A Letter To Pauline Hanson
from Paul Zanetti
Paul Zanetti is a Walkley award winning syndicated cartoonist with over 30 years in the media. He blogs at www.zanettisview.com
Many Australians admire you because you say what they think. You raise issues other politicians are too afraid to confront. You voice the concerns of hundreds of thousands of citizens in uncertain times.
That’s all very well, but I can’t help wondering, often, if what you say is simply for the sole purpose of headline grabbing, for attention seeking, political opportunism and expediency, rather than for sincere reasons. Unfortunately you leave me wondering, more often than not.
While most of what you say resonates with me and many others, your actions don’t live up to the empty words.
When you went to the last election you built your party platform on bold promises which at the time were described as ‘populist’, even opportunistic.
* Sharia Law
* Halal Certification
* Muslim Refugees
These promises were enunciated monotonously and confidently on morning TV appearances during the election.
The words were headlined across the One Nation website during and after the election.
Recently they’ve been removed, replaced with a new tagline, ‘Never give up, we won’t’.
Pauline, you've given up. Or you give a good impression of someone who has chucked in the towel.
Maybe you gave up so easily because you were never serious about your promises.
Pauline, you tell us you’re the one person in the Parliament who doesn’t make promises only to break them after winning office.
You’ve told us the one major difference between you and other politicians is that they are ‘full of rhetoric’ while you ‘stick to your word’.
But since your election last July, you’ve crab-walked away from your pillar election policies. Most of your promises would have been a challenge to enforce without constitutional changes or provisions for legislative legal definitions.
Did you have a plan to enact your promises, or just a plan to win office?
Pauline, you boldly, courageously and openly speak up for Australian values, for which I, and others, applaud you.
You rail against political correction, a poison spreading through our society, our legal system, political institutions and schools.
But that’s talk. Anybody can talk. It’s actions that count. And you’re failing where it matters.
You’ve been elected to Parliament to make a difference, to take action on behalf of your supporters.
Since last July's election, you've become very adept at social media, making videos, Facebooking and twittering or grabbing headlines and enunciating your views on mainstream media with the odd election stunt thrown in, like jumping into the Great Barrier Reef to show it’s in good shape, apparently.
These are diversions, seeming not doing, political trickery - smoke and mirrors. Like every other politician practises.
Show business, not real business.
Let’s take halal certification.
One of your core promises pre-election was NO MORE halal certification. It’s an easy promise to make, just as easy to keep.
Ridding our food chain from halal certification requires very little effort from you, the easiest promise in the world to get the PM to deliver.
Even 'Halal Snack Pack' Sam Dastyari the Chair of the Senate Committee Inquiry into Third Party Certification reckons it’s a con, so you shouldn't get too much opposition to NO MORE halal certification.
Over 80% of groceries in our domestic market are halal certified, raising funds for private Islamic certifiers through our purchases at the checkout.
These certifiers admit they funnel our grocery money to religious causes, often directly to Islamic schools and mosques both here in Australia and overseas (4 Corners) and via a web of Islamic charities, which then funnel on to proscribed terrorist organisations.
Australian government agencies acknowledge they cannot trace the funds from our groceries to terrorists because of limitations in the laws which govern them and the web of overseas accounts through which our food money is being funnelled.
AUSTRAC (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre) is our money laundering police. On its website, AUSTRAC admits:
Terrorism financing poses a serious threat to Australians and Australian interests at home and abroad. At its most damaging, it can fund the activities of domestic extremists, including attacks on Australian soil. More commonly, terrorism financing raised in Australia can help sustain terrorist groups overseas and support foreign attacks and insurgencies.
Terrorism financing also poses a threat to the credibility of Australia's financial institutions and financial system.
In recent cases, those sending funds out of Australia for terrorism financing tend to use conduit countries rather than send the funds directly to high-risk jurisdictions. This makes it more difficult for financial institutions to link the international funds transfers directly to terrorism financing. Conduit countries may also be used in an attempt to evade United Nations Security Council sanctions and Australian autonomous sanctions.
AUSTRAC has identified three key features of the Australian terrorism financing environment:
• Terrorism financing is largely motivated by international tensions and conflicts. Communal and sectarian links between groups overseas and individuals in Australia drives Australian involvement in terrorism financing.
• Use of conduit countries. In recent cases, those sending funds out of Australia for terrorism financing tend to use conduit countries rather than send the funds directly to high-risk jurisdictions. This makes it more difficult for financial institutions to link the international funds transfers directly to terrorism financing. Conduit countries may also be used in an attempt to evade United Nations Security Council sanctions and Australian autonomous sanctions.
• Commingling legitimate funds with funds collected for terrorist groups. This is especially the case for donations collected through charities and NPOs. Commingling can disguise funds raised for terrorism financing among legitimate donations. It can also add to the total pool of funds directed towards a terrorist group.
Charities and NPOs may be used to raise funds for groups engaged in foreign conflict and as a cover to transfer funds offshore. Funds for legitimate humanitarian aid may also be diverted in Australia, or at their destination, and used to support terrorist groups.
You can read more from AUSTRAC’s website: http://www.austrac.gov.au/publications/corporate-publications-and-reports/terrorism-financing-australia-2014
Pauline, you made NO MORE halal certification a core promise.
From the One Nation website during the election campaign: http://www.onenation.com.au/policies/halal-certification
Pauline Hanson's One Nation will call for the banning of Australian and non-Australian companies operating in Australia from paying a Halal certification tax.
Collecting monies for this certification will be illegal.
All products that are Halal Certified must be clearly marked and easily identified by consumers.
Companies that wish to export product to Muslim countries must gain Halal certification from our Government.
Pauline, currently there are 33 known separate halal certifiers. Anybody can create a logo, print off certificates and set themselves up to start scamming.
18 months ago, the Senate Inquiry into Third Party Certification of Food delivered its findings to the Australian parliament.
The Committee recommended the government establish a single certifying authority and trademark to counter consumer mistrust.
Pauline, that's a recommendation made before your election to the senate. It's also your own position. It only takes a nudge from you, a little friendly argy bargy with the PM.
The Senate inquiry was a result of years of lobbying by anti-halal certification campaigner Kirralie Smith who single handedly raised public awareness of halal certification scams in Australia.
Kirralie Smith self-funded a consumer website (halalchoices.com.au) and has been relentless in lifting the rock to expose the sinister cockroaches gnawing away at our domestic food chain.
Smith, a mum from the country, did the heavy lifting in pushing for the Senate inquiry.
Smith made lengthy submissions to the inquiry. At her own cost she appeared at the inquiry day after day, giving witness statements.
Based on her hard work, passion and knowledge, Smith ran as a Senate candidate at the last election, vowing to get the Senate Report acted upon.
In contrast, Pauline, you did nothing at that opportune time, and you’ve done nothing since. Not even a submission to the Senate inquiry, when thousands of members of the public took the trouble to make submissions or sign petitions.
Sorry, a correction. Yes, Pauline, you copied and pasted Smith’s hard-done homework - her election policy which you yelled through your higher profile megaphone drowning Smith out.
You made ‘NO MORE halal certification’’, your catch cry with no research, no knowledge, no understanding on the topic, and no plans. Smith tells me she's happy you're in a position to do something because for her it's the cause not the individual or personal glory. She never saw herself as a politician, but as a mum who became the 'accidental activist'. Politics would have ripped her family apart, and her family means more to her than anything, far more than politics ever would have.
But your act of plagiarism prevented the one person who could have, and would have, done something about ridding us of the halal certification scam.
Pauline, if you had been sincere and taken action in the past 9 months since the election, I’d be the first to applaud you. But....we’re still waiting.
Last December I wrote a post asking for you to explain why you’d not taken steps to make good on your election promise:
The gun has been loaded, handed to her, even cocked for her. All Hanson needs to do is pull the trigger.
Hanson’s biggest opportunity to act was presented to her on a silver non-halal platter this week.
At a time when the government was at its most vulnerable, desperate for each Senate vote to pass its ABCC ‘building watchdog’ and backpacker tax bills, deals were done with just about every political party and independent crossbencher of every colour and persuasion.
Nick Xenophon used his numbers for the ABCC bill to get the government to make concessions on the Murray-Darling Basin plan to benefit Xenophon’s home state of South Australia.
Derryn Hinch used his vote to water down the ABCC bill to make it more palatable to Labor and the Unions.
Liberal Democrat, David Leyonhjelm, used his vote to force the ABC and SBS to have open community forums at board meetings, making the ABC and SBS more transparent and accountable.
Jacqui Lambie, Derryn Hinch and now rogue One Nation senator Rod Culleton joined forces to successfully place downward pressure on the backpacker tax.
Even the Greens were able to extract $100 million from the government for Landcare, to get the backpacker tax through the Senate, so desperate was the government to do a deal with anyone.
In contrast, Hanson did...nothing….again.
This week, Hanson was presented the perfect opportunity to say to the Turnbull Government, “If you want my three votes I want the recommendations of the Senate inquiry into Halal Certification to be implemented.”
Isn’t that why so many of her supporters voted for her?
Pauline, after that post, your supporters asked you why you’d not moved on halal certification. You replied via a Facebook video where you stated:
“I know some of you are concerned about my not having raised about Halal Certification on the floor of parliament. I have spoken about it elsewhere. But the whole fact is, it’s very hard to actually get these issues on the floor of parliament. You have to talk on issues that is relating to legislation and so we’ve had a very busy time. Another thing is, I know I couldn’t rely on Halal snack pack Sam. You know, um, desperado. But anyway, I’m waiting for Cory Bernardi to actually get back because he was on the Senate inquiry so I want to talk it over with him ah, Cory. But I will be dealing with it next year. I’ve got the Report, I’ve looked at the recommendations and I will follow through on that.”
Pauline, I replied in a follow up post, that sounds a lot like ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse.
You say it’s hard to talk about these things in parliament because you have to talk on legislation. That’s not true.
As a senator, you can ask an oral question (without notice) or ask a written question (on notice).
You could also write to the appropriate ministers, in the relevant departments who oversee our food and export industries, or you could write directly to the Prime Minister, asking for action as you did when you wrote the lengthy letter to the Prime Minister asking for the release of Julian Assange.
Both Cory Bernardi and George Christensen have spoken at length about halal certification in parliament including submitting a petition to the parliament opposing Halal certification.
If they can do it, why can’t you, Pauline?
You blame ‘Halal Snack Pack’ Sam Dastyari the ‘desperado’, which seems bizarre. That’s like telling the school teacher it’s the other kid’s fault that you didn’t do your homework, then calling the other kid names.
But Muslim born, now apostate, ‘Snack Pack Sam' is on side. Here's what he says about halal certification;
"Some certifiers are nothing more than scammers.
"This (scamming) has undermined public confidence and, in the committee's view, amplified the perceived seriousness of any shortcomings that may exist.
"It is an inescapable fact that halal certification is poorly understood, and arguably under-regulated, certainly in the domestic market. This compromises the integrity of the system and has allowed questionable conduct by certifiers of questionable expertise, and questionable intent."
So you can't say it's Sam's fault.
You then blame Cory Bernardi, because you were waiting for him to get back from overseas even though he was back when you made the video. Secondly, if Cory was overseas you could have contacted him anytime while he was overseas to discuss. You both have access to a phone, free skype, messaging, emails…there really is no excuse to not have a chat because he’s overseas.
Regardless, does Cory Bernardi really need to hold your hand? Did you need to hold his hand when you made the pre-election promise?
Pauline, you told one of your Facebook followers you are waiting until next year to ‘draft changes….’, but you don’t say what you’re drafting or changing.
You don’t need to draft any changes to anything. If you’re referring to legislation, there is no halal certification legislation. Halal certification is an unregulated, unlegislated mess allowing profiteering businessmen to fleece consumers and use their grocery money for ‘religious causes’ here and overseas.
The 6 month Senate inquiry is long over. Recommendations were made over 18 months ago. There are 7 very strong recommendations that, if adopted, will stop the halal terror tax in its tracks immediately.
Your videos and excuses do nothing to confirm that you’re sincere, or on top of halal certification. Just dilly dallying.
Pauline, you’ve told us that you’re not prepared to do any ‘horse trading’ with the government on legislation in the Senate, that you won’t be holding the government to ransom because you believe the government of the day should be allowed to govern without being threatened.
This is naive at best. You’re throwing away one of the best political levers you have, the same weapon that every senator is using to get the best outcome for their supporters.
That sounds like another insincere excuse, especially in light of today’s announcement from you while chasing George Christensen's supporters.
So, Pauline, you are prepared to hold the Government to ransom when chasing votes in a vulnerable seat, just as you were prepared to plagiarise the policies of a candidate who would have delivered on “NO MORE halal certification”, when you were chasing votes.
It’s been 9 months now since the federal election and you’ve only given us diversions and implausible reasons why you're not keeping your promise.
Seeing that you’re now ready to use your voting bloc in the senate to get your way on a non-promise, how about exercising that lever to act on halal certification?
It only takes another tweet and a well aimed nudge to the PM 's ribs to show us you're not just another politician.