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  • Rex Widerstrom

It's not you... okay, it is you.

Really, voters. We've had this talk before, haven't we? Disillusionment with the status quo is one thing; Donald Trump and Derryn Hinch are quite another.

I'll leave Trump for now. His statements speak for themselves (and so, quite possibly, does his hair). Hinch is Australia's answer to Trump: populist; superficially appealling at a time when mainstream politicians have all but worn out their welcome; given to outrageous statements that he claims to believe but which many people suspect are mostly said to attract attention; and wrong.

[I haven't included Jeremy Corbyn in my list as he doesn't qualify. He certainly believes all his own statements, and he isn't always wrong].

Derryn "the Human Headline" Hinch (he loves the moniker so much he's officially adopted it), for those who haven't encountered him (or who have and, with the help of therapy, put it out of their minds) is a sometime journalist, current talkback host, occasional 'political prisoner' (for breaking name suppression laws) and dogged self-publicist.

He's made something of a name for himself naming and shaming (or, in another of his favourite turns of phrase, "shame, shame, shame"-ing) criminals and, in particular those accused and convicted of paedophilia.

That society has enacted laws to protect the presumption of innocence and to mete out what is broadly agreed to be appropriate justice to the guilty matters not to Derryn. If it's a crime which he finds especially abhorrent then that's reason enough to put aside the law and call for the sharpening of pitchforks and the lighting of torches.

Now, he's decided that rather than repeatedly flout the law, he'll try and change it. Fair enough. But given the odd nature of the Australian Parliamentary system - and in particular, Senate preference deals which see people with less than one percent of the vote elected (c.f. Ricky Muir) - end up holding power out of all proportion to their support.

In some cases that merely provides a diversion from the assorted fruitcakery that's going on in government. But in Hinch's case it could mean a significant, and very nasty, change in the law being held as the price of agreement on something a government needs Senate support to pass.

Hinch's policies are focused, to the exclusion of all else, on "getting" people he feels haven't be adequately punished by the justice system. Like all such crusaders he couches this as "fighting for victims" but the sad fact is that once a person has been victimised, using the thumbscrews on their assailant may provide a brief frisson of vengeance but will do nothing whatsoever to help them heal.

Hinch wants a national public register of convicted sex offenders - effectively a vigilante's charter. That innocent people with the same name, or who just "look wrong" and live in the same neighbourhood, have been attacked in places where this has been tried matters not. And that's leaving aside the fact that society has decided to do away with stonings, beatings and burnings as punishment for crimes - yet such things invariably occur when offenders, who've paid their debt to society, are identified and their whereabouts publicised.

Such simple questions as "well where's the incentive to go straight if you're constantly hounded out of any housing, unable to find a job, and in constant fear for your safety?" don't trouble Hinch at all. Thinking takes effort; an emotional gut reaction is much more comforting.

Of course he has every right to run for office. And I'm an advocate of overturning "politics as usual". But there's a difference between putting a cat amongst the pigeons and letting a crazed lion who'd spent far too long in captivity loose in a downtown shopping mall.

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