Email correspondence between former One Nation candidates in WA obtained by Crikey reveal the true dysfunction at the centre of the far-right party’s poor performance at the Western Australian election.
As fallout over the election result in WA for One Nation continues, candidates disendorsed by the party unleashed their anger on leader Pauline Hanson and her chief of staff, James Ashby, on the weekend. Emails obtained by Crikey from two disendorsed candidates, Sandy Baraiolo and Dane Sorensen, to more than a dozen One Nation candidates, Ashby, Hanson, and national memberships manager Aiden Nagle show the two disendorsed candidates slamming the party over its treatment of the candidates. Baraiolo and Sorensen were disendorsed by the party after criticising the preference swapping deal with the Liberals.
In an email last week, Sorensen said that the campaign was “shambolic, and stupidly conducted” and run by “self-proclaimed experts and one child protege who was promoted as a stellar tech wiz kid”. He told colleagues Hanson was a “delusional leader” for claiming two seats in the legislative council was an “earth-shattering success”. He wrote:
“You can not even say you were unaware or even that no one warned you, but very few of you even comprehended the breath of the deceit and self interest involved. By now, you should all have seen the assessment of the preference deal put in place to secure at least one upper house seat — at the expense of every other candidate for the party.”
Sorensen said that the candidates had been “duped and used” by Ashby and Hanson, and added that Hanson’s vaccinations comment was clumsy and idiotic.
In response, Ashby was short:
“Wow, you’ve surprised me with such eloquent words Dane, unlike the multiple foul mouthed calls, where words like ‘cunt and fuck’ spewed from your vile mouth. Don’t ever contact me again you self righteous, deranged man.”
Nagle alleged that Sorensen had called One Nation staff “fucking shit cunt officers”, “fuckstain higher ups” and “cunting niggers”. Sorensen didn’t apologise for the language, but said he had not known that Hanson was listening in on the call with Ashby and that he had not intended to use such language in front of her. He replied that he “was not aware Pauline was on the phone when James called and never intended to use that language in front of her — James rang, did not disclose Pauline was on the line, so the responsibility for her being exposed to my tirade is squarely with him. To be fair, Pauline should have declared herself.”
“Dane, your admission that your phone manner was inappropriate is further testimony to why you were disendorsed. Regardless of whether the Senator was present on the call, should not change the way you speak to people who were there to assist you in the Western Australian campaign.
“As someone who plays no part in One Nation, I’m asking you one last time, do not make contact with me again.”
Baraiolo responded that she believed One Nation’s strategy was always focused on upper house seats, resulting in preferential treatment for some candidates over others. Baraiolo said Ashby was “extremely offensive” to email his response to Sorensen to all One Nation candidates.
“[It] is a testament to you personally as a human being and that of the right hand man of Pauline Hanson, and that of Pauline Hanson’s One nation just stop and think of what you wrote above. You told us always to be mindful and wow you don’t listen to your own words.
“You James should be ashamed, your nothing more than a bully and this is not a good trait in a person you spew vitriol at any one who cares to stand up to you. I have been on the end of your tiaraed a few times. Just remember many a person has been taken down by the written word, I did absolutely nothing wrong and you became a monster to me.”
Guardian Australia reported last week that those disendorsed candidates now face having to pay their own costs for the election, rather than getting a stake of the public funding secured by Hanson’s party. Baraiolo said in her email that she would be lodging an electoral claim and fighting to get her return:
“All I want is to come away with my integrity and what’s rightfully mine my electoral financial return after all it was my money spent not the parties. I did not sign any contract, so rightfully I should get the full amount.”
Ashby was approached for comment but did not respond by deadline.