Chapter 10 ...that membership list

 

"There is no justification for rudeness. That man was our guest and you had no right to speak to him as you did."  Iris was angry.
'Hey, wait a minute', I protested, to no avail.
'Bruce, whatever David had to say that upset you, you had absolutely no right to say what you did. I found it offensive and so did the others'.
'Look ...that bastard is a straight-out con-man. If the rest of you are blind as not to see it then you can all go to hell. Time will prove me right. That bastard will end up in jail, mark my words."

Iris is a Scorpio and she has a high degree of justice and fairness. She also has a deep sense of loyalty and is a stickler for completing obligations that she feels morally bound to. It was some of these qualities that led to my undoing and gave me cause to question where ‘her’ loyalties lay. The truth is that people such as my wife, who see black as black and white as white, are fair game for people with the moral corruptness of some of those who played court to Hanson. That is not to suggest that she is a lacking in intelligence, far from it, but her Christian background, precludes her from thinking ill of anybody. Without putting too finer point on it, Ettridge found himself among average battlers, whose political nous was practically zero. He would have been aware that we were all pushovers for what he had in mind. Never-the-less there were others there like Paul Trewartha, Jim Ansell and John Clodd, who were reasonably politically astute. Their crime was to do nothing and in Trewartha's case to clandestinely undermine his colleagues.
It did not take long to find out that I had not only offended my wife, but also some of the committee. Possibly the least offended would have been the man it was directed at, but I guess only he would have understood the reason for that.
And he did!
When I had left the meeting the day before, I immediately put behind me the plan that Ettridge had envisaged. It simply was never going to eventuate; of that I was certain. I simply dismissed Ettridge. My mind now focussed on the newspaper. With that I went down to Harvey Norman's Bundall shop and took delivery of the new computer. That evening I set up the equipment and set to familiarising myself with the newspaper software. The events of the day faded as I came to terms with the prospects of putting together a voice for those who assembled behind Pauline Hanson. It was to be called the PHSM Herald.

Unbeknown to me, in an upstairs office above an adult sex shop in Manly, the man to whom I was supposed to have insulted was composing a letter of his own. If my remarks had offended the members of our committee they certainly were not choking Ettridge. He knew, as the committee did not, that my role was pivotal to his success. He could not afford to offend me, until he had succeeded in what he wanted. The committee however took the view, wrongly as it turned out, that Ettridge offered the real opportunity to advance the cause. They saw themselves as very small fish, whilst this man was full of self-appraising evaluation as being a mover and shaker. What they did not understand, was that we were ordinary people, with as much talent and considerably more integrity ...who could attain far more than this man. Their Achilles heel was their lack of vision and certainly lack of judgment.  Yet whilst these people were lamenting the fact that I had offended Ettridge, he departed the meeting far from dismissing me from his memory. Indeed whilst the committee had bowed subserviently to this impostor, he had left the Gold Coast, escorted to the airport by a fawning and apologetic Paul Trewartha and after arriving back at Sydney, made his way back to the obscure office on the Corso only a stone throw from the Federal Liberal Party office of Mr Tony Abbott, around the corner at 17 Sydney Road. If there were pressing problems to address, none apparently were more pressing than his letter to me; so pressing, that it could not wait until the morning. Six hours after I had called him a con-man, he sat down and wrote the following letter.
 

 

Satisfied that there was enough packing in the letter for me to reconsider my decision, yet sufficient authoritarianism to let me know who was boss, this man placed the post dated fax in his machine and pressed the send button. The letter was dated February 6th 1997. Across the top of the sheet were the following numerals :
05-02-97 21:42 4524717 782 P01.
Translated: the fax came from Ettridge's office at 9.42pm and was sent on February the 5th 1997. I received it the following morning at two minutes to nine. The reason for this was that I turned the fax off at night and this was stored in the memory.
My reaction to reading it only confirmed what I had said the day before. Not only had he confirmed his transparency but also established in my mind that he was cunning to boot. What did concern me however was the tone of the letter that indicated that far from being put off, he fully intended implementing what he had alluded to. As far as I was concerned he wasn't going anywhere. My reason for believing that was simply based on the fundamental premise that our organisation was totally democratic and properly ordered. We operated on the model rules of the Association of Incorporation ...or at least we were supposed to. At the time of this intrusion by Hanson's henchman, we had 539 members in the Gold Coast Headquarters. They were members of an unincorporated group.

Later that morning Paul Trewartha called around to discuss the events of the day before. Unlike the others Trewartha did not take too much umbrage at what I had said, but over a cup of coffee, expressed concern at what had happened. He realised that a serious breach had occurred and the ramifications of what could develop from that. He also knew what I did not... that he, Hanson, Hazelton, Ron Paddison and Ettridge had discussed completely behind my back, matters pertaining to the future of the PHSM. Trewartha who was still a card carrying executive of the National Party, Hazelton with her political association with John Stone, were both eager to see Hanson's army of growing support converted into a political party.

I had a clear cut view as founder of what I wanted for the movement that bore the Hanson name. My idea was to form an army of support behind Pauline. That support was detailed in a set of objectives, which expressly stated that we were apolitical. I believed, based on my personal experience that Hanson's controversial stand was going to polarise the ‘press’ against her. I knew there were thousands of people 'out there' who silently endorsed much of what she said, but was never going to help her, unless it could be converted to a visible groundswell of support that the media could not dismiss. As I have indicated Australians are much more comfortable keeping their opinions quite, talking about them at barbeques or among the boys at a pub, than standing out front and saying 'Look I think this woman is talking commonsense.' One of the inhibiting factors in this inability and I might say gutlessness to identify with Hanson in the early days was the fact that she had been branded a racist. I had been down that track and so had no problems with it. The meeting I called did precisely that. We assembled an army that we struggled with great difficulty to hold it together. My wife and I answered thousands of letters, sending information and encouragement for people to take up the fight. With every letter was sent a copy of Pauline's maiden speech. Around six thousand people paid their $5 Registration Certificates, to become soldiers of support. The Movement numbered thirty-nine branches and had accumulated $12,000 at the time of my ‘eviction’.
I told Pauline once that we did not aim to become a political 'party' organisation, nor a platform for such. She understood this; she orally endorsed the principle! The idea was to build up the movement to and beyond the next Federal election, where I believed that we could have amassed anything from 100,000 to 200,000 people. This great push behind Hanson would be difficult for other politicians to deal with and would cause any government great difficulty in quantifying its real impact. The five dollar joining fee, made it affordable to young and old alike. I suggested to Pauline that she should 'cut her teeth' in the Parliament for the first three years, work hard in her electorate for re-election and AFTER the election begin looking at the membership for likely candidates to form a 'loose association of independents.' I told her that
'these people would come under the Hanson umbrella but not necessarily embrace all that she articulated. These people will answer first of all to their electorate. If you embrace a given issue and one of your association goes back to his or her electorate and they direct the opposite, then Pauline, that is what they will vote on.'

The PHSM that I formed was always a going to be independent of Hanson, open to people of all political persuasions ...as indeed it proved ...and act as a protective shield against attacks from the media. It was never formed to 'mould' her political views, or to influence her. Yet it very quickly developed attacks, specifically directed at myself ...for doing so.

Pasquarelli and Ettridge, relentlessly accused me of speaking for Pauline or grabbing the media headlines. The truth was that these men had jumped on the Hanson bandwagon, seizing the political opportunity to benefit themselves. What I created had no association with Hanson and certainly no prospects of any financial reward. In fact the very opposite was true; I was on a hiding to nothing if I wasn't able to convert an idea into a reality. I managed that and for my efforts I was 'gutted' by Hanson's opportunists. Let there be no doubt that I consider Paul Trewartha the pivotal tool in the destruction of the people’s movement.
...Trewartha reasoned with me that morning and as I said, reasoned in the light of these clandestine meetings that he had been conducting. Unaware of this I was prepared to listen.
'Bruce it does not make sense to fight David. I know that you don't trust him, but if we look at the politics of what is happening, I think you should bury your resentment and work with him. If you cannot do that then I suggest that you work behind the scenes and influence what you can.'
"Like what?' I asked.
'Look, you’re the one with all the ideas, you’re the one who has the way with words that make people listen. We need you and I am the first to admit it.' Paul went on.
'Aw, bullshit, I fired back. If that was so then that mob of gutless bastards would have reinforced my remarks yesterday instead of going to water!'
'Perhaps …but who else in that room would have dared to think let alone say what you said? The truth was that they were a bit shell-shocked.'
'They're bastards; con-men and none of you can see it.'

What Trewartha saw was hurt and he believed that I was mistaken.
"I rang Pauline this morning and she wants you to work in with Ettridge. I know that you don't value her opinion very much, but after all we are all working for her success. If you cannot do that then I suggest you work through me."
'How do you mean.
'
'Well, we'll discuss matters that arise, or issues that you want to go forward and you write them and I'll present them. Your name need not come into it so they will never know.' All very neat, all well worked out.
"No Paul. I'll speak for myself or not at all. I've already been gagged by Hanson, with your co-operation. No, I'll give it a go for a while and see what happens. If Ettridge wants to work with me, then he can contact me.'
'I honestly think that you have got him all wrong. I think in time you will change your mind.’
'Well, we'll see what happens. In the meantime there is this matter of the tour north.'
'The way that cyclone is developing,' Paul said, 'we may have to postpone it.'
He was right of course the developing depression off the coast of Cairns now had a name, Cyclone Justin. In the meantime the Sigma station wagon, Hanson emblazoned continued to sit outside gathering dust. I had set it up with a loudspeaker, with a microphone. In conjunction with this we had made up tapes to play at car-parks.
'You might bring the topic up with David when he rings.'
'Paul he doesn't tell us what we should do. We run the movement not him.'
It was becoming clear to me as the conversation went on that Paul was already, the servant.
'Oh well, sound him out anyway.'

Later that evening Ettridge did rang. He was all sugar and honey. I found it very difficult to be angry with him as he was not the aggressive man that I had seen the day before. In fact I found him quite personable. The truth is that David at the time he was never less than that to me. The only time that he ever let his guard down was when he informed me that he could say what he liked about me with impunity because I was never going to be able to take him to court for either 'stealing the movement or slandering me, simply because I could not afford the cost of litigation.’ (This was a response to the attempt he had made to blackguard me in my home country of New Zealand.) For the moment however David was in coercion mode. We spoke at length and I have no doubt that he was genuinely appreciative of what we had done. I mentioned the tour north that he knew nothing of, which I would have been surprised if he had and said that we should probably wait and see what happens with the weather. This was fair enough. I told him that our possible fortieth branch had contacted me from Newcastle and that in the event of the northern tour being postponed then I proposed a tour down the east coast, turning around at Newcastle and coming back north up the new England Highway. (This was the branch that Peter Archer developed and then fell out very publicly with Ettridge. This pattern became all too familiar.)
"I think it's great idea. Tell you what, give us an idea of an itinerary and I'll run the details past Pauline. I'll see if we can't come up with something within a fortnight.'
We went on to other matters. I became more relaxed and even went so far to volunteer certain information that we held that I thought would be of help. This I did quite willingly and I was gradually feeling a sense of relief that here at last was the sort of help that I could do with. I was well aware that I had no experience as an organiser. I am not an organised person by nature but I did realise that I had the initiative and fortitude to get things moving. I did not stand on ceremony and perhaps was running too far in front for the others who made up the movement. Most of those around me were either incapable of controlling me or simply flummoxed by the pace at which we were advancing.
In some ways I needed someone like Ettridge and though he never knew it I secretly welcomed his intervention; albeit for a very brief period after the Gold Coast meeting.
In Helen Dodd's book, Pauline the Hanson Phenomenon, Ettridge says that he' treated me with respect.' I do not accept that
entirely. In a paragraph on page 99, he embraces the idea that he wanted me as an 'elder statesman', the person with the vision. Further down the page he squarely identifies the root cause of my public renouncement of him, Oldfield and One Nation.
'What happened between us’ he said ‘ was a clash of ideology and experience. He did not have the experience of having done anything like this before and so he could not see the need for a party and so rejected it out of hand.’
I fully acknowledge that I did not have the organisational experience to 'do anything like this' as he put it, but the fact remains that we were NOT A POLITICAL PARTY IN THE MAKING. The so called 'clash of ideology' never took place. Ettridge went to great pains to tell us that ‘he’ was a political illiterate, something that he eventually went on to prove time and again.

The cold hard facts were these: Oldfield was the narrow focussed political literate. Ettridge instigated his directives. The PHSM was the ideal platform to seize on which to build that ideology. It had membership, it had branches and it had finances. These were stolen from the people. By definition Hanson, Ettridge and Oldfield had seized property not theirs. They could not have committed this action unless Hanson's imprimatur was given; it was! It was misappropriation, it was theft!

Before the conversation with Ettridge was terminated he touched on the subject of membership that we enjoyed. I told him that many of the branches had their own lists and that cumulatively I could not tell him for certain. Once the Registration Certificate reconciliations came to hand we would have a better idea, but my present assessment put the number at close to six thousand across the country. I indicated to him that as the headquarters our group had Registrations from across the country, whereas the branches gathered theirs on a local basis. He was interested to have a look at our list to give Pauline ‘an idea of where her support was coming from’, his words, not mine.
In hindsight I don't know why I ever allowed Trewartha to convince me to give it to him, but I did.

A floppy disc with 539 names on it was sent to David Ettridge at the Manly office on February 18th 1997. It was received two days later on the Thursday. That Sunday Ettridge, Oldfield and Hanson met in the lounge of the Sydney Airport and co- jointly signed the resolution to form a political party. The party to be called Pauline Hanson's One Nation.

What Hanson did not see was that this arrangement suited Ettridge and Oldfield fine. All decisions from now on would be controlled by Ettridge.

 

 

 

Written into the resolution was this damning evidence of intent.
David Ettridge to be reimbursed for costs eg; phone calls, car expenses, airfares and any other expenses considered by Pauline Hanson as having been incurred during the carrying out of duties on her behalf prior to his appointment as National Director. (All expenses in procuring illegally the PHSM)
Two things are evident in this single paragraph alone. The first is that Ettridge drew the document up, thus making sure that he was fully reimbursed. This begs the question of leverage and what form was used to make Hanson so malleable. The second illustrates what Hazelton was later to admit to me that Hanson deliberately was sent Ettridge on a mission to seize the PHSM. The airfares referred to here were incurred on his flight to and from the Gold Coast. The fact that mention is made of incurring these expenses in carrying out the duties on the order from Hanson, indicate to me that Ettridge was clouding the responsibility of who ordered whom. The plan was Oldfield's, the execution was Ettridge's the order was rubber-stamped by a very ignorant Hanson.
As much as I despise Hanson's duplicity, this act of bastardry was never of her deliberate making. She would never have had the natural talent to put in place such a devious and unprincipled plan. They played on her gullibility as indeed they did us.

In this cutting from the Gold Coast Bulletin 23/Sept/1996, Hanson clearly states her position. So what happened that caused her to become entrapped in a situation obviously not of her making. Why was it that the agreement was so drafted to ensure that Hanson was always out voted? Why was it that in drawing up this document that Ettridge was reimbursed for cost incurred in seizing the movement of the people? Ettridge in concert with Oldfield masterminded the whole sordid deal. Why was Hanson, Trewartha, Hazelton and a whole team of acolytes so comprehensively conned? Why did it take these people years to come to this conclusion when on meeting Ettridge for the first and only time I told  him to his face what he was.

In the days leading up to our next committee meeting on March 6th 1997, we were called upon to help out with the launch of the PHSM in Ipswich; not to be confused with the launch of One Nation a little over a month later. The local people, all of whom have now faded out of the picture gathered at the Civic Hall. One of the people I recall from that meeting was Brett Hocking who came down from the Sunshine Coast, and later was employed by Hanson herself. The committee sat on the stage with Hanson and were duly introduced. Hanson followed me and received a good hearing. The meeting attended by 110 people, raised $236 and brought in 44 new members.  On a wider front one of our members reported his meeting with the Geelong people, who were very strong at the time. It was from this branch that Andrew Carne was to rise and become a non-voting member, along with Steve Menagh of the spurious One Nation Ltd. The people of Geelong were very passionate in their support in the early days and I had occasion to visit them in later years, but at a time when One Nation had taken root there. By then there was considerable unrest and backbiting.

Not long after this Trewartha told me that Hanson was going to launch her new party on the Gold Coast. He asked me to arrange the hall. I wanted no part of a political party, but I was happy to help. At the time I saw and had no reason to believe any different that the PHSM would be complimentary to the new party. In that frame of mind, I approached the management of the Miami High School to make arrangements to book the Great Hall. Later that day I was advised that the hall was not available for political meetings. This was unusual because I had used it for similar meetings on four separate occasions. There was no doubt in my mind that this was a deliberate policy decision to lock Hanson out, but there was nothing we could do about it. Having been turned down by the school, I turned to the Gold Coast City Council for help and was able to secure the hall where we had launched the PHSM in the previous October. When Trewartha rang Hanson's office late in the day he was advised that there had been a change of plan, Pauline had decided that the meeting should be held in her home town. Paul was starting to experience the sort of temperamental behaviour that was to become the normal pattern for Hanson.

Now that the Gold Coast had been scrapped as the launching place for what was going to be the National launch for a Hanson party, something that Pauline had devoutly declared was anathema to her, the telephone lines between Ettridge and Trewartha began to run hot. Trewartha seizing the opportunity to fulfil his role as an important cog of the Hanson movement ingratiated himself to Ettridge with vigour. Slowly the wheels of Hanson's devious juggernaut began to turn and I guess with the wisdom of hindsight it is easy to see the things happening that were not obvious at the time.
I was becoming increasingly concerned about the secretive nature of Trewartha and the tardiness of Hanson with regard to our Incorporation. I pressed our Treasurer Lindon Litchfield several times about this matter, but to no avail. He always ran into the same lame excuse, 'Pauline is very busy'. By now I was fielding many concerned questions from outside. Members wanted to know what was happening, because they were no longer receiving the communications and help that we had been giving. Many were pleading with us to tell Pauline NOT TO FORM A PARTY. My wife in particular reassured many that Pauline had told us that she would never form a party. The tragedy was that my wife was made to look a liar simply because Hanson was misleading all of us.

My role in the Trewartha run PHSM, remembering that I had been gagged not to speak to the media makes for interesting reading. I believe that they were deliberately created to placate my anger at what was happening, by Ettridge through Trewartha. The positions that I had been democratically elected to were: Head of Recruitment, Editor of the new newspaper, Head of Publicity, Chairman of the media contact committee and Press Liaison Officer. In order to give full time to these positions I had stepped down as chairman. These appointments alone are a rebuttal of all that I was accused of. Head of the Publicity ...but wasn't I a media junkie? Press Liaison Officer...me, talking to the press? Editor of the Newspaper. ...yet hadn't I already been gagged? Or were these simply sweeteners, to pacify the outspoken maverick, whilst playing for time?

 

 

Now those positions were under attack, being subverted, by continued directions percolating down from Ettridge and supposedly Hanson through Trewartha .
The next meeting, the last one I ever attended, was held on March 6th 1997.
The report detailed the meetings held at Ipswich, the meeting attended in Geelong and Ron Paddison indicating that the Incorporation document would be finalised in two weeks time. This meant March 20th. This was news to me, but then Paddison too, who chaired the Constitution Committee was having his secret meetings with Trewartha. Trewartha then announced that the launch of Pauline's new party was set down for April 11th at Ipswich. He also stated that we had been directed to stage and organise the event.

 

NO MONEY EVER CAME FORWARD FROM HANSON OR HER NATIONAL DIRECTOR TO FUND IT! ONE NATION WAS FINANCED AND ORGANISED ON THE RESOURCES AND INITIATIVE OF WHITESIDE’S PAULINE HANSON SUPPORT MOVEMENT.

I wanted a clear undertaking from the meeting that night that we were to remain separate and have nothing to do with this. There was considerable heat generated over this in which I managed to alienate myself even further from the committee. They saw me as being totally opposed to Ettridge and by definition anti-Hanson. They could not even begin to understand that I was trying against all odds to prevent Hanson being ultimately destroyed. This attitude of the committee was to do tremendous damage to my health in the weeks ahead. I was so singularly focussed on this move to destroy us, to a point where even my own wife remained wedded to their opinions. Never had I ever felt so isolated, so down right beaten and depressed. Trewartha announced that he would offer to attend an executive meeting in Sydney, to speak about this on our behalf. The truth was that being a pensioner I could not afford the plane fare to attend. Had Trewartha been genuinely concerned enough about the position of the movement he might have opted to pay my fare down as well. As it turned out, things were to change in a way that placed Trewartha right in the centre of the whole takeover business.

 

 

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