Pauline Hanson would give us pause for thought. However I do think she played a helpful part in helping the Australian electorate to understand certain of its vulnerabilities
The major parties, of course, hate Independents because it means power brokers cannot do what they best...broker power...they have to appease minor interests.
The great disadvantage with this is that everyone is in some sense a 'minor interest', and it is virtually impossible to get sectional interests attended to if all you have is party government. Even within a major party, those who are not up front would seem to have limited influence.
So I was quite pleased to see four or more Independents in the House of Representatives, and I think (if only for a short time) we are seeing some important minor interests being attended to.
Of particular interest this week is Andrew Wilkie, independent MP for Denison. A former army officer, whistle-blower and carpet salesman!
Wilkie has allegedly had death threats and been threatened with blackmail this week. Part of this appears to be about his opposition to unfettered gambling...which is one of his minor interests....(on his website there is a whirring dollar-meter which tells you how much has been lost in Tasmania while you have been on the site)
We have all no doubt wondered what the blackmail was all about, and it comes out that part of it is about being involved in bullying whilst at the military Training College, Duntroon. He has admitted in the past that when he was there and involved in 'bastardisation' or what in American society is sometimes called 'hazing'. Bullying or intimidation of junior students by older ones. A peculiar male pastime it would seem. (Anyone who went to one of Adelaide University's all male colleges, as I did from the 50s to the 80s, would have some idea about this (here)...at the time you put up with it. You look back now and think it was infantile.)
Wilkie it alleges was involved in some intimidation around the ridiculous celebration of the anniversary of the rise to power of Adolf Hitler. No doubt stupid...but a very bad look...and one the cartoonistas will love....
There may be more to come, who knows.
What we must not overlook is that even though the young Wilkie may have been a bully, and even indiscreet, he nevertheless rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel...so someone must have thought he was competent..even though he had (at times) been a foolish young man.
But then haven't we all?
I don't think he will buckle...but perhaps we should write to him and tell him that it's OK to have been young and foolish. And even better to be old and principled.