Chapter 17...death by asphyxiation

The word was 'monumental,' it should have been 'requiem in pace' for in effect it was the beginning of the end. The newly elected Len Harris, accompanied by the democratically elected Senator who fell at the final hurdle, Heather Hill and their fallen idol ex MHR and party leader Pauline Hanson, gathered before a battery of expectant journalists. Foremost in the mind of the media contingent was the central topic of the 'momentous announcement' that had them all poised on the edge of their seats, with pens raised anxious to break the next saga in the life of Pauline Hanson.

Speculation had been set in motion when Harris, egged on by Hill, told the media that he was going to make a major announcement an hour after having been sworn in. Immediately he faded into the background ...and Hill fanned the rumours of speculation. Hill apart from playing cat and mouse with the press about whether 'she would' or 'he would' stand down, even went so far as to say that she would be interested to see what Premier Beattie had to say, when the momentous moment arrived. Something big was in the offing. In typical amateurish ONE NATION fashion, Hill alluded to the fact that Queensland voters would not be let down and that she and Harris would 'do what was right for Queensland and Australia.' What banal nonsense!

This final curtain encapsulates everything that was wrong about ONE NATION, from its inception. Its 'leaders' have lacked integrity, opting as so many politicians do, to stage-manage events and in doing so treat the people as fools.
If either Hill or Harris had been genuine in their quest to 'do the right thing by the people of Queensland and Australia,' they would have recognised that they owed their own miniscule public acknowledgment and present positions to one person ...and that person was Pauline Hanson. They were non-de-scripts with little going for them, yet both had done everything in their power to grasp the opportunity to procure the office of Senator. All this nonsense about doing what is best for the people carries no water whatsoever, anymore than it did with Oldfield. In the event Harris babbled on about a 'private members bill' to make sure that Hill was in some way placated, for the 'rotten hand that she had been dealt.' I agree, Hill did get a raw deal, but this was no more than a public display of seeking sympathy.' The public perception can be cruel and in spite of the fact that Howard perpetuates the ethos of a fair go, I can tell Heather Hill that such an ethos is a myth. It simply does not exist ...however the rhetoric does. Doubtless there are others in parliament who do not meet the criteria that judged Hill, but does anyone really care? I doubt it. When Harris lashed out at the press for feeding on the promise of the ‘monumental announcement,’ he immediately sealed his lot. Somehow, they seemed have heard it all before ...another paranoiac blast from the Hanson stable.

I go back to the early days when Hazelton and Trewartha, were jockeying to be #1 and #2 on the Hanson's perceived Queensland Senate ticket. Neither Hill nor Harris had even been heard of then, yet through the machinations and conflict that surrounded Hanson, Hazelton and Trewartha both eventuality became casualties to internal conflict. Hill and Harris are only two in a long list of people who were prepared to put themselves before the good of the people. Hanson did it, forsaking her popular people support for a charmer and those who for a while rode on her coat-tails, continually jockeyed for positions that either paid well or promised some degree of position and power. Trewartha did it, better than most because in spite of all his visions of a better Australia, he sold us out when Hanson and Ettridge offered him inducements. It was really a pathetic collection, who strove for something that was beyond their ability. In many ways it was no more than a very public canvas to exhibit greed, graft and power!

Most journalists who gathered at the news conference that day expected that Harris would step down for Hill. Others thought that Hanson had finally grabbed the nettle and decided to wrest control of ONE NATION from her two co-directors. I fancy the more seasoned would have believed as I did that a 'monumental' announcement, the "like of what had not happened before" as Hill had put it, would have been that both had decided in the interest of Hanson's large following to stand aside to allow Hanson into the Senate. Whether there was some legal impediment to this or not, and chances are had there not been being Hanson, the established political system of Labor/Liberal cartel  would have fabricated it then this and this alone would have really 'fanned the dying embers of ONE NATION. Hanson for all her shortcomings still had the capacity to pull an audience. If nothing else she would have put some sort of life into a rather dull bunch who considered themselves as the elitist of our present political scene. Mind you I don't think Senator Meg Lees or a Stott Despoja, would be too enamoured with the idea. They might thrash Hanson in a debate, but Hanson would crash on regardless. Poor Pauline, it all seems rather sad.

If we turn the clock back, we realise that it could have been so different. The issues that Hanson first ran with were real issues ...issues with teeth in them. They kindled the very fire that burned in the Hanson belly. Her handling of the issues in turn kindled the 'silent majority' who yearned for a champion, a voice to express their concerns and to run with it. Hanson for a while put the fear of hell into the political establishment. Nobody knew how to handle her, least of all the Prime Minister. He was prepared to allow her to run rampant, whilst overseas leaders castigated him for not 'putting out the fires of racism.' Of course it wasn't racism, but rather the discomfort of having to put up with a maverick that was not prepared to shut up. Hanson didn't play by the rules for she did not know what they were. Arthur Webb Ellis didn't know the rules either when he picked up a soccer ball and lay down the foundation for the game that became Rugby. It is ironic that I of all people should admire her for that, when it was she who wanted to shut me up. Howard said at the time that he would not 'gag her' but allow her the grace of his ethos for a fair go. Really? I don't think so. It is my belief that Howard refused to lay a glove on Hanson, because moves were a foot to exploit her. Howard was no fool and the issues that Hanson raised would have been political suicide for the Liberals. By cutting a swathe through subjects that neither Labor nor the Coalition would touch with a barge pole Howard was able to use Hanson as a litmus test of public opinion. I have no way of knowing whether Howard was aware of the machinations that created ONE NATION, but one thing I am certain of is that in this country, unlike America where journalists can dig and if they can dig deep enough can bring down Presidents, if I am right, the weight of the political and judicial system would kill it. Certainly the main stream media had no stomach for digging. There is an ethos between government, big business and the media. Whilst Hanson was sacrificed, the Liberal Party and powerful elements of it escaped investigation that I believe should have happened. Journalists in this country will go to their graves knowing that I knocked on their doors pleading for the truth to be told. Whilst a couple were gamer than the rest, all fell before their editorial masters.

Ettridge claimed that he created the name One Nation, but this too is suspect for the name came up during the 1993 Federal election campaign, along with the term 'fight-back'. Oldfield told Brett Hocking that the idea of seizing the PHSM was his. One should also ponder whether the name One Nation did not come from the giant flag that the children of Miami High School painted for me back in April 1988. The 12 foot by eight foot flag was painted on a calico painters drop sheet. It sported the Australian Flag, with a big red heart upon which was inscribed Heart of a Nation. Given that all of the PHSM material ended up in Ettridge Manly office, through the courtesy of Steven Menagh and subsequently used for One Nation, thus plagiarised, the possibility of the flag idea can not be ruled out.

Questions about Abbott's man were being asked in the parliament about the time of the ONE NATION launch. There were matters pertaining to use of the mobile phone, about the loyalty of staff and eventually why a federal politician's staff member was present at the opposition's launch. This I believe was largely for public consumption, feigned indignation if you like. Oldfield worked for Abbott for fourteen months. When he came into the office it was, as Abbott put it at the time 'to keep an eye on him.' If we accepted what the papers ran then Abbott became very angry when it was revealed that his own staff member was 'secretly' working for Hanson. How gullible are we supposed to be to believe that Abbott had no idea that Oldfield was collaborating with Hanson as early as September 10, 1996. I don't have to accept speculation on this. Hazelton told me herself about the 'stage-managed' incident. Oldfield was at the Le Grange Restaurant that night by design and Abbott I believe would have been fully aware of it. The mathematical permutations of Oldfield meeting Hanson by sheer coincidence, considering the political ramifications of what eventually turned out are so astronomically huge that it simply rules out that possibility. This was a well orchestrated plan and Abbott's later attempts to destroy One Nation, only reinforces my belief that he was in this thing up to his neck.

I have absolutely no doubt that this was akin to an amorous proposal, a jilted suitor and then a spiteful separation.  What I have never been able to understand is why on the night in question John Pasquarelli  left Hanson's company before they arrived at the restaurant. Knowing John as I do, I have never accepted that he would not have wanted to 'relive' that speech over dinner. His own vanity would never have allowed it. He would have been as excited as Hanson was nervous and as her very public minder  he would have seen it as his job to at least shadow her that evening. I have asked him many times if Abbott had contacted him and asked to give Hanson 'a little space' that evening. John gets extremely cranky over this and he will never accept that Abbott had a hand in any part of ONE NATION. But John Pasquarelli never saw Oldfield coming either, with all the political and parliamentary nous that he claimed to possess. Hazelton is another who will not entertain the idea that Abbott was involved. Not surprising since Abbott came to an amicable agreement with her when he no longer required her services to dump on One Nation over funding.

I do believe that from this point forward that Abbott lost track of Oldfield's movements. Even so it begs the question of Abbott's powers of observation.

Just around the corner from his office in Sydney Road, Manly, in an upstairs room spirited above a adult sex shop was the office of ONE NATION. It was run by David Ettridge, who we are told was a diving buddy of Abbott's staff member. One can surmise of course but this must have been an office of convenience. Many of us in Queensland questioned why Hanson would want to take her head office to Manly …but no answers were ever forthcoming. Hanson would not have comprehended its significance, for her eyes were clouded with 'all I ever wanted in a man.' Were these idle rumours? Many a reporter told me of some of the 'antics' that these two got up to around the nightspots of Sydney. Andrew Carne had no illusions and painted some pictures of the behaviour of the two. By this time he was totally disenchanted with Ettridge and Hanson. It wasn't a particularly great feeling to know that the person who you and thousands of others like you were working tirelessly for was kicking her heels up, with ne'er a political thought in her mind. A PLEASE EXPLAIN from Hanson, instead of the characteristically defiant 'its no one's business except mine' would not have gone astray. No one's business it might have been, but when you are public property, receiving taxpayers money, accountability becomes an essential part of credibility ...and public perception.

So why an office right in Abbott's hip-pocket. Could it have been that Hanson used this as a phone contact, simply because in contacting Oldfield in Abbott's office was now fraught with danger? Abbott may well have been aware that calls to his office from Hanson, were not necessarily a worry if she was cooperating with Oldfield in accordance with the ‘plan’. That was probably reason enough not to open an office until they had to, but when Oldfield changed the rules and effectively stabbed his boss in the back, as I believed he did then this move would have become urgent. Oldfield could string Abbott along for a while, possibly telling him that 'he was still working on Hanson and that it may take some time to win her over', but in the meantime it was ‘Tony just be patient'. How often did Oldfield 'slip out of the office for a moment' to hot-foot it around the corner on the Corso, to consult with Ettridge or contact Hanson?

Possibly by the time that Abbott woke up to his staff member, it was too late. Abbott …who was the shining light and protégée of his boss, Prime Minister John Howard the man who refused to lay a glove on Hanson during this period …suddenly had egg all over his face.  In hindsight it is interesting to speculate on Howard's reluctance to criticise Hanson, when she was open season for just about every other politician who sought to hide behind the safety facade of 'look at me, I'm not a racist'. Many I am sure will recall Dr Mahathir of Malaysia grandstanding on the issue and ribbing Howard for not publicly condemning her. So why was Howard so reticent?

I have my own version of possible events. I have endeavoured with a bit of inside knowledge and lateral thinking to piece together the course of events that lead to the falling out of Abbott with Oldfield. The falling out between the two had the potential to tear the Liberal Party asunder. If the truth as I perceived it became public knowledge then Howard I believed would have been snared in a plot.  Now readers may regard this as speculative at best and dangerous at worst. This may sit well with those who find it easier to back off and allow time to deal the cards, but I could not do this. There are a handful of journalist ranging from the Courier-Mail to the Sydney Morning Herald, to a couple in the Canberra Press gallery, who were highly wary of what I was trying to tell them. One asked me for a affidavit before he would even consider running with what I was suggesting and the other spelt it out in black and white. Here is what he said:

'Bruce it may surprise you to know that I think that you may be spot on. The trouble is as you well know, there is no editor who will run the story. It is too politically charged and the damage would be enormous'. He went on ' It would come down to your word against this business man. Every editor in this country would be loath to touch him for it would invoke massive litigation”.
This was pragmatic and it was also true. So my mind reverted to the poem that appears in Hanson's book The Truth,
 

I Am Fear
...I am the invisible horseman
Riding the highways of time,
Blighting the lives of millions,
In every age and clime;
For mine is a great and awful power
And many my vic'tries be;
But I have often known defeat
Courageous hearts spell Victory!
God planted in the soul of man.
A tiny vital spark,
Which flaming to its fullness
Lights his pathway in the dark!
 ...and so on.
That is the philosophy that I grew up with. That is the philosophy that enabled me to launch out on issues that most would never touch. When something is rotten in the state of Denmark, then it is either allowed to fester or it is tackled. In this case only the locality differed and the locality was Manly. Now it would became a question of who to believe Abbott or Oldfield. The Liberal Party wasted no time. I believed it instructed Abbott to destroy not Oldfield, not Hanson, but the 'party' that had been created for political control of the Senate. If Abbott was acting without the knowledge of John Howard, then this ‘plan’ by his staffer left him vulnerable. In a show down it might come down to who to believe. In the event Abbott set his sights on destroying One Nation, whilst Oldfield moved in on Hanson.
I tested this theory
.

Needs to be read

 

One day I leaked a story to the Sun-Herald. The idea was to see whether Abbott was serious about his attack on ONE NATION. It was. That day he waved the newspaper article in the parliament, swearing that he would do all in his power to destroy the legality of this creation. The journalist sent my synopsis to a long time Canberra bureaucrat for his assessment and was thrown by his response. When this man asked the identity of the writer he was told that he was a 'painter and paperhanger'.
 "This is brilliant stuff and what is most unnerving is that he has got it almost right. If the truth ever comes out and I doubt it very much, this man will be proven right. A painter you say ... he missed his calling".
 

But what was worrying Abbott most? Was it the electoral damage that ONE NATION might do to the Liberal Party, or was it that Oldfield might turn nasty and expose Abbott's suspected complicity in the matter? In any event Abbott continued to lambaste ONE NATION, discrediting it at every opportunity.

If the government were worried that the Hanson phenomenon was going to 'knock it about in the forthcoming federal elections in 1998' they need not have worried?
Pauline Hanson called him 'the most brilliant man in his field' and many would have agreed. But Oldfield erred in a big way. In part this was no doubt caused by his mates insatiable desire to turn every opportunity into dollars. Ettridge had claimed and told me
personally the first and only day we met that he wanted $15 million to fight a Federal election. What utter nonsense this was. Had Pauline been allowed to go unmolested and done as John Pasquarelli had suggested, run for the Senate, she would have carried others along with her. People would have funded their own campaigns, as indeed they were to, but no; only Ettridge and Oldfield believed they had the necessary skills and nous to control Hanson. So let us examine those self evaluated skills.

Before Ettridge came on the scene Hanson had been approached to run candidates in the West Australian elections. She did not want a bar of it. John Samuel (whose subterranean presence around the Courts of Brisbane and his involvement with Terry Sharples deposing of One Nation, have never been satisfactorily explained or for that matter made public) tried desperately to win her over and in fact his wife Joan, actually ran under the PHSM banner, along with three others, during the course of the 1996 West Australian election.  (see earlier) Hanson held firm saying she would never run candidates in ANY State elections. Samuel wanted me to use my influence to encourage Hanson, but I like her would not countenance the idea. Enter Ettridge. By the time the Queensland elections came around ONE NATION was an established, if fraudulently registered party. This provided a grand opportunity to get money into the coffers, but it also killed off Hanson's bid for greater Federal representation.  The man who knew it all had taken the wrong fork in the road …how?
The scheme was hair-brained. Sure it created eleven seats in the Queensland parliament, sure it gave them half a million dollars or so, but in the pursuit of quick bucks destroyed the great dream of all those who wanted a new political force.
Why?
Why was the people’s great hope dashed? It founded on the rocks of greed and unmitigated self-interest! So let me paint the picture that I saw. The idea behind seconding Hanson to build a Senate ticket around was predicated by Liberal Party strategists and number-crunchers on the assumption that her support would come largely from the Australian Labor Party. After all had she not cut a swathe across Bill Hayden's old seat to the tune of an initial 23% swing?  To me and I was no political genius, no strutting leviathan like David Oldfield, I would have allowed the Queensland elections to go…not have a bar of them. This would have increased the pressure for Hanson to run candidates in the Federal election and at the same time it would have kept both the ALP and the Liberals guessing what impact Hanson would have if she decided to run a team federally.

In the event the element of surprise was lost and the decimation that occurred in the State election could well have replicated itself at Federal level. By that time it would have been too late and several ONE NATION Senators would have been in the house today, including I am loath to say, David Oldfield. Imagine, Oldfield as One Nation leader in the Senate, holding the balance of power. A self-confessed National Socialist, controlling Australia’s destiny. We came so close.

Many of us in Queensland remember how the Liberals and National went into a  lather over preferences, that finally would end up biting them back. Well, ONE NATION by not forgoing the Queensland elections negated that element of surprise that would have impacted at Federal level. This tactical Oldfield/Ettridge blunder not only revealed the ineptness of Hanson's lieutenant's, but signalled to the major parties where the Hanson support was coming from. Had the Federal parties not had the benefit of the Hanson impact they would not have had the bonus of time and information to re-marshal their defences, so making any effective attack on the central seat of power by the forces of Hanson, nigh impossible.
Hanson, Ettridge and Oldfield were always going to be bit players in the longer run; they were in fact little Caesars, totally out of their depths, yet taking on the mantle of control from what was essentially a 'people's movement’ and in doing so helped destroy the very organization that they claimed to work for. There are others who believe that both Ettridge and Oldfield were Liberal Party operatives. I do not.

The 'Hanson thing', never developed from a deliberate plan to create a new party. It happened as an act of opportunism and quickly turned into a parallel of the Pied Pier of Hamelin. In the first place it attracted many people with no great appreciation of politics, but with a genuine belief, that what Hanson was saying was no more than plain commonsense. These were the people ...not the carpetbaggers who forever gathered around the periphery of national politics ...these were the people who Hanson had established a 'compact' with. It was upon this that I first called for her to put a 'team around her and take it to the very seat of government.' By a team I meant ordinary battlers, who understood the language of commonsense, who were not afraid to call a spade a spade and who were most of all 'of the people'. These people to whom I always believed could form a 'loose alliance of Independents' would call on their electorate for direction. It was to be a departure from the incestuous policy of party politics. No more were we prepared to accept closeted Labourites, such as Cheryl Kernot, or Liberal equivalents such as Meg Lees. No more were we prepared to listen to the politics of 'keeping the bastards honest', we were prepared to vote for our own.

Yet politics is about perceptions and as Oldfield skilfully demonstrated, people can be led. One Nation was NEVER Pauline Hanson; it was as Ettridge said a marketing ploy ...and it nearly worked. The men who were too smart by half forgot to include one basic ingredient in their recipe ...integrity!  Whilst I agree that a million voters were seriously disenfranchised by a system that delivered a solitary seat, whilst one that picks up only 65% of that amount reaps seven seats, I have to say that I for one would have been seriously concerned had ONE NATION seized the balance of power. People believing that in voting for ONE NATION they automatically voted for Pauline Hanson, would soon have learnt to their sorrow and I believe to the great detriment of Australia, that Oldfield was no Hanson. Indeed, Oldfield only ever saw Hanson as a by-pass into politics a view fiercely contested by some who have since written Hanson off. Time has proven me right, but in April 1998 I wrote a letter to the Courier-Mail, which brought a swift and vicious response.
 

Dear Sir,

As founder of the PHSM which gave rise to ONE NATION, I am deeply concerned for Hanson's political survival. It is my reading of the situation that David Oldfield is plotting the rise of ONE NATION and the demise of Hanson. Oldfield has had his hand on the Hanson tiller since her maiden speech.
Hanson's spokesman says ONE NATION will pick up several seats in the Senate (C-M Apr 13) and also expects to win in the lower house.
As Hanson's adviser, Oldfield should put her political survival first. I suggest he has advised her to run for the House of Representatives, knowing she cannot win. Unless Hanson runs for the Senate, it will be Oldfield and not Hanson leading ONE NATION.
 

This prompted an immediate and abusive call from ONE NATION'S office in Manly. When I answered the phone the voice went to great lengths to make himself known to me. He was a little let down when I told him that I didn't recall his name. "You must remember me, for I started your first branch of the PHSM, in Sydney,' the voice went on. How could I ever forget the prince of thieves? His name fair screamed at me, but I would not give him the satisfaction of acknowledgment until I found out what he had rung me for. "You are a f---in dickhead. That f---in letter in this morning’s paper is a f---in disgrace. Do you realise the damage that letter can do to Pauline your stupid f--ckwit. I'm tellin yah unless you keep you f---in mouth shut, well shut it for yah. Now piss off you dopey old bastard.' This was the charming and eloquent Steve Menagh. This was the person who acted as a conduit to hand all our information on the PHSM to his boss David Ettridge.  A few minutes later he rang again. But before he could get a word out I told him that I did not speak with rats and hung up. I heard no more.

A man who knew David Oldfield a lot better than I, was Godfrey Bigot, who had changed his name by deed poll. In a riveting and subjective piece of writing he paints an interesting picture of the Jekyll and Hyde personality of his old Manly Council mate ...I use that word in a loose term, for I doubt whether Oldfield ever attracted mates.

Brad Pedersen writes:
He (Oldfield) was instrumental in having Hanson run in the virtually un-winnable seat of Blair, so actually has set himself to have a much better chance of being elected than Hanson. He has cleverly manoeuvred himself towards the centre of national power. Tomorrow (Oct 3rd election day) he aims to win the balance of power in the Senate and with Hanson gone, he wants to be the face of ONE NATION.
Pedersen concludes on this chilling note:
Australians are being stalked by a dangerous political animal. Expect to see more of what lies behind those cold, cunning eyes. It will not be pleasant.
 

If this sounds like a coloured opinion, I can assure readers that what Bigot describes here is brutally honest. Cold and cunning, Oldfield certainly is ...and I speak from being on the receiving end of this man's warped and twisted mind.

And so it proved to be. Hanson, now nominal president of nothing, was paid thousands of dollars a year. Ettridge was custodian to millions of dollars, spirited from electoral funding and membership fees to a phantom political entity. Oldfield ... well he eventually manoeuvred himself into being nominated to the #1 spot on the New South Wales Upper House. It was only second best after suffering the ignominy of being chiselled out of a Senate spot by an articulate Aborigine, Aiden Ridgeway. Yet it took hundreds of thousands of dollars, taken at the whim of the One Nation Executive, that did not include Hanson as a signatory to the cheque books, to prop up the unpopular David Oldfield. There is no doubt that Hanson was forced to campaign in NSW to bolster his chances of success, but many of us have a gut feeling that Hanson had not been in control of her destiny, since September 1996! Oldfield thus receded into an eight years stint in the Upper House of New South Wales and will no doubt enjoy a healthy pension for the rest of his life

There were many Hanson supporters at one time who wondered what was happening to their 'idol.' Some like me believed that Hanson was somehow being compromised and exploited. Many theories were extrapolated, including blackmail, financial reliance, compromising situations or just plain shrewd business acumen that gave her no room to manoeuvre. Whatever it was, there was no shadow of doubt among her true blue troopers that her political naiveness landed her in deep trouble, that guaranteed that she would never fulfil her early pristine promise.

So what is the future of ONE NATION and Hanson? Is there any? I doubt it.
Many people will be surprised to learn that I have written to Hanson, during the last three months.(2002) My letters go unanswered. However they do not go unread. I have spoken with people who still are on speaking terms with her and they have told me what I have written to her. As I did in the early days, I tell it as I see it ...which means I do not spare her feelings. I have told her ad infinitum to dump the millstone of ONE NATION and go back to the people ...the 'those out there' brigade who gave her their unpretentious and genuine support. She has never appreciated the voter-gold in the bank, but like a drunken lotto winner frittered them away.

With a million voters milling around looking for a 'champion', an outbreak of splinter groups have emerged with non-de-scripts leading them. They are destined to go nowhere. If Hanson was to denounce the two David's tomorrow, apologise to her army of one time supporters, then I would stake my integrity on her re-emergence as a muted political force. People are so fickle, so damned unpredictable. They have walked away in droves, some hurt, and some financially battered, some like me terribly disillusioned. Many have bled and wondered what they did it for, yet when you remove the overburden of parasitic growth you come back to the girl who started it all ...Pauline Hanson.

You look around the political scene and what you see are the daily machinations of politicians playing with the lives and destiny of our people. The sheer magnitude of the cynicism, the duplicity and the fundamental premise that drives them all, that of self financial preservation, only serves to remind us that Hanson at least had the guts to speak out for all of us. We have only to look at the massive deception and jockeying for political advantage over the Republic debate to realise that we are being treated with the utmost contempt. For a moment in time, brief I grant you, Hanson promised much. That is why the PHSM was created, to shield her from predatory forces. Hanson didn't need the political environment of endemic corruption ...she needed to be nurtured and cultivated until she took root ...to have any chance of flourishing. That did not happen ... we stood by and watched her destroyed.
I am reminded of the poem that inspired me to go into bat for the maligned Hanson:
 

Apathy O apathy
Why do you cloud the minds of men,
And hold them from their duty
Until when?
Awakened from your binding spell,
With eagerness they seek to clasp,
The fleeting opportunity,
That once was theirs to grasp!


Apathy ...you can never accuse Hanson of that, nor can I be accused of it. That is why I will continue to see a spark of hope in the woman who has now been discarded by all the political pundits. A remorseful Hanson, free of the shackles of ONE NATION still has the capacity to harness the force of a million voters for the good of Australia. There are many people with integrity and genuine desire for change who would help her. Hanson is not a leader in the true sense of the word for she simply lacks the skill. What she does have and uniquely so is the ability to gather people behind her ...and that is a leadership quality of a vastly different kind.
That was the quality that I recognised when I gave breath to the PHSM. As I said at the inaugural meeting
..'or is she going to be raised on the shoulders of the man in the street to become a voice for the people? We either seize the moment now or lose it. We either get behind Hanson and form a movement of support or we do nothing and allowed her to be crucified. It is up to you.'

In the end apathy prevailed and the queen was crucified. The fleeting opportunity that once was ours to grasp ...had gone!
 

post script: both poems were written by my late father, Bill, circa 1945

 

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