Commentary by Scott Balson, Global Web Builders - published 29th July 1998
|"I am the proudest woman in Australia," Pauline Hanson in Parliament yesterday.|
It was to be a day in which the, now, well orchestrated game of protest for the hell of it was re-enacted on the streets of Brisbane.
After weeks of clear weather the gods seemed to realise that this would be a special day - a day in which it would be right for the skies to weep as children became the vassals of communists and as wrong became right.
For eleven One Nation MPs this was to be a very special day as they were sworn in on the first day of the new Parliament as the party's leader Pauline Hanson watched from the gallery.
I arrived a trifle late for the celebrations loaded up with laptops for the new MPs... when I drove past the locked gates of Parliament, now heavily protected by security, I had a nibble of things to come.
A handful of the first protesters had gathered as if they were playing some sort of game. The real issue of racism had no real bearing on their message.
In Parliament things were not to run smoothly for me.
First I had to wait for what seemed hours while I obtained a security pass. Once received I went to the press gallery thinking, perhaps stupidly, that as I had a daily on-line newspaper and represented One Nation to some small extent I would be granted permission to record the historic event with my digital camera.
Funny lot the press corp. They claim to be for freedom of speech - but put a predator in their midst and they turn on that predator like beasts of the night - although I am not a predator - the equivalent of what they perceived to be a threat was to be my experience.
When I arrived at the press gallery a floor above and looking down into the Parliamentary chambers I sited Pauline Hanson and One Nation members sitting against the wall just across from the Press Gallery area.
Squeezing my way passed a number of important looking journalists I arrived at the "chord" separating the media from the Public Gallery and the area in which Pauline was seated.
Somewhat brashly I walked over the "official" line and stood next to Ken Hill, Heather Hill's husband. Within moments my digital camera was out and, without using the flash I took these historic pictures of the goings on below.
The images left to right: The opposition MPs (what is left of the Coalition); the next two images the One Nation MPs look up as a team for the photos after frantic signals and nudging between the MPs below; Premier Peter Beattie sitting in the Speaker's chair.
All seemed to be going well except for a bit of murmuring in the Press Gallery when I took the following exclusive images of Pauline Hanson flanked by Heather Hill and Ian Petersen with David Oldfield in the background.
This was obviously too much and the word went out amongst the press gallery. "Get him!"
The next thing I knew some fellow approached me and asked me if I was a journalist. I replied that I edited a daily on-line newspaper and that One Nation officials alongside me could vouch for my position as a reporter for the party.
This they did.
All was well for another few minutes... the big guns in the form of Mike D'Arcy president of the State Press Gallery came across through the Press Gallery to confront me and my "status".
He apologised and was very diplomatic - but he made it clear that as I was not a recognised member of the "Press Corp" I would have to stop taking photographs.
Adrian McGregor, from The Australian newspaper, pointed out to me a number of his old colleagues seated opposite us in the Public Gallery. "They used to be editors and senior political journalists in The Courier Mail," he said, "Now they work as press liaison officers with higher salaries for the new Labor government."
Now I would never have guessed that this nice little arrangement could have anything to do with journalistic ethics being compromised in reporting in the papers...
I left the Parliamentary chambers at about 11am to go and see what was happening up at King George's Square where the students were gathering for their protest. Before I could get out I had to squeeze past the journalists. One bright eyed and bushy tailed little female upstart refused to move. "You have defamed on the Internet," she said. "Who are you?" I replied. She refused to answer. Obviously my reputation had gone before.
Outside the press gallery I was approached by the Queensland Times Mark Strong who asked me if I had claimed to be a member of the press corp. "No," I replied, "just the person archiving One Nation's history".
Interesting mob these custodians of free speech.
I wandered up to Kings Park, here are some photographs that I took at about 11.30am - half an hour before the official protest was to start.
I entered into some interesting and verbal conversation with some young Resistance workers - they seem somewhat bemused that a One Nation supporter would be so brash as to talk to them about the party's policy on "their" turf.
Amongst the organisers from the communist party was one of the well known thugs from the ALP thug files.
- see #2 also seen here right posing for me before he realised who I was.
As the hour of 12 noon approached I got involved in a very heated discussion with a number of students who had no intention of listening to what Pauline Hanson's One Nation policy is all about. They did not know that Resistance represented the communist and had no clue what One Nation actually stood for. Like a bunch of mushrooms I suddenly found myself surrounded by television cameras and microphones which, in turn, drew the students around like a magnet.
It was time to move on... but not before a silly impetuous idiot called me a "F***ing Racist" and stuck up his middle finger - inches from my nose. I stood my ground and when I asked him why I was a racist he appeared to go to water... acting like a bumbling fool.
Channel 9 caught a piece of the action on last night's news saying, correctly, the only people doing the abusing was the children. In the piece the "kid (idiot)" calls me a "redneck". I respond, "So what are you, what are you? You're a great little kid aren't you... that's why you call people names. You're a great little kid." I turn away with the camera catching the "kid" calling me a "redneck wanker" after I had gone. Here are some images taken from the Channel 9 footage:
I wandered back down towards the Parliament and came across a group of about 200 Aborigines starting their own "march against racism".
Here are the images I took of the Aboriginal protest:
On the opposite corner to the entrance to the Queensland University of Technology I met some familiar faces..
This hardy band of One Nation faithful would later require a police escort to ensure their safety from the mob of unruly "schoolies" who had come down to join the Aboriginal protesters.
They had to be escorted for two blocks.
Back at Parliament I did boring things like set up laptops for the MPs before venturing outside once again to take on the protesters.
Here are some images taken from the roof of the building opposite the entrance to the Queensland University of Technology - where several hundred protesters had gathered.
It was time to return to the real world but before I did here was one of the more peaceful moments in the whole sorry debacle.