Canberra to Queanbeyan via Florida

By November 26, 2023Australian Politics, Religion, Society

Another moderate Liberal, Senator Marise Payne has resigned from parliament, effective at the end of September, after 26 years in parliament1. Her exit is symptomatic of the malaise affecting the Liberal Party ever since Howard became Prime Minister, and which has taken on a new evangelical urgency in recent years. The Party has become a haven for religious nutters, cookers and bigots, such that moderates like Payne are leaving the party and, in many cases, parliament2.

While clearly out of his depth, like Scott Morrison, in trying to get a real job or even a sinecure, the ludicrously incapable Zed Seselja, former senator for the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has moved to New South Wales (specifically Queanbeyan; just over the border) to try to regain a senate seat. He lost his seat at the last federal election when Independent David Pocock was preferred by the voters3. In fact, Zed Seselja was so unpopular in the ACT that he recorded the lowest primary vote of any Liberal senate candidate in that election1. This is, at least in part because Seselja is part of the hard right, religious nutter rump of the Liberal Party, and the ACT is the most progressive jurisdiction in the nation. That is part of the reason that the Liberals have not been in government in the ACT since November 2001; the local branch is replete with religious nutters and is perhaps one of the most conservative branches of the party in the nation. 

Religious nutters are people who want to be able to tell others how to live their lives; much like the Taliban do in Afghanistan, or the clerics do in Iran. They look upon the granting to others of rights that they themselves have, as some form of persecution of them4. This religious nuttery manifested itself when Seselja promised that he would vote ‘yes’ for same-sex marriage if the nation voted overwhelmingly for it in the plebiscite. The Nation did, but what did the pious liar Seselja do? He absented himself from the chamber when it was time to vote5. Now this religious nutter wants to get back into parliament, to continue collecting his $217,060 per annum6

As part of his ‘campaign’, Seselja has started parroting the sort of drivel that comes out of the gob of the far right US presidential candidate and governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis. Since becoming Florida governor, DeSantis’ war against “woke” comprises signing into law a number of bills that civil rights organisations have widely condemned as violations of individual freedoms. In 2022, he approved the so-called “don’t say gay” ban which prohibits discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity at all schools. In January 2023, he banned African American studies from all high schools, saying that the course “lacks educational value”. He also signed a bill approving a six-week abortion ban in the state and plans to block state universities and other educational institutions from having programs on diversity, equity and inclusion, or teaching critical race theory*7. Astonishingly, DeSantis recently signed a so-called ‘Stop WOKE Act’ (Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees) Act, which prohibits educational institutions and businesses from teaching students and employees anything that would cause anyone to “feel guilt, anguish or any form of psychological distress” due to their race, colour, sex or national origin, and he has barred University of Florida academics from giving evidence against the state’s voting law, claimed that academics from public universities have no right to freedom of speech, and has appointed RWNJs to be trustees of the New College of Florida, one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country8.

As if indoctrinated by the idiot fascist DeSantis, Seselja has promised to continue his war on “woke**”, and on cancel culture*** (which doesn’t actually exist). Woke is a word which comes from black American culture, but it has been latched onto by the RWNJs as something to level at people as a form of abuse, where all it really means is being aware of injustices in society and being empathetic. This is anathema to RWNJs like DeSantis and apparently Seselja. Their ethos is about protecting the status quo where the religious, the wealthy and the bigots maintain their power. They know that the young are becoming less religious9 and more progressive as they age10, and it terrifies religious conservatives, because they can see their power waning. That is why they are so desperate to try to control what is taught in schools, who gets to vote, and to control what people are allowed to do (particularly when their trousers are off). While most people know about the efforts of US Republicans to subvert the Voting Rights Act11, most people don’t realise that the Morrison government was attempting to draft the same sort of legislation in Australia; making it harder for poorer people and younger people to vote12. The aim of this was to attempt to disenfranchise those who were less likely to vote Liberal.

Seselja wants to be part of that whole process of trying to ensure the Liberals’ political survival, not by having policies that Australians wants or needs, but by trying to subvert democracy. Like many others of his party, he imports the worst of the drivel from the Republican side of politics in the US. While he may not be the front-runner to be installed in Payne’s seat in the Senate (Andrew Constance is), the Liberal Party may well select him, and continue their combination Republican/evangelical decline. One can only hope.

*Critical race theory: This is an intellectual and social movement and loosely organised framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically based feature of physically distinct subgroups of people but an invented category that is used to oppress and exploit people of colour. Critical race theorists hold that racism in inherent in the law and legal institutions of the US insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites. Critical race theorists are generally dedicated to applying their understanding of the institutional or structural nature of racism to the concrete (if distant) goal of eliminating all such injustice13.

**Woke: linguist and lexicographer Tony Thorne stated “The references to ‘woke’ before 2016, 2017, 2018 were kind of straightforward. It means ‘socially aware,’ ‘empathetic,’ ” Thorne says. “Then the right, the conservative right, seizes hold of this word,” to heap blame on it for everything from deadly mass shootings to lower military recruitment14.

***Cancel Culture: It refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for public figures or companies, usually on social media, after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. While many luminaries have railed against it, what is really happening is that established ‘influencers’ are grappling with the fact they are losing control over how their work is received. Among the alleged ‘cancellers’ are those who, previously, had no means of entering conversations about their own fates, and still largely don’t have the platform or access to shape such conversations. In that situation, it is unsurprising that they find a home for their activism on the internet. A closer examination of the critics of cancel culture confirms the suspicion that many of these self-appointed defenders of free speech prefer monologue over dialogue15.

UPDATE: Poor Zed Seselja lost out, not to the perceived front runner Andrew Constance, but to the cipher Dave Sharma, who lost his Wentworth seat to ‘teal’ Allegra Spender in the 2022 federal election.




  • JON says:

    The good news is that God’s will was done, our prayers were answered, and Seselja was rejected again.

    “Seselja’s defeat is a blow for the party’s conservative faction after he was heavily backed by Dutton, as well as Tony Abbott and current Liberal frontbenchers Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, Andrew Hastie and Angus Taylor.”

    Check out that list of backers. You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger bunch of incompetent, ignorant, lying, reactionary, dog whistling ideologues in this country’s history.

    • admin says:

      Yeah, it was a surprise. I thought that Constance would get the nod, but perhaps he was ‘too moderate’ so they went for the cipher Sharma. One of the things I have noticed over the years is that the NSW branch of the Liberals hasn’t quite gone as far down the rabbit-hole of wannabe theocrats like WA, SA, Vic and Qld. As you say: what a bunch of supporters! No wonder they crab-walked away from him. Will he still move the Queanbeyan? (chortle!)

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