After Georgina Downer’s defeat in the Mayo by-election last Saturday, Alexander Downer, Gerorgina’s father, spat the dummy and said that Ms Sharkie’s supporters had brought “horrible hate to our district” and added that they “must all be new arrivals”1. It was a way for the pompous, entitled Downer, to explain how the loyal voters of Mayo had been diluted by some blow-ins from elsewhere (African gangs?). Bizarrely, in an interview on Sky News, he followed this up with “I think in Georgina’s case, if people in Mayo do want a Turnbull government, now that they know her better they’ll be enthusiastic about voting for her in a federal election”2. Either he misspoke or is delusional. Sharkie won the Mayo by-election with 58.1% of the two-party preferred vote3; Downer achieving 41.9%. That is a thumping by anybody’s measure. It would need a massive turnaround for Downer, to even come close to Sharkie’s support.
Laughably, Alexander Downer stated that “Our family have been nation-builders, we’ve helped to make this nation great”4. Said the man who at 8 months in the job, is the shortest-serving leader of the Liberal Party, although he is the longest-serving Foreign Minister. His main claim to fame since leaving politics is being out on the piss with George Papadopoulos whose information, related to Downer, may have kicked off the Trump-Russia investigation5. He served in the most reactionary government Australia has elected in my lifetime, the Howard government of 1996-2007. It was during those years that the dog whistle was brought out regularly when referring to Aboriginal affairs, refugees and Asian immigration6,7. It was the Howard government who made shovelling money to the rich, at the expense of the working and middle classes, an art form. It was also the Howard government which wasted the revenue from the mining boom, with numerous profligate decisions leaving the federal budget in long term structural deficit8.
Alexander Downer’s father, Sir Alexander ‘Alick’ Downer served in the House of Representatives from 1949 to 1963, being Minister for Immigration from 1958 to 1963 and reformed the migration laws, in part leading to the massive immigration of Europeans subsequently. He also allowed non-criminal deportees to be held in detention centres rather than prison9.
Alexander Downer’s grandfather, Sir John Downer was premier of South Australia twice, in 1885-1887 and 1892-1893. Despite describing himself as a tory, he was fairly progressive, consistently advocating the rights of married women to have their own property, female suffrage, protection of local industries and federation10.
Georgina Downer is a member of the Institute of Public Affairs, a far-right money laundering organisation for the Liberal Party. This organisation is also simply a lobbying organisation for big business who hate anything to do with the general public. They want to abolish penalty rates, the minimum wage, unions, public broadcasting, medicare among other things. These embarrassing policies are those about which Georgina Downer refused to answer questions during the Mayo by-election, to the extent of blocking several people (including me) from asking questions on Facebook, and shutting down her Twitter account11.
While you could argue that Georgina’s grandfather and great grandfather at least attempted to advance Australia, what has happened subsequently? The most recent members of the Downer dynasty have done the reverse. They are attempting to turn Australia into a land of mostly poorly paid serfs who are beholden to the wealthy in their corporate towers, for the crumbs of the latter’s tables. They are attempting not to advance Australia, but to damage it, to take us back to a time when you were at the mercy of the employer, and had to doff your flat cap when they walked past. That is not nation-building.