Published 24th May 1999
article by Bruce Whiteside - founder of Pauline Hanson Support Movement
On the evening of October 28th 1996, eight hundred and fifty people packed the Albert Waterways Community Centre on the Gold Coast, to hear me urge all thinking Australians to form an army of support behind Pauline Hanson. Up until that point, people were talking only in whispers, not wanting to be heard, for fear of repercussions. Hanson was being lambasted by a hostile media, vilified by other politicians Aborigines and the multicultural industry.
Someone had to get out there and 'go into bat for Pauline'. I chose to... and today I regret that I ever did.
The following morning I appeared on the Today Show. When I. arrived home my wife Iris was swamped, answering phone calls. It was to remain that way for two months. By February 5th 1997, three people, Iris, John Clodd and myself had created six thousand members, established our fortieth branch and had accumulated $12,000 in residual funds. Although we had an interim committee, they were nondescript leadweights. In the final analysis they folded, surrendering to the intimidation of Hanson and her henchmen.
So what was the kernel of the idea that developed into the Pauline Hanson Support Movement.
It was simple enough. Back in the late 80's I had written and spoken out on the issue that politicians simply would not tackle, 'foreign land ownership.' For my 'efforts I was attacked by politicians, business leaders, developers, tourist leaders and real estate agents. Thousands of ordinary Australians supported me. But I learnt a valuable lesson. Most people would slap you on the back, but when the going got tough, as it did, they were nowhere to be seen.
When Hanson delivered her maiden speech I sought a copy and read it. Much of what she was saying cut across the issues that I had raised eight years previously. I had also called public meetings about the 'highly political' Mabo decision. It was at these meetings that I formed an association with Paul Trewartha. My first reaction to Pauline Hanson was one of "Thank God", we actually have an Australian with a bit of Anzac spirit.' That night September 15th 1996, five days after her, maiden speech, I set to and wrote a speech. My wife read it and said, 'now what are You going to do with it?" To that point I hadn't given it thought. "Call a public meeting." On the Sept 23rd 1996 the Gold Coast Bulletin announced that I was going to form a 'fan club for Pauline Hanson'. As a result of that I received over fifty phone Calls of Support. A fortnight later I approached some thirty of those people who rang and asked them if they would contribute $10 each toward the cost of the hall. All except one agreed and I opened a post office box at Miami to receive the donations. I waited two weeks and received a solitary donation. I rang the lady and offered to return the cheque. I then cancelled the meeting.
A few days later Paul Trewartha called and asked what had happened to the meeting. I told him and he then offered to put up the money if I would reconsider. On the strength of this, I went ahead. Trewartha never honoured that promise. That night we dispensed literature on how t o promote 'Pauline's Army', signed up members, by issuing Registration Certificates, sold tee--shirts (the original), bumper stickers and collected, from memory, $1600.
What started out purely as a local support movement, was rudely shattered when calls began coming in from all over Australia. Mail poured in to the Miami Post Office and the phone never stopped. We bought a fax machine and installed another phone line. Iris and some of her friends came to help. All this time I was trying to handle the media, punching out job sheets, writing Out letters to the new branches and putting together the Rules Governing Objectives. As well as all this, the speech that I had written was being requested. We sold over two hundred of these at $5 a copy, all the money going back into the PHSM. Many days I saw as little as two or three hours sleep. There was little doubt in my mind that I was driving myself into the ground. My wife was more worried than I.
On the evening of the inaugural meeting, some of us gathered to form an interim committee. On the night we needed practical help but in fact they were all so caught up with the 'excitement of the meeting' that my wife was left alone to try and handle the people streaming through the foyer. As a result she never got to hear the forty-five minute address.
Within six weeks, it became increasingly obvious that we needed a vehicle. Already my wife and I had gone north to launch the Caboolture branch. I put it to the committee and they considered it over a week. The next meeting they voted with one exception against it. I was angry. The treasurer Linden Litchfield said that, "either Bruce had to come back to the pace of the committee or the committee would have to catch up to him". All the committee wanted to do was to play at being a committee. I immediately resigned. I sought and finally received financial help for a vehicle from outside the movement. This was done largely because I had forced the issue by paying for half the vehicle in the face of no help from my own committee. A condition of the financial help was that I go back to the movement. Unbeknownst to me arrangements were made that would see the PHSM make payments, even though the vehicle was donated to myself and NOT the movement. Immediately plans were drafted for me to visit twenty-eight towns in Queensland, with a view to consolidating and creating new branches. (The vehicle emblazoned with sign-writing was never used. It was removed from my home and sold illegally. The money being, returned to the donor.)
Just before Christmas and a couple of days before Pauline Hanson went to the USA, she paid our committee a visit. Her intent was clear; she did not want me as the founder and Chairman of the PHSM speaking to the press. There was a very animated clash between us, so much so that some threatened to walk out if I did not back off and fall into line with this lady who at that time was championing free speech. What Hanson did not realise is that I was spokesperson, media officer and public relations officer, democratically elected.
Trewartha undertook to see that I did not speak to the press. In fact the next time I did was over three months later, March 31st 1997. Before she departed Hanson and Hazelton told us that 'big things' were going to happen in the New Year. We were also promised that our long running effort to get the movement "incorporated" would be the first thing that Hanson would attend to upon her return.
Prior to this I had opted to stand down as Chairman, because I did not really understand how committee's worked. I believed Trewartha did. I was to be proved wrong. We agreed to 'swap? Positions. We declared the two positions vacant and nominated him, he in turn nominated another. I was devastated. Trewartha then moved that I be installed as editor of the newspaper that I had put together.
Out of the blue on February 4th 1997, Barbara Hazelton rang us and asked us to provide a meal for a Mr. Ettridge who was coming to visit us. Could we provide that and then take him to meet the committee? He has, she said, 'some 'wonderful news for us all.'
Previous to this a number of meetings, unbeknown to myself, had taken place with Hazelton, Trewartha and the new vice Chairman Ron Paddison. When Ettridge arrived at Coolangatta, Trewartha went down to meet him, brought him to our home, where he dined with Paddison, Trewartha, Iris and myself. Ettridge was charm personified. A gentleman to a point he impressed us all with his style and charisma. After a three course meal, we travelled down to John Clodd's family business and introduced Ettridge to the committee.
The women who made up half the committee, saw him as a Smooth type character whilst the men sat and took everything in. The committee was besotted. There was a decided uplifting of interest when Ettridge announced that among his credentials was the magazine Champions that he was promoting and marketing. He mentioned that the McDonald food chain were behind him on this. The committee was impressed. (Not long after this McDonald's pulled the plug on this and distanced themselves from him.) He then briefly, very briefly outlined what he was doing here. He informed us that he came at Pauline's direction, that she would be marketed as a product and that we would from this moment forth take orders from him. I asked him what he intended to do with Hazelton. 'She will be reined in and brought back to Ipswich, away from Canberra and will know her place.'
The committee really didn't know what was going on and when Ettridge asked
for questions, they seemed to be frozen. Nothing was forthcoming. I waited
until the silence became unbearable and asked him, 'If as you say Hanson,
Hazelton and all of us are going to take our orders from you, who then are
you taking your orders from?'
'I am afraid I can't divulge that. All I can say is that he is a 'brilliant and dynamic young Liberal."
'Who?' I insisted.
'I am sorry I am sworn to secrecy. You will know him simply as Mr. 'X'.
It is interesting because David Thomas who worked for Hanson for a few weeks said he was known as Mr. 'O'. When I pressed Ettridge further and queried him about our newspaper, our office, our printing and our Tee-shirts, he told us that it would all be done in Manly. In other words he was assuming complete control. What purported to be a friendly meeting, suddenly became a hostile take over.
Those who know me know that I do not stand on ceremony. I rose to my feet and said Mr. Ettridge, you are nothing bat a bloody con man, now bugger off back to Sydney and forget all about us. -' YOU could have heard a pin drop. Not only was I awake to what he was up to but I was totally disgusted that nobody at that meeting had the guts to do likewise. I walked out of the meeting. It was the last time I ever had anything to do with the movement I founded. Both Trewartha and Paddison prevented me from having any contact with the committee. I know now that both men were acting on Ettridge's instructions.
A fortnight later after I had been shut Out from the movement I had founded and after Trewartha had uplifted from my home, in my absence all the documents and material that I had created, that was subsequently plagiarised, a meeting was held at the Sydney Airport. Three people gathered to draw up the resolutions for a new party. The signatories to that document were Pauline Hanson, David Ettridge and David Oldfield. A month later with the cooperation of Paul Trewartha, Hanson, Ettridge and Trewartha were elected unopposed to the PHSM incorporated. It was never intended that Hanson should be a part of it.
In the wash-up after Ettridge's visit every member of the Gold Coast committee, as well as my wife, ignored me. They believed that I had "lost it". They believed that I had 'been unspeakably rude to our guest'. In fact he was not a guest but an intruder, a fact that escaped those who refused to recognise what was going on at the time. Trewartha tried to keep me on side, but I would have nothing to do with what was about to happen. I expected that in the normal procedure that an extraordinary meeting would be called to put to our members what had taken place and for them to have their democratic say. It didn't happen. Trewartha surrendered the movement. He was rewarded with the vice-presidency to Pauline herself. (In the course of events he was also to find out how treacherous Hanson could be.)
Trewartha came to my home when I was out and uplifted all the movements' documentation, as I have mentioned. My wife operated because she believed she had no option as secretary. He then acted upon orders from David Ettridge and organised the launch of the new One Nation from our home. Hanson had left instruction that I was not to be included among the invitations of which 1200 were written on my lounge table. The day of the launch Trewartha, my wife, George Merritt (the man who claimed authorship the book Pauline Hanson The Truth) and Ian Evans left my home and drove to Ipswich a night to remember.
My wife who left the house in tears, and sat at Hanson's table, (right) was devastated when she arrived home. The next day she resigned from the PHSM. She now loathes the very mention of Hanson's name.
Within a week of the launch I had a phone call from David Oldfield. I had never spoken with him or to him before. He was fired up and decidedly manic. I shall never forget the cold clinical remark that he passed. 'You were never going to be allowed to stay in the movement. YOU would have stood in the way of our agenda. We have to destroy you.'
A week later Television One in New Zealand rang me to warn me that Ettridge had 'blackguarded' me in an interview that they were not putting to air. Ettridge's response was simple; 'We can say what we like about you with impunity, because you simply don't have the money to take us to court.'
In a radio interview with 6PR, shortly after Hazelton resigned Howard Sattler asked why I had called for Hanson to sack the two David's. My response caused Sattler to ask Oldfield how he began to refute what I had said. "Oh Howard, I want you and your listeners to understand that Mr. Whiteside, is a very, very sick man.'
In the previous edition of The New Australia Times this appeared:
It should be remembered that it was the PHSM that enabled Pauline Hanson to launch into a national campaign Bruce Whiteside, who has received scathing attacks from Hanson. Ettridge and Oldfield was the mastermind behind this strategy ... something the One Nation hierarchy and many One Nation supporters never really appreciated.