Not for the primary time, George Christensen has hijacked nationwide consideration — pushing the boundaries by embracing the perimeter. 

On the weekend he appeared on the present of far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. He indulged the borderline deranged commentary of Jones whereas including his personal concern mongering and dog-whistling — all whereas selling his e-newsletter, naturally.

The looks earned the strongest condemnations but from the prime minister, deputy prime minister and members of his partyroom. 

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However the condemnation doesn’t matter one bit. The MP is treading water till the election which he isn’t contesting. Within the meantime, he’s spending quite a lot of his waking hours attempting to develop his viewers by selling his e-newsletter and social media audiences — together with spending 1000’s of {dollars} on Fb adverts, presumably paid for by the taxpayer.

As predicted by Crikey in April, he’s effectively on his strategy to a post-politics profession as a web based political influencer who monetises his viewers. Quickly he’ll be totally unleashed and largely irrelevant.

What he leaves behind, nonetheless, is a blueprint for different conservative politicians. In a world the place consideration is energy, any politician can dog-whistle to the fringes, embrace their key figures, and enjoy any backlash.

We’re already seeing different MPs take classes from the Christensen playbook. Senator Matt Canavan is now an expert social media troll who went on the podcast of Steve Bannon, the previous Trump lieutenant who has emerged as a significant supply of misinformation and conspiracy within the post-Trump right-wing media ecosystem.

Senator Alex Antic, who additionally went on Bannon’s podcast, has finished interviews with anti-vaxxer group Reignite Democracy Australia’s Monica Smit, who has known as for chief well being officers to be tried for crimes towards humanity. She additionally interviewed Senator Gerard Rennick, who has spent the month posting footage of individuals he claims have obtained vaccine accidents, a standard trope of anti-vaxxers. Whereas none of them have explicitly promoted conspiracy theories, they’ve all rubbed shoulders — thereby endorsing — people who find themselves making careers out of undermining belief in establishments and sowing discord based mostly on lies. 

Importantly, Christensen has confirmed there are not any actual penalties to being instructed off. 

The rebukes have come too late to have an effect on Christensen, and even then they’re simply phrases. There’s been no public dialogue about kicking him out of the partyroom, whilst he mentioned he’ll vote solely on his conscience. If something, Nationals Chief Barnaby Joyce has repeatedly defended his proper to free speech — regardless of the disgust of his fellow partyroom members about a few of Christensen’s feedback.

Whether or not it’s as a result of these politicians hope to harness the votes of the fringes or as a result of they don’t need to draw consideration to it by responding to it, we’ve seen a outstanding reluctance to sentence members of the federal government for undermining its personal work. 

The advantages are rising your viewers, triggering the left (which in fashionable politics is one thing that tradition warriors are rewarded for doing) and, if issues go proper, even some information protection that can be utilized to color the politician because the sufferer. And except you’re somebody in a marginal seat, the one folks you ever should reply to is the more and more polarised members of your individual department or occasion.

By the center of subsequent 12 months, Christensen shall be gone from federal politics. However the member for Dawson has proven the way in which ahead for a brand new era of contemporary conservative politicians. 

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Peter Fray

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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