PAULINE HANSON, the populist Australian politician, interrupted her campaign for Saturday's general election yesterday to go to court to try to get a song about her banned. Outside the court she was confronted by Pauline Pantsdown, the song's creator, who has achieved almost as much notoriety as Mrs Hanson.
Before the election campaign, Pauline Pantsdown was Simon Hunt, a lecturer in sound and film at the College of Fine Arts in Sydney. He was so affronted by Mrs Hanson's attacks on Asian immigration and welfare spending on Aborigines that he decided to take her on.
His technique was satire, his ammunition Mrs Hanson's own words. Using her statements and some literary licence, he created a song called "I'm a Backdoor Man". It quickly became the most requested song on JJJ, the youth network of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
Mrs Hanson, leader of the One Nation party, did not like it. She took out an injunction to stop the ABC playing it. Yesterday the Supreme Court in Brisbane dismissed the ABC's appeal.
Mr Hunt was not deterred by the original injunction. With advice from Owen Trembath, a Sydney showbusiness lawyer, he put together another song, called "I Don't Like It".
It was released in late August and has since topped the charts, becoming something of a cult hit.
Mr Hunt performed the song as Pauline Pantsdown, a drag version of Mrs Hanson, to which he has changed his name by deed poll. He was legally obliged to do so because he is standing as Ms Pantsdown in the election for the Senate, the upper house of the federal parliament.
"I Don't Like It" has received no legal threats from Mrs Hanson. Its lyrics are all her words, although not always in the order she spoke them, and in her own voice, set to a pop beat. With a disclaimer on the CD's cover that the use of Pauline Hanson's voice is unauthorised, the song begins: "I don't like it when you turn my voice about. I don't like it, when you vote One Nation out. My language has been murdered, my shopping trolley murdered, my groceries just gone." She goes on: "Please explain, why can't my blood be coloured white? Coloured blood, it's just not right." And she ends: "I don't like anything, I can't do anything about it. No, the whole thing is wrong and it stinks and I don't like it."
Ms Pantsdown claims to have spent 500 hours listening to Hanson speeches and splicing the lyrics. "In all those 500 hours I never heard her say anything positive. She represents a politics of complaint. She complains about immigrants, foreign companies and Aborigines getting help from the state. But she offers no solutions."
As for cutting up her words to make new sentences, Ms Pantsdown says he has done nothing more than reflect Mrs Hanson herself. "She has about 200 sentences, and if she can't answer a question she'll take half from one and a bit from another. She's a manufactured speech computer. I see her as no more real than I am."
Ms Pantsdown's record has struck a blow for satire in an otherwise deadly earnest campaign dominated by the ruling conservative coalition and opposition Labor parties over taxation and unemployment.
"I Don't Like It" is particularly popular in rural areas, where One Nation has drawn much of its support.
Ms Pantsdown is wary of taking credit for the fact that One Nation's opinion-poll support has declined to 6 per cent from double that since the record's release, or for the fact that Mrs Hanson is struggling to win her own Queensland constituency of Blair (named after Harold Blair, a famous Aboriginal singer). "I think Hanson's going to lose on Saturday," he says. "That's not good for my character continuing, but it's best for the greater good."
Most of Victoria is unlikely to have gas for a week after explosions crippled an Esso Australia plant. At the weekend the state cut all supplies except to hospitals after blasts ripped through part of the complex near the town of Sale, killing two men and injuring eight.
Esso said it was too early to say what caused the explosions and too early to predict when gas would begin flowing again.
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