‘Stupid and damaging’: Political commentator slams WA Libs for Pauline Hanson deal

Senator Pauline Hanson. Photo: Getty
Senator Pauline Hanson. Photo: Getty

POLITICAL commentator and writer David Marr has slammed Colin Barnett’s decision to cut a preference deal with Pauline Hanson’s One Nation ahead of last month’s State Election.

The deal did neither side any favours – with Mr Barnett’s Government losing the election in a landslide, while One Nation’s vote was much lower than expected.

Mr Marr said a look through recent history should have told Mr Barnett the move would be a disaster.

Speaking at the University Club of Western Australia on Wednesday night, Mr Marr cited the example of the 1998 Queensland State Election.

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Back then the Liberal-National Government of Rob Borbidge went to the polls after cutting a preference deal with One Nation, only to have the move backfire.

“(It’s estimated) a third of the Liberal voters in Brisbane walked in disgust from their party and voted Labor,” Mr Marr said.

“That was the end of the Borbidge Government.

“That government was on its last legs – it was spent, it was over.

“The deal with One Nation, that was absolutely pursued by John Howard, proved to be a disaster.

“The lesson was do not do deals with this woman – that a decent political party does not do deals with this woman.”

Mr Marr said the failure of political leaders to learn from past mistakes continues to mystify him.

“I’ve become fascinated lately by the power of forgetting in politics, as well as the desperation of politicians who are facing a loss – of the stupid, damaging things they will do in a desperate attempt to stay in power,” he said.

“There was a spent government in Western Australia, a government on its last legs with no real hope of being re-elected.

“And what do people do in the Liberal Party? They forget the lessons learned 20 years ago and they do a deal with this dreadful woman in the vague hope that this will somehow maintain power.

“I understand that disgust worked again in this town and people walked.”

Mr Marr, who has written the latest Quarterly Essay entitled The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race, said Ms Hanson entered politics essentially as a Liberal, and that many of her supporters are pining for a lost age of Australia.

“She is a flint-hearted Liberal … she came into politics objecting to money being spent on people,” Mr Marr said.

“What they (One Nation voters) want is to go back to the past.

“They have a fierce nostalgia for a lost Australia.

“We can’t go back there, it’s gone, it’s lost – but that’s what they want.

“And therefore it’s a force which is dealing with dreams.”