Media governmentality, Howardism and the Hanson effect

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In September 1996 Pauline Hanson gave her first speech as an independent MP in the Australian federal parliament. In an address that was to become infamous, Hanson not only repeated claims that government expenditure targeting Indigenous disadvantage was unfair and divisive, but criticised policies of multiculturalism on similar grounds, argued that immigration levels were too high, and suggested the country was in danger of being ‘swamped by Asians’. This speech not only attracted an enormous amount of media attention but in its own right, but was followed by a mediated ‘race debate’ that worked to propel Hanson to the status of media celebrity. In the period that followed Hanson gained a degree of media attention that was unprecedented for an independent politician, with one content analysis of national and metropolitan newspaper coverage finding that she received roughly the same amount of media coverage as the Prime Minister for the next three months (Deutchman and Ellison 1999). This profile led Hanson to establish her own party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, which for a time attracted considerable support from voters in both federal and state elections, before negative publicity from financial and administrative mismanagement as well as factional infighting within the party led to a dramatic drop in support. As public debates surrounding Hanson’s coverage attested, for the period that that Hansonism constituted a significant and demonstrable (if ill-defined) political phenomenon, media coverage in general and journalistic practices in particular played a key role.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1367-1377
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of the Humanities
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


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