From meet and greets with punters to a complete and utter train wreck on vaccinations and transfers of GST, Western Australians saw a lot of Senator Pauline Hanson during the recent state election campaign, where the party managed to pull about 5% of the votes. But Hurricane Hanson swept through the west during the election campaign for a different reason — as part of a plan for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (the party’s most recent incarnation, based in Queensland), to take over an entity that has been properly registered and governed for 15 years, One Nation Western Australia Inc (ONWA).
The spat between Hanson and her party members in the west has garnered a lot of media attention, with Hanson accused of age discrimination against the state party president and secretary, who were unceremoniously dumped from their positions. What hasn’t got as much coverage is the underground power struggle between Hanson and another group — the incorporated WA branch of the party which can operate separately and tried to get the current iteration of One Nation (now known as Pauline Hanson’s One Nation) blocked from registering before the election.
Tactics designed to disrupt the WA group, which has been running since it was incorporated in 2002, include:
- Numerous attempts to freeze out Western Australian elected officers from being a part of the national committee;
- The passing of sham motions at a One Nation national committee as an attempt to wind down ONWA, an incorporated body over which that committee had no authority;
- The failure of national committee members to respond to repeated requests from the Western Australian representatives for information related to the financial state of the entity;
- An attempt to close a bank account belonging to ONWA by writing to the association’s bank with a demand that funds be transferred to a Queensland-based bank account;
- Threats to call in police when the incorporated body was attempting to set up a branch in the Northern Territory, which ultimately turned out to be an attempt to take control of the branch and its finances; and
- Misappropriation of a member database that was used by the Queensland-based party to promote Pauline Hanson’s One Nation to people who were already members of the incorporated body.
These actions are a part of an ongoing attempt to shut down the political party that has run as a transparent incorporated association for which constitutions and other documents are publicly accessible.
Crikey this week received a copy of the incorporated association’s constitution, and other critical documents may be purchased from the register maintained by the WA government.
Contrast that with Pauline Hanson’s One Nation that operates out of Queensland using the structure of an unincorporated association, which is the description of the body on “ABN Lookup“.
Crikey has requested access to the constitution for the WA division of Hanson’s political gaggle via an email copied to both Senator Pauline Hanson and Senator Malcolm Roberts.
The constitution, which is currently as elusive as the Holy Grail for journalists following the West Australian election, is believed to contain the relevant preselection and disendorsement procedures that apply to the Western Australian election.
Former candidates have spoken to Crikey and are seeking a copy of the constitution to better understand what the rules filed with the commission state.
No response or assistance in relation to getting hold of a copy of the constitution lodged with the Western Australian Electoral Commission to register the party has been received from the One Nation media advisers, or Hanson or Roberts, at the time of publication, despite the sending of two emails requesting assistance on the matter.
ONWA state secretary Brian McRae told Crikey he was disappointed in the way the officers and members of the incorporated body have been treated over the years, despite those members being supportive of Pauline Hanson over an extended period of time.
McRae and another ONWA stalwart, former association president Lyn Vickery, were both branded by Senator Hanson as being “ratbags” in recent months.
The slur from Hanson hits hard for people like McRae. He has provided assistance to Hanson with the registration of political parties and logistical support for elections from the first time she came on the scene. “That was a major disappointment to me,” McRae said. “Pauline knows that is not correct.”
Vickery shrugs off the Hanson barb and told Crikey that he “wears it as a badge of honour”.
Both McCrae and Vickery have spent much of their time as office holders at ONWA holding what appear to have been money-hungry Queenslanders at bay. This includes the time when Queenslanders decided to try to bluff the ONWA’s bankers into closing an account and sending cash up to the sunshine state.
A letter sent by the national committee to the ONWA’s bank on September 28, 2012, requested that the incorporated body’s account be frozen and that it be transferred to the Heritage Bank based in Beenleigh, Queensland.
“Moved and carried at a national teleconference on the 19th September 2012, that the abovementioned division is no longer constitutionally supported and therefore is closed,” the letter drafted by Pat Loy, the then-One Nation national secretary, said.
“Any signatory officers registered with you are to be struck off.”
The Queenslanders forgot one minor detail: you had to be an office-bearer of the incorporated body to close down bank accounts and take similar action.
The more recent intrusion into ONWA’s governance is the use of the member database of ONWA for the recruitment of members for the Hanson forces based in Queensland. McRae says that the association had received complaints from people who had received an invitation.
The use of another organisation’s membership list, without the permission of that organisation or its members, comes bundled with legal risk for those that pass it on.
Vickery sees this and all of the other activities that have gone on as a part of someone else’s long game.
“It is a culmination of a long series of events designed to undermine One Nation Western Australia,” Vickery said.