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Fraser Anning – Aiming high


Former Senator Fraser Anning is famous, because 1.2 million Australians wanted him removed from Parliament, after a succession of ridiculous and dangerous statements. He also physically attacked a 19 year old boy, who had ‘egged’ him at a press conference.

This is quite an achievement, because a grand total of nineteen, yes, 19 people voted for him originally. So he is way better at getting people to detest him than he is at getting people to like him. You could call it a gift.

How did Anning become a senator?

He is the real Bradbury candidate, as he replaced Malcolm Roberts in the Senate, after he was tossed out for being a dual citizen. Remember Malcolm Roberts, and sigh. Fraser Anning makes Malcolm Roberts look like a Rhodes Scholar, and a renaissance man, in comparison.

Anyway, although he had been one of Pauline Hanson’s candidates in the election, he immediately resigned from her party as soon as he was installed in the Senate. He was ‘vouched for’ by Cory Bernardi and David Leyonhjelm. (Talk about buyer’s remorse). His next move was to join Bob Katter’s party, but even Bob seems to have seen enough, and he expelled Anning from his party two months later. Bob Katter expelled him for extreme views. Don’t laugh – this is serious.

At the time of Anning’s elevation to our House of Review he was also facing bankruptcy legal action from a bank. The action was subsequently withdrawn, opening the way for Fraser’s stellar parliamentary career. I do not know why the proceedings were withdrawn. (On March 16, 2019 he was declared bankrupt, so the bank must have re-commenced proceedings.)

So to recap, he has been voted for by nineteen people, he is then vouched for by Cory Bernardi and David Leyonhjelm, then he is expelled from Pauline Hanson’s party, and then from Bob Katter’s party, and then, to finish off a great year, he blames the victims of the Christchurch massacre for their own murders. He actually said that the murders were the result of “the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate”. He went on, “while Muslims may have been victims today, usually they are the perpetrators”.

These comments drew immediate international condemnation. At the next election in 2019, he was not re-elected.

In November 2020, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) brought legal action against Anning, seeking a penalty of up to $26,640 for allegedly failing to lodge required financial returns for the 2018-19 financial year. On 16 February 2021, the AEC dropped the case because they were unable to locate Mr Anning in Australia despite several attempts to contact him, with the AEC believing him to be overseas. (Wikipedia)

He is now believed to be living in the United States of America.

We need the major parties to reform the Senate. Immediately. And we need a system where we can respect our elected representatives. So that means actually passing legislation; you know, the one job they are elected for.

This post has been updated to reflect recent developments in Mr Anning’s life.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Richard Flanagan.-A short review


This is a long book. At first glance it appears to be based on the life of Sir Weary Dunlop, and it is written in a formal style, even slightly academic. Its title is taken from a 17th century haibun, a Japanese literary form, which synthesises haiku and prose. The range of haibun is broad and frequently includes autobiography, diary, essay, prose poem, short story and travel journal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haibun The author has steadfastly included an example of each element, as if ticking off in a catalogue.

Each of its parts is interesting, in its own way. One part serves as a catalogue of the horrors of the building of the Thai Burma railroad, by mainly Australian prisoners of war, after the fall of Singapore. Other parts are hit and miss, but the main message I take from the book is that worldly success does not make one happy.

It also leaps about in time, from the present, where the ‘hero’ is now an elderly, bored rake, looking back, mournfully, to the beginning of his journey, when his eye was not so jaded. There is, however, no credible depth, no real sense of despair. The best, but also the most tedious passages, document the inhumane treatment of the prisoners by their Japanese, and Korean guards. It can read as a cross between a translated diary and an unedited historical treatise.

While it pays due respect to the suffering of the prisoner/slaves, it suffers from being too wordy. Richard Flanagan lacks the elegance of a Henry James, who allowed his readers to provide their own versions of hell: Mr Flanagan provides episodes so overly-detailed that one almost begs for relief. In one memorable scene the guards beat a prisoner for page after page, after page, until it appears he is indestructible. (This sentence is not meant in any way to minimise the real suffering of those who were there, but to highlight the relentless, over writing.)

Preceding the hero’s memories of the war, and interposed, into and throughout, there is a ‘great love story’, wherein the hero chooses the woman he loves, based mainly on a preference for blue eyes over brown. This love story is at best perfunctory, and has very little in it in the way of passion, or credibility, apart from the fact that it is conducted with his uncle’s wife.

Similarly his marriage and subsequent family life are characterised by descriptions of adultery and failure, and a type of nostalgic longing, with flashbacks to the war, earlier love, self-disgust at his continuing philandering, and at his growing celebrity.

He is in an existential hole until he is miraculously rescued by the great Hobart bush-fires of 1967. He not only drives through road blocks onto the burning mountain, where his wife and children are on foot, but he finds them, amidst the firestorm and the smoke and the panic. This rescue is not only highly unlikely in such tremendously hellish scenes, and over such treacherous ground as an out of control bush-fire, but it appears to do duty as another box-ticking exercise, and to fulfil the need in the narrative for some selfless heroics. It lacks credibility as action, and also as redemption.

This book is not really a novel, in the sense that it does not project as a conscious work of art. It is almost an oral history, unedited, verbose, well meaning, and above all else, sincere.

The book seems to have garnered almost universal praise as an Australian classic, which is really more to do with the packaging, the subject matter, and the size of the project.