To add to the volumes already written about yesterday’s anti-carbon-tax rally, you have to wonder if Tony Abbott has any capacity for self-examination and if he does, did he stop for just a moment yesterday and think to himself, ‘If this is my core constituency, I’ve wasted my life’.
As usual, the media and/or Twitterverse obsessed about meaningless detail: should Abbott apologise for being photographed in front of a misogynist, ungrammatical sign that called the prime minister a bitch? Well, yes, but he was more the fool for being in front if it in the first place. And while the press corp was quick to criticise his media minders – Why didn’t they remove the sign? – they ignored the more pertinent question of why he was there in the first place.
To understand the topics that truly trouble the Coalition and their shock-jock buddies, you just need to listen. Any time they endlessly repeat a stock phrase, in unison, to every media outlet that will listen, you can be guaranteed the exact opposite is actually the case.
The more Abbott and his supporters endlessly drone that those attending the rally were a cross-section of middle Australians of all ages and backgrounds, the more it becomes obvious they were none of those things. They were, overwhelmingly, cranky superannuated white rednecks.
The presence of Pauline Hanson, One Nation and other far-right groups was no coincidence. Once again, I am indebted to Bernard Keane for putting it so aptly. These people were there:
not because there’s any endogenous link between xenophobia and climate denialism, but because it’s not really about climate change or immigration, but about social change and the social and economic transformation of Australia in a way that older, white Australians resent.
Australia has changed beyond recognition for them and because of their education levels and their age, they aren’t as well equipped to handle it as others are. They therefore feel disoriented, dispossessed and resentful … This is why there’s such a strong conspiracy theory fringe to climate denialism.
And it’s no surprise most Coalition pollies took a look at the assembled crowd and made damn sure they had some very important other things to attend to.
Because no politician who retains a shred of conscience could look into a crowd of cranky old bigots and say, ‘My political future rests with securing their votes and pandering to their prejudices – these are my people’.