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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

All singing, all dancing

I was on Queensland's Gold Coast last weekend with my partner and her family. The weather was warm and high-rise development continued unabated.

We all went to Jupiter's Casino on Saturday night to see the all-singing and all-dancing Todd McKenney show. A judge on Dancing with the Stars, McKenney is a charismatic, cheesy performer who entertained the mostly middle age audience with show-tunes and Peter Allen renditions.

After about one hour, the pace of the show slowed down and McKenney told another unfunny joke. Then, from behind a bar on stage, former MP Pauline Hanson appeared. "Please explain", she said, before singing a song with McKenney. Dressed in a blue ball-gown, Hanson looked uncomfortable but this didn't stop her taking McKenney's hand and ballroom dancing across the stage. The crowd lapped it up and shouted approvingly. "Only in Queensland", I thought.

During the interval, I overheard two men discussing Hanson:

Man 1: That Hanson must be pretty desperate for money these days.

Man 2: Yeah, but she's good looking!

In the second half of the performance, she sang a few more songs. During Peter Allen's "I Still Call Australia Home", with a large Australian flag at the back of the stage, Hanson wore a sailor's hat and seemed to be enjoying the experience. She never looked especially adept at dancing and the lyrics seemed to escape her during the Village People's "YMCA".

Hanson has clearly been forgiven in Queensland. Perhaps her past indiscretions, insults and opinions have always been warmly embraced up north. I don't doubt that many Australians across the country share the sentiment proudly portrayed on her website: "Pauline is the only one who will say what everyone else is thinking, when no one else has the courage."

Her racism, ignorance and bigotry may no longer be in the public domain though others have proudly claimed the baton. One of the great mistakes of the past, however, was simply dismissing Hanson rather than trying to understand the reasons behind her views. One of the few journalists who attempted this was Margo Kingston in her stunning book, Off the Rails: The Pauline Hanson Trip.

During my night at Jupiter's, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.


Blogger Shay said...

As a country Queenslander, I would say that the answer is a bit of everything. Yes, she appealed to plenty of Queenslanders in her day, especially the middle-aged to elderly crowd you would have seen in the audience for such a show. I also think that even among those who didn't agree with her opinions, she became a bit of a martyr for the way the entrenched two-party system spurned her, attacked her, refused her a look-in and, in the end, even criminalised her actions. But I think most of all time heals all wounds, and now that she is not stirring people up and hasn't done for several years, she is good for a laugh and nobody talks about her ideas with a great deal of feeling anymore. She has no influence on our lives, she's just a famous person we knew once.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 8:29:00 pm  
Blogger chris said...

Yeah, and now she's been replaced by blogs.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 9:54:00 pm  
Blogger Gerry said...

"Hanson has clearly been forgiven in Queensland."

If you have trouble forgiving Hanson, you'd have trouble forgiving a huge slab of the Australian population. Clearly your existence is way too urbanised.

Get out into the country. Sit in a pub. Listen.

Jesus may well have been speaking of Asutralians when he said "Forgive them, for they know not what they do..." Famous last words...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 11:07:00 am  
Blogger paul said...

only in Queensland...... sums up the arrogant, superior and precious attitude of the Sydney/Melbourne elitist left. Hanson was followed nationally by dingbats, not just up here- many of us were embarrassed by the daft cow, and personally I thought she set back actual conservatism by years- her whole schtick (except for immigration) was closer to the Greens than to anyone on the right.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 6:12:00 pm  

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