Today I visited Ipswich, Queensland and remembered that Pauline Hanson (the One Nation leader) owned a Fish & Chip shop there – about the only thing of note I know of in relation to Ipswich. In my searches I discovered this on Pauline Hanson and Tony Abbott scroll to the heading Action Against One Nation Party:

In 1998, Tony Abbott established a trust fund called “Australians for Honest Politics Trust” to help bankroll civil court cases against the One Nation Party and its leader Pauline Hanson.[32] Prime Minister John Howard denied any knowledge of existence of such a fund.[33] Abbott was also accused of offering funds to One Nation dissident Terry Sharples to support his court battle against the party. However, Prime Minister Howard defended the honesty of Abbott in this matter.[34]

On 10 July 1998, a writ to block a $500,000 electorial commission payment to Hanson was filed in the Supreme Court of Queensland against the One Nation Party by David Summers and Terry Sharples.[35][36] Both men were former candidates in the Queensland election. Summers also promoted the Easy Tax and Truth in Sentencing policies and held the party portfolio for Tourism.[37] Tony Abbott, a Federal Government Member of Parliament, immediately offered financial assistance to Summers and Sharples. According to an affidavit filed in the action, Abbott offered funds to One Nation’s candidate for the seat of Noosa, David Summers, via Sharples to support the court battle against the party. According to Summers, he informed Abbott and Sharples via telephone that while he appreciated the offer, he declined the “financial” assistance as “I did not believe that I had anything to do with the action” as filed by Abbott’s Liberal Party connection, Brisbane Barrister and former president of the Queensland Liberal Party, Paul Everingham. After contact with Sydney’s Barrister-at-Law, Mark Robertson, Summers was represented by Supreme Court Barrister, Rebecca Treston and a Queen’s Counsel from Nicol Robinson Halletts who had him removed from the action.[38]

During the deregistration action in the Queensland Supreme Court, it was alleged that Abbott also offered funds to David Summers. Summers’ official statement to the court addressed his withdrawal from the action which was based upon the lawfirm organized by Abbott who filed the action, had never obtained his permission to represent him as a Plaintiff. Summers initially was to be a witness for prosecuting the action. During a round-table at the offices of Minter Ellison solicitors, Summers would not accept any deal with the Abbott / Everingham team to finance the court action, but would remain as a witness about his One Nation investigations. While at that meeting in Brisbane, One Nation locals paid Summers’ family a visit at his rural property north of Noosa and the media reported that Summers was “expected to withdraw from the court action after claiming his family had been “threatened”.[39] According to radio and television reports Summers wrote to his solicitor saying, “Acts of intimidation have occurred towards my family from a One Nation member today, and I don’t want things to blow up out of proportion”.[40][41]

According to the Crime and Misconduct Commission Report of 2004 on the prosecution of Hanson, between July 1998 until early 1999 Abbott had “considerable involvement with the civil litigation” by ongoing communications with Sharples. Sharples believed Abbott had made a promise to pay his legal costs. This assertion was not contested by Abbott. Abbott did help finance, and in many ways promoted, the bringing of litigation to challenge the legality of the registration of the One Nation Party.[42] One Nation’s Queensland State Director Peter James proffered an official court statement by David Summers, which addressed that the Liberal Party, through Abbott, had assisted and supported the action initiated by him and Terry Sharples.[43]

In the deregistration litigation, Summers did not testify to Abbott’s communications with him and during his campaign for the Seat of Noosa, Summers delegated his preferential votes to Abbott’s Liberal Party over the ALP. According to Liberal Party insiders, their State Noosa electorate council argued strongly that Summers “should not receive preference ahead of Labor”, but was overruled from the top. Furthermore, the Queensland Premier, Rob Borbidge, stated that he was prepared to work with and “head a minority coalition government with the support of One Nation MPs” if One Nation is elected and held “the balance of power after the election”, which they did.[44]

The trio asserted the $500,000 was not going to go to all of the Queensland One Nation candidates, and would be diverted to fill the coffers of the One Nation leadership. Abbott, Summers and Sharples alleged that Hanson’s political party was not legally registered, not properly constituted and not run by its members. The writ alleged that the party was owned and operated by Hanson, Oldfield and David Etteridge under an umbrella company Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Incorporated.[45]

Prior to the 13 June 1998 election, One Nation’s campaign director, Oldfield, was aware of Abbott’s communications with Summers regarding Oldfield’s “excessive” expenses when he worked for Abbott years earlier. As Summers’ investigation of Oldfield intensified, Oldfield disendorsed Summers a week before the election via telephone and facsimile with no party vote or endorsement of the decision. Oldfield’s wrath came during an interview with Summers by a Brisbane-based television network. Summers had been investigating allegations of “missing” One Nation funds allegedly being funneled to Vanuatu, a known tax haven in the South Pacific. Summers was also in discussions with Sharples regarding the legal legitimacy of the party’s membership list which Summers refused to discuss publicly due to a Supreme Court confidentiality order.[46][47] The “official” party line given by Oldfield for the disendorsement was due to an alleged “antipapal” statement and other political comments attributed to Summers by Sydney Morning Herald journalist, Greg Roberts. The political mudslinging continued by Oldfield who unilaterally disendorsed more than a dozen candidates nationwide.

Summers, an investigative journalist and publisher of Exposure Magazine, publicly rebuked Roberts and his article multiple times as false and challenged Roberts to produce evidence of the statements and that an interview was even conducted. Roberts never produced. Summers went public that he was not behind the action with Tony Abbott to “freeze any party funds”; was never interviewed by Roberts, never “issued any such anti-papal statements”, and “does not even believe” the statements that Robert’s attributed to him.[48] In the Supreme Court, Summers won his bid, maintaining that the Everingham lawyers never had his permission to represent him and that his name was used illegally to bring the action against the party.[49] In 2005 and 2007, complaints were successfully filed by authors such as Scott Balson and Jim Saleam against Roberts’ a reporter for News Limited‘sThe Australian newspaper’ for wrongful allegations of “anti-Semitism” with the National Press Council for his unwarranted “smear campaigns”.[50][51][52]

It was Sharples’ legal action that laid the basis for the prosecution of the One Nation founders, Hanson and Ettridge, which ultimately resulted in Hanson and Ettridge being imprisoned.[53] On 20 August 2003, Hanson and Ettridge started their three year sentence behind bars for electoral fraud.[54] Opposition MP Craig Emerson demanded to know where the money for the trust, reportedly $100,000, had come from, saying that taxpayers had a right to know.[54] Treasurer Peter Costello said of Abbott’s actions, “I don’t think that the way to resolve political disputes is through the courts. I think the way to resolve it is at the ballot box.”[55] The conviction against Hanson was ultimately overturned, leading to criticism of a range of politicians for political interference by the adjudicating justice.

Abbott conceded that the political threat One Nation posed to the Howard Government was “a very big factor” in his decision to pursue the legal attack, but he also claimed to be acting “in Australia’s national interest”. Howard also defended Abbott’s actions saying “It’s the job of the Liberal Party to politically attack other parties – there’s nothing wrong with that.”[53]

I just found this very interesting in light of recent events regarding Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper.

Your thoughts?

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