Home > Oz Politics > The LNP-ONP coalition

The LNP-ONP coalition

August 31st, 2016

After the election results came in, I posted about the implications for the Turnbull government of dealing with One Nation as if it were a normal and legitimate political party.

It seems likely, however, that Turnbull is going to treat One Nation, for the first time in Australia, as a normal political party, and to negotiate with Hanson as an equal. That would be a new low for him, and for Australia. And, sooner or later, it will come back to bit him and the LNP. For an object lesson in the dangers of courting racist votes while maintaining a claim to be non-racist, he need only look at the US Republican party,

It is already clear that this analysis fell far short of the mark. Far from being “just another minor party”, One Nation has become a semi-formal member of the LNP Coalition and part of the dominant rightwing grouping within that coalition. The two most striking developments, among many, are
* The decision of the Queensland LNP to preference One Nation ahead of Labor . This is unusual in itself, given that no election is in prospect any time soon and a radical reversal of the pre-election position of putting One Nation last[1]
* The alliance between One Nation and the LNP right to promote a change to hate speech laws, allowing racial speech that “offends” or “insults” the target.
I remain convinced that this will prove a path to disaster for the LNP in the long run, but it could do a great deal of damage to Australia while the LNP-ONP coalition remains in office.

The 18C issue a whole post to itself, but the central point here is that this move does not reflect any general commitment to free speech, along the (apocryphal) Voltairian line that “I disagree with what you say, but defend to the death your right to say it”. The backers of this proposal are people who want to exercise the freedom to make offensive and insulting racial attacks.

Of course, it’s important to avoid the ad hominem fallacy here. The claim that “people have a right to be bigots” isn’t invalidated by the fact that most of its proponents (though not, I think George Brandis) are bigots themselves. But the simple political fact is that racists are now viewed as acceptable by the LNP, and are already a substantial, if not dominant faction within that party. Most of this faction has no interest in free speech for anyone but themselves.

If any change to laws governing public speech is to be addressed by this Parliament, it should not take the form of an escape clause specifically designed for bigots. Rather we should be looking at a general guarantee of free speech, something that does not currently exist in Australia.

Finally, I’ll repeat in sharper form a question I’ve raised before. If rightwing LNP backbenchers have a consequence-free right to vote against party policy on hate speech, why don’t supporters of equal marriage have the same right? The most obvious target of this question is former IPA official Tim Wilson, who has vigorously attacked 18C while toeing the party line on equal marriage, despite his stated support.

fn1. Some reported equivocation on this point by Queensland union official Ros McLennan is unhelpful to put it mildly, but it appears to be a News Ltd beatup of waffle on McLennan’s part.

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  1. Newtownian
    August 31st, 2016 at 17:11 | #1

    We watched a little of Jenny Brockie interviewing One Nation voters last night. The participant who appeared first displayed intelligence initially in comments on the problem of cynicism among many politicians. But then they displayed what could only be described as abominable political ignorance in subsequent comments to the effect that Hanson was a nice cuddly reasoned person rather than the egotistical twisted biggot promoted by a cynical commercial media that we know and dont love much. Rather than yell at the television we switched to some soma, Poirot I think.

    The bottom line is its one thing to try and empathize and understand other points of view but when its beyond the pale how does one respond to/combat such unspeakable perspective/lack of insight? Snappy comments/strategies designed to undermine their paradigm or at least seed some doubt welcome.

  2. derrida derider
    August 31st, 2016 at 21:12 | #2

    Slightly OT, but I’ve come to think 18C really is bad law – too broadly phrased and pretty nebulous too. Sure, the push to repeal it is led by troglodytes but they have a point this time. Don’t let our own tribalism blind us to this, whatever we think of their motives or of their use of the issue as a dog whistle to their really nasty fringe. Amazingly enough, something can be true even if it does appear in The Australian.

  3. Collin Street
    August 31st, 2016 at 21:14 | #3

    The bottom line is its one thing to try and empathize and understand other points of view but when its beyond the pale how does one respond to/combat such unspeakable perspective/lack of insight?

    There are trained medical professionals who could help you with the answer to this question!

  4. Ikonoclast
    August 31st, 2016 at 23:37 | #4

    So…, capitalism intensifies, approaches a crisis and overt fascism rises once again. Coincidence? I think not.

    “One last observation about fascist movements: they seem unable to know when and how to stop making their demands.” – Samir Amin.

    Is not this characteristic of being “unable to know when and how to stop making their demands” precisely what we have seen with the economic demands of neoliberalism?

  5. jrkrideau
    September 1st, 2016 at 01:30 | #5

    Totally OT but I am Canadian and our new government has as a basic policy moving to some kind of proportional voting.

    The decision of the Queensland LNP to preference One Nation ahead of Labor .
    Can anyone explain to me what this means or point me to some simple-minded source?

    Thanks

  6. Ikonoclast
    September 1st, 2016 at 06:48 | #6

    Who is surprised that unfettered capitalism leads straight to f a s c i s m?

    They are natural allies and in the final synthesis of their systems become one and the same thing. The dictatorship of capital in everyday life naturally expands to the dictatorship of capital in all of politics.

  7. Ikonoclast
    September 1st, 2016 at 07:30 | #7

    Worth reading as it contains many insights about capitalism and its relation to…

    http://monthlyreview.org/2014/09/01/the-return-of-fascism-in-contemporary-capitalism/

  8. Clive Newton
    September 1st, 2016 at 08:43 | #8

    What is the surprise? Hanson was a Howard-Liberal in 1996, meaning she was running on the racist party talking points being fed to candidates. She was a cruder version of what Howard and I recall Katter doing in that nasty land-rights election. She was thrown to the wolves because it distracted the media from Howard’s scare/racist lines about land rights. Remember “For all of us”? How far was that slogan from what Hanson said/says? The LNP moved against Hanson/ONP only after the scare they got when ONP won a stack of rural (mainly) seats off them. I’m sitting in one of those seats now, former Bjelke-P seat held by 2 different right-wing non-NP types. The LNP and ONP are a joint ticket now because they always have been.

  9. Julie Thomas
    September 1st, 2016 at 08:51 | #9

    @Newtownian

    “Snappy comments/strategies designed to undermine their paradigm or at least seed some doubt welcome.”

    Snappy comments only reassure them that you the evil leftist are cynical and trying to con them or even if you are educated you are too stupid to understand the real problems.

    From my experience living and working with them in a small town in Qld, for 12 years now, and who has never hidden the fact that I have a university education provided by the state, am an arty person who has sucked on the teat of the taxpayer for years, I think I have won some of them over so that they listen.

    I did have a convo about Pauline with another woman in our craft group in which I was able to challenge her idea of Pauline as someone who is just like her by asking her a few questions about the way she would have behaved if in Pauline’s shoes in certain situations that have been made public recently.

    First she said it was just gossip and I said no it goes to her character and her ability to make good decisions. That worked and I knew it had because she immediately changed the topic and declared that Labor’s debt and would ruin the country.

    How I said? What will happen? We will have to live like they do in communist countries she said. You already live like someone in a communist country I said. You grow your own fruit and veges you don’t have a swimming pool or a even a pool room. You don’t aspire to be rich and famous so you wouldn’t notice. You are voting for people who take advantage of your hard work and going without. She walked out then.

    She has not raised the topic again but her attitude toward me in the context of the craft shop is even more ‘respectful’, I suppose and an obvious willingness to listen to my other ideas about how our shop could be run in a more co-operative way and make even more money.

    I try to not criticise the people they admire but instead to laud and explain the principles of progressivism and coooperation and social responsibility and how life would be better for us if we went back to some of the old ways when there were public servants and the govt ran the essential services. That works well because they do want services in the bush and we are not getting them.

    They are confused and lacking in any coherent narrative about what is happening, how they fit in and what they should be wanting and having. They are not all that stupid, it is ignorance, the misinformation from the Churches and resentment at the left who they really see as elites who are working for their own benefit and not for the good of all, that drives them into right wingism.

  10. GrueBleen
    September 1st, 2016 at 09:35 | #10

    @jrkrideau
    Your #5

    Depends on how detailed an explanation you need jkr. Canada, I understand, has the ‘plurality voting’ system in which you only vote for a single candidate in each electorate and the candidate who accumulates the most votes – even if significantly less than 50% of total votes – is elected.

    In Australia, we vote for every candidate in order of our preference – hence it’s a “preferential” system. So, say in one electorate there was three candidates, an LNP candidate, a Labor (ALP) candidate and an ONP candidate. So, people will select one of the three candidates to get their 1st choice. But then who gets the No 2 and No 3 choices ?

    The most likely outcome is that the LNP and ALP candidates will get most of the votes, but maybe neither gets more than 50%. What now ? Well now the votes cast by people putting the ONP first will be examined to see who they put 2nd – all those where the LNP was put second will be passed on to the LNP and likewise to the ALP for the others. This continues until all the ‘2nd preference votes’ of the ONP are distributed, at which point either the LNP candidate, or the ALP candidate will now have an effective vote greater than 50%.

    So clearly, which party the ONP ‘preferences’ in this case actually decides which candidate gets elected (at least in this simple circumstance). But in the situation where – rarely – it is the ALP and ONP candidates that get the most, but less than 50%, of votes, it would be who the LNP preferences – in this case the ONP ahead of the ALP – that could decide who gets elected.

    Of course, Australians aren’t sheep (that’s Enzedders), so voters don’t slavishly follow the dictates of any party, but if the LNP preferencing results in a say 65% – 35% split in preferences directed to the ONP versus the ALP, then that still could be enough, if the vote is close, to get the ONP candidate elected ahead of the ALP candidate.

    And if all of the above is just too confusing, you can look up the topic “Electoral system of Australia” in Wikipedia.

  11. Greg McKenzie
  12. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    September 1st, 2016 at 09:43 | #12

    A few points to make.

    Yes the ONP has quite a few things in common with the social conservatives in the LNP however in terms of economics they have little in common. they are very much like
    Katter. Mad interventionists, want more regulation and do not like competition.
    Plenty of tension there. Remember why she didn’t like Howard!!

    One also has to remember most of the preferences of people who voted for her party went to the ALP.
    She and her members has to remember that

  13. John Quiggin
    September 1st, 2016 at 09:58 | #13

    One also has to remember most of the preferences of people who voted for her party went to the ALP.

    Source for this?

  14. Moz of Yarramulla
    September 1st, 2016 at 10:09 | #14

    @jrkrideau

    The decision of the Queensland LNP to preference One Nation ahead of Labor .

    We have preferential voting, not proportional (mostly), which means voters number the candidates from least hated to most hated. Parties issue “how to vote” instructions, and in some elections have a formal set of preferences so that voters can just write a “1” in that party’s box on the ballot, which means “do whatever the party wants with my vote”.

    In this case, it’s more a “we like you” declaration than anything formal, because the official preferences only get lodged shortly before an actual election. As Prof Quiggin points out, there’s no election coming up.

    (links somewhat random from a quick search)

  15. Apocalypse
    September 1st, 2016 at 10:44 | #15

    no election is in prospect any time soon

    On the contrary, assuming that Palaszczuk doesn’t want to repeat Newman’s mistake of a January election, the next Queensland state election will be at most 15 months away. And given her precarious Parliamentary position, it could be several months earlier than that. Now is exactly the time for the LNP to suck up to the quarter of a million people who just voted for One Nation in Queensland.

  16. GrueBleen
    September 1st, 2016 at 11:05 | #16

    @Julie Thomas
    Your #9

    That reminds me of a ‘persuasion tactic’ that I encountered many moons ago (maybe as many as 30*12 moons ago) to the effect that you shuldn’t start your pitch by disagreeing or criticizing, but by seeming to agree or praise and then proposing a divergence.

    Something along the lines of, if someone states, for instance, that “Drug takers should be imprisoned for life”, then your response would be along the lines of:
    “Yes, that is a good idea for ending public drug addiction, and if we added an option to try to rehabilitate drug users, we could save all the expense of imprisoning them.”

    Now, if only my tired old brain could remember where I encountered that. It might even have been Edward de Bono back then (but I hope not). I think it might be a variant of the ‘ingratiation’ approach.

    And maybe it was Robert Cialdini in his book ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’ which I might just have another read of some day. Highly recommended for everybody (Ikono, I’m talking to you here) who needs to achieve some ‘persuasion’ of doubtful others.

  17. Jim Birch
    September 1st, 2016 at 11:23 | #17

    Ikonoclast :
    So…, capitalism intensifies, approaches a crisis and overt fascism rises once again. Coincidence? I think not.

    Scope creep.

    I don’t think you need to convert this into the grand historical narrative, that racism will only end with the overthrow of capitalism. Moreover, you are simply wrong. A teeny bit of empirical testing reveals that non-capitalist and precapitalist societies have had racist practices and ideas too, both now and in the past. Probably, on the balance, more so. My view of history is that the least racist places (so far) are actually in modern capitalist states.

  18. jrkrideau
    September 1st, 2016 at 11:29 | #18

    @GrueBleen

    @Greg McKenzie

    @ Moz of Yarramulla

    Canada, I understand, has the ‘plurality voting’ system

    Exactly, known here as the “First Past The Post” or FPTP system. The vision of a mob of middle aged men and women galumphing down a race track like crippled Usain Bolts sometimes comes to mind.

    And if all of the above is just too confusing, you can look up the topic “Electoral system of Australia” in Wikipedia.

    I am very interested not a total masochist. Anyway I think I already did.

    Thanks everyone for all the information. I am beginning to get my head around the Australian system. Sorta. For some reason I thought it was a bit more complicated than a more-or-less straightforward “preferential” system.

    It seems relatively straight-forward compared to a couple of others mentioned around here as possible choices. Still, there go our fast election returns—two hours from close of last poll in British Colombia to crowning of next PM.

    My question was meant to say “What does the verb “to preference” mean in reference to parties? And I think Greg McKenzie and Moz of Yarramulla’s answers did it.

    Actually Greg’s response gave me the answer but I needed Moz’s response to make me believe it. After I misread (refused to believe?) Greg’s post, I was postulating that he and GrueBleen meant that the voter would have to actually make his/her rankings match party diktat but here one does not even have to remember the ranking order! Just remember the name of one party. Only if you don’t like your party’s choice do you need to mark more that first choice. Is that correct?

    So if the LNP preference the ON they are formally declaring that any votes for the LNP will go to the ON if the LNP candidate is No. 3 in a three candidate race in riding?

    Wow, this makes voting in Australia as easy as our FPTP system. One X on the ballet and you’re done. The vote tabulating still looks like a nightmare.

    Thanks a lot.

  19. Julie Thomas
    September 1st, 2016 at 11:37 | #19

    @GrueBleen

    That tactic might work with some people – there was psych research done on how to persuade people to change their minds but nothing that I remember as being very convincing or useful. I do think it was Edward de Bono you are thinking of and he inspired some people I knew back then, peoople who already did think outside the box to imagine that they were therefore smarter and better than other people who hadn’t already learned to think outside the box or who were not that sort of thinkers.

    But I can’t really offer any solutions for other people about how to persuade the doofuses using any sort of reason. I think the emotions that have been aroused by all the fear and loathing about the evil leftists ruining civilization needs to be countered before rational thinking can have any effect.

    Check out DonAitkin’s site to see how Chris Warren who used to comment here is dealing with spangled drongo and co. He’s impressive.

    I am sure that my credibility or whatever it is that people out here accept about me comes from what I do and not from what I say. I do contribute to the community far more than the neo-liberals – so many well off horse breeders out here with swimming pools but pool rooms probably not – who do nothing for the community and yet are regarded as hard working people who deserve their money. People are very aware of not being accused of being envious of those who have ‘worked harder’.

    That is the sort of thing I challenge and say; how come they don’t come to the hall meetings like back in the 60’s and ’70’s when the well off people and the ‘shiney bums’ actually did participate in community events donated money and started progress associations?

    And I can tell Not Trampis that the ON voters I know did not preference labor.

  20. Martin W
    September 1st, 2016 at 12:54 | #20

    I am most definitely not a fan of Mr Bernardi, I don’t know the man, have never met him, so really not fair to make a judgement.
    However our freedoms are sacred, that includes the freedom of expression, Section 18 allows bigots, racists and hate speakers to ‘hide’. Nope sorry lets hear them, lets see who they are, they have the right to speak out and we all have the right to deride them, scorn them and pillory them. At the very least amend Sect. 18 so it uses the word hate, that way at least we are on a stronger international basis, that is we conform to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
    On Miss Hanson, Im not a supporter of her either, although I love my fish and chips. I think we need ON and P Hanson, we need them so we can all see how messed up some of their policy is, ON gives a voice to many, it gives those voices an opportunity look in the mirror, realise that ignorance is a choice; who knows maybe we can sign them up to Prof Q’s school of Ikonoclastic education 101.

  21. jrkrideau
    September 1st, 2016 at 14:17 | #21

    there was psych research done on how to persuade people to change their minds but nothing that I remember as being very convincing or useful

    Stephan Lewandowsky at U. Western Australia and now at U. Bristol (UK) has done some what looks like interesting work in the area but I am not really conversant with it. He and John Cook from University of Queensland have put out something called The Debunking Handbook http://www.skepticalscience.com/docs/Debunking_Handbook.pdf that you and/or GrueBleen might find interesting.

    Cook and Lewandowsky are infamous among climate change deniers for their 97% study on who accepts the idea of Global Warming.

    Among other papers that are great fun is Lewandowsky et. al. NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science and Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation.

    The amazing thing, from a behavioural research point of view is that Lewandowsky, Cook and associates have created a self-generating subject pool! No more stalking undergrads (in the interest of science I mean).
    See the Recursive fury paper for what I mean.

  22. derrida derider
    September 1st, 2016 at 14:21 | #22

    Yep, jrkideau, you got it. And indeed the main downside of preferential voting (or Single Transferable Vote as it is generally known outside Australia) is that vote counting is much longer and more complex. That probably makes shenanigans in the counting easier – you wouldn’t want the Florida Republicans of 2000 to oversee it – but fortunately in Australia the counting is not under the control of parties or government. Being composed of humans the Australian Electoral Commission can occasionally mess up, but it is of unimpeachable integrity and independence.

    I think the main alternatives – FPTP, PR or multi-round voting all have worse downsides.

  23. Moz of Yarramulla
    September 1st, 2016 at 14:24 | #23

    @Martin W

    Section 18 allows bigots, racists and hate speakers to ‘hide’.

    There’s actually way more than that to the “hiding”. For starters, 99% of them have no ability to get a column accepted by a major metropolitan newspaper, a place on a chat show, or a seat in a parliament. Even with social media, very few of them will ever go viral. So “having a platform” isn’t something that will happen to them. No platform makes it significantly harder to publish harmful material.

    There’s also the problem of defamation law. As was pointed out with the Bolt S18c case, the complainants would likely have won a defamation case. Which means Bolt and his legal team stuffed up (viz, he was convicted), and is a reminder that defamation doesn’t require “Bob Smith of 123 This St, Smalltown is a …” type direct attack, it can be “a class of people are …” when the group is small enough that individual members can reasonably feel affronted.

    Finally, Australians have no right to free speech. A few activist judges of the type reviled by the far right in other contexts have decided that Australians have an “implied right of political communication” plus a couple of other rights that are actually spelled out. We have no right to freedom of movement, freedom from arbitrary arrest detection and torture, or any of those other left-wing fantasies. All we have is parliamentary law, which is just two majority votes away from change. As we saw with the various “all Muslims are terrorists” laws, it doesn’t take much for those imaginary rights to disappear.

  24. John Quiggin
    September 1st, 2016 at 14:28 | #24

    DD @2 I made the same point in the OP. But the political implication is that any reform of 18C should be part of a broader defence of civil liberties. As an obvious example, if offensive racial speech laws, hardly ever enforced, are to be repealed, what about laws on offensive behavior generally, which are heavily used by police as a tool of social control? Similarly, how about the many prosecutions that have been launched against unionists for swearing at government officials whose job it is to enforce anti-union laws.

  25. Apocalypse
    September 1st, 2016 at 15:01 | #25

    A major problem with the current push to repeal 18C is that Corey Bernardi is leading it. (Just about) nobody thinks he is acting in good faith. (Just about) nobody thinks he is genuinely interested in free speech, or civil liberties generally. (Just about) everybody thinks he is only looking for a legalised way to (even more) attack the people he and his friends don’t like.

    This might all be tu quoque, but most political debate is conducted this way these days.

  26. NME
    September 1st, 2016 at 15:13 | #26

    @[email protected] Thomas

    Perhaps Dale Carnegie in “How to win friends and influence people”?

  27. GrueBleen
    September 1st, 2016 at 15:20 | #27

    @jrkrideau
    Your #18

    You haven’t got it quite right yet, jrk. Australia (federally, and in most states) has two houses. What you have described – just select your party and your vote is decided – only applies to the upper house (Senate) and is one of two different ways of voting for that house. For the lower house (Representatives), you have to manually put a number in each box on the ballot paper (from 1 to n where n is the number of candidates), and thus you have to know what each party’s preference order is – which is why the parties have reps outside the polling place handing out ‘preference’ cards for at least each of the larger parties.

    And just to expand a little on derrida derider’s comment, the larger parties (ie at least the LNP, ALP and Greens) provide ‘scrutineers’ at the polling place who can object to any vote on the basis that “its true meaning is impossible to determine” and a local electoral officer will then rule as to whether that vote is to be accepted or not. Then, as per dd, the votes go into Australian Electoral Office’s hands for counting and safekeeping.

    The lower house (Representatives) is usually determined in a few days (2 or 3) with only a handful of very close seats taking longer. The Senate, however, usually takes several weeks (at a minimum) to determine.

  28. Julie Thomas
    September 1st, 2016 at 16:44 | #28

    @NME

    Youngest son says he was disappointed that the Borat technique failed to change many minds; he had argued at the time that it was sure to show people how stupid their beliefs are and what the consequences are but clearly it didn’t work and Borat is no longer a thing.

    Although there is at least one scholarly article that includes him, Borat in their list of political satirists. If you have not seen Borat interviewing well known people, try utube.

    But really, Dan Kahan has to be the expert on the psychology of denial. John Cook writes this:

    “Many thanks to Dan Kahan for the opportunity to discuss this important (and fascinating) issue of communicating the scientific consensus. I fully concur with Dan’s assertion that we need to be evidence-based in how we approach science communication. Indeed, my PhD research is focused on the very issue of attitude polarization and the psychology of consensus. The Cultural Cognition project, particularly the paperCultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus, has influenced my experiment design. I’m in the process of analysing data that I hope will guide us towards effective climate communication.”

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/john-cook-on-communicating-con/

  29. Julie Thomas
    September 1st, 2016 at 16:48 | #29

    Dale Carnegie! I never read that. I do remember my father making fun of it.

    Youngest son says he was disappointed that the Borat technique failed to change many minds; he had argued at the time that it was sure to show people how stupid their beliefs are and what the consequences are but clearly it didn’t work and Borat is no longer a thing.

    Although there is at least one scholarly article that includes him, Borat in their list of political satirists. If you have not seen Borat interviewing well known people, try utube.

    But really, Dan Kahan has to be the expert on the psychology of denial. John Cook writes this:

    “Many thanks to Dan Kahan for the opportunity to discuss this important (and fascinating) issue of communicating the scientific consensus. I fully concur with Dan’s assertion that we need to be evidence-based in how we approach science communication. Indeed, my PhD research is focused on the very issue of attitude polarization and the psychology of consensus. The Cultural Cognition project, particularly the paperCultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus, has influenced my experiment design. I’m in the process of analysing data that I hope will guide us towards effective climate communication.”

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/john-cook-on-communicating-con/

  30. J-D
    September 1st, 2016 at 18:51 | #30

    derrida derider :
    Yep, jrkideau, you got it. And indeed the main downside of preferential voting (or Single Transferable Vote as it is generally known outside Australia) …

    No; what we in Australia generally refer to as preferential voting is commonly referred to in the US as instant runoff voting (or IRV) and in the UK as the alternative vote (or AV); the expression Single Transferable Vote (or STV) is commonly used to refer to what we in Australia often refer to as the Hare-Clark system (although it’s true that if you take the STV/Hare-Clark rules and apply them to single-member electoral districts, the result is preferential voting or AV/IRV).

  31. J-D
    September 1st, 2016 at 19:27 | #31

    @Moz of Yarramulla

    There’s also the problem of defamation law. As was pointed out with the Bolt S18c case, the complainants would likely have won a defamation case. Which means Bolt and his legal team stuffed up (viz, he was convicted), and is a reminder that defamation doesn’t require “Bob Smith of 123 This St, Smalltown is a …” type direct attack, it can be “a class of people are …” when the group is small enough that individual members can reasonably feel affronted.

    Not quite. You can’t win a defamation case by proving that you reasonably felt affronted; what you have to prove is something closer to ‘my reputation (that is, what other people think of me) was damaged, or was reasonably likely to be damaged’. So your point, I am guessing, would be more like this, that you can win a defamation case if the reputation of a group of people is reasonably likely to have been damaged and the group is small enough that this damage is reasonably likely to have affected what people think of you, being one member of that small group.

  32. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    September 1st, 2016 at 20:04 | #32

    the AEC John and reported endlessly . mind you this occurred in the late 90s as well.

  33. September 1st, 2016 at 20:38 | #33

    Someone who I can’t can’t identify at the moment wrote:

    “If you are furious about section 18C and yet are weirdly quiet about section 42 of the border force act, which is the bit that makes it a crime for non-governmental workers to report on goings-on in detention including heath or abuse, then you’re not really that worried about restrictions on our freedom of speech. You just really like being racist.”

  34. rog
    September 1st, 2016 at 23:46 | #34

    The thing about 18C is that had Bolt told the truth he would have been entirely lawful; the fact that he told monstrous porkies meant that he was outside the law and exposed to action.

    So it seems that the LNP are keen on the advancing the freedom to tell untruths and lies.

  35. jrkrideau
    September 2nd, 2016 at 01:03 | #35

    @J-D
    @29 J-D

    What was that English? You really are Alan Sokol?

    More seriously, I think we are using Preferential Voting as you in Australia do, though as the concept of any kind of proportional voting is foreign to most people. I don’t think our terminology has settled down so it could change at any moment.

  36. Lt. Fred
    September 2nd, 2016 at 09:01 | #36

    18C is just defamation law for black people. Bolt is obviously acting in spectacularly bad faith – he has himself misused defamation law for tactical purposes in the past. None of these people believe in unfettered free speech, indeed no-one does.

    18C is a useful corrective to the powerful commercial imperative towards stereotyping and racial vilification for clicks (as exercised most publicly by Bolt, probably). The solution is to sack him. Indeed, laws probably need to be strengthened (mandatory standards watchdogs and so on).

  37. John Quiggin
    September 2nd, 2016 at 12:10 | #37

    @I am and will always be Not Trampis

    That’s not a source, just an assertion. I’m confident you’re wrong.

  38. Jim Rose
    September 2nd, 2016 at 16:20 | #38

    @John Quiggin

    On election night, on Sky News, Michael Kroger said that 58% of one nation preferences go to the Liberals. That must mean 42% go to labour.

    In South Australia, Sarah Hanson Young was elected on one nation preferences because 5% of their quota was distributed to her.

    Of course, we all know but seldom mention that Hanson won the safest labour seat in Queensland in 1996. She was a paper candidate; someone whose name is put up for show rather than let the other side when on default. Hanson joined the Liberal party the previous year.

  39. rog
    September 2nd, 2016 at 16:56 | #39

    @Lt. Fred I think the key is that Bolt “misused” the law and conservatives are outraged that one of their tribe lost. They want to be able to say what they want when they want wherever they are without having to be considerate, considered or truthful. They want the law changed so that they are not caught out by their own ineptitude.

    Another example of LNP hubris was when some MPs went home early allowing the opposition to form a majority and overrule them.

  40. rog
    September 2nd, 2016 at 17:01 | #40

    @Jim Rose One election night? The senate took weeks to count – but that wouldn’t stop Michael Kroger from extrapolating.

  41. Julie Thomas
    September 2nd, 2016 at 17:57 | #41

    I did hear an interview on RN with a woman who said that she had voted for ON because Hanson has promised to do something about the family court – ON have a plan for a community tribunal and to get rid of the lawyers. She said and that was the only reason and she usually voted Labor.

    But that person wasn’t a farmer and in my electorate everyone knows that Labor hates farmers and people who live in the country so I can’t see that they would have voted for Labor.

    It was an interesting episode in the Liberal history how Hanson became an independent and won the safest Labor seat in Qld. But, I’m not sure that Jim has a good grasp of the events. And Jim it is Labor not labour. Try and keep up even if you are no longer feral and utopian.

  42. Tim Macknay
    September 2nd, 2016 at 18:04 | #42

    @Jim Rose

    Of course, we all know but seldom mention that Hanson won the safest labour [sic] seat in Queensland in 1996.

    Actually I didn’t know that until you just mentioned it. Having now looked at the data, it was a remarkably large swing.

  43. John Quiggin
    September 2nd, 2016 at 21:15 | #43

    @Jim Rose

    Last I heard, 42 per cent was less than “most”.

    In any case, it’s not true that all Senate preferences go to either Liberal or Labor, initially or ultimately. As you claim in the next para, some ended up with the Greens. Many more, I imagine, with rightwing minor parties and independents.

    Since Hanson’s supporters are all over the place in terms of their thinking, I imagine Labor got some preferences, but not “most” or even “many”.

  44. Jim Rose
    September 2nd, 2016 at 23:29 | #44

    @John Quiggin
    to clarify, Kroger was referring to preference flows in the house.

    The senate on election night was anyone’s guess because of the new preference system.

  45. John
    September 3rd, 2016 at 09:47 | #45

    @derrida derider

    Except the troglodytes don’t want it repealed on that basis. They want it repealed so they can do what it currently appears to proscribe with impunity.

  46. Julie Thomas
    September 3rd, 2016 at 10:25 | #46

    The troglodyte in a well fitting suit that is Cory Bernardi looked offended by Jacquie Lambie’s insults/incisive personality analysis. I can’t find a pic that I can post but I saw one online in which Bernardi looked even more supercilious and offended by the lesser human beings he has to live among, than he usually does.

    Was Cory just pretending or was this an actual case of a white man taking offence that he wasn’t entitled to take? And when the chrome dome senator David Lyinhole – and that is one of the nicer things the good senator he is called by the conservatives on our favourite rwnj blog that used to be glibertarian – didn’t take offence at the Chaser provocation, he did take offence on behalf of wifey. So that is the get out card. You can take offence if you do it for a weaker person….or something.

    Anyone see Bernardi interrupt Doug Cameron with a point of order at one point during the first parliament. Bernardi wanted that Cameron should cease to refer to Turnbull as Turnbull and should use his correct title of PM Turnbull or Mr Turnbull. Doug was quick to point out that he has heard Bernardi and co talking about their PM in the corridors and PM Turnbull or Mr Turnbull is certainly not how they refer to Malcolm. Bernardi’s lack of character is simply incredible, he just laughed in response.

  47. jrkrideau
    September 3rd, 2016 at 12:34 | #47

    @ 41 Julie Thomas

    it is Labor not labour.

    Why? This is a serious question. I am Canadian and we would normally use “labour”. The Labor spelling seems very American.

    Why does an Australian political party use a US spelling?

  48. Julie Thomas
    September 3rd, 2016 at 14:48 | #48

    @jrkrideau

    Lol very embarrassing but I didn’t know. Quick google says:

    “While it is standard practice in Australian English to spell the word labour with a letter u, the Party has spelt it without since 1912, when then Labour cabinet minister King O’Malley advocated the change to Labor Party. At the time, it seemed likely that Australia would move to American spellings.”

    Who woulda thought?

  49. Peter T
    September 3rd, 2016 at 15:03 | #49

    @jrkrideau

    Spelling reform was a vaguely leftist cause at the time (see George Bernard Shaw). Labor got this far, then the cause faded.

  50. jrkrideau
    September 3rd, 2016 at 23:14 | #50

    @ Julie Thomas, Peter T.

    Thanks, I never thought of something as simple as googling it.

    Ah yes, George Bernard Shaw hated English spelling (with good reason I’d say). Shaw even left most of his estate to commission a phonetic alphabet and I remember reading that he did all his writing in Pitman Shorthand.

  51. Julie Thomas
    September 4th, 2016 at 08:07 | #51

    @jrkrideau

    I can’t remember what life was like before the internet and google, which is strange because for most of my life it wasn’t there but it must have been frustrating for me not to be able to find out things I want to know.

  52. GrueBleen
    September 4th, 2016 at 08:53 | #52

    @Julie Thomas
    Your #51

    Interestingly, King O’Malley, like jrkrideau, was a Canadian (born in Quebec), so obviously O’Malley’s plug for “American” spelling is amusing. However, that’s what we get for living in the nation I used to call Englerica for rather obvious reasons – like when young, before I reached my teens, I used to listen to a lot of radio (public and private) and a few of the shows were American (eg “The Shadow Knows”). So I used to use words at school – eg “lush” – that my contemporaries had never heard. And yes, they thought I was either weird or pretentious.

    But GBS was, as usual, a nutter. The whole “phonetic spelling” movement came to nothing because living languages change their pronunciations continuously. So basically, if you insist on phonetic spelling, you have to reprint all your books, and re-edit all your digital stuff, every 50 or so years. Unless you want to end up trying to read Chaucer in the “original”. And of course we all remember the English “Great Vowel Shift” (qv, Google, of course) don’t we.

    But really, truly, Julie, we did have a pre-web-Google source of information: it was called “libraries” and you could go along to one, and look up indexes and catalogues and consult living human librarians and read things in books and magazines. A bit slower, and a lot less focussed than web-Google, I grant you, but there were always lots of other, incidental but usually fascinating, things you could learn along the way whilst searching for the thing(s) you actually wanted to know.

    But considering the web, if you have any interest in scifi at all, you’d probably enjoy Isaaac Asimov’s short story, The Jokester.

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