Sex hack and vandalism: What Trump v Clinton can teach us

CROWDS shouting "lock her up" and a leaked video of Donald Trump boasting about "grabbing women by the p***y, the political scene in the United States of America has plunged to new lows.

And while adversarial politics is part of the Australian political system, Toowoomba is not in danger of mimicking the US - unless the economy tanks, a politics lecturer says.

Dr Phil Griffiths, who teaches political economy in the School of Commerce at the University of Southern Queensland, said workers devastated by the global financial crisis of  2007-2008 were increasingly turning to radical candidates for solutions.

So what does that mean for Toowoomba, and is Pauline Hanson the Queensland answer to Brexit and Trump?

Not necessarily, according to Dr Griffiths.

Politics has become more toxic in Toowoomba in recent years. 

Voters endured three elections this year, the federal, state and a by-election. The worst shenanigans seen here were the sexually explicit hacking of a Facebook page,  a robocall campaign and defaced corflutes

But the main drivers of discontent overseas aren't affecting voters here.

Dr Griffiths said many Australians failed to understand how the GFC devastated the working class of Europe and the US.

He said Australia was not unscathed by the effects of the crisis, but rather "less scathed".

US voters have responded to rising inequality by rushing to either Trump's embrace, or "feeling the burn" of Bernie Sander's social-democratic message.

Dr Griffiths said there was no comparable anti-establishment candidate in Australia.

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He said Republican candidate Donald Trump was the least popular candidate for president in recorded US history, closely followed by Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

"There's been no comparable collapse in support of mainstream political leadership in Australia," he said.

Toowoomba has the second lowest rate of unemployment in Queensland. But if it comes off its economy boom, political trouble would not be far behind, Dr Griffiths said.

"As soon as you get high unemployment, you get social discontent," he said.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton pictured during the second US Presidential debate.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton pictured during the second US Presidential debate.

"That's when you get politicians working up racist hostility to cultural groups and that causes problems.

"I'm not the slightest bit sanguine, an Australian recession would unleash the ugly stuff in Europe and the US.

"We do have a problem that living standards are drifting down."

Whoever wins, there will be a major impact on Australia and hence Toowoomba.

They'll be facing a hostile House of Representatives and Senate, and government could be deadlocked.

Clinton, the front-runner, would likely have to deal with Republican control of the houses and Trump's anti-free trade agenda was hostile to many Republicans, Dr Griffiths said.

That could mean the end of the Paris climate deal and Australia could be tied up in future wars, with both Trump and Clinton considered more hawkish that President Barack Obama, according to Dr Griffiths.

Dealing with China could also cause tensions, with Clinton the main proponent of a US pivot into Asia and Trump's rhetoric hinting at a trade war. 

"Australian governments have generally been allied with US," Dr Griffiths said.

Topics:  election politics toowoomba us election 2016

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