• Kristin Perissinotto

A senator to watch

I recently had the grave misfortune of coming across the Twitter account of LNP Senator for Queensland, Matthew Canavan. The first Tweet I saw was quite misleading as to what kind of individual Mr Canavan is.

At first glance, I agreed. Correct Mr Senator, wild and unpredictable weather is due to climate change! But I had a feeling I hadn't quite got things right. Sure enough, a click on the thread and a quick scroll through his page showed me that he was in fact being facetious. Perhaps some kind of indicator of tone wouldn't go amiss next time.

The Senator for Queensland also posts Tweets like this:

And this:

He hit the nail on the head in this one with the youth-approved sArCaSm iNdiCaTorS.

This one has Trump vibes:

Coal appears to be his pet issue, but Canavan has other staunch stances, exemplified by his presence at a Brisbane pro-life rally in early May. The Brisbane Times reported that the Senator claimed pregnancies are being terminated on the basis of gender and said he would introduce a bill to oppose the practice being funded by Medicare. He claimed the words of an IVF doctor had inspired him to draft a new bill.

“He [the doctor] said that he had patients who have admitted to him that they have terminated pregnancies after they have had the gender of their baby revealed and that is wrong,” Canavan said. He went on to say “I reckon we have a chance here because I reckon even the lefties will support us because I’m told now by these lefties that I get to choose my gender, not my parents. So if that’s the case, we should not be funding parents being allowed to do that.”

Canavan was joined by colleague and Assistant Minister for Women Amanda Stoker, who claimed there is a link between the critics of the pro-life movement and those who advocate for the humane treatment of animals. Neither Stoker nor Canavan offered evidence to support their claims.

Senator Canavan has also been a critic of the AstraZeneca vaccine, in March saying "Given we are in a country that does not face an imminent risk of coronavirus spread, surely the prudent approach here is to suspend our rollout and just take heed of the evidence that will emerge in coming months." Perhaps the PM did listen to this call, as the so-called 'bungled' rollout has all but been officially suspended. Some months later, at the beginning of June, Canavan told ABC radio that 'he didn't see the need' for vaccine passports, saying "they are unAustralian," 'and go against the constitution and our birthright as Australians for free and fair trade [sic]' ABC reporter Hamish MacDonald was quick to point out that currently, we do not have those liberties, as COVID restrictions are ongoing. The senator responded that he was "just about to get to that."

Canavan, who is a member of the Nationals Party, spoke out against his party when the Prime Minister implemented the controversial India ban, Tweeting "We should be helping fellow Aussies in India return, not jailing them. Let's fix our quarantine system rather than leave our fellow Australians stranded." However, he later spoke out against the State Government's Toowoomba quarantine facility proposal, saying “If there were to be an outbreak in a regional city like Toowoomba they’ve got very limited ability to handle that and would very quickly overwhelm their health services. If the Qld government is serious about doing an open-air quarantine facility why don’t they sit down and talk about where the best place for that is rather than inflexibly putting forward a proposal.” These comments were met with anger from his fellow backbencher who needs no introduction, Pauline Hanson, who said he was "rubbishing Toowoomba."

He's got a lot of opinions to share and is the perfect candidate in the age of rising polarising political figures. Senator Canavan is one to watch.