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Byron Shire
April 21, 2021

Thus Spake Mungo: Public interest vs One Nation depravity  

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Let’s be clear about the Al Jazeera sting against One Nation: the drunken braggarts who fell for it deserved all they got and more.

We are used to Pauline Hanson’s atrocities, her long years exploiting the politics of resentment and paranoia among the gullible and disaffected, but this latest caper with the NRA and its financial backers to subvert Australian law is quite simply unforgivable.

However, having said that, as a journalist, I must join Peter Greste and others in feeling a bit uneasy about the ethics of the operation. I have no problem with using subterfuge – the use of deception, including hidden cameras and microphones, in order to expose activities that the participants would prefer hidden.

But becoming part of – indeed, orchestrating – the story rather than simply uncovering it and reporting it is going very close to the line. It is not illegal – Hanson’s attempt to involve ASIO, of all organisations, is as crazy as the rest of her agenda. And it can hardly be called entrapment – James Ashby and Steve Dixon went for the bait like a pair of rabid hyenas. They were more than willing participants in everything from the conspiracy to the Scotch.

It is not illegal – Hanson’s attempt to involve ASIO, of all organisations, is as crazy as the rest of her agenda.

But perhaps the Al Jazeera team would have been better to have kept a little further from direct involvement in the action. At least that would have avoided the distractions Hanson and her rough mates are offering as their excuses as they scramble for cover.

The point is, of course, that whatever reservations I might have about the means, the end was that revealing the depravity in the two part series is overwhelmingly in the public interest. It won’t sink Pauline Hanson – decades have shown that her devoted fans will never be convinced that she is anything but a paragon, the messiah who will deliver them from whatever they are whingeing about at the time. But it must surely hurt her party and the so-called advisers, if only because they have been unmasked as buffoons.

There is an old saying that you cannot con an honest man, which is why Rodger Muller’s con worked: Ashby and Dickson knew perfectly well that what they were doing was utterly unacceptable, which is why they constantly urged secrecy and talked about ways of laundering the money they coveted. But unacceptable is One Nation’s default position; that was not the problem, even before the sauce started flowing.

Ashby has always been keen on making money out of Hanson and fancies himself as a master manipulator – his behaviour is vile…

What mattered was pure greed. Ashby has always been keen on making money out of Hanson and fancies himself as a master manipulator – his behaviour is vile, but at least it is marginally rational. Dickson, on the other hand, appears completely deranged – the kind of political berserker who presents as a prime candidate for the men in white coats and big butterfly nets, or as a One Nation senator from Queensland on a ticket with Malcolm Roberts – take your pick.

Thus it was entirely predictable that once they were sprung they went straight to the NRA playbook: offence, offence, offence. Even from Hanson’s tick-infested bunker, this was not helpful, so the supreme leader doubled down with her own appearance, in which the pair stood silently on each side of her as she ranted, predictably, about Islam and the ABC.

This was at least what her base wanted to hear. What it did not want to hear was Scott Morrison, belatedly and reluctantly admitting that reprising Hanson’s 20 year old conspiratorial fantasy about Port Arthur in the wake of Christchurch had finally forced him to put One Nation below Labor on Liberal how to vote cards.

Hanson said that would end his government. Well actually ScoMo’s government was looking pretty moribund anyway, and it is unlikely to look any worse from (finally) a decision that can at least pretend to be decent. But what will make it worse is, yet again, intransigence from the Nationals, who will not only ignore his ukase, but in many cases are preparing to embrace the party of racists and gun nuts with welcoming anti-democracy sausages.

(So is Tony Abbott, in what might be called a courageous decision to encourage preferencing One Nation anywhere and everywhere, a somewhat bewildering tactic in Warringah).

This is being spun as the Nats asserting their long-suppressed independence from their senior partners. Assuming some of them survive, they will have plenty of opportunities to be independent in opposition. The split not only reveals Morrison’s lack of authority – we already knew that. But it draws attention to the fact that Morrison has played footsie with Hanson for so long that his sudden discovery that she is beyond the pale may be regarded as less than convincing., even by his close colleagues.

Since Christchurch, Morrison has decided that Muslim bashing is no longer a winning move, except to the basest of his base.

Since Christchurch, Morrison has decided that Muslim bashing is no longer a winning move, except to the basest of his base. But having indulged in the politics of fear and division and egged on others – especially Peter Dutton, deeply unhappy about the One Nation ban – for most of his political life, his conversion, while welcome, is best greeted with caution.

He is currently indignantly denying an old story that he once urged his cabinet colleagues to use prejudice against Muslims as an election tactic. The difficulty is that the story is entirely believable, given that ScoMo made his reputation from demonising and denigrating asylum seekers, and was still doing so a mere couple of weeks ago. The great healer he is not.

And that being the case, it was time to change the subject – offence, offence, offence, the obvious target being the Greens. They were the real extremists, the clear and present  danger. So the rust-bucket reactionaries of The Australian let loose with all guns blazing. True, One Nation tried to gain illegal funds from the American merchants of death to provide unlimited use of guns, subvert the democratic system and install their version of Trumpian dystopia. Unacceptable, no doubt, but it really didn’t matter because it wouldn’t happen.

But the Greens – they would ban new coal mines, bring asylum seekers to the mainland, implement a bill of rights and give lots of money to education, child care and the disabled; and, horror of horrors, they would pay for this communistic spending orgy by cutting the defence budget. Of course that isn’t going to happen either, but that’s not the point. It is an existential attack on Western civilisation, a dagger aimed at our freedoms and our way of life.

And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything. Hell, you may even vote for Pauline Hanson – or Scott Morrison.

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  1. Scumo is still valiantly storming the podiums of the nation, spurring on his troops, seemingly unaware that he is alone and the aforementioned troops are either hiding in their bunkers or have dropped their weapons and fled. His words, however, continue to ring out, as he remains similarly unaware that no one is even listening to him any more. The public are, instead, polishing their baseball bats and waiting for May to arrive.

  2. Whilst I agree with your concerns about the fine line the Al Jazeera team trod Mungo, the whole thing could easily have been avoided if [the representatives of this] mob of self interested bigoted racist red necks had simply said “gee thanks but no thanks, this would do enormous damage to our credibility (ha!) if we were to be seen getting involved with such an organisation that supports and encourages the ownership of weapons of mass murder, and as such are complicit in them as well. I think it best we stay away” But no Hanson and Dickson grabbed the opportunity with both hands, and as for Ashby, he can hardly complain after the sting he participated in to entrap Peter Slipper and bring down the Federal government as a result. Hypocrisy? Does it get any more glaringly ugly that example from this opportunistic self interested person.

  3. Before I made any decision I would have asked for the whole unedited version of the story. It cant be proved that they asked NRA for funds. Or that Pauline belives the Conspiracy theory. I know she does not and has told people to go away with those views. Yes, they said that 10 or 20 mill would help but One Nation is in line for at least 4 more senators which would be close to 7 or 8. My question is who has the most to gain . Not Labor, Only certain elements of the Liberal party and it may be their downfall anyway. Rodger Fuller was trained and gained scources in the NRA in order to get Ashby and Dickson to go there, but it seems to learn marketing techniques. All else is speculation and dubious editing. I would demand all their tapes or brand them unethical . Where does the money come from for four years of investigation?

    • The tapes in full have been volunteered by the producer.
      Dont shoot the messenger, they were exposed and that should be the story, dont often agree with Jeff Kennett, but as he said, they idiots attempted to endanger lives of Australians, its indisputable and it’s disgusting.

  4. I watched the dock and by my understanding the undercover guy was working in a expose on the gun lobby. As a separate but related investigation he ended up at a One Nation meeting. So he was already undercover. To be involved In the attempted procurement of funds from America was a scoop they obviously couldn’t refuse and although probably ethically wrong did end with a alternate bigger story from what they started with. Ashby and Dickson went to the states with intent. These grubs were caught and that’s all there is to it. Unfortunately the morons that vote for them haven’t watched it but think they know what’s in it. I know because I have foolishly tried to convince them otherwise.

  5. What luck for Australia that Al Jazeera went to the trouble to alert Australia to underbelly of Hanson’s Party and its proposed devastation to our democracy (which still struggles); preparing the story 3 years ago.

    Would the Murdoch Press have been so concerned for Australia and expose the dark forces surrounding our politicians and their political agenda for the masses? I think not!

    Unusual journalist techniques I agree, but interesting to note from Mungo that it is not illegal. We just need to know and these days FACTS are hard to come by. No more massacres of innocents or weapons of warfare.

  6. Crooked Politicians are a dime a dozen. Just look
    to Glad our Premier. First the Environment Portfolio
    was a most urgent platform during the State election.
    A few weeks later – it no longer exists…


    Hush: it’s just the sound
    of the ground turning

  7. For all the idiocy that is the PHONies, they may yet do the nation a service by taking enough primary votes in Dixon to cost the Gestapotato his seat. Yay for stupidity!

  8. Whete do you start? With Bob Ellis of course. Create a critical response with one or two facts, and thn just create from reaction. Mangostein, you posit an apparently natural disgust of Hanson, who just keeps coming back because like you, she is a fighter. You mention some putitive facts like gun-loving, or shield clear of other masculine instincts without naming them, maybe your right, then ascribe to the lot of preferences, the latest ticket, and the Greens who want to protect all our rights while selling them to Chinese slave labour, my contention I admit, but a reasonable one, and as to Islam, does Mohammed really make sense when you read him, mostly, or even slightly. .. maybe a problem of translation. A hundred other things problematic in your analysis.

  9. I also have to say, facts are just what’s left of opinion after it has been canvassed. They were always there, only mentioned. Christ and Mohammed shared a fact in common, they both responded to their political climate, as it was then. For Jesus, judging from Matthew, it was fulfilling an earlier prophesy maybe missing now, at least a response to Roman occupation. And Mohammed was aware of growing Papacy. We still live with all this history. The Middle East for a whole number of reasons is in chaos, those reasons are in current and past history and we have here in Oz enough of that ourselves. but give me facts, not opinions. Al Jazerra clearly timed this expose to coalesce with our federal election, which is a foreign interference, no less than the CIA in the Loans Affair.

  10. The problem of Russian influence in their last presidential election in the US, a matter of may be $100,000. Obama in 2008 eclipsed all previous with an election fund of three quarters of a billion. He must have bwen popular. I dare say the al Jazeera sting cost something, and the money came from somewhere, but where $?

  11. Let’s face it , Qatar is arabic for communist. If Al Jazeera has independant funding aside of the State, then declare it.

  12. If Murdoch employees must be joined to their umbilucal cord, as you imply Mangostein, then logically so must be the hacks of al Jazeera, despite their claims of independance, as I must sustain myself the oil of taxpayers, and pay the cost, or you must worship the Echo and the Monthly and wherever else you syndicate, blog to the god of tree ferns or the black-throated warbler. Clearly we don’t, as a general rule, jump off a cliff when told to do so. Nor do we believe in fairies with boots, or at least not in sobriety. I don’t believe in environmentalism because every prediction to date they make has been wrong. I expect this condition will continue. We can explore the world for sure and find beauty and danger, but there’s not much to find in a pamplet or PR charged demo, despite the succinctness of the banners. Look at Spain. Look at Iceland. Look at here when we’re reduced to a tourist centre, with lights some nights, and some not.


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