Who Will Be Australia’s Donald Trump?

We will weigh the potential candidates up using the "Trump Index," a set of five (extremely non-peer reviewed) characteristics upon which someone's essential Trumpiness can be judged.

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Dec 8 2016, 11:47pm

Collage by Ben Thomson. Images via

Donald Trump's victory in the US election sent shock waves across the world. While many Australians were devastated, for others his triumph was cause for an old-fashioned rager.

Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean's fringe election night party turned into a surprise success, and the likes of Tony Abbott hailed Trump's victory as a sign that "middle America" was sick of being taken for granted. Granted this was a little weird given Abbott's self-professed love of free trade deals and Trump's total antipathy to them, but apparently that's the world we live in now.

With this rush to embrace Trump as the saviour of the right—despite him sitting at odds with many allegedly fundamental principles—it seems many are jostling for the cherished title of "Australia's Donald Trump."

But if this patriotic and populist political behemoth is just around the corner, the question remains—who will it be? Who will emerge from the Australian political wilderness, frothing and hungry to take down the Green-Left, latte-sipping, avocado-trigger-warning establishment?

Various suggestions have been thrown around:

While one contender was taken out of the running:

With anti-establishment fervour taking hold, it's worth seeing how likely it is that some key Australian figures will take up the mantle. This will be achieved by looking at how they rate on the "Trump Index," a set of five (extremely non-peer reviewed) characteristics upon which a candidate's essential Trumpiness can be judged. Each characteristic gets scored out of a possible 20 points, and the total will give us a sense of how well the candidate aligns with the Donald himself.

The Trump Index Criteria:

1. Race/Gender Politics
2. Personal Wealth
3. Media Experience
4. Conspiracy Mindset
5. Lack of Attention Span

For testing, one candidate was selected from each of Australia's main political parties—at least those with members animated by the war on PC—as well as the media and business world. This limited pool excludes suggestions like Eddie McGuire, but readers are encouraged to use the Trump Index in their own research.

Figures like Ross Cameron obviously have no hope.

Pauline Hanson

Hanson's support for a ban on Muslim immigration immediately aligns her with Trump's political stance, one unfortunately growing in popularity. But her personal wealth leaves much to be desired--a senatorial salary is hardly a fortune comparable to Trump's, even taking into account that he frequently lies about his net worth.

Dogged determination has kept her in the media: she doesn't have a great ability to navigate interviews, but she's well-versed in the Trumpian art of demanding attention. Meanwhile, her well-documented fear of halal certification boosts her conspiracy mindset score.

Finally, she receives a high grade on lack of an attention span. Sure, she was able to maintain long-term focus on re-entering the political arena, but she could barely be bothered to write a new maiden speech.

Race/gender politics = 20
Personal wealth = 5
Media experience = 15
Conspiracy mindset = 17.5
Lack of attention span = 15

Total: 72.5

While she doesn't match Trump completely, Hanson is worth watching.

Cory Bernardi

Image via Twitter/@corybernardi

Cory Bernardi is strikingly similar to Hanson, though undercuts himself by appearing to have an attention span. It could not be said that Bernardi is anything but dedicated to his anti-PC, anti-globalist vendetta. He also shares conspiratorial fears of halal certification, but drops points in that category by virtue of not sharing a party room with Malcolm Roberts.

A total of 60 per cent on the index would indicate Bernardi is unlikely to replicate Trump's success. That said, it's entirely possible that he could succeed in his efforts to be the Australian Corey Lewandowski, and he might be already.

Race/gender politics = 20
Personal wealth = 10
Media experience = 15
Conspiracy mindset = 15
Lack of attention span = 0

Total: 60

Don't let him slip by.

Dick Smith

Screenshot via YouTube/Dick Smith

Dick Smith, after laying dormant for years, has re-entered the political fray. Given his relative outsider status and stash of cash, he's a real contender.

With his backing of Hanson's immigration policy, Smith immediately shoots ahead in the political values category. However, he's not a polished media performer, and strangely enough, he doesn't stand out in the conspiracy category: he actually regrets not appearing in ads supporting a carbon tax. That's not to say he's definitely not a conspiracy theorist, so he scores a five just to be safe.

You might assume that a well-known businessman would score a zero on lack of attention span, but Smith started his own political party last year, and when's the last time you heard of it?

Race/gender politics = 20
Personal wealth = 20
Media experience = 10
Conspiracy mindset = 5
Lack of attention span = 5

Total = 60

Ultimately, Smith is more likely to bankroll Australia's Trump than to be him.

Kyle Sandilands

Screenshot via YouTube/ACurrentAffair9

Kyle Sandilands is something of a dark horse. His history of racist radio segments aligns him with Trump politically, and he's literally received an award for sexism, which is about as close to Trump's gender politics as it's possible to get. However, there's thankfully no public record of him supporting a Muslim immigration ban.

His scores on wealth, media and attention span are fairly self-evident, though his conspiracy score might be controversial. This was based on informed speculation, which in this case is roughly the same as pure speculation.

Race/gender politics = 17.5
Personal wealth = 15
Media experience = 20
Conspiracy mindset = 15
Lack of attention span = 20

Total: 87.5

Sandilands may be as close to Trump as it's possible for an Australian to get, and a comment on the ABC's Media Watch shows he could actually have a base. Observe him closely.

Mark Latham

Screenshot via YouTube

Mark Latham's problem is that he wants it too much. His atrocious history of yelling at Rosie Batty through the media and waxing lyrical about Australia's "Muslim problem" aligns him closely to Trump, though he hasn't supported a migration ban (yet).

This is Latham across the board: positioning himself as an outsider, while remaining an insider by virtue of his inescapable history. Punching a photographer is very Trumpian, as is rampant Twitter trolling, but Latham will never be the voice of the people he believes himself to be.

Race/gender politics = 17.5
Personal wealth = 17.5
Media experience = 17.5
Conspiracy mindset = 15
Lack of attention span = 10

Total: 77.5

Ultimately Australia has no figure that aligns directly with Trump. It's possible that a hybrid of Latham, Hanson, and Sandilands could break through—with the financial support of Smith. But the technology isn't quite there yet.

In reality, Australia may need to watch out for its Nigel Farages more than its Donald Trumps. Our country's political institutions are so different to the US, and a Trump-like personality would need to break through in a different way.

They might not be Prime Minister, but they could completely fracture the political landscape. And as the Trump Index shows, the country isn't short of figures interested in having a crack.

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