15th January 2000
Images and story by Scott Balson
I arrived at the Tewantin CWA Hall on the outskirts of Noosa at just after 1.30pm.
The public meeting called by members of the Noosa/Tewantin One Nation branch was already in progress. It had been advertised as an information meeting at which people could hear for themselves both sides of the argument... from One Nation and the City Country Alliance.
Images below: Pauline Hanson with Senator Len Harris; the audience when I arrived; the meeting's chairman, Louis, calls the Alliance's Ian Peterson to the floor to address the meeting.
I stood at the back and looked over the audience... the last few rows were full of people that Hanson had brought to the earlier Wynnum meeting... Alan Doak, Cheyenne MacLeod etc... most of the people attending were pensioners in their 60s and 70s.
Unlike Wynnum there was no chance for the meeting to be taken over by One Nation - causing the chaos that resulted. Here at Tewantin it was a public meeting.
I was surprised to see Channel 10 and Channel 7 television at the meeting as there would surely be a confrontation between the Alliance and One Nation points of view.
As Peterson spoke Harris and Hanson sat at the front and took notes. Peterson spoke about the registration of the Alliance going through the dates, facts and figures related to its establishment - explaining that the MPs had no other option but to establish the new party as they were "in limbo". Pauline Hanson looked on fiercely - obviously not liking what she was hearing.
Louis, the chairman of the meeting, called for questions to be directed at Peterson... but before anyone could a most remarkable series of events took place.
They started with Senator Len Harris standing up and demanding to be heard... Louis tried to impress on Harris that the meeting had a format and as the chair that was he wanted it followed.
The Hanson group seated at the back barracked Louis who then backed down. Harris taking the floor before a question had been directed to Peterson who resumed his seat.
It then became the Harris/Hanson show with the floor being monopolised until the time they left....
Harris' argument was based around the credibility of the MPs when forming the City Country Alliance. He claimed that he had, over the telephone hook-up, asked the MPs and Ian Peterson four questions... the basis of an agreement before the MPs had registered the party.
|Question||Harris' view||Peterson's answer (backed up by Peter Prenzler MLA)|
|Is is agreed that Pauline Hanson One Nation Qld be registered?||Agreed by all||We could not register PHON Qld because the name had been de-registered and if the appeal had succeeded there would have been two political parties with the same name. We were advised by the Queensland Electoral Commission that they would not have allowed it.|
|Bill Feldman will affect the membership registration of the new party||Agreed by all||All five MPs signed the new party registration.|
|Pauline Hanson to be the registered officer||Agreed by all||Ian Peterson said that this was irrelevant as the role carried no privileges. He said that the new party could not wait for Hanson to return and were unaware when the new party was registered that Hanson had allegedly signed a blank registration form as claimed later by Harris.|
|The constitution used by the new party would be the one prepared by Graham MacDonald||Agreed by all||This constitution is used by the new party.|
When I look over the questions outlined above I cannot see what all the rumpus is about. Peterson's answer on the first point raised by Harris makes complete sense and the third over Pauline's role is not an issue.
Where were the rebels... I thought to myself?
Unfortunately with the slanging match that has since ensued because Pauline Hanson has refused to talk to the MPs despite their request the two parties are now moving further and further apart.
After Len Harris had finished speaking Pauline Hanson got up and basically tried to take over the meeting.
In the images below: Hanson argues with Chairman Louis over whether she should speak at that stage; Peterson, Prenzler and MacDonald sit while Hanson talks to the audience; Hanson makes some points.
Hanson is currently on a "tour" of Queensland trying to rally branches back into the One Nation camp so I listened carefully to the arguments that she presented and her position on the City Country Alliance.
I have to confess I was most disappointed in the lies that she told when presenting her argument.
The first outright lie was that Tony Pitt and Australia First had been involved in the registration of the new party. She referred specifically to my web site and an image which showed Tony Pitt and Australia First's Max Aleckson sitting opposite Bill Feldman in their Parliamentary offices (seen right).
After Pauline had finished speaking I made the point to her that I had invited Tony Pitt and Max Aleckson to meet with Bill Feldman and the other MPs.
Ian Peterson was to confirm that he had never spoken to either man before the informal social meeting in their offices. Pitt and Aleckson did nothing more than meet and say hello to the MPs...
I took Senator Harris to task reminding him, in front of the meeting, that when he raised this point several weeks earlier (about the "Pitt/Australia First" involvement) with me I had carefully explained the background.
He admitted in front of the meeting that the discussion had taken place - yet he had allowed Pauline Hanson to raise this in prior meetings in an argument aimed at discrediting the MPs without correcting her.
The second issue that I found very hard to reconcile was the comment by Hanson,when defending David Ettridge who had resigned two days earlier as National Director that he had "put his own money up for the first five months of the party's existence".
Pauline Hanson is either very badly informed, has been told lies by David Ettridge or is part of the lie.
The facts are that David Ettridge's personal company Champions Magazine Pty Ltd had claimed about $40,000 in "contract management fees" and about $10,000 in expenses during the first five months of the party's existence. A total of $50,000...
Full expose on the facts of this at this link.
The fact of the matter is that hundreds of thousands of badly-needed dollars have been stripped out of Pauline Hanson's One Nation by companies associated with, and by Ettridge himself since April 1997.
After Hanson had finished speaking she continued to dominate the meeting refusing Ian Peterson the right of reply. Then, before I or Peter Prenzler MLA could give a balancing perspective she informed the meeting that she was running late for another meeting and "had to go".
Images below" The Hanson/Harris show... a litany of lies and half-truths
An elderly lady got up and said to Pauline "I was probably one of the first people to come out and support you. I wrote to you back in 1996." I want to ask you one question, "Why didn't you come back from America as soon as you realised that things were going wrong?"
Pauline was very evasive saying that it was "already too late" and that she had "no idea what was happening"... at this time Pauline Hanson (by her own admission during her earlier address to the meeting) had contacted both Heather Hill and Jack Paff MLa on the phone and given them a dressing down.
Ian Peterson raised the point that they had left a series of messages which she had refused to answer - while speaking directly to Oldfield and ettridge at the critical time when the MPs were registering the new party.
During the discussion Pauline Hanson and Senator Len Harris left with their contingent at the back, the television cameras and about twenty people in the audience.
Those that remained then listened as I explained the true flawed structure of Pauline Hanson's One Nation.
Facts at this link. This was a story that her followers did not want to hear.
My comments were followed up by Peter Prenzler MLA who referred to the minutes of the One Nation national executive in August 1999, after the deregistration of the party in Queensland. The National Executive passed a motion which made all the Queensland MLAs members of the One Nation "political party".
They had since been expelled despite holding more votes than the four other members... a strange twist in a flawed structure.
Images below: Peter Prenzler addresses those who remained; some of the audience after Pauline Hanson left (note empty seats) and Graham MacDonald answers a question.
Tewantin/Noosa update - 31st January 2000
We held our general meeting today and a vote was taken to close the Tewantin-Noosa branch of One Nation. Alot of members were absent, some away at this time others disenchanted after the meeting on the 15th.However of those who attended 14 voted for the motion to close this branch of One Nation, 4 abstained and none were against.We are having a meeting in 4 weeks time to form a Branch of C.C.A. and elect office bearers .,