Mike's Minute: Don't be an egg, keep the debate sensible

Author
Mike Hosking,
Section
Video,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 19 March 2019, 7:42AM

COMMENT

Fraser Anning is the accidental senator - and most likely Australia's least popular politician. He got egged, has a million-plus signatures looking to oust him, and faces a censure vote in the Parliament.

He is an idiot, but as weird as the Australian electoral system is, a duly elected one. Given the accused mosque gunman is Australian, this debate is playing out in part across the Tasman as well.

Accusations are flying, there is finger pointing. Peter Dutton, the Home Affairs Minister, is accusing the Greens of being as bad as Anning, after the Greens accused Dutton of stoking the flames of hatred.

Penny Wong, these days Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and formally Minister of Finance in the Rudd and Gillard governments, says Dutton normalises hate speech. So in a way we can be grateful that we haven't sunk to that level yet.

But the fascinating thing is, this debate stems from democracy. These are all duly elected officials, and they're elected by support of the wider populace, and that's before you get to Pauline Hanson and One Nation, who will abstain from the aforementioned censure vote.

Now, just to be clear, so no one misconstrues any of this, there is a massive gap between this sort of rhetoric or policy, and mad men with guns.

And the concern is that legitimate debate gets closed down now for fear of, well take your pick, being accused of being a terror supporter, an anti-Semite, anti-Islamist, pro-Islamist, or a white supremacist.

We are in danger of looking to join so many dots, just to somehow satisfy ourselves over why this stuff happens.

My basic premise is people are bad, they're born bad, and get turned bad. Social media plays a role, as does the internet, as does certain political policy, as does extreme groups preaching hate, as does lots of things.

But in looking to understand the extremes, we don't want to risk bringing the debate back so close to the middle, or norm, or mainstream, so as to stifle genuine views, ideas, ideals and politics.

Has Dutton normalised hate speech? Or has he been part of a boat people policy that has been demanded by Australians? A policy over immigration that is widely popular and successful?

UKIP in Britain basically was born out of protecting borders. Is that legitimate political debate? Or hate speech? Dare we even start on the wall and Donald Trump?

Now you don't have to agree with the policies, which is where the Australian Greens come in with Dutton. But they are policies, in some cases they are popular, and that is what the political and democratic process is about. And that is serving the peoples' desires and expectations.

The guardian and measure being elections every three, four, or five years.

In a time of heightened sensitivity and sadness, certain boundaries are drawn.

But we must be wary, always wary of the agenda of those looking to close down views under the auspices of them being a little radical or extreme - when in reality if held by large swathes of the community, are not.

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