• Kristin Perissinotto

Pauline Hanson's race theory ban has no impact, except that it does

It's a tale as old as conservatism itself: a right-wing politician taking issue with something that wasn't even happening in the first place. This week, Pauline Hanson called for the government to reject Critical Race Theory from national education curriculum. the motion was passed by the Coalition Government. The impact of this precise motion? Nothing immediate. As Critical Race Theory is not currently being taught as part of the Australian curriculum, even progressive media outlets are reporting that there's no real impact, citing it as simply Hanson's political theatrics.

But it does have an impact.

The Liberal National Coalition voted for her motion, with one MP saying that Critical Race Theory is "patently false, discredited and without any basis in fact." The MP, Johnathon Duniam, went on to say that it was “predicated on the belief that the laws and institutions of our nation are inherently racist.” To clarify, he was disagreeing with this belief. I personally disagree with his disagreement, and wholeheartedly believe that our laws and institution are inherently racist. When our very country was 'discovered' by Captain Cook, he and his army stole it by force. Although we have made progress, it is extremely hard to argue that a society and nation built on that genesis is racially fair and just. But I digress.

Image from AAP

Most media outlets have today claimed that Pauline Hanson's 'political theatre' is just that: a performance. But this fails to recognise the power she has. It's easy to wave off Hanson and her far-right party One Nation as a being a 'joke,' but she needs to be taken seriously. She's an Australian senator who has won multiple elections and is very popular among her voter base. She claims to 'say what everyone is thinking,' and while I doubt (and hope) that she's not saying what the majority of people are thinking, she is kind of right. She's saying what enough people are thinking. And we know this because of her successful appointment and re-appointment into the Australian Senate.

While it might be easy to wave off the banning of Critical Race Theory as (ironically) theoretical and lacking in real impact, this is ignoring the very real impact it may have on people of colour, Indigenous Australians. Hanson is often one for grabbing hold of a niche and extreme issue and making a song and dance out of it in the media, and many times, any motions her makes out of them will go nowhere, and be voted down (which still carries a lot of weight, given she is a senator). But this time she had the support of the Coalition, the body in power. Her motion passed 30 - 28, with Labor and the Greens opposing.

Mainstream media outlets reporting that this passing motion is free of impact is irresponsible and untrue. Politics is society. Politics is life. Politics is personal. What happens in the House of Reps and in the Senate is our business. Nothing that goes on there is free of impact. Everything that happens there has an impact on us. To say anything else is frankly incorrect.

And in conclusion, I'll leave you with a quote from the Senator herself.

“Thanks to One Nation, the government has been sent a strong message and is now on the record rejecting critical race theory.”

And for once in my life, I agree with her.