Australia’s Global ‘Exit’: Tribalism and International Institutions

Australian values and way of life are also at risk from insidious institutions such as the unelected swill that is the United Nations.

— Senator Roberts, One Nation Party, September 14, 2016.

It all begins with a promise. A promise, less for a better future than a reclaimed past. Reclamation of the familiar, in fact, being the fundamental idea. “As a servant to the people of Queensland and Australia, I’m here to discuss with the chamber and the Australian people how we will rebuild our great nation.” These words from the inaugural speech of One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts set the trend in the Australian Senate Chamber.

He venerated the party’s founder Senator Pauline Hanson as the source of his inspiration, as the great interrogator of Australian complacency since 1998, when she spoke of the “swamping” effects of Asian immigration and the benefits the indigenous population were supposedly receiving.  Roberts was certainly on secure ground observing that many of Hanson’s views were stealthily incorporated into Australia’s policies, be they on security or refugees.

That venerated leader seemed visibly uncomfortable at such praise, but proceeded to tweak the swamping theme in her own senate inaugural address, using Muslims as the great substitute.  “Now we are in danger of being swamped by Muslims, who bear a culture and ideology that is incompatible with our own.”

Hanson and Roberts hail from a long line of populists suspicious of the…

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