James Ashby has no feelings. By his own admission he feels no emotion, unless, of course, he was taken out of context when he was secretly recorded by an undercover reporter saying so.
The comments were broadcast at the tail end of part two of last week’s Al Jazeera documentary on One Nation, the compelling result of the covert recordings.
“You cannot, in life, and especially in politics… take into account everybody’s emotions,” Ashby, Pauline Hanson’s chief of staff, tells Rodger Muller, the undercover operative he believes is the head of an Australian gun rights lobby group.
The men, accompanied by One Nation’s Steve Dickson, are about to board a plane back to Australia, having completed their piss-powered bumpkins’ tour of the odious Washington gun lobby, trying to solicit cash and pick up tips on how to weaken Australia’s gun laws.
“Because there are some people that have got hyperactive emotions,” Ashby continues. “There are others, that are like me, that don’t have any.”
It is as good a summation of the callous pointlessness of One Nation as I have heard, a perfect sentence to describe the vacuum at its dead heart.
This is a party that began as an anti-Asian immigration outfit, before flaming out and rebranding as anti-Islam in its 21st century incarnation. Since then it has scoured the darkest corners of the internet to come up with a policy pastiche of men’s rights issues, anti-vaxxer garbage, dangerous economic protectionism and flirtation with European replacement theory – the idea that whites are being “pushed out” by non-white immigrants.
This week the mask dropped far enough to reveal party leader Pauline Hanson apparently gives credence to conspiracy theorists who believe the Port Arthur massacre was a do-up to manipulate the public into accepting major firearms restrictions.