September 20th 2003


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Wind turbines : coming to a farm near you

EDITORIAL: Changes needed to preserve our democracy

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Carr for Canberra?

WA Government stands up to National Competition Policy

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Rank and bile membership / ALP middle class

ETHANOL DEBATE: Eminent doctors and scientists call for ethanol biofuel blends

COMMENT: Behind the fall of Pauline Hanson

LETTERS: After Anderson (letter)

LETTERS: Missing history (letter)

AGRICULTURE: The issues behind the rural crisis

MILK: Calls to re-regulate WA's dairy industry

ECONOMICS: US prosperity and growth in the 1990s

ASIA: Taiwan and United Nations membership

BOOKS: Hitler and Churchill : Secrets of Leadership, by Andrew Roberts

BOOKS: The Homosexual Agenda, by Alan Sears and Craig Osten

BOOKS: Return of the Heroes : The Lord Of The Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter And Social Conflict

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COMMENT:
Behind the fall of Pauline Hanson


by Victor Sirl

News Weekly, September 20, 2003
Victor Sirl comments on the reactions to the jailing of Pauline Hanson in Queensland.

Pauline Hanson still has an appeal, but whatever happens most people feel it is not appropriate for her to be behind bars, and whatever faults she has, she is not seen as a person acting with criminal intent.

Who is responsible for her demise? Tony Abbott? Her enemies in the major political parties? Vested interests from the big end of town?

There is no conspiracy. It is a matter of public record who made the complaints against Pauline Hanson that led to the deregistration of One Nation as a party in Queensland and prompted the Department of Public Prosecutions to pursue her eventual criminal conviction for fraud. The people who cried foul and asked the likes of Tony Abbott to assist them were angry dissidents from One Nation.

Terry Sharples successfully pursued the court action that deregistered the party in Queensland. Barbara Hazelton, her former secretary, helped provide evidence for the deregistration of One Nation in Queensland and the eventual jailing of Hanson and Ettridge.

Tony Abbott's trust fund to finance court action to deregister One Nation was wound up long before the party was finally given the punt by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).

Contrary to what has been portrayed in the media, it did not cause court action to be taken against the registration of One Nation in Queensland or lead to the decision by the Department of Public Prosecutions in Queensland to lay charges against Pauline Hanson for criminal fraud.

However, Terry Sharples and other former Hanson followers did go to parliamentarians such as Abbott with serious complaints.

Is it not the case that the allegation Hanson and Ettridge submitted over five hundred names to the Australian Electoral Commission of alleged party members, when in fact it only had three members?

Is it not the case that a number of people were upset to discover they had paid to belong to a supporters club, when they believed they had joined the party?

Isn't it the case that this is a clear breach of the rules everyone else must follow if they want the benefits that flow from official political party status with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC)?

Finally, should the creators of One Nation have been above the law?

The party's legal status made deregistration of the One Nation inevitable. Fortunately for the party, deregistration did not prevent anyone from running for parliament or cost One Nation any seats. The problem was fixed before the next state election. The $500,000 from public election funding was paid back and Hanson did not penalise the One Nation politicians who had received the money. This is greatly to her credit. It was a very honest thing to do.

Therefore, was it really necessary for the Public Prosecutor to lay fraud charges against her? These issues were a civil matter and could have remained as such, but for the Public Prosecutor's intervention.

Pauline Hanson was found guilty by all twelve jurors, on all counts against her name, as is the requirement in Queensland. But it was the judge, Patsy Wolfe, who passed sentence and declared that three years jail was at the lower end of the spectrum for such offences.

Many Queenslanders were outraged to learn in the pages of the Courier Mail that the same judge had sentenced a paedophile to a far more lenient jail term.

Her conviction followed an announcement the previous week that Mike Kaiser, a former party state secretary and one-time Member for Woodridge, would be readmitted to the ALP and given a high ranking post in the federal headquarters.

False statement

Kaiser and been forced to resign from the ALP and leave the Beattie Government when it was revealed that as a twenty-two year old he signed a false enrolment for the purposes of rorting a party preselection.

He had lied about it on the stand, as he fully confesses, but was later given the opportunity to retract the statement under oath when the evidence was put before him.

Had this opportunity not been given and then taken it is possible, but not certain, he would have been charged with perjury.

Many Queenslanders did not miss the opportunity to comment on his treatment by the judiciary in contrast to Pauline Hanson's.

Kaiser's own comments in the Courier Mail about the suffering he had undergone and the "terrible price" he paid for his "mistake" made the comparision seem even worse.

The Sheperdson Inquiry also noted that changes to the law after the election of the Goss Government made prosecuting anyone before the inquiry for false enrolments impossible. A number of examples of forgery were uncovered but no perpetrators were ever tried.

Hence it is hypocritical for the ALP to be sinking the boot into Pauline Hanson over electoral matters when so many of their party have clearly escaped justice in Queensland.

Karen Ehrman, whose evidence led to the Sheperdson Inquiry, was the only Labor identity jailed for rorting preselections. But this did not stop Premier Beattie abusing parliamentarians shocked at the severity of the sentence as "gutless wimps".

Hanson herself should take some responsibility for the woes that have befallen her.

The political structure of the Hanson movement was the catalyst that split the party and caused a majority of the eleven members elected in Queensland to leave the party.

The ill-fated City-Country Alliance was formed and led by Bill Feldman. Other members became Independents, such as the popular member for Nanago, Dorothy Pratt.

Refused

Before the split Hanson was begged to correct the matter, to make the party democratic and transparent, but she refused. At one party meeting she was televised referring to democracy as "mob rule".

She boasted on Four Corners that One Nation was set up in such away that she could never be voted out as President. She would not risk losing control by giving her minions democracy.

In the end, the party elites took control from her anyway. She was a figurehead National President for some time and finally resigned the post.

A poll taken after her jailing claimed 21 per cent of Queenslanders were prepared to vote for One Nation at the next election.

Peter Beattie must have been delighted because it was One Nation splitting the conservative vote that gave him government in Queensland and then at the next election a landslide victory.

It is all quite ironic when you consider that while Hanson had made many powerful enemies, as you always do in politics, those from without could not have harmed her without the ones she kept accumulating from within.

My verdict on Pauline Hanson is that she is the victim of her own folly and the movement created around her, but she does not deserve to be locked in a prison cell for three years.




























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