Keating was widely expected to be returned to office with a majorityrnof at least three seats. The driveling incompetence thatrnthe Liberals and their National Party coalition partners had displayedrnin the final months of the previous Parliament’s life inspiredrndespair in even their most devoted lay supporters. Sornconvulsed were they by humiliating memories of their defeat atrnthe 1993 election (before which they had for the first time in 30rnyears offered voters, Goldwater-style, “a choice, not an echo”)rnthat they had become obsessed with the desire to eliminate everyrnparticle of ideological difference between themselves andrnLabor. Besides, in the days immediately before Mrs. Hanson’srnremark, both Labor and the National parties had enthusiasticallyrnpurged their ranks of “racist” elements. Western Australia’srnGraeme Campbell had been stripped of Labor’s endorsementrnfor his seat of Kalgoorlie, partly because of hisrnwillingness to address meetings of the League of Rights (Australia’srnnearest equivalent to the John Birch Society) and partlyrnthrough his justified but tactless observation that the greatestrnservice Mr. Keating could give Australia was a state funeral.rnIn northern Queensland, two far less celebrated figures thanrnCampbell had also been abandoned by their own party’s headrnoffice: Bob Katter, Jr. (Federal National Party member for thernseat of Kennedy) and Bob Burgess (the Nationals’ candidate forrnthe nearby electorate of Leichhardt). Mr. Katter’s sin was to alludernin an otherwise narcoleptic speech to “slanty-eyed ideologues,”rnwhile the “hate crime” of Mr. Burgess (who had unsuccessfullyrncontested Leichhardt in 1993) lay in hisrnlighthearted and off-the-cuff description of Australia’s citizenshiprnprocedures as “de-wogging ceremonies.” So when Mrs.rnHanson dared to say in public what almost every Australian atrnsome stage has said in private about the race-relations privilegentsia,rnit was evident that she could expect no more mercyrnthan Messrs. Campbell, Katter, and Burgess had received. Sherntoo was expelled from the party she had been chosen to represent.rnUndaunted, she refused to do the decent thing of withdrawingrnfrom the race altogether. Instead, she ran, like Mr.rnBurgess, as an Independent.rnAustralia’s federal and state parliamentary history is such arndensely packed graveyard of Independents’ careers that this decisionrnof hers alone reveals her cluelessness regarding conventionalrnpolitical techniques. Ted Mack, Robyn Read, FrankrnArkell, Dawn Fraser (yes, the former Olympic swimmer), PhilrnCleary, Steele Hall—these are but a few of the figures, all drippingrnwith street-smartness by Hanson standards, who enteredrnAustralian legislatures with great panache as Independents andrnwere almost never heard from again. But then, none of thesernforgettables ever managed what Mrs. Hanson achieved in thernMarch 1996 election: victory in Oxlev with a 20 percent swingrnin her favor. (Her fellow pariahs also did rather well. Mr.rnBurgess narrowly lost, despite a six percent improvement overrnhis 1993 candidacy’s result; but Mr, Katter was vindicated by arn12 percent increase in his raw vote, while Mr. Campbell faredrnbetter than his Liberal and Labor antagonists combined.)rnAll this, plus the long overdue halt to the dreams of p.ccrazedrnAboriginal Affairs Minister Robert Tickner, flung outrnfrom his New South Wales seat to the tune of an 11 percentrnswing against him, seemed too good to be true. Could this tallyrnof successes and near-successes by the politically incorrectrnconstitute a portent? Might Australian p,c, really be dying?rnEven if it retained rude health, might it not have acquired an airrnof undesirability, like peedophilia or abstract expressionism?rnHad Samuel Beckett predicted the Australian polity of 1996rnwhen he announced, in his favorite mode of drum-rolling pretentiousness,rn”Something is taking its course”?rnIt was Mrs, Hanson’s first pariiamentary speech on Septemberrn10, by far the most widely reported utterance of this kindrnin Australia’s annals, which guaranteed her place as one of onlyrnthree federal Independents (excluding the newly IndependentrnMr. Campbell) who have seriously mattered. Not that her performancernscored high marks in the field of oratory. Mrs. Hanson’srnplatform expertise is about on a par with her knowledge ofrngrammar (which proves the folly of those who condemn her asrna Nazi-type demagogue) and few of the parliamentarians whornretain a sense of history even bothered to sit through her effort.rnRead in cold print, it seems less like an inflammation of mobrnsentiments than an assemblage of truisms. She mentioned thernwidespread fear that two decades of multiculturalism had putrnAustralia “in danger of being swamped by Asians,” She notedrnthat “they [Asians] have their own culture and religion, formrnghettoes, and do not assimilate , , , a truly multicultural societyrncan never be strong or united, and the world is full of failed andrntragic examples,” She called for peacetime national service tornbe reintroduced. She deplored the time and money Australiarnwasted by remaining in the U,N, She urged Prime MinisterrnJohn Howard to “cease all foreign aid immediately and applyrnthe savings to generating employment here at home,” Shernreopened the topic that had originally turned the Liberalsrnagainst her:rnPresent governments are encouraging separatism in Australiarnby providing opportunities, land, monies and facilitiesrnonly available to Aboriginals, Along with millions ofrnAustralians I am fed up to the back teeth with the inequalitiesrnthat are being promoted by the Governmentrnand paid for by the taxpayer under the assumption thatrnAboriginals are the most disadvantaged people in Australia,rnI am fed up with being told, “This is our land,” Well,rnwhere the hell do I go? I was born here and so were myrnparents and children , , , I draw the line when told I mustrnpay and continue paying for something that happenedrnover two hundred years ago.rnThe sheer novelty of trvith being uttered out loud in any Australianrncontext ensured that days elapsed before the Fourth Estaternrealized the implications of Mrs, Hanson’s remarks. Butrnwhen it did stir from its slumbers (one cannot very well use thernphrase “wake up” about a collective mind so slothful and crepuscular),rnit lost no time in applying The Treatment, Mrs,rnHanson was a fanatic, Mrs. Hanson was a rabble-rouser. Mrs.rnHanson was a racist, Mrs, Hanson was a bigot, Mrs. Hansonrnwas personally responsible for Wodd War II (no mean feat forrnsomeone not born until 1954). Mrs. Hanson was divorced (inrncontradistinction, of course, to the Jansenist sexual morality ofrnyour average media pundit). Most disgusting of all (to judge byrnthe tabloid sneers at it) was Mrs. Hanson’s former status as arndispenser of fish-and-chips. Obviously a mere working stiff behindrna counter could not be expected to know anything aboutrnanything. At least Geoffrey Blainey had possessed the elementaryrndecency to inhabit the public sector for years before exhibitingrnhis “intolerance.”rnNo sooner had the whining satraps of local journalism andrnbureaucracy discovered unprecedented depths of loathsome-rnJULY 1997/21rnrnrn