Seeing red: Pauline Hanson’s Chinese communist background revealed
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One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has had her portrait painted by Queensland artist Merry Sparks, as declared last week on the politician’s parliamentary gifts register.
When CBD tracked down the work, we were surprised to see that Hanson had been painted in the style of Chinese dictator Mao Zedong, framed in striking Communist Party red. In fact, look closely, and you can see the chairman’s silhouette lurking in the painting’s background.
Pauline Hanson’s Chairman Mao-inspired portraitCredit: Merry Sparks via Instagram
It’s an odd choice for a woman who, throughout her political career, has warned that Australia is in danger of being “swamped by Asians”.
But the portrait clearly came from a place of love. Hanson frequently goes on TV wearing Sparks’ creations on T-shirts, even rocking one at an anti-vaccine-mandate rally back when that was a thing. She also posed with Sparks, who even trimmed the One Nation leader’s hair for the painting because she couldn’t get to a hairdresser during lockdown. The artwork was entered, unsuccessfully, into last year’s Archibald Prize.
“There is a general observation from many that the Archibald appears to be woke, lean to the left, and is biased,” Sparks wrote on Instagram.
“That is not how I think,” the artist clarified.
She previously listed the painting for sale on her website, and we’re glad to see it’s going to a loving home.
At last, the Mike Pezzullo defender has logged on. The Home Affairs boss stood aside pending an investigation last week after The Age and 60 Minutes revealed his attempts to become a political influencer through a barrage of encrypted messages sent to Liberal powerbroker Scott Briggs.
The word around Canberra is that a comeback for Iron Mike looks unlikely.
But Pezzullo found a willing warrior in Robert Potter, the media-savvy co-founder of cyber-security start-up Internet 2.0. Now, CBD backs the right of anyone to fire off a contrarian take, even if we mightily disagree with the substance of it.
Michael Pezzullo may not return as the nation’s Home Affairs chief.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen
And Potter’s screed, published by our stablemates at The Australian Financial Review and titled “Australia needs more public servants like Mike Pezzullo”, is certainly an interesting effort.
Pezzullo, the self-appointed geopolitical expert, is depicted as the kind of fixer and hard-nosed brawler we need for an impending conflict with our neighbours to the north, that sort of thing.
Among our favourite lines: “The Lilliputians have rallied for a good old Aussie tall poppy cut-down, a favourite and much loved sport in Canberra.”
Potter kicks off with an anecdote about his own work with Pezzullo on ransomware, noting how the Home Affairs supremo circulated Internet 2.0’s ideas in the White House and made them a good part of the government’s Ransomware Disruption Taskforce.
What Potter neglects to mention is how his objectivity might be blurred after Internet 2.0 landed a $338,580 limited tender contract from Home Affairs for just one month’s work on … a “ransomware targeting framework”.
We asked Potter about that curious omission and he was good enough to tell us he had disclosed his work with Home Affairs and friendship with Pezzullo before writing the piece. But he conceded: “The only thing I left out is that we were paid a very small amount for the work. You wouldn’t get a ransomware targeting framework from PwC for 300k.”
Fair point, we guess, but seems like a lot of money to skate over.
ALL THE AJE
It was a decent showing for fashionable Australians on Sunday as the latest iteration of the industry power index, Business of Fashion 500, was unveiled at the height of Paris Fashion Week.
The most interesting new local addition to the list is Sydney “accessible luxury” outfit (if $155 for a T-shirt counts as accessible) Aje, which was founded in 2008 by Edwina Forest and Adrian Norris.
The label has certainly had no trouble attracting attention – it was in the papers at the weekend for snagging the services of model Gemma Ward to help launch one of its collections. It doesn’t lack confidence either.
It was only a couple of months ago that Norris told The Australian Financial Review that Aje was “chasing the tail” of go-to Australian fashion success story and BOF regular Zimmermann.
Home-grown Hollywood royalty Margot Robbie is also a debutante on the BOF 500 this year after the success of Barbie “cemented her status as a pop culture and style icon”.
Aje founders Adrian Norris and Edwina Forest.Credit: Darren McDonald
K-pop outfit NewJeans, which has two Australian members, also made the cut, as did Joshua Cox, a Swinburne University graduate who is one of the founders of Sole DXB, a go-to showcase for Middle Eastern streetwear.
Now, if that sounds a bit broad, the BOF 500 has a place for all contributors: designers – well, obviously – models and muses, entrepreneurs, retailers, executives and even the media. CBD’s call-up must have been lost in the mail.
The 29 Australians who made this year’s list are in exalted company. Fellow 2023 BOF listers include Pharrell Williams, Naomi Campbell and Tommy Hilfiger, who joined BOF founder and CEO Imran Amed at the Paris Shangri-La Ballroom on Saturday night.
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