Chapter 15 ...a night to remember
My interest in Hanson after the launch fell off involvement wise. She had desecrated all that she had stood for and from now on she was going to be fair game for the media. No longer was it just Hanson and her views, it was a triumvirate; it was the Hanson with Ettridge and Oldfield as the godhead.
In the meantime PHSM station wagon sat in the drive. It was going nowhere. Paul Trewartha made prearranged visits to my home after I had point-blank refused to hand over a damned thing. I removed the fax machine but they removed every thing associated with the movement because Ettridge had demanded it. Iris who had resigned a few days before saw no reason why we should withhold anything. What was coming into play here was not only her ethic of propriety, but also her ignorance of the value of what she was surrendering. All of it was my intellectual property and had no reason to leave the house and was taken by using stand-over tactics of intimidation, whilst I was absent. Paul Trewartha, his wife Maureen and Iris, were responsible for removing everything. Iris saw this as the only handing over to the incoming secretary. Among the mountain of property that was removed was a file of over a thousand letters addressed to us. These were uplifted by Trewartha and when I requested that they be returned, he informed me that they had been passed on to a new secretary. I was subsequently told that no such file of letters was ever passed on. Later when I read the Supreme Court transcript of Justice Atkinson's findings I realised how people covered their backsides by perjuring themselves.
Finally came the vexed question of the car. It sat in the car-port for two months, unused because the purpose to which it had been given was being denied by the movement who wanted it back. They said that because I was not using it, then they were not prepared to go paying for it. This of course was fair enough, but they had never to my knowledge been asked to. Trewartha by moving to reimburse Jean Evans knew full well that in doing so the vehicle was by technical definition the movements. The fact that Trewartha had offered to go guarantor when the movement did not have funds enough to keep up payments, of course had no part of his relentless harassing of my wife to instigate the return of the car. On the evening of the May 22, 1997, Trewartha had called around to my home in a final attempt to get me to hand over the car without any fall-out.
I was washing the dishes at the time, when Paul sidled up.
“What’s the decision on the car boss?”
“The same Paul, you know that.” He shrugged and walked out.
On the way out he told Iris that it would involve us in legal litigation that we could not afford. He then left for the meeting that he was going to instruct the committee to instigate legal proceedings. This he put in place.
One of the toughest times of my life. This was due to the corrosive efforts of Ettridge who turned friend against friend in using every weapon in his arsenal to seize the PHSM. Many people were hurt at the hands of this man '
Trewartha was right of course, we could not afford litigation. Already the PHSM had cost us a fortune, and living on a pension meant that was the way things were going then we would have to let the car go. Trewartha knew this. He exploited it. The fact that even the though the car was in my name, it did not prove ownership. Motor registration in one's name apparently is only for use on the road, and is not proof of ownership. Iris had come into me and said in effect,
“Give them the car back. You know it is not yours anyway.’ Although the car was registered in my name, insured in my name I always saw it as a tool, not a gift. Whatever the spirit of contributing to the cost of the vehicle was the fact remains that I was given a cheque with absolutely no strings, conditions or obligation attached. As far as I was concerned the car was the property of Jean Evans and nobody else. Asked earlier by Trewartha to intervene on the car impasse, Ettridge walked away.
“You handle it Paul, it’s a branch matter”. Neither wanted blood on their hands.
I never told Iris I was going out. I was numb. I was unsure how things would develop. For a few moments I pondered and without fully realising why, took the ownership papers, insurance papers and spare key and placed them in the glove-box. I didn’t have any real plan in mind. All I wanted for the moment was fresh air. I wandered down the road crossed the Gold Coast Highway and headed for the beach. It was cold. I paused at the phone-box and decided to ring Jean Evans and tell her what had happened. I was quite depressed and given the treatment that my so-called friends had dished out over the past few days this was hardly surprising. Every one of them was on the Hanson bandwagon, all wanting to be part of this extraordinary juggernaut. I didn’t say a great deal; for the moment I was emotionally overcome. Jean asked what was wrong. With some difficulty I eventually said something to the effect that ‘If anything happened would she make sure that Iris was looked after.” I dropped the phone, very distraught and walked to the beach. For an hour I sat on the dunes watching the rising full moon dancing on the crest of wave tops. Finally I became aware of the need to keep warm. I wandered aimlessly for another half hour and then made my way home.
It was just on 9.00pm when I walked into the drive. With a sickening feeling in my stomach I realised that the Sigma Station wagon was missing. I felt the anger rise within me; I turned and walked away. My first inclination was to believe that my wife had contacted Trewartha at the meeting and told them to pick the vehicle up. To avoid an argument that was almost sure to occur if I went inside I decided to put time between that possibility and going inside. For a while I walked and then I tried to get a little sleep in a bus shelter. Steel rails that pass for seats prevented that and in any case the cold was increasing. I eventually decided to go home for a second time. It was 10.40pm as I turned into the street, there sitting outside the house alongside the kerb was the wagon that had gone missing. The outside lights of the house were on, but what did not improve my state of mind was the light being on in my office. For a few moments I contemplated how to tackle the situation, when Paul Trewartha came out of the drive. I recognised him by his voice. What right did he have calling on my wife at that hour? What justification? What was he calling on her for unless he wanted something belonging to the movement? For the moment I was left wondering. Trewartha was talking as he left the house, but I was standing out of sight and could not catch what was being said. It was to be nearly two days before I was to find out. Trewartha swung the car around in a 180 degree turn, directly beneath the street light outside our home. I walked across the road to stop him, but he accelerated as he passed within six inches of me, his head turned to the left thus avoiding eye contact. I thumped the car roof as he swung around the corner. Two days later I was to read in the paper that ‘he was so concerned for my health that he spent time looking for me.’
I tried to follow him up the road but he was soon gone. I walked up the highway, wandered home at midnight, noted the lights were still on, walked around the block, saw the lights were still on, then moments later saw them go out. It was 12.10am Thursday morning.
For reasons that had more to do with apprehension, the possibility that my wife had been part of the machinations that were going on, I walked away and ended up at Nobby’s shopping centre. Twice more before the morning I skirted passed my home but all was in darkness. After that I walked down to Burleigh Heads. It was colder now but walking seemed to help. At Burleigh I put my feet up in one of the covered picnic shelters and fought sleep, lapsing in and out of consciousness. Clouds masked the rising sun and as more and more people began to appear I felt the depression of the night lift. At 8.10 am I walked north along the grass between Burleigh Heads and Burleigh North. A police car cruised by. It pulled into the car park south of me. I wondered if it was looking for me, but just as instantly dismissed the idea. I wandered closer to the road as if to instinctively put the notion to the test and as I did a military helicopter did an extraordinary low sweep of the beach. I was amazed when I was told about an hour and a half later that it had been looking for me. Moments after the chopper vanished the police car drove north. I realised then they were not looking for me and was relieved. My wife, I had reasoned knew me well enough, not to worry unduly.
It was 9.20am. The sun was up and I was sitting on a bench seat at the top of Riviera St, Miami. Sitting there, elbows on knees and resting my head in the palms of my hands; I was contemplating going home. I was to meet with SBS television at approximately 10.30am. Suddenly out of the blue a voice, ‘Bruce is that you?’ I ignored it. With my head still resting in my hands, I saw the tell tale blue serge trousers as the person calling sat alongside. From the outset there was a genuine heartfelt sense of compassion toward me. One of them Inspector Richard Wild said, “You’ve been out all night Bruce?” A little later, “look how about coming along with us before the press get wind of this.’ he went on to say that he had been to my meetings and had respect for me and didn’t want to see this thing spread all over the newspapers.
“I’ll be O.K. Please, just leave me alone.”
What I was not aware of at the time was that the police had been looking for me since midnight or so I was told. They had a job to do, but I felt at that moment that I was involving them in something that did not need their assistance. One of the officers rang my wife at a discreet distance and told her that I had been found. I understand that she asked them to take me to a psychiatrist, although she denies it. They knew where to take me and I certainly did not tell them.
There was no doubt that the Hanson factor was having a devastating effect on both of us. The frustration of trying sincerely and without any expectation of reward, ran headlong into avarice, greed and self interests. Hanson, Ettridge and Trewartha were using the frustration of my wife to do everything to control and distort what I had started. Hanson had walked over me as she was to do with others, totally indifferent to the dreadful toll she was exacting. Ettridge had through Hanson feasted upon the information of a private conversation and informed Kerrie Webbie of New Zealand's Sixty Minutes, that I was quote ‘manic depressive, a media-junkie and more seriously, psychotic.’ He repeated similar remarks to several people in Queensland who rang his office. On one occasion he warned the caller that “I’d better be careful what I say… I could be up for slander." I have three people plus the television interviewer who would testify in court. The New Zealand call was by way of warning. Pensioners don’t have the sort of money to pursue these sorts of gutter politics, through a court of law. Trewartha also helped to foster the character assassination by telling anyone who would listen that, yes I was manic depressive and that it was an illusion on my part that I was founder of the Movement.
So I was taken by the police down to the psychiatrist's rooms.
A couple of weeks earlier I had visited this doctor. I had done this more to placate my wife’s insistence that I needed medical help. Many women will identify with my wife’s dilemma. Many would say as she did, that “You don’t live with him, I do.’ They would agree with her, but because there was deep frustration within me that did not automatically make me a candidate for the ‘loony bin.’ There will be those who will say that anyone who supported Pauline Hanson is by definition of association was mad anyway. To those people they will get no argument from me. My preoccupation with Hanson was never an obsession as some have tried to indicate but rather with the cause that she originally held true to. Too many years had been wasted trying to establish a party that addressed the needs of the ordinary people to let this opportunity slip ...but slip it did. The doctor, during an ordinary consultation, could find no grounds for the assumption that I was a manic depressive. On this morning however the doctor was terribly inconvenienced. Out of nowhere I had come along to interrupt his busy schedule. He was in no mood for games.
“I think you should go to hospital for a few days. You are not well,’
I was in fact very tired, not surprising since I had not had any sleep for nearly thirty hours.
“No I’m O K. I just want to go home and get some sleep”.
While all this was going on, the Inspector was an interested bystander. He could hardly believe what he was witnessing.
“You have a choice,” said the psychiatrist impatiently. “Either you go in voluntarily or I will issue an R 21.” An R.21 as I found is a document issued under the Mental Health Act that can expedite forced incarceration. For those who know me, my response was predictable, “Do your damnedest.'
I suppose in hindsight, that remark must have only confirmed the opinion that I had some how lost it. That people can be committed on a whim of inconvenience or personal uninformed assessment should be a worry to all clear thinking Australians. For the next thirty hours I was put behind locked doors at the Gold Coast Psychiatric Hospital. Upon admission I was read the “riot act’ about the consequences of any attempt at escaping. I was then kept waiting for two hours, interviewed’ by a male nurse, waited another two hours and examined by a recent intern from Glasgow; a nice young fellow who then informed me that I would be admitted to the high security wing, next door. Escorted to a bedroom, I fell asleep three times only to be woken each time and asked irrelevant questions. All I wanted was sleep!
“Did I want to see my wife?’ No I did not; to sleep again.
“Do you want dinner?’
“No all I want is sleep.”
And so it went on. Finally I woke and had a shower in a chaos of bedlam. The night staff was good enough to give me something to eat and then I was given ‘medication.’ I slept through the night.
Psychiatric Hospitals are not pretty places. I have the greatest admiration for the people who man them and work and live with the patients. It requires a special sort of person; they are unsung heroes. It is also a sobering lesson on how precariously we all cling to sanity. Twice the following morning I went before doctors; the second time by the registrar of the hospital. I suspected they were struggling to find a chink in the armour.
During the morning Trewartha called and wanted to see me. I refused to see him. A fax was left, written on behalf of those who had presided over the 'last supper'. It was written by Judy Gash, the woman who wanted to have the job of putting the newsletter together and being responsible for the movement’s publicity. In a fax that was transmitted to Trewartha, the message to him as chairman was a post-script to the ‘Car business’. She appealed for me to put all the unsavoury aspects of the affair of recent times behind me and turn my ‘talents’ to the benefit of Pauline Hanson. I nearly choked. The sheer hypocrisy, from those who had cluttered my every attempt to pull the movement along, was only exceeded by their total ignorance of what they had done. Gash went on to become editor of the paper and in charge of publicity.
About ten thirty, Iris rang. Would I talk to her? Woman’s Day had put a proposal to her. They wanted the story to the article that had appeared in the Courier-Mail written by Ben Dorries. This was the very thing that Richard Wild had intimated that he wanted to avoid. No, it was a good story, so Dorries seized on the story and wrote it. The magazine scouts had picked up the story. Woman's Day had contacted Iris and wanted the story from a 'woman's perspective.' Iris explained that it would pay off the computer that I had bought for knocking out the PHSM Herald, which I was now lumbered with. This had come about when Hanson and Ettridge had decided that they were going to take the movement and more importantly for me, the newspaper to Sydney. I was left with a $2000 computer and no way of paying for it immediately. The offer was a way out and Iris took it. I really didn't care what she did at that point. This whole business was predicated on her injudicious conversation with both Hanson and Hazelton. It had created dreadful barriers for me and was used to destroy my credibility. SBS Television and Who magazine, both of whom I was scheduled to speak with had called and wanted to see me, but were told that I was not available. No reason was given.
June 23rd 1997 WHO magazine ran a front page story ‘Pauline’s MEN’
...they love her, why they hate her.
These men included John Pasquarelli, David Thomas, David Oldfield, David Ettridge, Morrie Marsden and Adam Hanson. The article did not mention Bruce Whiteside, Paul Trewartha or the Pauline Hanson Support Movement. Had the reason for Whiteside’s non-appearance been made known the publicity for One Nation would have been disastrous. Comment inserted during revision in 2011
Jean Evans called about 11.00am. I allowed them to show her in. She was appalled. I think she was also very angry with those to who had been instrumental in the reasons why I had ended up there. It saddened her the total injustice of the whole sordid affair.
It was while she was there that I was called to see the Gold Coast Hospital’s leading psychiatrist. A tall stern looking man, I initially feared the worst, when I laid my eyes on him. In the presence of the Registrar who had consulted with me earlier, he sat there with the collective findings on a clip board sitting on his lap. At first he seemed distant, I thought almost bored, but we gradually entered into a formal dialogue. We discussed my health, my 'manic depression'. He was more interested to know how I came to be there and when that had been established, the conversation became interesting. It was almost as if it were a relief to get away from the analysis of psychotic behaviour and talk about something else. The word Hanson, led to an interesting observation as I recall.
“I have a friend in Melbourne who has recently written a paper on psychiatry in the Soviet Union. I should ring him and get him to meet you. I’d tell him that we have Australia’s first political prisoner.” (Beat Hanson to that one)
“A sort of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.”
“Precisely. What better way to silence your critics than remove them and paint them as mentally disturbed?”
Certainly all the machination going on, might have fulfilled the necessary criteria to begin believing that possibility, but I have never believed that I was that sort of threat. It was sobering stuff. I turned to the Registrar and asked her about the medication, that she had suggested. The doctor barked,
“What medication is this sister?’ She explained.
“Why sister would you treat a disease when there is no symptom?’ It was a sharp admonishment.
Shortly after this I was handed my release. Whilst being examined my wife with a neighbour had come up to see me, to bring some clothes, shaver and the like. ‘Could she come in?’ The draw bridge was lowered. I met her in the corridor. She was amazed when I told her that she was in time to take me home now that the clinical assessment had accorded me a clean bill of health. Iris was clearly wrong footed and naturally very concerned.
“I want to see the Dr.”
“O.K. by me.” I shrugged my shoulders. I directed her to where he was and she went off to see him. This was terribly unsettling for me. There was no way that she was going to be convinced that I was not mentally ill. The truth was that opinions can be divided and like sanity there is a fine line between experts and experts. My wife wanted to believe the doctors who agreed with her, like the local general practitioner for instance whose first wife and son were both manic depressive and any casual observer who saw me as less than normal. Now she sought to bawl the doctor of psychiatry out. She got nowhere with him.
“Madam I’m dealing with the patient. It is my life time work that you are questioning.”
He was right of course, but she left the hospital believing that he was a ‘a rude man.’ She was terribly offended by his remarks but it has been a matter of some concern that my wife's assessment should remain paramount to those whose occupation it is to know and understand. The real tragedy is that this situation has been exploited by those who saw me as an obstruction to their own ambitions and greed. It has taken a dreadful toll, but I suppose we should count ourselves lucky. Others in following the star of Pauline Hanson were to lose their lives and you have to ask ‘for what?’ Yet the ringing words of Hanson remain in my ears 'nobody asked them to help me.' For all Hanson's rhetoric about family and ethics one senses that as a little girl a good old fashioned slap on the bottom might have made the world of difference. This may not be the politically correct thing to say, it might be viewed as sexist, discriminatory in this age but remember it was Hanson herself who gave the thumbs down to this political rubbish. If she is genuine then she will admire the forthrightness of others. Dignity and graciousness are the hallmark of great women ...in Hanson, they are nowhere to be seen.
In the end the car had been uplifted by Jean Evans husband and delivered to Paul Trewartha. Jean Evans herself had a dreadful row with David Ettridge and when she demanded that Trewartha deliver the car to her as the rightful owner he abused her. Jean Evans had the misfortune as a lady to have encountered both of these men. Their uncouthness and treatment of her was nothing short of disgusting. Trewartha refused to part with the car and finally they sold it at a loss. Evans was repaid the $4250. Evans earned for herself the Distinguished Order of St David . She was to become white ant #19.*
One day some months later I was walking up the street and discovered the car up a drive. I approached the occupant of the house. He informed me that he was the new owner. I told him that he was wrong. He got cranky, but when I produced the key to the petrol cap that he could not open he wanted an explanation. Our stories were miles apart and it was only when I was shown the statutory declaration that I understood what lengths that people would go to achieve their ends. I gave him the keys and told him not to worry he would hear no more from me. Nor did he.
* The story that was run by Woman’s Day, written by Warren Gibbs was entitled Pauline Drives me to Madness. When I saw this I wanted to give my side of the story, but in spite of requesting they rescind the allegation they did nothing.