PAULINE HANSON PLEASE EXPLAIN
Paul Zanetti is a Walkley award winning syndicated cartoonist with over 30 years in the media. He blogs at www.zanettisview.com
First up, a couple of quick questions. Does anyone else remember the promises made by Pauline Hanson prior to the July 2 (2016) election? What were the one or two issues that re-branded and re-launched Hanson’s political career?
I’d have to nominate ‘Ban Halal’ and ’Stop Muslim immigration’.
Whether you agree with her major policy platforms, or not, what’s worth considering is what drove the rise of Pauline Hanson.
Prior to the election Hanson tapped into growing anger over Islamic terrorism, both here and abroad, and the funds linked to terrorism via freelance halal certifiers adding millions to our household grocery bills.
It’s been almost six months since the election and Hanson has been shown to be all talk, all stunts, all show…but no action.
All we’ve seen from Hanson are regular Facebook videos, tweets, and stunts like jumping from a boat into the water in Queensland to prove the Barrier Reef is in good shape, and popping a champagne in designer clothing outside the front of parliament house after Donald Trump’s election win.
Stunts are well and good, but they don’t change the laws or implement reform.
Anybody can shoot a video and post to Facebook. You don’t need to be elected to Parliament to do that. What counts is the wheeling and dealing with the government when the opportunity presents itself. Those opportunities were up for grabs this week.
Hanson has shown herself to be either out of her depth, incompetent or disingenuous.
When Pauline was calling to ‘ban halal’ she no doubt meant change to the current methods of private certification, a free-for-all that allows Islamic businessmen to exploit, and profiteer from, zero regulation in the sector.
It’s already been established by an ABC (4 Corners) investigation, and others, that Australian halal certification funds are funnelled by certifiers to the building of Islamic schools and mosques overseas, and also to ‘Islamic charities’.
It’s well documented these front 'charities' transfer money to proscribed terrorist organisations via ‘aid agencies’ and other related charities, via a complex web of international bank accounts.
This admission is on the AUSTRAC (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre) website, which is why AUSTRAC states they ‘have no evidence’ that halal certification funds terrorism. The links are intentionally broken by the scammers.
AUSTRAC has no jurisdiction beyond our shores. The legislation that governs AUSTRAC is the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act) a law which restricts who can report evidence to AUSTRAC.
The only bodies that can legally report suspicious activity to AUSTRAC are specially proscribed 'reporting entities' such as gambling institutions, bullion dealers, financial institutions and similar commercial operations.
So how would a money handler know the purpose, or the end destiny, of funds once the money has left an Australian account? It’s impossible.
The scammers and terrorists are way ahead of our agencies and our laws.
I’ve been around long enough to recognise fraudulent politicians, saying whatever it takes to get elected - the opportunist who sniffs the wind, jumps on a bandwagon, saying whatever the public wants to hear to grab a vote.
Bill Shorten, Malcolm Turnbull, Nick Xenophon, Clive Palmer…they’re all cut from the same cloth.
And so is Pauline Hanson.
The one golden opportunity Pauline Hanson had to come good on her promise to ‘ban halal’ (certification) was lost this week, either out of a lack of interest, incompetence or both.
Exactly a year ago the Senate tabled its inquiry into third party certification of food. This inquiry was brought on by relentless campaigning by Kirralie Smith from the long running website Halal Choices (www.halalchoices.com.au), ringing alarm bells on the religious food tax and terror links.
Almost 1,500 submissions were made to the Senate Economics Reference Committee by Smith and many other concerned Australians.
One submission by Bernard Gaynor, a former Mid-East serving soldier, contained 6,000 signatures objecting to private Halal Certification of Australian groceries.
The inquiry ran for over 6 months.
So what did Pauline Hanson submit to the Inquiry?
Nought…not a thing.
That opportunity for Pauline Hanson to put up, was not taken up.
Since the inquiry was tabled a year ago, with multiple recommendations to regulate halal certification, it’s been sitting on a shelf, gathering dust.
The Chair of the Senate committee, the now infamously compromised (born Muslim) Sam Dastyari, was opposed to the inquiry into halal certification, however, admitted after the evidence was put before him, “Some certifiers are nothing more than scammers."
Dastyari went on to say, ”This (scamming) has undermined public confidence and, in the committee's view, amplified the perceived seriousness of any shortcomings that may exist.”
Dastyari went even further, "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."
The final Report found that there were "credible reports suggesting that the lack of regulation has been unscrupulously exploited."
The Committee asked the Turnbull Government to extend regulation of all halal goods sold in the domestic market so all food certified as halal should be labelled and for the government to establish a single certifying authority and trademark to counter consumer mistrust.
Yet a year on, nothing has been done.
The one person who could be doing something is Pauline Hanson, after all, isn’t that what she promised her supporters?
From the One Nation website during the election campaign and still up:
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.
She doesn’t need to do much.
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?
The Facebook stunts, Youtube videos and tweets don’t get the job done.
These tactics are simply shallow exercises in pretence to convey to her supporters she is ‘doing something’, while in reality, doing nothing.
Two days after the Saturday, July 2, 2016 election I wrote on this blog:
The big surprise to me was the most alternative conservative party, Australian Liberty Alliance (ALA), didn’t get a Senate seat despite attracting tens of thousands of online and on ground supporters.
Pauline Hanson happened.
ALA is a party founded on opposition to Islam and halal certification, calling for a restriction on Islamic immigration. ALA's roots go back to online forums 13 years ago.
Six years ago the online group formed the Q Society which became the political party ALA with 20 conservative policies.
Pauline Hanson jumped on the ALA bandwagon hijacking years of hard work of its founders, then taking the ALA homework to the elections.
Kirralie Smith, is the founder of Halal Choices - a consumer website which lists halal certified foods.
Smith is a campaigner, nicknamed the 'accidental activist' by some in the media, who largely uncovered the scams in Australia’s halal certification industry and pushed for a Senate inquiry.
Smith had evidence halal funds were being funnelled as ‘donations’ to Australian based Islamic charities. These charities then sent the proceeds to overseas Islamic causes in a complex web of bank accounts, several with links to government listed terrorist organisations.
Kirralie Smith fought hard and got that inquiry.
Smith was asked to appear at the Senate inquiry, which she did. She is regarded by politicians and media as the go-to expert in halal certification in all its forms.
Bernard Gaynor, a returned soldier who has served in the Mid East several times, expert in Arabic language and culture also appeared at the inquiry. Gaynor presented a submission with 6,000 supporters’ signatures. (Both Smith and Gaynor were ALA candidates).
And Pauline Hanson?
Missing in action.
No submissions to the Senate inquiry. No appearance.
Because she doesn’t have a clue on the topic.
Kirralie Smith has been trying for years to wake up politicians and media on the halal scams.
Some two years ago Kirralie Smith contacted Hanson’s office to bring her findings to Hanson’s attention. Hanson wasn't interested.
Smith also contacted Jacqui Lambie’s office. Similarly, Lambie wasn't interested.
So Smith turned online, writing for The Pickering Post where her articles were shared by tens of thousands of readers.
Only once Kirralie Smith’s hard work exposing the halal certification scams got attention did Hanson and Lambie begin to take notice.
Lambie has since threatened to introduce a private Senator's bill to stop 'halal money' funding Islamic State. Headline grabbing stuff but no understanding of how the halal certification system works.
Jacqui Lambie was exposed as an empty vessel on Islam when Barrie Cassidy asked her on Insiders, "What do you understand Sharia Law to mean?".
She stumbled and mumbled through the interview without a clue. You can see the excruciating spectacle here on YouTube. (click)
Fellow empty vessel, Hanson, ever the opportunist, quickly jumped on the halal certification and anti-Islam vote with an eye on the Federal election, shouting ‘halal scams’, having only ever read recently what was online, mostly exposed by Kirralie Smith.
Hanson pretends she’s been warning about Islam for years, but a look at her record shows this to be a huge invention (that’s being polite).
Pauline Hanson’s last tilt at an election was in the 2013 Federal election when she stood in NSW as a Senate candidate.
She bombed out with only 1.77% of the primary vote.
Not a word about halal certification or Islam. Looking back at her previous 20 years, still nothing about halal certification or Islam.
What we do find is Pauline Hanson’s track record of anti-Asian and anti-aboriginal rhetoric - blatant bigotry based on race.
This time around Hanson smelled an opportunity.
Islam is different in that it’s an ideology, not a race. A minor technicality and easily overcome.
She only needed to shift gears to capitalise on the hard work of others like Smith, Gaynor, Debbie Robinson in WA and many of the other ALA candidates who didn’t have the Pauline Hanson profile.
Hanson is now calling for action on halal certification and Islam. Mmm…where did she get that from?
Several days later on July 11, 2016 I wrote:
It didn’t end well for Clive Palmer and it won’t end well for Pauline Hanson. Going to an election on a wonky platform inevitably ends in tears.
Sure, Pauline Hanson has a fan base, but so did Clive with more MPs than Hanson.
Where’s PUP today? It’s where One Nation will end up next election if Hanson doesn’t get her act together.
Hanson has been caught out copying and pasting her polices from various internet sites. I first pointed this out a few days after the July 2 election. She’s not one for doing her own homework, but pinching the work of others.
It’s bad enough rushing to an election on the back of others’ hard work, but it's worse when you don’t bother to spend the time familiarising yourself with the policies you’ve nicked. Watching Pauline Hanson struggle through an interview, without a clue on the issues she’s meant to represent is painfully excruciating.
Reports today chronicle an assortment of One Nation party policies plagiarised from Wikipedia and various other political websites (including the Australian Q Society, the founding base of the Australian Liberty Alliance).
The One Nation website also claims, "The estimated worth of Halal accreditation worldwide is in excess of $2.5 trillion per annum.”
This is misleading at best. It’s not the accreditation (i.e. halal certification) but the Halal food market worth $2.5 trillion. There’s a difference. Most halal food globally is not certified.
After the election Hanson posted a video on her Facebook page chatting from her kitchen pouring halal-certified Coles milk into her tea. For this she was rightly caught out. Hanson opposes halal certification, campaigning on policies to make halal certification illegal.
Halal certified milk (including Coles) and other foods are publicly listed on the Halal Choices website, a well researched consumer website founded by Kirralie Smith. There’s even a Halal Choices phone app so there really is no excuse for buying halal-certified milk if you’re so genuinely against it.
In response to the criticism of her using halal-certified milk, Hanson posted a photo on her Facebook page of two bottles of milk and the words:
"I woke up this morning to find claims I support Coles milk.
"I thought these people without lives might like to see what's in the fridge today."
Unfortunately, again, one of the bottles of milk was halal-certified, which she could easily have checked before making a second faux pas.
Does this matter?
Of course it does.
If you’re going to go into the Senate and argue the case, at least know what you’re talking about.
Hanson is exceptional at getting the headlines. Outrageous statements such as we are 'in danger of being swamped by Asians’ will get the TV grabs, but also paints a picture of a shrill white supremacist.
There’s no doubting Pauline Hanson is committed to core Australian values as she perceives them, and she courageously defends those values.
But as an MP Hanson needs to know her stuff and prosecute her case.
If she can’t do that, she’ll be discredited, ripped apart and spat out once again leaving a trail of angry voters once again looking for a political voice.
That was written several months ago, and nothing has changed since then to change my mind. In fact, what we saw this week has validated what I wrote back then.
To add further to this sentiment, Kirralie Smith recently contacted Pauline Hanson to plead with her to take a look at the Senate inquiry and to act on it.
Smith wrote on her blog several days ago:
As I explained to Pauline Hanson over the phone, it is not about introducing new legislation, or coming up with different angles on halal certification. It doesn't require more speeches or new information. All that is required is for senators and MPs to make some noise and pressure the government to do the right thing and implement the recommendations.
All Hanson and her fellow One Nation Senators need to do is highlight the fact the government is treating the democratic process with contempt by refusing to act on the senate recommendations.
The issue is with halal certification. It is the extraordinary amount of money that is charged for halal fees without consumer knowledge or consent that is the problem.
When I contacted Kirralie Smith to get more information, she said she wants to give Hanson as much information as possible to help her get across the subject. She doesn’t want to jeopardise the process by critiquing Hanson but wants to keep the line of communication open.
Without saying as much to me, I got the distinct impression Kirralie Smith is extremely frustrated with Hanson’s ‘do-nothing’, couldn't care less attitude.
Pauline Hanson rode to power on the strength of promises she pinched, with vows that she will hold the big players to account.
But who keeps One Nation to account when it proves to be just another another political party that over promises but doesn’t deliver?
Has Pauline drunk too much of the Canberra cool aid inside the Canberra bubble of plush offices, white limos, staff, high salary, entitlements and first class air travel?
Whatever it is that’s causing her to fail her supporters on one of the major policies she carried to the election, that got her elected….Pauline, please explain.
Halal Certification and Terrorism Links
What Halal Certification Terrorist Links?
Why AUSTRAC Can’t Investigate The Halal Terror Tax
Halal Certification - Dastyari Lies To Parliament But Admits Scammers
What Happened To The Conservative Vote?
Is This The Beginning Of The End For Pauline?
Kirralie Smith - Government contempt toward the democratic process