compared with what his country cousin is making working in the fields. In fact, most of these people have skills of so little value in Australia that it would not be viable (or legal) to employ them here.

    But you didn’t answer my question – do you agree with free movement of people but not with free trade in goods? If so, where and how do you draw the distinction? Alternatively, if you believe in no free movement of people or goods, what is your rationale for that view? Presumably it is not a racist one?


  18. Rajat,

    I don’t think you can accept free trade without the free movement of people. It has lead to exploitation of these people in their home countries that do not enjoy the legal protections that a worker here would enjoy. Yet we tolerate companies like Nike (who also enjoy legal protections here) while simultaneously delivering us goods that, in all conscience, we should not be purchasing. I’m all for investing in developing countries, but allowing trans national corporations to exploit foreign labour in order to maintain profit, while not allowing the very people they can exploit any sort of reasonable choice about where they can sell their labour, is hypocritical.

    So, free trade in goods must be matched with free movement of people.


  19. David, does this mean you support free trade and free movement but prefer neither to either? If that’s the case, you would consign billions of people from poor countries who have benefitted from the higher wages and conditions offered by exporters to lives of poverty. But maybe that’s the price you’re willing to pay to avoid ‘hypocracy’.

    I fundamentally disagree with the notion that buying goods made by people who enjoy lower protections than us constitutes ‘exploitation’ in the pejorative sense you intend. This could lead to the absurb proposition that European or Australian consumers exploit Amercian workers (who have fewer legal rights). I repeat what I said before – if you required 3rd world workers to be paid the same as us, 99% of them would be out of a job and starve.


  20. David,

    You don’t have to have free movement of people and free trade. You might think it moral that they go together, but they don’t necessarily have to go together. Or are you arguing that, because we don’t have free movement of people, we should give up the benefits of free trade in goods and capital? I don’t think that would be good for anyone – least of all those in developing countries who need to sell their goods in developed countries and need access to American, European and Japanese capital.

    The arguments I remember from university are that, if you allow free trade and free capital movements, then you don’t have to worry about free movement of people. This is because, rather than having the people come to your country to participate in your labour market, the capital can simply flow to them where they are, and the goods that they make can then flow back to you. Your money payments in turn goes out to their country.

    However, if you deny the fruits of their labour entry into your market, then you are establishing the conditions for them to try to enter your country to share in your wealth. I think this is one of the problems besetting the European Union – I don’t think they’d have so many problems with illegal immigration if they opened their markets, and allowed people to create wealth in their own countries.

    The secret to stopping exploitation of third world workers is to give them so many opportunities for employment that employers have to bid up wages in order to buy their services.

    The simple reason why we don’t allow free movement of people is because they would overwhelm the welfare system. You’re in favour of free tertiary education, yes? Would you like your taxes to pay for half of Africa to study cost-free at Australian universities?


  21. Rajat said:
    “I repeat what I said before – if you required 3rd world workers to be paid the same as us, 99% of them would be out of a job and starve.”

    and Jeremy said:
    “I don


  22. it really annoys me when I hear that nike ‘exploits’ their worker sin third world countries. In such countries, the cost of labour is lower. if they paid less than the average wage in those countries, you might have a case, but that is not the case. In fact, to try and assuage western guilt, they are paid more.

    The ‘brown people’ want to get ahead, just like anyone. And having the job is in fact just about the only way you can get ahead. Probably better in the long run than a lotto win.

    What this has to do with the perils of Pauline I do not know. She is a agrarian socialist who would line up against those ‘brown people’ to ensure that some yobbo can inefficiently produce half as many happy meals at 20 times the price in a run down factory in Spotswood. I guess you can say that if she were to compare the views of Howard with Mr Rubie, Pauline would line up with Mr Rubie.


  23. Read it again entropy,

    It’s not just the wages, it’s also the conditions. Where capital goes, so should the law. Where we use cheap labour in other countries, they should have the opportunity to sell their labour at higher prices in our countries. It is simple.


  24. David,

    So you’re suggesting that, when Chinese companies invest in Australian mines, Australian workers should be subject to Chinese labour laws?


  25. Jeremy,

    Why not? let’s see how far the chinese comaanies get trying to find workers under chinese labour laws and working conditions in Australia. My guess is: nowhere. We wouldn’t work for those kinds of conditions, but we continue to expect others to do so. It’s wrong.


  26. David,

    I’ve never heard it proposed before. I suppose it could work in practice. It reminds me of the laws regulating oil tankers and other freighters. But I suspect that, just as oil freighters are registered in ‘flag of convenience’ countries, many companies would domicile themselves in countries with the most lax labour laws. And so once the re-shuffling had occurred, we would be no closer to solving the problems that you have brought up.

    By the way: I’m not encouraging ‘brown people of the world’ to stay at home. What I would like is for them to have the choice of having a decent job in their own country if they want to stay, or trying their luck elsewhere through legal immigration. At the moment, protectionism in the developed world means that, for many of them, their choices are limited to:

    1. living in poverty where they are, with all the appalling consequences that follow from that; or

    2. risking their lives to illegally enter a developed country, where they go on to risk their lives again in dangerous, low paid jobs with appalling conditions.

    In short, I think that, in today’s world, allowing freer trade and capital flows would be a better solution to poverty and crappy, exploitative jobs than would the unrestricted right to emigrate anywhere in the world.


  27. Jeremy wrote:
    “many companies would domicile themselves in countries with the most lax labour laws”

    A lot of them already domecile themselves in countries with the most lax tax laws, it’s a logical conclusion. It requires a homogenisation of labour laws but I don’t see why it can’t be done within these so called “free trade agreements”.

    I’m sympathetic to the notion that the influx of capital into low wage countries creates opportunities, but the weighting is heavily stacked towards capital. I’d like to see a better balance between those offering their labour and those offering the jobs. Part of that balance is allowing all labourers to choose the manner of their employment and a fundamental part of that must be less restrictive work visa schemes.

    I don’t see why it is necessary only to free up commerce between countries where money and goods are traded: surely this creates inbalances that a freer trade in labour would redress.


  28. Thanks Rajat. You undertand what I’m saying, yes? I can’t help to settle these questions if they change every time I write a comment.


  29. Start here

    I don’t know why you find it so confusing: if the labourers had the same freedom to choose from the place of their labour as (say) Nike has choices about where it can source it’s labour, the problems wouldn’t exist.


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