For the second day running, the Parliamentary Secretary for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Tony Abbott, has used Parliament to attack “the real nature” of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party.
Mr. Abbott challenged the status of One Nation, its structure and its right to public funding.
Hansard, House of Representatives, July 2, 1998.
Mr ABBOTT (Warringah–Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs) (5.15 p.m.)–Over the past fortnight, questions have been raised in this House about the real nature of One Nation. Is it a party or is it a business? Is it a democracy or is it a dictatorship? Is it really an unstable political menage a trois linking the two Davids, D1 and D2, with an antipodean version of Eva Peron? One of the key questions is the fate of the $500,000 worth of taxpayers’ money to which it has always been assumed One Nation is entitled in the wake of the Queensland election result. To receive public funding, a party must be registered under
the relevant act.
The Queensland Electoral Act provides ‘that the application for registration must be made to the Commission in a form approved by the Commission for the purposes of this section and must if the application for a party that is not a Queensland parliamentary party’–and I should point out that One Nation had no members of parliament when this application was lodged–‘set out the names and addresses of 500 members of the party who are electors’. I stress that to receive public funding a party needs 500 members.
I turn now to the constitution of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. This is not One Nation Ltd, which has three directors and just five members, but the unincorporated association registered under the Queensland act, about which I tabled information in parliament earlier this week. This unincorporated association has three classes of membership: it has management committee members, it has committee members and it has affiliate members who, I submit, are not really members at all because the management committee has complete and total control over this party. I quote from its constitution:
Any AGM, special meeting or general meeting may be attended by the members of the management committee on behalf of the ordinary members and any ordinary member–
wait for it, Mr Deputy Speaker–
who has given seven days notice in writing of their intention to attend the meeting.
You have got to give seven days notice to attend a meeting of One Nation. It also says:
Management committee meetings are only to be attended by members of the management committee and ordinary members as appropriate and agreed to by a majority of members of the management committee.
There are just three members of the management committee. I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that affiliate members are not members in any meaningful sense. They have no role in the party whatsoever, other than to pay membership fees. So One Nation, as registered in Queensland, does not have 500 members, it is not a validly registered political party and it cannot receive any public funding. I call on the Queensland government to urgently consider whether One Nation can be a registered party at all under its existing, highly undemocratic constitution.
To be federally registered, a party also needs 500 members. My office has been seeking a copy of the constitution of One Nation as federally registered. Members may be interested to know that the Australian Electoral Commission said it cannot actually provide a copy of One Nation’s constitution and suggested that I approach a person described as One Nation’s constitutional officer. When asked for a copy of the constitution, the gentleman in question, Scott Balson said, ‘I only look after the Web page. You will have to ask David Ettridge.’
The House should know that if One Nation received 13 per cent of the vote at a federal election, if it was entitled to funding, it would receive $5 million of taxpayers’ money, of which D2, David Ettridge, would be entitled to 12.5 per cent or more than $500,000. Yet, if this federally registered constitution resembles the Queensland constitution of One Nation, it may not be validly registered at all. So I ask the Australian Electoral Commission to reconsider whether, given the complete lack of democracy inside One Nation, given the complete lack of membership in any meaningful form, One Nation is indeed a validly registered party.
Is One Nation a constitutional entity in any meaningful sense or is it just a couple of political and financial brigands trying to hoodwink decent patriotic Australians in the way Jimmy Swaggart once tricked pious Americans? The administration of this party, One Nation, is a complete shambles. Today’s Sydney Morning Herald, in talking about One Nation, states:
. . . its former Queensland treasurer, Mr Ted Bricks, said he resigned last month over concerns about financial accountability. He said two party members to whom he had spoken made donations of $5,000 and $7,000 but were not given receipts.
He said he discovered the money was not deposited in One Nation’s account but in “associated” accounts–
perhaps Mr Ettridge’s–
whose details he was unable to establish. The documentation in relation to the financial affairs of One Nation is virtually non-existent.
Could it be that Mr 12.5 Per Cent has taken more than that to which he is entitled? Mr Deputy Speaker, you might be interested to know that I happened the other day to pick up the One Nation political party annual return for 1996-1997 and I noticed that the member for Oxley (Ms Hanson) had given $5,000 to One Nation in the form of a loan to the party. I just hope that better care has been taken of the member for Oxley’s money than was taken of the $7,000 referred to by Mr Bricks.
We ought to point out again that D2, David Ettridge, is actually the principal of an overseas registered company operating in Australia. D2 is in fact a foreign multinational. That is what D2 is. And so I say to Scott Balson, who indicated that he would never accept any multinational company on his Web page, that the first person he should throw off the Web page is none other than David Ettridge himself.
People need to know what kind of party One Nation has become. They need to know that David Oldfield’s and David Ettridge’s One Nation Ltd is not a political party in any meaningful sense; it is a business where no-one is allowed to ask questions. Today’s Age newspaper said:
Mrs Klinghammer said she was disendorsed as One Nation’s candidate for Hindmarsh in South Australia after questioning the whereabouts of $7,000 raised at a party fundraiser. She said three other South Australian candidates, Mr David Carter, Mr David Dwyer and Mr Roger Meadmore, were also disendorsed after questioning party finances.
I congratulate those decent, honest members of One Nation, or pseudo-members of One Nation, for taking the stance they did. But what happened when they raised these perfectly reasonable questions with the party leadership, D1 and D2? I am quoting again from The Age:
We were told we were compulsive liars and traitors, when all we were doing was asking them to be accountable for the money.
There are indeed some chronic and habitual liars in the One Nation organisation, but the best candidates for that title are in fact D1 and D2. The best thing the member for Oxley could do, if she has any concern for her party, if she has any concern for the decent Australians who might be tempted to support her, if she has any concern for her own reputation, if she has any thought for the people of Ipswich who voted her into this place, is to sack David Oldfield and David Ettridge. She must get rid of D1 and D2.
Dr Southcott–She can’t. They’ll get rid of her.
Mr Hardgrave–She doesn’t have the numbers.
Mr ABBOTT–I take the point of the members behind me. She doesn’t have the numbers. The member for Oxley needs to understand that she is completely at the mercy of, she is completely dependent on the goodwill of, two people who go a lot further back with one another than they do with her.
I think that the nation is sending out a message: please explain, Pauline. The nation wants to know, and One Nation wants to know. When you do stand up to reply, I ask you this: please don’t just read a script that D1 has written for you, because if you do you are not worth the $145 travel allowance you have been paid for today.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jenkins)–I call the member for Watson.