One Nation launch in Dandenong
8th July 1997

Voices: Stephen Jolly of Militant and interviewer on radio.

At 5pm I take a quick look around. The entrance to the One Nation meeting is from a small back-street. There are already police road-blocks in place and the fire department is there as well.

There are very few protesters outside, I notice a few wearing a black balaclava standing on the roof of a computer store.

As it approaches 6pm things start happening. There are about fifty protesters in front of the entrance to the One Nation meeting. The slogans heard are about the Howard ten points Wik plan: "Ten points plan has got to go" and "always was, always will be Aboriginal land". The protest is light-hearted, happy and there are many smiles around.

More people are joining in but the stream of protesters is very slow. "Racist cowards! Racist cowards! Racist cowards!" and "Racist, fascists, anti-gays, right-wing bigots go away!" are in fashion.

At 6pm the familiar chant "Say it loud, say it clear, racists are not welcome here", and "Migrants are welcome, racists are not" start. There is a good atmosphere among the protesters, it is more like a fun-fair than a political protest. The overwhelming majority of the early protesters would be younger than 25, many younger than 20. "Hanson is a puppet and Howard pull the strings" There is a lack of punch in the protest, but this is due more to the low numbers than any lack of enthusiasm.

A quick look at the multicultural concert in the next street, they are still setting up, testing the sound. There are about 20 people there.

The first guests are starting to arrive for the meeting. The various journalists, photographers and TV people are getting into position, on both side of the entrance. The organisers and police have set up a clever system to get people in, obviously learning from the clashes at previous meetings. To get to the supporters, the protesters would have to jump over a barricade and get through a line of police. In any case, there is no suggestion any of them would want to do that.

I am now among the crowd, there are many socialist pamphlets circulating. I am handed out an invitation to the Geelong rally. "No worries mate, I’ll be there" I answer. A nice lady offers me a copy of "Green Left Weekly". "You might find this interesting" she says, but I have to decline. Nothing wrong with the newspaper, of course, but it doesn’t look too flash to ask questions at a One Nation press conference with a copy of GLW under the right arm. I explain I am here as an independent media observer.

At 6.20pm they chant "Hanson doesn’t speak for us", the protest is slowly gathering momentum. "Say it loud, say it clear, racists are not welcome here."

A few more people arrive. "Go home racist!", "Racist! Racist! Racist!". The atmosphere that was so relaxed up to now is changing.

As more people arrive just before 6.30pm, the first egg is thrown. It is followed by urine-bombs. "Say it loud, say it clear, racists are not welcome here"

The police climb on top of the computer shop to seemingly dislodge the balaclava-wearing anarchists. After some discussion, it would appear the protesters are allowed to stay. This visit may have been prompted by the throwing of missiles in the direction of the protesters. Looking at the impact of the first egg on the wall, it could not have come from that direction.

Large whole apples are now thrown at a group of supporters entering the meeting. Because people have to climb a few step to get into the meeting, they become the perfect target for all sorts of projectiles. "Hey hey, ho ho, racist bigots have to go!"

The police move the Channel Nine crew back a few steps. More supporters arrive. "Shame!, shame on you!" As each supporter arrive, they are greeted with boos, jeers and whistles.

"Hanson’s a failure, no white Australia!" Eggs, tomatoes, potatoes and urine-bombs are thrown with increasing frequency. I am right in the middle of the crowd with a guy behind who appears to be very interested in the contents of my bag. I am offered more pamphlets and an "anti-racist newspaper"

It is now 6.45pm and I am near the back of the protest where a table covered with pamphlets has been set up by the protesters. Near that table, a young man is standing on a podium repeatedly asking people to "get active." He is clearly inciting people to display more anger. There are now so many protesters in the street that walking 10 meters to get a decent photograph of him is a real struggle.

I have to insert a new film in the camera so I seek refuge near the multicultural concert where the presenter is announcing singers from the local community and a couple of South African "brothers".

At 7pm I identified the source of the projectiles. Although I have not seen anyone throwing any, I can say with certainty they all come from behind the one banner and are thrown by more than one individual. "Say it loud, say it clear, racists are not welcome here"

The language is getting more colourful. A woman shouts "You f… cow" at one of the women who enters the building.

The various members of the media are looking at each other with a rather bemused look in their eyes. There is a bad stench coming from the entrance of the building where most of the eggs and filled balloons have exploded. "Go home racists, go home racists" and "you f… cowards" are heard loudly as more supporters arrive. A journalist was mistaken for a supporter and almost cleaned up by a urine-bomb as she walked across the entrance to talk to one of the police.

At 7.15pm the violence is coming to a head. It is absolutely raining projectiles. Another police has been hit on the head. So many eggs, fruit, urine-bombs are raining on the supporters they are unable to avoid them. "Say it loud, say it clear, racists are not welcome here" A lady who was behind the police line with the media and filming with a home-video type camera is being ejected by police. I have no idea what the incident is about.

Many eggs thrown onto the wall above the entrance are forming a rather uninviting dripping curtain the supporters have to go through to enter the meeting.

The more people arrive to the meeting, the more projectiles rain on them. There is a definite pattern here. When the supporters arrive, the TV crews fire up their camera and lighting and this is the unintentional signal for the crowd to boo and throw things at whoever is arriving. I understand the police has asked the TV crews not to film the protesters and have even threatened them with charges if they continued.

Now a man from the "campaign against racism" addresses the crowd with a microphone. He says a few words thanking the crowd for attending and introduces a young lady who elaborates a little more on the issue of racism and Pauline Hanson. The crowd is quite large now and very vocal. The constable standing about a meter from me is hit right on top of the head by a plastic bottle. There were no protesters in sight and it came right out of the blue in a relatively quite period in the protest. He didn’t even blink. I am moving back a fraction. More projectiles are being thrown and their landing area is getting wider, putting at risk the media.

A lady exiting the building is hit by a urine bomb on the leg. "Racists! Racists! Racists!" The lady on the microphone is now talking about immigration, unemployment, jobs, native title, single parents and gays. She invites the crowd to attend the "Campaign Against Racism" meetings every Thursday evening 6:30 at RMIT. She says: "…the opposition needs to be political, it needs to be directed at Pauline Hanson and it needs to be independent of the ALP. It is an alternative to Hanson’s scapegoat policies." The crow cheers loudly when she says "we call for rejection of both Hanson and Howard’s racist policies."

The lady is still talking on the microphone. She asks for rejection of the Howard Ten point plan, support for land rights and a host of other Aboriginal related matters including the "stolen generation". It would seem most of her concern is related to current government policies.

As the young lady’s speech continues, a supporter is hit by a projectile, prompting a loud cheer from the crowd. The focus is now on the plight of the East Timorese. Another young lady at the front of the crowd is not terribly interested by the speech in progress and uses her megaphone to incite others to hurl abuse at those arriving at the meeting. The egg is still dripping from the top of the entrance. It is impossible for anyone to enter the meeting without being dripped on.

Just before 7.30pm a man climbing the stairs to enter the building is hit violently on the side of the face by an egg which explodes on impact. This prompts a huge cheer and applause from the crowd. The nice peaceful protest has degenerated into a "hang’em" exercise.

I pick the right moment to run into the building and thankfully, I avoid getting hit by anything. What immediately strikes me is the amount of egg slime on the floor inside the building. It is very slippery and extremely dangerous. The security people have a bucket and mop and are doing their best to keep the place tidy.

Security closes the building, the meeting is about to start. The hall is about two-third full. I count about 210 people. From what I can see and hear, not all present are One Nation supporters. Stephen Jolly, the organiser of the protest is sitting at the back of the room. A photographer asks his permission to shoot a portrait.

Inside the three speakers are introduced, including Andrew Carne and David Ettridge. The announcer explains that after the speeches, question time will follow and after the public has left, a press conference will be held in an adjacent room.

The meeting

I will describe here some key moments as I saw them. Naturally, a political speech affects people in different ways and I have been know to show quite a lot of cynicism when I hear anyone promise they can solve the unemployment problem.

Before the start of the meeting, there was a little adjusting of the PA system to ensure the public-speakers would be louder than the protesters outside.

Jim Cairns was ejected from the meeting before it actually started. His later claims he was lifted off the ground by security does not describe accurately his relatively quiet exit. According to David Ettridge, he was removed from the meeting because he was not in a "fit state" and was distributing pamphlets. On Melbourne radio (3AW) the next day, Mr Ettridge was asked if Jim Cairns was affected by alcohol but wouldn’t answer the question fearing legal action.

Very early in the piece, there was a very loud cheer and applause when the first speaker reminded the audience of the result of a recent poll conducted by the Herald Sun revealed that 80% of those surveyed did not believe Pauline Hanson and her views were racist. The speaker also exposed the same newspaper for writing an editorial in contradiction with the findings of the poll.

A very popular issue was the deportation of foreign criminals. Andrew Carne explained the cost of keeping criminal in jail and gave the example of Singapore which has very little tolerance to crime. There was also a lot of applause when Mr Carne said all Australians should be treated equally, under one set of rules and one flag. Predicably, he said: "we must be one nation." A great deal of Carne’s speech had to do, directly or indirectly with the media. For instance, he denied One Nation ever said immigration should stop (he said the media misreported it) but more importantly he denied the One Nation party was singling out Asian immigration. He said his party would welcome anyone in Australia as long as they contributed. As a result of his attack on the media, some in the audience shouted "shame! media, shame!" and pointed towards the media assembled on the side of the hall. When he said the One Nation Party was not anti-Asian, there was a lot of applause. He made a distinction between being anti-Asian and being anti-Asianisation of Australia. He asked the audience: "do you want to work for $1 a day?" There were considerable resentment against the media, most of it spontaneous and from the audience. At times people would shout things like "hey media, did you get that?"

Throughout the meeting, people kept arriving, all generously pelted by eggs. Interestingly enough, I have not seen anyone who had been hit by a projectile get really angry. All seemed to take it as part of some silly game, the same way one reacts to a practical joke.

At 8:10pm, a journalist arrived. Don’t be surprised if her report fails to mention the eggs thrown on the supporters.

At the beginning and the end of the speech, Andrew Carne emphasised on the difference between criticism and racism as well as the difference between patriotism and racism. At 8:14 his speech ended.

Shortly after the beginning of David Ettridge speech, there was an interjection from a front-row spectator who did not agree with something Ettridge said about Sinn Fein. After a short argument, the gentleman made his point and was allowed to stay on. A popular point in Ettridge speech was his swipe at the large companies who avoid paying taxes. Another point that received unreserved applause was when Mr Ettridge said that ATSIC had failed aborigines. At 8:33 his speech ended and members of the audience were invited to ask questions.

The great majority of question-time was used by opponents of One Nation who made various points but didn’t really have questions. A lady asked the audience how many in the room were a product of immigration. As people raised their hand, she denounced One Nation. The "plat de resistance" of question time was Stephen Jolly the organiser of the protest outside who got into a strenuous anti-Kennett speech and then asked Ettridge a question about BHP and the 35 hours week. It was puzzling to see a man who had his fellow protesters outside screaming "Racist! Racist!" ask a question about something other than race or immigration. What caught my attention is not so much Stephen Jolly leaving the meeting but a member of the media following him in a buddy-buddy way. I later learn that as Jolly left, he was mistaken for a supporter and pelted with eggs. At 8:52 the meeting closed and people started to gather in the foyer behind the police.

The incident where a man is assaulted

According to the police, the man was bashed by three individuals, one punched him, the other took him into a head-lock and the third kicked him. As he fell, already unconscious, he hit his head on the curb. It all happened very fast, probably around 5 seconds.

Keith Warburton, the victim, is a man without political affiliation. he came to the meeting to get a few facts on One Nation. He confirmed that the impression he got was the opposite of what he had heard in the media. To his surprise, he found One Nation to be anti-racist.

When incidents such as this one happen, the stirrers run in all directions pretending they have no responsibility. One of them, Cr Greg Harris, the Mayor of Dandenong has polarised his community when the proper course of action for an official in his position was to let One Nation meet and not use his office for political purpose. This stupid habit of organising counter-meetings is only giving One Nation more publicity and is ultimately defeating the aim of the organisers.

More trouble

Just as the man was taken by ambulance at about 9.30pm, angry demonstrators charged the police ten meters from where I was standing The protesters were angry at a couple of arrests the police made and were asking for their release. "Let him go, let him go" was the loud chant from the crowd when yet another arrest was made. The crowd then erupted into "police protect the racists". The police were hopelessly outnumbered and thank to some quick reinforcements, the situation was defused, but it took some good 10 minutes to bring things back to normal.

Time to leave

I went back into the hall for the press conference - I had prepared a couple of sticky ones - but the security chief turned me away despite my media pass. So I left the building and found myself on my own behind the police cordon. The crowd started to throw all sorts of things at me.

I was the only one they could belt up and it didn’t matter who I was.

Between the horse manure and the protesters, I had my work cut out. From that point onward, much of my flagging energy was devoted to finding a way out of that place. 500 protesters are not easy to fool but eventually, I followed used a fire-truck who was passing to shield me and ended up at the road block where I stayed until I got picked up.

Before my departure from the charming City of Dandenong, I took one last photograph of the bus which carried Jolly and his young friends to some other adventure. Puberty does really strange things to people.

The protesters exposed
Debate between Militant and One Nation on Midday show - 15th July

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All mail received so far - pro and anti final letter posted 8th May 1997 at 7am.

Any relevant mail received from here on on this subject will be posted in Australian News of the Day

Return to launches of Pauline Hanson's One Nation

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You say:

Pauline Hanson's critics (9/7/97) have missed the point entirely.

Without any commentary, the facts speak for themselves. Australians whoattend meetings of a legal political party are being verbally andphysically abused, even to the extent now of being hospitalised. The hate,venom and violence is coming from the protesters.

Australia is supposed to be a democracy which enjoys free speech. Lets takemigration as an issue of interest to Australians. The existing governmentpolicy is multiculturalism, which even its architect has repudiated asdivisive. Mrs Hanson believes in assimilation, as leading to superiorsocial outcomes. The protesters believe in multiculturalism. In a democracythe citizens of the country have the right to disagree with and argue themerits or otherwise of government policies. Citizens also may PEACEFULLYprotest.

Mrs Hanson expresses her view peacefully in the democratic tradition. Theprotesters - at least the ones we see at the forefront - withhate-contorted faces scream obscenities and insults, hurl urine-filledballoons and other missiles at their fellow Australians trying to exercisetheir democratic right to attend a meeting. Only the presence of policeprotects Mrs Hanson's supporters from physical assaults by the protesters.

I know who are the fascists.

Antonia Feitz

Subject: Launch of One Nation at Dandenong

I was just in the Age newspapers site and they quoted a protest organiser as saying "the incident(the 59yo man being bashed)wasn't as bad as it seemed". I have news for you, a 59 year old gentleman being found in the gutter unconsciouse is as bad as it looked on national news,remember 'a picture tells a thousand words'. Listen protesters Mike Tyson did it now you are doing the same, being beaten and fighting dirty.

If it wasn't for you lot Pauline Hanson wouldn't be on the news every day, so keep it up Lunatic Left, you're giving her all the publicity the party needs and giving yourselves a rotten name and the press is starting to see it how it is so keep it up Scum Bags.


Subject: Launch of One Nation at Dandenong

I am a major supporter of the One Nation party. I am greatly involved in the setting up of a local branch. I enjoy your commentry of the ON meetings but may I suggest one thing, When you talk about the people entering the meeting why do you always call them supporters, A lot of these people are just open minded people who would like to further their knowledge of the party, that doesn't class them as supporters.

Keep up the good work, it is a top site for us Supporters too keep informed of the progress of the party.


Subject: Launch of One Nation at Dandenong

I attended the protest at dandenong. I was protesting, as i believed i was doing my part in standing up aganst racism and racist beliefs. I was not surprised the coverage by the media took the direction it did, the cameras are always shut off during address to the crowds. Where i believe the real issues are brought up and publicised. It was unfortunate that projestiles were thrown and a man was assaulted, i believe, although i was amonst the protestors, as it just hampered the image of the protest. I was extremely encouraged by the diversity of age and ethnicity amongst the crowd. I met several elderly men and women in the 60's and 70's, as well as children in their late single digits.

In regards to the ever popular criticsm of the roudy "rent-a crowd" i say that it is simply a different political action. Like marxist and socialists politicl idoloogy, radical and revolutionary action is held very dearly. The fact that these "crowd" are attending the hanson protests is because racism, a structural form of oppression confllicts with their values. It is not right for the media, nor one nation to criticise opposing methods of political activity in the manner it has as it further adds to the sensationalism and negitvity, clouding the minds of people who do not think!

Yes i was proud to be there, standig in the cold taking part, doing my bit, being active. i did not throw eggs, i chose not to. i was proud be be alongside my chinese, jewish, gay and elderly fellow human beings, joing in the chrous against the unfair, racist, blame and oppression one nation is perpetuating.
I will be there again in werribee next week. we are all humans. there is a definite gap between the ideology of one nation and what it actually claims.

And yes i HAVE read the maiden speech. It is something i would wipe my arse on.

Jason Keys

Subject: The Age coverage of Dandenong

Mr. James Burton of Melbourne's The Age went on the road for Pauline Hansons One Nation Party Dandenong launch. His story was entitled "Blood and Circuses", and carried in the section of The Age called "Pauline Hanson and the Asian Debate". In general his story seemed to be fair and objective reporting of the events in Dandenong, which is unprecedented in The Age where Pauline Hanson is concerned.

Mr. Burton told of Mr. Turnbridge's offer to open a Dandenong branch of the party after he heard of the party's formation in April. His reason, even though he had been apolitical before, was, "Pauline Hanson has said what my family and most of the people I know have always said."

That just about says it all, as to why decent, law-abiding Australians including many migrants from many nations, are flocking to join Pauline Hanson's One nation Party, doesn't it?

john hamilton

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