Nigel Farage's Australian tour featured speeches with no substance and failed to inspire anyone other than elderly conservatives, writes Henry O'Sullivan.
IT COULDN’T HAVE BEEN wholly more predictable for the dissolving wing of Australian Sky News-consuming neo-cons to endorse and fly in one of their own dissolved kind, Mr Nigel Farage, for an evening of revised and staged rhetoric.
Since the days of federation and prior, Australia has fallen short of birthing a radical tradition within its own political helm. Not since the time of Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie Letter or Peter Lalor and Henry Ross of the Eureka Rebellion of 1854 has Australia witnessed dissidence towards the British establishment by the resemblance of a Thomas Paine or a Marquis de Lafayette — pamphleteering myriads and nation builders of the former American colonies.
Ask yourself what Australia’s greatest effort of protest literature regarding anti-British sentiment is and Kelly’s 56-page proclamation, written with little punctuation and bad grammar (characteristically the Australian way), would find itself to be our nation’s leading paradigm.
But then again, both Lalor and Ross were immigrant opportunists among many throughout Victoria’s gold era and Kelly’s resentments were addressed due to the corrupt policing from his own kin, traitors of the shamrock and “sons of Irish bailiffs”. These alone are the fine examples that Australia seldom harbours its own homogenised kind of radical; we simply have very few and maybe that is the right repercussion of the former penal colony.
Australia, the once unknown terror so far away from the empire’s core, was and continues to be the subconscious reason why we have chosen to abandon our colonial past and why those in today’s One Nation camp – and the patrons who queued for Nigel’s $94 ticketed event at the dawn of last month – have forgotten that our society has been multiculturally and multiracially default since the fleets of 1788.
Call us small-minded and for this reason, we might as well admit that we have, since federation and beyond, failed to export much intellectual influence for the greater world’s consumption. The bargaining on our behalf to import greater minds in hopes to shift public opinion can be dated as far back as 1895, the year the inestimable Mark Twain stepped ashore on Sydney’s Circular Quay for his speaking tour, to which he would poke fun at both our politicians and his abroad.
The difference is slim between Twain’s risen objections to Teddy Roosevelt’s unconstitutional, expansionist policies conducted upon destitute nations and of Farage’s contempt of U.S. President Joe Biden’s hopeless Afghanistan withdrawal last year — both an apt contrast within the 125-year timeline.
As Twain once consorted the unfashionable opinions of his day, portrayed as devil’s advocate, so had Nigel, surprisingly, whilst previously commenting on the Anglo-American war in Iraq, declaring the operation costly and inefficient, opposing the Bushite notions of a “successful campaign”. This is why Farage was as equally loved as he was hated.
Unfortunately, the initialism of Farage’s show was evidently lost due to the speaker’s and the organiser’s (Turning Point Australia) detachment from observable reality. Truth was abandoned, propaganda talk and euphemism were enacted. The “record crowd” at Farage’s Brisbane show could only demonstrate the demand for worldly wit and articulacy that is deficient in our own Australian market.
As for our own politicians and media personalities of the evening, the acclaimed advocates of “free speech”, very few could care to listen to the anti-vax blather by Senator Malcolm Roberts, ironically presenting the same arguments to a very different grey-haired audience of whom were mostly presented in suit and tie, perhaps as equally double or triple vaxxed, the resembling folk who’d have no doubt condemned the villainous, avaricious social dissenters in the previous year.
And yet in-party politics would have agreed with the two majors (ALP and L-NP) to have a society governed by medical apartheid in the time of mandates — nor the dribble leaking from the poorly equipped Pauline Hanson.
These were the speeches conducted at great length and with futile substance, alongside a cheerleading-styled emcee who took great satisfaction in taunting the audience with an eyebrow wax job like Dracula and, with sooted numbness, would gormlessly mumble into the microphone throughout the night’s intervals.
This emcee of the evening, content director of Turning Point Australia, far from being inspiring to any youth of alert mentality, engulfed a style of callousness by the like of an out-of-touch, RM William boot-wearing young Liberal. In fact, he resembled and spoke like one in every way, ignorant of his poorly disguised One Nation sycophancy.
The lame patriotic identification, “you can’t be a patriot and a lover of your country unless you are willing to die for it” soundbites, an outpour of overzealous sentiments of Her Royal Highness, the late Queen Elizabeth and Commonwealth exceptionalism was at his disposal for kitsch applause throughout the evening.
It could be said that the atmosphere of Brisbane Town Hall was that of a Liberal-National Party meet and greet. Justly predictable for anyone who had watched Farage’s career in the last three years, so much that one did not have to enter the auditorium guessing what Nigel could possibly say unless they were totally estranged from the prescience of his character.
I alone could not have been the only attendee in the audience to have felt a cloak of tedium brought upon me. Was this the Nigel Farage who was famously deemed for being too controversial for the European Parliament? The man the establishment supposedly hated could not have sounded more conservative-tempered and tamed for a speaking event. But then again, so was his audience.
This was the Nigel Farage, unfamiliar to confrontation and unwilling to jeopardise his legitimacy to an authentic public enquiry (and not just the “fascist” slandering that he is used to), who had by now reaped his rewards as a sitting MEP and rode off into the sunset while the times were good to him. Touring as a media personality is nothing of a challenge to Farage — after all, this is both his fun and, like politics, his career security.
Out of the 400-500 sitting in attendance – “a record crowd” – none were in the business of serious discourse but to routinely accordance and agreed upon fact, the utterance of their favourite conservative phrases, quotes and wordings by him and the right-wing show ponies of whom were present. Then came the so-called disappointment the keynote speakers all touched upon, regarding the lack of younger support for conservative values and the evening’s dismal turnout of demographic, the median age of 55, perhaps 60.
“Where are our youth?” Now, Nigel, you cannot possibly expect a change of the tide without the inheritors of your traditional values and party lines, right? It seemed that no such future existed by the look of things and the wellspring of change was desiccated from beneath the awnings of Brisbane’s town hall. If it wasn’t for myself and the three lads sitting over the aisle from me, none of us over the age of 25, there would have been a naught percentage of younger attendees visible that evening.
Onwards to question time, a diverse intake of prophetical language and fantastic jargon was put forth by the audience. If only that was the reality. Here we had the common occurrences pitched by the usual suspects: a question regarding the ominous loom of Red State China; a question on the Deep State of U.S. politics; the Clintons (truly relative to our affairs here in Australia) and future secessions of countries within the EU.
What have these questions to do with us, Australia? I thought to myself. There I persisted with my hand raised, my questions shaped and prepared on the notepad I brought along with me. This I thought to be the triumphant question of the night, of a matter concerning the Australian people and anyone present in the audience whose concerns over free speech, freedom of the press and for the preservation and love of democracy would be impelled to prioritise as a deeply sincere affair.
Here, if Turning Point Australia really considered a voice from one of its youngest patrons of the night’s event, the following would have been addressed to Mr Farage:
Mr Farage, tonight you express your concerns about state censorship and big government whilst you propagate the love of freedom and, most prominently, the right to free speech.
Therefore, I have a question regarding the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917 and U.S. foreign intervention – in which you have denounced in the past – that involves the immurement of one of our own, Julian Assange.
Firstly, do you support him? Do you view him as a dissident or a custodian of freedom of information and speech regarding his actions?
If the latter, how can the U.S. call for his extradition when he is neither a U.S. citizen nor a publisher who is based in the U.S.? Isn’t his impending extradition to the U.S. an outright attack on what you call “free speech?”
And so it went. “We have time for one last question,” prompted Ross Cameron. I remained with arm raised and then, the mic was safely deposited to the elderly gentleman of around 60 years of age to my right. The evening of some “real hard politics,” in Nigel’s words, was wrapped up and the throngs of the elderly lame had retired for the evening.
People paid money for this?
The coda was cemented and the epitaph of Nigel Farage, Ross Cameron, Turning Point Australia and the squadron of One Nation was written: These hosts weren’t in the occupancy to consider a future for the youth in this country, nor could they care to consider a raised hand from a member of posterity — me. But then again, what has posterity done for them?
Is this the best Turning Point Australia could possibly do? Did they truly believe Nigel would be the one to ingratiate a whole new audience of listeners, those of whom are apolitically shackled by the staleness of politics in its current form? Is the One Nation camp and their frontrunners really the gatekeepers to what they call “free speech?” All while failing to address the immediate injustice and the blatant disregard of Julian Assange?
If Nigel Farage was truly a radical, as he has portrayed himself to be throughout his career, he would have raised awareness of this issue, at least to his Australian audiences, while he had the chance.
But the chance of issuing a thorough consideration was overtaken by the abstractions and art of not asking practical questions by an ideological defunct audience. I can only hope that I was not the only sitting member of the audience with the considerations of Assange in my head. Though it might have been likely that I was. Seemingly, Nigel’s fans were inept at raising any questions of meaning because their own intuitions had failed them and the loss of reality by euphemism was perfectly endemic throughout.
It seems to me that the man who proposes a change in the government he lives under, no matter how defective it may be, is romantic to the verge of sentimentality. This was once Nigel Farage, however, there is seldom any evidence of that now.
Here I will go on to remind the masses who have a remote interest in uplifting Australia’s intrinsically boring political situation – in the tradition of radical – that the effort started and finished with the Jerilderie Letter 143 years ago. That spirit of which is well and truly extinguished has only maintained our besotted natures by an ongoing Anglophilic influence because, as the letter reminds us, we are, after all, sons of Irish bailiffs and English landlords, terminally concussed on an outpost of empire.
As Twain said: “History doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes.” And as we have seen, populist vessels like Farage do, too.
Henry O’Sullivan is currently completing his final semester at the University of Queensland, after having undergone a Bachelor of Economics and Arts.
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