By William Hill:
The Liberals …have to decide how to confront the anti-business, anti-immigration trend that is developing on their right flank.
John Howard was able to manage One Nation by moderating his criticism and by appearing to assuage some of their concerns. On the BBC Howard responded to a criticism of his refugee policy by arguing that the handling of the former helped to mitigate opposition to orderly migration.
Concerns are real and perceived but the economic insecurity confronting so many Australians and their children is a palpable thing. Some people voice their frustration by voting for a moderate protectionist such as Nick Xenophon and others hitch themselves to One Nation’s more assertive and aggressive style. The Liberals are in difficulty when so many of its natural voters are suspicious of capitalism and the importation of more and more people into the country.
……The supporters of Hanson, Xenophon, Lambie and Katter do not feel that the present arrangements in parliament are working for them and we should not rush to dismiss them. We should also give these voters the benefit of the doubt that they do not share the faults and naiveties of the people they have elected. Andrews advocates a more conciliatory approach when it comes to Hanson’s supporters:
“You have to listen to their concerns, the fact that a person votes for One Nation doesn’t mean that they are a racist, redneck, homophobic whatever. Some might be but usually there is an underlying concern about the direction of the country and the direction of the economy that’s motivating them.”
That underlying concern is nothing less than their fear for their economic wellbeing and that of the next generation. If the Liberal Party is going to defend free enterprise, free trade and immigration against protectionists and nationalists then it had better do as Howard did successfully and give the concerns of the latter fair hearing.