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Sexed-up message needed to win ageing males swinging to One Nation

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Far-right warriors (from left) Canadian Lauren Southern, American Tomi Lahren and Australian Daisy Cousens (ScreenShots via YouTube)

A media trend featuring attractive, female far-right warriors is appealing to predominantly male baby boomers. Belinda Jones reports.

SUPER SATURDAY is done and dusted and by-election campaigns are over. However, this is just the beginning. We’ve got State elections in NSW and Victoria, and a Federal election all within the next 12 months or so. 

While Australia’s politicians are doing their post-by-elections’ debriefing, there will be a great deal of soul-searching from the Coalition about what went wrong. 

That won’t be the case for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (PHON), who only fielded one by-election candidate, Matthew Stephen in Longman, Queensland, who won 15% of the vote — a swing of over 6.5%, at last count. A swing of this size is significant for a minor party by anyone’s terms. How is Pauline Hanson’s One Nation achieving such swings in Queensland? What demographic is mainly voting for PHON?

Melissa Davey in The Guardian reports:

'One Nation’s strongest gains come from the 50-plus age bracket, climbing from 1.8% primary support at last year’s election to 11%, the figures published on Monday show.'

I also note that the vast majority of PHON politicians or candidates have been older males, adding weight to the theory that it is mainly men over 50 who support PHON.

Sky News Australia’s seems to be tapping into the same sentiment that also energises Pauline Hanson and her party, regularly covering controversial subjects such as Muslim immigration. 

Here is PHON’s controversial policy on Halal and Islam:

Ban Australian companies and businesses from paying the Halal Certification tax on food and other items. Ban the burqa and any other full face covering in public and government buildings. No more building of mosques and Islamic schools until an inquiry is held into Islam, to determine whether it is a religion or totalitarian political ideology, undermining our democracy and way of life.

Recently, Canadian alt-right author, Lauren Southern arrived in Australia for a speaking tour. For those that have never heard of Southern before, it is easy to get the gist — she is the Canadian version of the USA’s Tomi Lahren, a far-right social commentator and Trump supporter, strongly opposed to multiculturalism and immigration. Southern is a commentator who has remarkably similar views on a remarkably similar range of subjects as Lahren. Both women studied political science at university, though only Lahren completed her degree Southern dropped out.

When Southern was here she didn’t behave like most Canadians I’ve met or observed on TV. This 23-year-old, attractive woman was argumentative, reactionary, demanded her "rights" (even though she’s not an Australian citizen) and was even belligerent with our law enforcement. Ironically, representing the very attributes she claims to despise and considers to be synonymous with multiculturalism. It was claimed she "dominated the multicultural debate on Sky News Australia". She certainly received a great deal of attention from some media outlets during her whirlwind Australian visit. 

In addition to these two far-right warriors, Australian Daisy Cousens has increased her profile with similar views and media appearances as her Canadian and U.S. counterparts. Daisy is a 30-year-old actress, journalist and commentator – the daughter of Australian actor, Peter Cousens – and is a regular guest on Sky News Australia. Daisy appears to be modelling her own media career on Southern and Lahren.

There appears to be a trend of attractive, young women selling the far-right message to a predominantly older male demographic — a trend which correlates with the increased swing to PHON. These young women emulate far-right commentators like Milo Yiannopolous or Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, although they are far more appealing to the male target audience in this visual medium.

There has always been an expectation by Australian audiences that analysts and commentators are an authority on the issues they are discussing in the media — that they have the relevant academic qualifications, demonstrated life experience or exemplary peer reviews to confirm that they are an authority on the subject. Southern Lahren and Cousens have none of these things. The commonalities between them are that they are young, slim, attractive and opinionated on subjects beyond their life experience, qualifications and education. 

In addition to their media presence, these women have the added advantage of being social media savvy, attracting thousands of followers worldwide. This provides a platform for their opinions, which paves the way for global media appearances and speaking tours. These young women are carving successful global careers for themselves out of being Islamophobes, alarmists and far-right influencers. 

Sky News Australia (who will soon have a free-to-air channel on Australian TV) and some other free-to-air channels, appear to be harnessing PHON’s 50-plus male demographic with the good old-fashioned "sex sells" marketing strategy instead of informed discussion with learned guests. This tactic appears to be working, as evidenced by the increased swing to PHON in Longman, splitting the conservative vote. 

Sky News Australia, increasingly, is becoming a contradiction in terms and can only loosely be described as a "news" organisation. It has become infotainment based largely on opinion and comment from unqualified influencers. Sky and other commercial networks' insatiable appetite for far right-wing commentators has spurned a new career option for young, attractive, opinionated far-right women with minimal credentials whose rhetoric appeals to a predominantly 50-plus male audience. 

You can follow Belinda Jones on Twitter @belindajones68.

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