Dubbo Photo News & Dubbo Weekender

The outsider and insider and how a senator became a pain

At one stage there was no doubt Senator Rodney Culleton would remain in One Nation.

He’d had some early ups and downs but Senator Culleton made it abundantly clear he was there for the long haul.

For her part his political leader, Pauline Hanson said she would back him to the hilt.

Now it could be said that Senator Culleton has stepped away from that position in so far as he has quit the party, citing the heavy hand of the party structure and behaviour he describes as “unAustralian” on their part.

Party leader Hanson also reworked some of her original messaging slightly, saying now her former One Nation colleague was a pain in the arse she is glad to be rid of.

“Rod Culleton is a pain in my backside. I am glad to see the back of him,” she said last Monday.

That same day Hanson apologised to voters for choosing Culleton. “I am sorry to the people. I did not expect him to be this type of man.”

It’s been said that much of One Nation’s parliamentary membership were not so much drawn from the ranks of the party, but rather offered a spot on the ballot after a screening period no more lengthy or probing than people otherwise use to buy goldfish.

Senator Hanson cannot know much about the type of man Senator Culleton is, because she didn’t really know him in any real sense politically to start with.

After 18 years in an out of the game at the highest level, and with the electoral blessing and best wishes of a large segment of the voting public, you might think One Nation might at least have its act together vis screening candidates and trying to maintain a veneer of solidarity at least for more than six months.

The federal election was only held in July, so to be fracturing and publicly hissing at each other before Christmas does not offer a sense of mature leadership at the helm.

It sounds like the front bar got elected and decided on a platform in the taxi on the way to parliament.

Most who make their way through the mainstream parties to a seat in the Chamber do so via the rough and tumble of either local government, the union movement or from the office of a serving parliamentarian.

All these routes offer a solid grounding in the less obvious skills of being effective politically: whether it’s achieving consensus on policy or keeping disputes internal rather than running to the media for vindication.

One Nation says they’ll stand candidates in 36 seats in the Queensland election, a state where they are polling 16 percent of the primary vote according to figures released last week.

That’s one out of every seven voters.

In their 1998 stage-storming election One Nation received 22 percent of the primary.

That’s more than one in five.

It might be a useful barometer for the dissatisfaction at mainstream politics and the major parties specifically.

But after 18 years of this we need to decide if giving great power and decision-making capacity to a group of people with little experience in government – with the exception of Pauline Hanson herself – is really that wise.

Setting alight a few tyres in the street to draw attention to a protest is one thing: setting the entire community ablaze is quite another.

Yes, once the CBD goes up in flames the attention attracted is certainly magnified, but at some point the harm outweighs the benefit.

A handful of mavericks bring colour and more importantly a non-conformist tone and approach to the business of government.

But at some point we reach a critical mass beyond which a functioning system with faults get ever closer to the possibility of dysfunctionality.

Government is an institution of humans, displaying all the traits of our species’ frailty.

So the impulse to inject the inexperienced cleanskin is as appealing as it is risky.