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Jun 9, 2011

Hey Pauline Hanson's mole, if you're reading this: please explain

Pauline Hanson stands to lose a fortune in legal fees after the man who leaked her emails purporting to show a vote-rigging cover-up failed to show up in court yesterday. It now appears the whistleblower may not exist at all.


Pauline Hanson stands to lose a fortune in legal fees after the man who leaked her emails purporting to show a vote-rigging cover-up in the March NSW state election failed to show up in court yesterday. It now appears the whistleblower may not exist at all.

The plot thickened even further on Thursday afternoon when the Greens MP at the centre of the scandal revealed he has received phone calls from a fake Daily Telegraph journalist (see update at end of story).

Hanson’s legal challenge rests on alleged email exchanges between the NSW Electoral Commission’s chief information officer and communications manager suggesting counting by “dodgy staff” may have cost her up to 1200 votes.

The serial candidate was leaked the emails by “Michael Rattner”, a construction worker who says his girlfriend works at the NSW Electoral Commission.

Hanson’s legal team appears to have taken a Descartes 2.0 approach to Rattner’s existence: I Facebook, therefore I am.

“We know he is a real person,” Peter Lowe, Hanson’s barrister, said yesterday. “He has a Facebook site. He has made postings on that website to Ms Hanson.”

Hanson also says she has spoken to Rattner on the phone, but admits she has never met him in person. If Rattner does exist, he certainly is a man of mystery — not to mention one with ironically little regard for Australia’s electoral laws. An electoral roll search by Crikey this morning showed there is no Michael Rattner enrolled to vote in Australia. There is also no M. Rattner listed in the White or Yellow Pages in Queensland or NSW. The Facebook page in question is set to private and does not display a profile picture.

Overnight, obviously fake Facebook and Twitter profiles for a Michael Rattner — who lives in Cronulla and supports One Nation NSW — have also emerged.

Speaking outside court yesterday, the former One Nation leader admitted she may have been the victim of an “elaborate hoax”.

The Greens’ Jeremy Buckingham, who beat Hanson by 2437 votes in the final count, told Crikey this morning he thinks it “highly unlikely” that Rattner is a real person and “almost certain” the emails are fraudulent.

“Pauline Hanson has based this incredibly contentious and expensive case on one email from one person who may or may not exist as a real person,” he said. “If I wasn’t in the middle of it I’d think it was funny. It’s a farce.”

Buckingham said if Hanson is not successful he will be pursuing her for his legal costs, which he estimates will come in at more than $20,000.

“She’s cast aspersions on me, my election and the democratic process in NSW — I think that’s shameful,” Buckingham said.

“I hope it’s the end of Pauline Hanson. I hope she rides into the sunset and is never seen again.”

Buckingham’s barrister, Tom Malomby SC, told the court Hanson’s vote-rigging allegations, if true, would amount to a “massive, crack-brained conspiracy of extraordinary proportions”.

Back of the envelope calculations suggest Hanson could be close to $100,000 out of pocket if she has to cover the legal fees of  the other defendants — Buckingham, the NSW Electoral Commission and Nationals MLC Sarah Mitchell — as well as her own.

In the emails sent to Hanson, the NSW Electoral Commission’s chief information officer Ian Brightwell is purported to tell chief communications officer Richard Carroll to “stonewall” journalists asking questions about irregularities in Hanson’s vote count.

“Thank you for your inquiry regarding advice on media inquiries relating to today’s pushing of the button for the upper house preferences. Just stonewall them as much as possible when it comes to Hanson and her issues with the count. Do not mention there is any possible provision for a recount,” Brightwell allegedly wrote.

“We know the media are looking at the blank ballots and are trying to get them all rechecked because one of her scrutineers was meant to of found some of her votes in among the blanks (I have heard through the chain that there could be as many as 1200 across the state that are in with the blanks as there were a few dodgy electoral staff on, but don’t offer that).”

Brightwell and Carroll have signed affidavits saying they did not send the emails in question and the court was yesterday told Brightwell’s email did not carry his usual e-signature.

If  a hoaxer is at work, he has certainly played an elaborate game. The Australian journalist Leo Shanahan today writes that he has received several calls since the election from a Mr Rattner who says he is “merely a Labor voter trying to do the right thing”.

Hanson wasn’t giving up yesterday, even though her mole failed to show. “I’m asking Michael Rattner … Please stand by your word and come to court,” she pleaded.

Regular Crikey readers know we tend to be sceptical of media-driven campaigns but today we are  making an exception. The integrity of the democratic system in our nation’s most populous state is, after all, at stake.

So please, if you know a Michael Rattner then get in touch. Or at least tell him to show up at court next Thursday: a warrant is out in his name.

And Rattner, if you’re reading this, we have only two words for you: please explain.

UPDATE: On Thursday afternoon Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham told reporters in Sydney that he had been repeatedly contacted by a fake Daily Telegraph journalist named Michael Wilson since the March 26 election. Two weeks ago “Wilson” contacted Buckingham and told him that he could “relax about the case” because he had been speaking to Michael Rattner and knew that he would not appear in court.

“In light of all the other information made available yesterday, it seems that Michael Wilson is the only person who knew how to contact Michael Rattner,” Buckingham said. “It now seems to me that Michael Wilson is not only an imposter, but may be the same person as Michael Rattner.”

The Greens MP also revealed that another fake Tele journalist, “Sean Castle”, had requested vote count figures from the NSW Electoral Commission.


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60 thoughts on “Hey Pauline Hanson’s mole, if you’re reading this: please explain

  1. Tomboy

    The name Godwin Grech comes to mind…and don’t believe your paranoid beliefs are realistic – do your homework first…

  2. davidk

    If you’re reading this I am dead set stuffed.

  3. paddy

    Ah Rattner, your true name is obviously Keyser Söze. 😀

  4. Jim Reiher

    Wouldn’t you think that any lawyer worth his money, would have said “we can not take this to trial until we meet this man, and verify his claims”???? What kind of legal representation is Hanson getting? How could they be that foolish? Or is this just one more massive publicity grab (at any cost… at a huge cost now it seems) by Ms Hanson?

  5. mikeb

    I am Michael Rattner.

    Oh wait – no I’m not! Right first name though.

  6. Jenny Haines

    Groan!!! Pauline is at it again, publicity hungry!! But she usually goes after the scent of money so she may consider suing her lawyer for negligent advice, May be she can recover some of her costs in this matter that way.

  7. Perry Gretton

    Yes, you would think that she and her lawyer would have tested the validity of the evidence before starting legal proceedings. Once again, it demonstrates her solipsistic view of the world.

  8. Tom McLoughlin

    … he’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy. (!)

  9. Andrew L

    I am Michael Rattner and so is my wife!

  10. Peter Ormonde

    If “Michael Rattner” manages to see Pauline Hanson buried under a mountain of legal bills, I think we should make him Australian of the Year… might just be a blank space, but a space to which I would be most grateful.

  11. freecountry

    Yeah, all right, so it’s fake and Hansen loses. She came close to getting a seat, it wasn’t close enough, she thought there was a conspiracy, it vanishes into thin air, case closed.

    Under the circumstances, it would not have been beyond the bounds of plausibility for some temp vote-counter to imagine they were doing the state a service by perverting the electoral process.

    After all, stranger things have happened. Specifically, stranger things have happened to Pauline Hanson herself. I’m talking of the way she was previously fitted up and imprisoned in a flagrantly political prosecution on electoral technicalities. I’m also talking of the time and energy the media and the public invested in character assassinating her — instead of discrediting her bone-headed ideas.

    To date, much of what she espouses remains un-debated in Australian society, an unquiet ghost not put to rest, because lampooning, character assassination, and trumped up criminal charges, are so much easier and — let’s face it — so much more fun for journalists. That’s why she almost got a seat in the Legislative Council.

    Buckingham, you won, congratulations, now get over it and move on. The democratic electoral process from time to time has to have its integrity tested and confirmed. It’s inconvenient for those involved but it is necessary to avoid lingering doubts. Be satisfied with your victory, and move on.

  12. freecountry

    Also, I’m a bit mystified why Buckingham and Johnson required representation by a silk. Surely it was a NSW Electoral Commission matter, and you could have just left the Commission to sort out the challenge to its own integrity. If you felt you had to have a silk–perhaps to assist the Commission in its inquiries, to discredit the credibility of witnesses, or to manage the media side of things–then it seems to me that was your choice, not something that Hanson or anybody else forced you to do, or should have to pay for.

  13. Modus Ponens

    She’ll appeal. Pauline has never been a fan of long sentences.

  14. Holden Back

    Care to remind us who was responsible for fitting Hanson up, Free Country?

  15. Peter Ormonde


    I admire your trust in Public Sector agencies to investigate themselves and sort things out … not necessarily wise though.

    Hanson initiated legal proceedings, so everyone tools up with a silk. Nature of the beast.

    By technicalities (those by which Pauline was fitted up) I assume you’re talking about the electoral laws. Which bits would you like to ignore?

    There is no point debating Hanson’s ideas – they are not ideas, they are feelings. It gives them too much weight to debate them alongside serious informed opinions (which are open to change and persuasion . Nothing would or could change her attitudes or the feelings of her disciples … only history. And it is doing it in trumps.

    But her poison lives on in DIAC and its attitudes to asylum seekers. They are living in her shadow.

  16. John64

    This isn’t the end of a conspiracy, this is a revelation of an even bigger one: Obviously “they” got to Mr. Rattner and erased his existence before he could reveal the truth!

    I have to run now, I think I hear black helicopters coming…

  17. david

    [Andrew L
    Posted Thursday, 9 June 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I am Michael Rattner and so is my wife!]

    Sorry Andrew cannot be, my bookies pet hampster is Michael Rattner, well according to the little green man who arrived by flying object 2 nights ago in a saucer shaped craft, he insists the hampster is the reincarnation of his long lost brother Fred Smith from..oh damn he’s gone.

  18. Captain Planet

    Oh dear Pauline.



    Somebody teach Pauline how to spot a troll, for crying out loud.

    This guy should get IRL troll of the year.

  19. freecountry

    Why? What do you think I’ve got to do with any of them, including the well known politician who set up the fund in support of the action? If you’ve got something to say, Holden Back, say it. And while you’re at it, tell me you were not among those raining down meaningless innuendos against Hanson’s character during her heyday instead of discrediting her ideas? Tell me you weren’t one of those who cheered that democracy was well served by that frame-up?

  20. mikeb

    Don’t even joke about it. Somewhere in Qld as we speak a counter movement calling themselves “Rattners” are mobilising to defend the free world (& their guns). Apparently someone saw a “smoking man” near Michael Rattner’s last known wherabouts. The truth is out there…..

  21. Holden Back

    Oh, go on, Free Country, you can say Tony Abbott! We both know he pursued her like a rat up a drain pipe. Not something he mentions much these days. Whether you have anything to do with him or feel any shame is your business.

    I was not among those you seem to condemn for shallowness in their condemnation of Hanson. I was one who thought at the time, the less said about her character the better, and that Abbott’s pursuit of her was ill-judged. Her alleged ‘ideas’ spoke volumes about her fitness for governing, and she needed less, not more, exposure in my view.

    But I’d love to hear a defence of the one percent flat taxation rate scheme. Aaah, happy days!

  22. klewso

    Anyone seen my Godwin Grech doll?

  23. klewso

    And I’m Michael Rattner.

  24. leone

    I’ll second that nomination of Michael Rattner, blank space or not, for Australian of the Year. Hell, why not nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize as well.

  25. mattholden

    Doesn’t the poor grammar in the email give it away? Would the NSW Electoral Commission’s chief information officer write: “one of her scrutineers was meant to of found some of her votes in among the blanks”? I hope not. Hanson and her advisers obviously didn’t notice – but then they “wouldn’t of” …

  26. Peter Ormonde

    Wot’s that got to do wif anyfink. She read it somewhere, so someone said it so it’s true see. Now where’s my silk.
    Ms Hanson (and her dwindling minions) will always believe what she wants to believe. Facts, evidence, reasonable argument …. please explain.

  27. zut alors

    The planets have not been in ideal alignment for Pauline Hanson in recent years. Her strength appears to be persistence but I doubt that relentlessly pursuing a political career will bring her any happiness.

  28. Gavin Moodie

    I agree with Jim Reiher: surely any competent lawyer would have advised their client that a witness’ testimony should be tested before filing a writ, let alone going to trail. Typically one would take an affidavit before filing and present the witness to the hearing to elaborate and be cross examined on their affidavit and evidence in chief.

    I therefore infer that Hanson was offered this advice but declined to follow it. In such circumstances I would set out my advice and get my client’s explicit instructions in writing.

  29. rubiginosa

    The long-suffering taxpayer continues to pay for Hanson to learn how the legislature and judiciary work. A very expensive education.

  30. Apollo

    Why would a supposedly Labor voter named Rattner has been calling Leo Shanahan a journalist from ‘The Australian’ ?

    Sure, it all must be an evil Labor conspiracy right? Coming from the Oz journalist I will add a bottle of salt to it.

  31. Roberto Tedesco

    When Pauline walked out of chokey she said she was going to mount a campaign to highlight the terrible circumstances in which female prisoners in Australia lived.

    Still waiting.

  32. david

    Posted Thursday, 9 June 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Why would a supposedly Labor voter named Rattner has been calling Leo Shanahan a journalist from ‘The Australian’ ?

    Sure, it all must be an evil Labor conspiracy right? Coming from the Oz journalist I will add a bottle of salt to it.]

    Apollo I understand Leo Shanahan is the off spring of the not so revered Shanahan Snr the doyen of all that is cr-p in journalism. Your salt application is well advised.

  33. botswana bob

    Perhaps a doppelganger whistle blower is lurking?

  34. Malcolm Street

    Bwahahahahaha!!!!! You turn up to court without even meeting your chief witness and the only source of support for your case?????? She’s even thicker than I thought…

    How about adapting that scene from the film Spartacus – one after the other the gladiators shout “I’m Michael Rattner!”

    PS – I’m Michael Rattner, and so are my two dogs…

  35. Peter Ormonde

    Rattner… sounds sort of “foreign” doesn’t it?

  36. Apollo

    @ DAVID

    Thanks. I wonder if he is employed thanks to nepotism or because he writes equally cr-p as his senior. I don’t really read the Oz anymore. The last time I read it was only out of curiosity, reading an article by Janet Albrechtsen critiquing Julia Gillard’s barrenness; I almost throw up.

  37. pedro

    I agree with Matt Holden: “one of her scrutineers was meant to of found some”. Year 7 English FAIL!

    I am surprised Ian Brightwell didn’t go on to say “I reckon youse all better keep yer traps shut about this or we is all gonna be toast, right?”

    The downside of all this is if Pauline has to pay costs, then we can no doubt expect to see PH running again (for the money of course).

    I wish the trash-bag would just p*ss off back to the UK.

  38. pedro

    Rattner – sounds like rat on her?

  39. Andrew L

    I wonder if this “Rattner” person is one of those “muslin” people Pauline is so antsy about?

  40. rhwombat

    FC (& Holden) : Ha! Ha Ha! Smirk! Chortle! Guffaw! Snort! Howl! Titter! Giggle! Snerf! Strangled yelp!….Chuckle!…1% flat tax!…chortle….Ahh, good times. Keep pining, me old fiord.

  41. Blair Martin

    That awkward moment when your constant whingeing is found to have been based on a grotesque lie.
    Go away Pauline, we’ve had enough of you.
    That is all.

  42. zut alors

    @6.26 Gusface

    Just a little advice so you can contain your rage about being moderated: whenever a link is included in a post it is held for moderation. This happens to all posters not just you. Sometimes moderation can take several hours or, on a long weekend, perhaps a couple days.

    No need to get your knickers in a knot about it.

  43. freecountry

    Holden Back,
    [“Whether you have anything to do with him or feel any shame is your business. “]
    Excuse my French but WTF are you talking about, you jumped up little git? Why would the question arise of me feeling any shame for something I’ve just brought attention to?

    It was monkeys like you, all across the political spectrum, who crowed the loudest about Hanson being sent to prison on trumped up charges of electoral technicalities, as if the conviction had been some great triumph of democracy. Not only the act of framing a politician to silence her, but even more importantly, the public rejoicing at her conviction and sentencing, left a lot of fringe voters with the impression that she was speaking an inconvenient truth. You gave legitimacy to a political idea which had none to start with, you gibbering baboons, and every indication is that if you had the chance you’d do it all again.

    That’s why she almost won a seat on the NSW Legislative Council, which would have degraded Australia’s oldest Upper House even more than it’s been degraded already in recent years. That’s also why, when cause for suspicion arose that someone might have perverted the electoral process, it wasn’t too hard to believe that it might be true. If any other politician had made such a claim, it would barely even have made the papers. But the fact that the alleged victim was Pauline Hanson actually made the allegation halfway plausible.

    It was therefore perfectly proper for the matter to be taken seriously and investigated in full. Not only Pauline Hanson, but also her Greens opponent Jeremy Buckingham, appears to have been taken in by the hoax.
    (( news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/mp-calls-in-authorities-over-dupe-fears-20110609-1fuef.html ))

    And the NSW Electoral Commission confirms that there were in fact some ballot papers wrongly counted as blanks in one booth, which had in fact been valid votes for Pauline Hanson. This doesn’t help Hanson — the number was only about a dozen votes, not 1200 as the elusive “Michael Rattner” was supposed to have claimed — but it’s still a cautionary tale. Either an honest isolated mistake, or some vote-counter temping for the NSWEC really did think it that it was his/her public duty to pervert the electoral process and defraud the people of NSW.

    There’s nothing in the saga of Pauline Hanson for anyone to feel proud of. Not the misguided dupes who voted for her; not the abusers of public trust who have made it their personal mission to bring her down; and especially not the rabble of journalists, disk jockeys, and members of the public, who have felt the need to prove their fair-mindedness by laughing far too loudly at every personal blow struck against her.

  44. Sancho

    Not sure how Freecountry can conclude that “much of what [Hanson] espouses remains un-debated in Australian society”.

    Her main contention was that Australia is being “flooded” by strange and dangerous foreigners, which is not only a perennial topic of public discussion in Australia, but is almost the raison d’etre of the Murdoch press – second only these days to the War on Science.

    What else did she have to say? That aboriginals should go and die quietly in the desert and stop being a burden on the white taxpayer? We had that debate last century.

    Everything else that came out of her mouth was the standard country politician tripe about farmers being the heart, soul and only worthy inhabitants of the nation, plus a grab-bag of conspiracy theories, misguided protectionist ideas, and sincere claims that Australia’s most virulent racists represent the moral majority and are sick of being sidelined.

    Really, if we need to discuss all of that again, Bob Katter’s new party is a gift from the gods.

  45. Captain Planet

    I am Michael Rottnest and so are my quokkas!!!

  46. Bobalot

    FreeCountry, is it possible to make your posts less verbose? It would take about 1/3 of the text to sum up what you are saying.

    Yeah, all right, so it’s fake and Hansen loses. She came close to getting a seat, it wasn’t close enough, she thought there was a conspiracy, it vanishes into thin air, case closed.

    Under the circumstances, it would not have been beyond the bounds of plausibility for some temp vote-counter to imagine they were doing the state a service by perverting the electoral process.

    All that without a shred of evidence. Truly amazing.

  47. Peter Ormonde

    Evidence? Evidence? Please explain.
    Why are you pretending not to be Michael Rattner?

  48. Holden Back

    Whatever you reckon, Free Country. Nuance seems to annoy you, but never mind. As I said, I had no particular animus against Hanson in the matter of her alleged electoral fraud. You do seem to be particularly touchy about the role of Abbott in all this.

    Careful getting down off the moral high ground, pet.

  49. Venise Alstergren

    FREE COUNTRY: You speak as if the ALP were responsible for Hansen’s mishaps.
    Au contraire, she was run by her handlers on a very tight, far right-wing rein. When she lost-as she should have; there are far too many hayseeds running for politics in QLD-who stood to gain the most? The person who did gain the most was little Johnny Howard. With flawless technique he swiped the most offensive themes she was run on, for his own revolting party-nothing sweeter to throw to the rural brigade than nice old-fashioned bigotry and race hating. And, when she was justifiably thrown to the wolves little Johnny was observed to be looking elsewhere.

    I suppose the poor b^l^o^o^d^y taxpayer is slugged for this centre-stage diva and her tantrums?

    HOLDEN: I you are implying what I think you’re implying, seldom have two more dreadful people have encountered each other. You’ve re-enforced my hatred for the man a thousand-fold. 😈 😉 🙂

  50. Venise Alstergren

    MODERATOR: What possible reason do you have for moderating my comment?

  51. Holden Back

    Venise- Abbott was given the task of stopping the drift from the Coalition to One Nation in Queensland after Hanson’s election as the member for Oxley (despite being de-selected as the Liberal candidate, the how to vote cards weren’t changed in time) and pursued it with particular vigour, as David Oldfield had been working in Abbott’s office when the party was set up.

    Who or what Shaun Castle is, it seems we will soon find out.

  52. zut alors


    If memory serves me correctly Abbott was responsible for a fighting fund to pursue Hanson to the bitter end.

  53. rhwombat

    zut: Yes. I think that’s why fc has his knickers in a knot (again) – he’s very fond of Mr Rabbott.

  54. Peter Ormonde

    True Venise, but what did WE do to deserve them?

    A bitter end indeed.

  55. Venise Alstergren

    PETER O: This is the sort of question that wakes me up in the middle of the night. I scream and say, “WTF DID we do to deserve them?” 😈 😥

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