Queensland Senator and One Nation leader Pauline Hanson (centre), flanked by party officials James Ashby (left) and Steve Dickson, speaks during a press conference in Brisbane, Thursday, March 28, 2019. Mr Ashby and Mr Dickson were caught in an al-Jazeera investigation which used hidden cameras and a journalist posing as a gun campaigner to expose the far-right party's extraordinary efforts to obtain funding in Washington DC in September.
Queensland Senator and One Nation leader Pauline Hanson (centre), flanked by party officials James Ashby (left) and Steve Dickson, speaks during a press conference in Brisbane, Thursday, March 28, 2019. Mr Ashby and Mr Dickson were caught in an al-Jazeera investigation which used hidden cameras and a journalist posing as a gun campaigner to expose the far-right party's extraordinary efforts to obtain funding in Washington DC in September. DAN PELED

'Loosened gun laws will not make our society safer'

I RECKON we need to express a little gratitude to the Al Jazeera news network.

Regardless of any concerns one might have of their links to the Qatari government, Part One of their expose on One Nation's courting of US lobbyists was the kind of professional investigative journalism so desperately needed.

Should their investigation be seen as foreign interference in Australian politics?

I think not.

Given two high-ranking One Nation officials were trying to obtain foreign help to further that party's ambitions, claims of that nature are highly hypocritical.

Is Al Jazeera part of some false news conspiracy to bring down Australian politics? I doubt that. The fact that the Saudis are not their biggest fans points to them doing something good.

What the Al Jazeera probe has revealed so far (and at the time of this deadline, I've not seen Part Two) should concern most Australians.

It shines a light on aspects of a political party which has for so long railed against foreign influence in Australia. Whilst presenting a public front well known, behind the scenes, elements of that party have been exposed dabbling in those very practices.

To her credit, Pauline Hanson did support the passing of the Bill to ban foreign political donations.

This came of course after her party, it seems, was unsuccessful in securing any money from the likes of the NRA or the Koch Brothers.

The fact they didn't receive money does not exonerate Dickson or Ashby.

They continued to promote potentially being able to open the door for political influence by those powerful American interests; particularly in regard to watering down our much-treasured gun control laws.

Laws which Steve Dickson described to his American hosts as something that "will poison us all unless we stop it”.

The gun lobby survives in that country on their successful peddling of fear and insecurity.

The "your neighbour has a pistol so you better buy an AK-47” mentality.

Let's not be mistaken. Loosened gun laws will not make our society safer.

It would serve to perpetuate the same fear as in the US. Fear that would be eagerly profited on by those in the gun industry and those politicians under their influence.

We must draw the line. The Australia of Steve Dickson's imagining is just as major a threat to our values and culture as any threat from those nasty immigrants who would invade our homes, murder us in our beds and steal everything (as he depicted us).

His statement that "sometimes I want to be an American” sits in stark contrast to his boss's penchant for draping the Australian flag over her shoulders.

What do Dickson and Ashby and the party they represent actually stand for? What they've stated on video and in that really awkward press conference that followed suggests that truth is way down the list. They doth protest too much. It's hard for Ashby to assert he's a man of integrity, given his past record. He's currently banned from Parliament House following that altercation with an ex-One Nation Senator and for rudely shoving his phone camera in the Senator's wife's face. Ashby's probably lucky she isn't an advocate of Dickson's idea that women should be armed for their own protection.

At a time when politics is being turned on its head because, let's face it, we are all sickly tired of the conduct of politicians, we expect better from all of them. Even more so from those who offer themselves up as an alternative.

But these alternatives must demonstrate that they aren't just like the rest ... or worse.

We should repudiate One Nation. It should be clear to most that they are just as open to skulduggery as the major parties. They are just as open to seeking foreign help.

Were Al Jazeera's methods unethical? Perhaps. But Ashby and Dickson certainly showed no signs of having a gun held to their heads. The carrot was dangled and they eagerly grabbed it.

When we entrust our precious votes, we are entitled to know what ulterior plans are being secreted from us. No matter what party. And especially when what is being said to an audience bears little resemblance to what's going on when no one's watching ... or recording.

Whether Al Jazeera's tactics were ethical or not is beside the point. Ashby and Dickson were willing participants in what went on in the US regardless of how it came about. Deflection and attacking the messenger should only heighten our suspicions.

Gympie Times


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