Martin Lehmann - 14 March 1999
John Howard is too weak to stand up to the media. Their anti-Hanson onslaught has reduced Howard to a quivering blob of media compliance. Howard's weakness has allowed the media to hoodwink him into placing One Nation last on all Liberal how-to-vote cards. He has used considerable influence to get all Liberal branches to fall into line - often against their better judgement.
Minor party preferences have played a significant role in Australian elections for decades. It greatly assists a major party to have a minor party with a philosophical alliance to capture the swinging voters and the protest votes and deliver them back via preferences.
This has worked very well for the Labor Party in recent years. Preference votes of the Democrats and Greens have kept Labor in power even when their primary vote was less then that of the Liberal Party.
The preference swap system has worked over the years with the Nationals, but they are becoming an irrelevancy, and their policies are too similar to the Liberals to capture the swinging and protest votes.
One Nation was an ideal opportunity - their more radical policies have an appeal to many in middle Australia. They have a proven ability to capture the huge and growing protest vote. John Howard could have kept a discreet distance from One Nation while at the same time entering into a preference deal with them. This would have countered the effect of the Labor/Democrats/Greens alliance and kept the Liberals in power for years.
Enter the media.
This concept did not appeal to them.
Thus began the greatest campaign of vilification against a political figure ever seen in this country. Although Howard resisted the media for a while he eventually caved in. Placing One Nation last on preferences was the ultimate capitulation to the media.
Why do the media want to destroy One Nation?
We can only speculate as to the real reasons for the media campaign.
Maybe it was the media's self-righteous indignation that Pauline Hanson would dare speak out about immigration and the aboriginal industry - topics that had been taboo in the media for years.
Maybe it was because the extremely powerful men who control Australia's media are quite comfortable with the Labor/Liberal duopoly in politics. The media barons know they can get their way with either when they are in power. One Nation would appear to them as a renegade outfit. It might not be so compliant - better to destroy it at birth. There is strong evidence that the Packer and Murdoch media have led the anti-Hanson campaign.
Maybe the journalists themselves didn't like the proposition of Labor being consigned to opposition for a long time. There is a philosophical alliance between Labor and journalists. Most journalists are unionists, and hence have a sympathy with the party set up and supported by unionists. And by the time journalists leave university most of them have a natural lean to the Left. The pseudo-sciences of sociology and psychology indoctrinate many of them into becoming politically correct, do-gooders with a socialist outlook on life.
I will leave it to you to speculate as to the reasons for the media's anti-Hanson campaign.
But one fact remains - the media in Australia have far too much power and influence.