Chapter 6 ...peripheral pasquarelli
Early in December I spoke to Barbara Hazelton about the possibility of launching
the Pauline Hanson Support Movement in Bankstown. This idea was not mine but
sprang from the result of a late evening radio talk-back interview with Stan
Zemanek of 2GB in Sydney. I don't as a rule make a habit of listening to these
programs, so I had no idea of what I was letting myself in for. As is usual in
these radio interviews the station contacts you and places you on hold. You are
left listening to what is going on and a few seconds before the interviewer
crosses to you, you are asked if you are ready. You have not spoken to him
before, or he you, so you start off cold. On this particular evening Zemanek was
talking to some deadbeat who was obviously a regular caller. The conversation
became animated and before long the insults were being freely traded. I had
never heard anything like it and was quite happy to pull the plug, there and
then. The only thing that stopped me was that my phone was locked in so I had no
way of contacting the station to advise them I wanted no part of the
proceedings. I could not simply hang up. What I was hearing did not impress.
When the abuse was over and another commercial churned out Zemanek crossed to
me. He was quite charming, which was not exactly what I had momentarily
conditioned myself to. In a stint of some twenty minutes we covered much ground
and the reception had been anything but the customary hostility that had
emanated from most other aspects of the media. Zemanek then threw the lines open
for questions, which once again indicated that his audience were switched on to
Hanson. Finally he asked if we were going to speak in Sydney. Until this point
the idea of going outside the Gold Coast had not even been considered. My
response was instantaneous.
"Look, if anyone is interested in supplying a venue free of cost we would look very seriously at it." With that I left him my phone number; off air of course.
No sooner had I put the telephone down and the line been cleared than I had four calls from Sydney ...all offering venues. Three came with price tags, including a high-class restaurant at the Sydney Airport. Two led into dead alleys whilst the last really fired my imagination. It was to lead into prolonged negotiations and finally choked on threatened Labor Party thuggery and multicultural discrimination, with implied threats of violence. The offer came from a woman who worked in the Bankstown Town Hall. I was informed that the hall would be supplied free and that all I needed to do was to make official application in writing to the complex manager. This was done and in the time that it took for the reply to come back I had received phone calls from two people, who had read about the possibility in the newspapers. One was a John Samuel from Perth and the other George Merritt from Adelaide. I will deal with Merritt first
Sometime previous, I had had a phone call from a friend in Adelaide, the quiet
and unassuming academic Dr Joseph Wayne-Smith. I had worked with him in
the days of the Japanese buy up of Australian land, when the Japanese inspired
forty billion dollar Multi-Function-Polis concept gripped the profit driven
developers like no other project. This night Dr Wayne-Smith had rung me asking
what I was doing. It was prompted by his perception that Hanson's ideas might
interest me. When I informed him that we had already launched a movement in
support of her he was surprised. He had not heard of it. I told him that I was
not surprised because when I lived in Adelaide all the news gravitated around
South Australia was local and unless the carrier pigeons were able to clear the
dingo fences then outside news was rare. Tongue in cheek perhaps, but it was
that bad in 1979-80. Dr Wayne-Smith told me that he was in a group in Adelaide
that as yet was unnamed... that had similar ideas. I suggested that in the
interest of nationalising and concentrating our thrust that he might think about
joining forces. He said that he would ask their convenor to contact me. That
convenor was George Merritt. Merritt is feisty, English and has a good feel for
politics. It soon became apparent that we were essentially 'on the same tram.'
During the course of our in-depth and long discussion Merritt asked if I knew of
a John Pasquarelli.' "Why yes", I said, 'he was at my place a couple of days
ago.' Merritt was stunned and perplexed.
"That's funny he said, he never mentioned you and in fact he spent considerable time telling me not to go ahead with our plans for a movement". Merritt went on to tell me that Pasquarelli was planning something and did not want those plans upset by 'support movements'. Prudently or otherwise Pasquarelli had told Merritt that he had just been up north drumming up financial backing for Hanson. The bait was to offer to the mining companies backing against native title claims. Presumably Hanson was going to be the mining companies mouthpiece, but Pasquarelli I suspect saw himself as being the 'engine beneath the bonnet’. Merritt was disturbed by Pasquarelli's deliberate attempt to dampen his enthusiasm for the Hanson movement and even more suspicious when he failed to tell him that already the PHSM was up and running in Queensland. He began to suspect Pasquarelli's motives and promised that he would put to his members the idea of joining up with us. I told George that we would work together but I asked that he retained his own control.
John Samuel was and is still a mystery. He contacted me very early in the peace and I always believed that he had the capacity to handle the West Australian movement, but before I came across him a woman by the name of Chris Burke had commenced working for us in Perth. She too was something of a mystery. A few days before she came aboard, she had apparently visited Nerang on the Gold Coast. Whether her call from Perth had anything to do with what she may have gleaned whilst here on the Gold Coast during her visit she certainly did not contact me. She said that she hoped to meet me very soon but in the meantime her bubbly personality and brimming enthusiasm convinced me that she could 'bed in' the PHSM in the West. What I did not find out until later was that she had her sights set on a political career. I forwarded to her what we called a 'starter kit' (subsequently seized and used by Ettridge’s One Nation) and before long she was dragging in the members. So well was she canvassing, that an urgent call went out for more Registration Certificates. We sent a thousand; the biggest consignment that was ever given out.
About this time John Samuel approached me. He was one of many who contacted me from the West. They ranged from Esperance in the South to Geraldton in the North. Samuel had political nous and obviously had high political connections. Among these he claimed Harold Clough, a construction magnate in the West and in the East one time Liberal Party President John Elliott. He later told me that he had been largely responsible for pulling the pin on what became known as West Australia Inc.; that his prime occupation was security and when I asked for verification on his many claims, he produced newspaper clippings that tended to support what he had said. I think many people guild the lily and often stories grow with repeated telling. Samuel was not a fool, but I was often disturbed by his very secretive nature on certain matters. Always things of great import were going to reach fruition, but never did. One of these was that he was taking Cheryl Kernot* to court. I had the distinct feeling that somehow Kernot was a problem to him. What never occurred to me was the possible link between the comment of John Elliott, to rid the Senate of the Australian Democrats and Samuel's own agenda. He was and still remains an enigma; perhaps a political bagman. For the moment however Samuel had my confidence and possibly used me as a conduit to air certain views in the press. Samuel joined forces with Chris Burke, but I suspect that they had considerable problems working together. To me there always seemed to be a conflict as to who was running the PHSM in the West. As far as I was concerned it was Burke, but Samuel was the man who had his fingers on the pulse. I trusted him, but later was to have my doubts about Burke. After the West Australian elections in which Burke unsuccessfully ran under the Hanson banner, she faded from view. When I rang her long after I had ceased to have anything to do with Hanson’s brigade of brigands, she told me that the money raised by the sale of 800 Registration Certificates, namely $4000 odd was held in a bank at Leederville. "When you lot of incompetents get your act together I will release it and not until’. As far as I know the money is still there.
Getting back to Pasquarelli; he rather pettily goes on about my 'media madness.' He talks utter rot. What piqued Pasquarelli was that he was unable to control what I was saying. Like Hanson herself he was worried about the diversification of the media spotlight. It was simply childish and allowed their attention to be diverted from the main game. Hanson and Pasquarelli might have been interested in all the media glitz and hype; our concern was to see that Hanson carried the message of hope to fruition.
It was Samuel's early warning system that prompted an article of some note in the West Australian, dated December 7th 1996. 'Hanson is warned' trumpeted the headline. The article is reproduced here in full. Excerpt from the West Australian 7th December 1996.
Independent MHR Pauline Hanson has been warned by the leader of her support
movement not to become the puppet of other political interests.
Founder and Chairman of the Pauline Hanson Support Movement, Bruce Whiteside, said it had become increasingly obvious that Ms Hanson was politically naive and her agenda was being moulded by others.
Ms Hanson had a meeting with former senator and WA Liberal power-broker Noel Crichton-Browne this week and there have been reports of moves to form a party around the grass-roots political philosophy.
Mr Crichton-Browne had dinner with Ms Hanson in Canberra on Wednesday, but refused later to say what had been discussed.
He described Ms Hanson as a woman who cared for her cause and as an anti-political MP.
Mr Whiteside said there were fears among Ms Hanson's supporters that she was being manipulated. There was also concern that plans ...not of Hanson's making ...were being made to use the groundswell of public affection she has generated to gain control of the Senate.
"The PHSM is alarmed at the machinations that smack at political intrigue, tinged with a sprinkling of get even politics originating from the West,' he said.
These machinations are ..to use the naivety of the people's politician for the furtherance of personal agendas.
Mr Whiteside, said there was a 'moat' between Ms Hanson's office and her support movement, which was launched last October and now has almost a 1000 paid up members.
"It has become increasingly obvious that her agenda is being moulded by others and the stridency and aggressive policies being enunciated are not hers."
"The PHSM will support the member for Oxley as she was elected but not the puppet, to those who for greater stakes are prepared to sacrifice her for political convenience." Mr Whiteside concluded..
Pasquarelli in his book tried to denigrate my comments as being 'extremely long-range,' in other words I was speculating. I suppose that is one way to cover your own short-comings in the observation and perception department. You will note in the above article that I hinted that the groundswell of public affection that was manifesting itself in the PHSM was being positioned for political stakes far beyond Pauline Hanson. It centred on control of the Senate and sixteen days later, it all came together and has never to this day been made public. Remember the date December 23, 1996. It will be noted that as early as this I had fears that something was going on that we were unable to pinpoint. There was a moat because Hanson remained completely disinterested in what we were doing. We know now why, but at the time, I was being castigated for being perceptive enough to read the signs.
Whilst Pasquarelli was busy putting in place the structure that he felt that he had to, because Hanson was deemed to be to be on another planet, politically wise, I contacted Hazelton and told her about the idea of launching the PHSM from Bankstown. She was thrilled and passed this information on to Hanson. I was even more surprised when it was agreed that Pauline would be present also. Today I am not sure whether Hanson agreed to that or not, but I was given to understand that she would be part of it. As a result I decided that we would re-jig the meeting, but launch the PHSM as a secondary function and have Hanson deliver a speech that would negate the negative aspects of what was then developing. Remember to this point Hanson had not spoken outside the parliament. The only public speech in relation to Hanson was the one I had given at the Albert Waterways community Centre on the Gold Coast on Oct 28th 1996.
The rationale, some may say the absolute provocation, behind accepting this offer in Bankstown was in its political significance. This was where Paul Keating, the architect of much of the backlash that had swept Hanson into power, had cut his political teeth. Not only that but it was the heartland of multi-cultural Australia. I saw it as simply taking the battle right into the heart of the problem and strangling it at birth. Average Australians are indifferent when it comes to the crunch and in spite of their threats to pre-ordain what would happen, I believed that they would simply go to water. We will never know. Properly handled it could have worked, but the risk we would have unwittingly taken was ensconced in Hanson's unseen puppeteer.
When Pasquarelli arrived back from his secretive itinerary, he began to create a new ‘movement’. It was to be called the Pauline Hanson Movement. Into this, he believed that up to a million dollars would be forthcoming from mining interests to launch Hanson as a real political force. This timing coincided unknowingly with the arrangements that I was putting together for the launch of the PHSM. These two ‘ideas’ of Pasquarelli's neatly evolved between calling at our home and the return to the Ipswich office a week later. In a television documentary Channel Seven ran there is a segment where Pasquarelli is interviewed outlining the plans he has for forming this ‘Pauline Hanson Movement’. He waxes lyrically about this initiative of his to launch Hanson. The next scene shows me driving a Sigma Station-wagon, emblazoned with PHSM sign-writing. Tracy Bowden sitting in the passenger seat with a microphone speaking over says, 'but the plot thickens. Here on the Gold Coast there is already a very much alive and well Hanson movement. And THIS was the brainchild of retired painter and pensioner Bruce Whiteside!
Hanson often claims ...and I happen to believe her in this instance ...that she
knew nothing of this Pasquarelli scheme. There were possibly two reasons for
this. In the first, she was mentally shut down to Pasquarelli. Oldfield was now
occupying her time and plans were in place to have Pasquarelli sacked. The
second was that in the belief that Hanson was not up to speed on moulding her
future Pasquarelli simply forged ahead, made the necessary plans and then
counted on his skills to pull it all together.
Before the pending coup-de-gras, I rang Hazelton and advised her that the hall was available but the offer to have it free had run into problems, created by administration differences of opinion. Obviously someone over enthusiastic had committed the use of the hall without authority. Never-the-less we decided to rent the hall at a cost of $1200. I advised Hazelton that we had ear-marked the hall for January 28. I was surprised when she said,
’No not the 28th, but the 26th.'
'No I said '28th.' I was at a loss to understand why she was contesting the date, until I realised that being a New Zealander, the 26th, had no significance to me. When the penny dropped I realised what I thought she was driving at; and that was … Australia Day! How brilliant! It had not occurred to me, but the idea was not lost on me. That Hanson should go into multi-cultural heartland on Australia Day and deliver a bench-mark speech had all the hallmarks of a day that would be cemented in the political history of this country. That is what the schedule was and that was what we worked toward.
Imagine my thoughts when in reading Pasquarelli's book that he had come up with the idea of launching his Pauline Hanson Movement as a party the same day that Hazelton had suggested the launch of the PHSM, on Australia Day 1997. No wonder he describes his time at my home as a ‘strained hour’. Just as Ettridge and Oldfield did, Pasquarelli wanted to bastardise the PHSM for his own political advantage as well. He was going to call it the Pauline Hanson Movement, thereby counting on and confusing it with the support movement base. He was going to create a trust in which to pour funds and then use Hanson to frustrate the native title claims. Not only that but he tried to organise the launch of the Pauline Hanson Movement on the very day that Hanson had undertaken to launch the PHSM in Bankstown, a function that he had absolutely nothing to do with.
In the event this planned meeting was aborted after a journalist had got hold of the story and run with it. There was an immediate outcry from the multicultural industry. The manager of the Migrant Resource Centre M/s Randa Kattan said that ‘my action in taking this meeting into the heartland of ethnic Australia was a provocative move.’ The President of the Vietnamese Refugees Association went so far as to predict violent demonstrations if we went ahead. Whilst all this made disturbing reading, Pauline and I were determined to go ahead. I wince now when I think of it, but I told her not to worry because if anybody was going to be hurt then it most likely would be me as I was a 'soft target.' If they tried to get at her physically all hell would break loose.
Far from being provocative I took the view that if we managed to deliver a logical and balanced argument that multi-cultural Australia might see things differently. We would never know. The same day that Hanson's office rang me and told me that she had been advised to call the meeting off, I had a phone call from the Bankstown Hall Committee asking me to do likewise. The manager told me that they could not guarantee security. What was more disturbing was that the threat of violence was not coming from the ethnic community but the unions and rebel Labor Party thugs. This sort of rhetoric was new to me but the image conveyed to me of baseball and crowbar wielding mob did a lot to support the idea of retreat.
On the Monday December 9th 1996 Pasquarelli, back in Canberra sat down and typed
a memo to Hanson...Bruce Whiteside has become extremely damaging..... It
was a pathetic piece of writing because it simply lacked integrity. Here was a
man, a paid servant, with far better things to do than writing what amounted to
a poison pen letter with the express design of having me removed. It was the
true measure of the man that he had to hide behind a Sister from the Alamanda
hospital, to suggest to Hanson that she should issue a court injunction to have
me silenced. Imagine how I inwardly reacted when recently in speaking with John
he told me that his sister was a Sister in the Gold Coast Hospital. I can only
assume that his ‘spy’ on the Gold Coast was the same person.
For reasons that I have never understood Pasquarelli saw me as a threat. I get angry over this. We could have and should have worked together. As Hanson's adviser he should have been aware of what I was doing and a more prudent man might have taken the time to find out. By the time he called on me, he was already finished. He believed quite wrongly that I had engineered his demise. I am flattered to think that he thought I had so much influence. The truth was that I did believe that Hanson was being manipulated and it was a belief that I made damn sure found its way into the media. I also was aware that time was running out because these concerns were imparted to Hazelton. She assured me that the situation was ‘going to change’ and to be patient. When the axe dropped I read it in the paper like everyone else. I was relieved, but when the ugly truth of the reason for his sacking emerged it revealed a dishonest and deceptive operation. Hanson had a union with a self confessed National Socialist, David Oldfield. The founder of National Socialism movement, was an Anton Drexler, a sickly, be-speckled man lacking in formal education with an independent but narrow and confused mind. We know that Adolf Hitler adopted Drexler's philosophy and from it created the Nazi Party. Brad Pedersen writing in the Sydney Morning Herald said this of David Oldfield:
Australians are being stalked by a dangerous political animal. Expect to see more of what lies behind those cold cunning eyes. It will be unpleasant. (Sydney Morning Herald, Oct. 2 1998).
John Pasquarelli would have used Hanson just as mercilessly as the others. The
difference was that in doing so he would have looked after her survival. He
demonstrated to me that he was about to use the PHSM, just as the others did for
his own purpose. In the end it became a matter of the elimination of one of two
opportunists. Oldfield fought from under Hanson's skirt and knew his enemy;
Pasquarelli did not and was simply stabbed from behind. That should not have
surprised anyone; after all National Socialist's never fought by the Marquess of
* Some years after this an article appeared in the SMH. It revealed the machinations that were initiated to destroy the Australian Democrats in the West. Samuel and Clough were implicated, but both strenuously denied the claim. Was this the Gareth Evans/ Cheryl Kernot episode in its earliest phase?