Chapter 7...the brilliant and dynamic young liberal

 


By mid November the membership of the PHSM was growing fast. Our starter kits were finding their way to all corners of Australia. One of those corners was in Caboolture. The young lady was very enthusiastic, but did not have much idea of how to get started. To help her out we told her that if she was able to find a hall and advertise the meeting we would come up and speak. She managed to hire a hall in Morayfield and on the night about fifty people turned up. As meetings go, it was small but successful. Those who attended were very supportive of what we were doing and the plan was to build on that. With the best of intentions she soldiered on until in the end she simply gave up.

The lesson I gained from all this was that it was going to take more than just starter kits to establish branches. This was a learning curve for us and whilst we had shown the initiative to get started there were probably those who thought they could do better. We had travelled to Caboolture by our own car, at our own cost. I was also using my own computer and printer to belt out all the paperwork necessary. It was about this time that we started to discuss these concerns at our committee meetings. These meetings carried many passengers who were happy to sit in but in fact contributed very little. When the matter of following up the embryonic branches was discussed it met with complete approval. Since I was writing all of the speeches and compiling the necessary paperwork, it was mooted that I should seriously think about conducting a state-wide tour. In the days ahead I drew up a hectic schedule as a draft and intended calling at many provincial towns to solicit not only new membership but possibly create new branches. This was presented to the committee and they agreed. Next I raised the matter of two items of expenditure that was to divide the committee and ultimately lead to a split.

I developed an idea in my mind and the more I thought about it the more I liked it. Our publicity was coming purely from the media, by way of our meetings and the spin off from our growing membership. I came up with the idea of purchasing a station-wagon, emblazoning it with bold signage, incorporating a public address system and then conducting impromptu meetings on the run. When I presented a plan to the committee I ran into a brick wall. The idea was great they said, 'but we have to walk before we could run.' I saw it differently. I had been pulling the movement along, almost single handed. Iris and I were carrying about 80% of the load, with the remainder being carried by the Clodd family.  All our committee were doing was acting as a damper, holding us back. We had to take risks, just as I had taken the risk in calling for an army to get behind Hanson in the first place. The trouble was that our committee saw themselves as being exposed to the possible cost of purchasing a vehicle and then seeing the whole thing collapse. Already they had point blank refused to purchase a computer, but were happy enough to allow me to use my own. Naturally enough I was angry, very angry.

To this point, we had been up and running for barely five weeks. In that time we had twenty-eight branches in the process of becoming established. But these branches took a certain amount of capital to set up, small admittedly, but to us it was a severe drain on our meagre resources. True we had about $4000 in the kitty but the committee saw that as being healthy. I tried to tell them that we were not in the business of accumulating funds, but building a support base for Hanson. Time, I stressed was of the essence. Hanson needed friends and she needed them fast. My philosophy was; buy the vehicle and let us get on with the job. But the conservatives among them wanted none of it. I suppose it was a matter of perspective. Here was I, a man on a basic pension, whilst around me were men, successful businessmen, one, a millionaire, who didn't want to put their hands into their wallets. Lindon Litchfield, the treasurer put it nicely when he said, "either Bruce has to come back to the pace of the committee or the committee has got keep up with Bruce". My attitude was clear; the committee was there to service and run the objective. In the event they shelved it for another week.

Paul Trewartha at that time my vice chairman. He was also the president of the Association of Independent Retirees, (AIR) Even before I had formed the PHSM Trewartha had contacted Pauline Hanson to speak at a morning gathering of retirees on the Gold Coast. This meeting was set down for December 7th.1996; I had absolutely nothing to do with it, for I was not a member of the AIR. On the day the hall was packed out. It was the first time that Hanson had spoken publicly and it was a great success. She was nervous and had not faced a live audience before. Many times they rose to her and applauded. When it came to question time, which Hanson had graciously agreed to, I was standing at the back of the hall, alongside ABC reporter Karen Berkman. Some of the questions were weak and some wide of the mark. One man, a war veteran completely lost the plot and was howled down. It was at that point that I decided to throw down the gauntlet. I knew that it would fire up the media and I also believed it would catch the national evening news. There was a long line of questioners at the side of the hall and most were never going to reach the microphone before the meeting was terminated. I jumped the queue and ask to speak.
Ken Waalwyk, who was detailing the speakers refused my request to speak, telling me that as I was not a member of AIR.. Excusing my action I asked if he would allow me to ask a question of Hanson. Fortunately Trewartha who was Chairman allowed me the grace to question. What I did next almost created a storm.
"I am charging you Pauline Hanson, right here in front of all your supporters to put around yourself a team and take your fight right up to the seat of power in this country.”

By a team I was alluding to a group of similarly minded people who would form a loose association of Independents”. These are the recollections I have of that meeting. As I put this Website together the Brisbane District Court is hosting the Hanson One Nation Fraud case. (Aug 2003) The cacophony of lies and positioning to shield ones back is only outdone by the lack of investigative work done by both the defence and prosecution. In hunting through the mountain of documentation that this movement created, I have come across a diary note of that meeting. I will copy that in here.
'Congratulations Pauline. Pauline, you speak the language of the people. (applause) Pauline you speak the language of the man in the street, language that they can relate to, language they understand. (more applause) Whether you like it or not there is more than electoral support among these people, there is a quality of affection. (applause) Pauline you are an icon with these people, you are at the vanguard of great political change. You cannot raise the expectations and hopes of tens of thousands of Australians and tell them you want to remain a backbencher. Pauline I charge you here in front of your supporters with getting a team around you with a view to forming an alliance with other Independents. You don't need to call on the expertise of Canberra to do this, you have it here. There is a wealth of talent and capability in this audience alone to form a movement. Furthermore it comes out of the people, your people, the working class. I therefore call on you to carry the wishes of the people to challenge the bastion of conventional party politics.' (prolonged applause)
 

Hanson was profusely embarrassed and spluttered something about getting over the Christmas before she could collect her thought about that. Had she been as scrupulously honest as she told the world she might have added; 'I'll have to speak about this first with David Oldfield', but then none of us at that time had heard of this man. Immediately it set the media baying. They moved in like football scrum and besieged her. A glowing, flushed, garland bedecked Hanson was tasting, though none of us knew it at the time, a sample of what was to come.

That night the story was top billing on all the television channels. The media had picked up the scent and for the next few weeks Hanson was to play cat and mouse with them, keeping them guessing.  Hazelton told me later that Pauline could have kissed me for what I did. Somehow I doubt that very much. She said that flying back to Canberra Pauline was absolutely 'over the moon', excited and wanted very much for us to get together. It never came to pass.
But something happened on her return to Canberra, after that meeting. It was the last time that Hanson reciprocated the rapport of her people. She had been at one with them, the undisputed queen of the political realm. They saw her as their great champion, their great hope. That day they would have walked on hot coals for her. That day she ceased to be of the people. Before that day was out somebody had got to her. That somebody I believe was David Oldfield.

The following day Greg Abbott writing in the Sun-Herald wrote a story that, 'Office tensions had forced a demand for Pasquarelli's resignation'. Pasquarelli vehemently denied this. He did this because he had absolutely no idea that it was coming. He was ambushed because he was so preoccupied with his own agenda. Pasquarelli believed that he was indispensable. The fact was that it was his skills that were keeping Hanson on the rails. There were tensions in the office and now for the first time I am going to tell you how Pasquarelli's sacking came about. What was reported was pure bull.

For sometime even before Hanson's maiden speech in the parliament there had been tension in the office. This came about because Pasquarelli employed Hazelton as Pauline's secretary. He believed that Hazelton was answerable to him, but the trouble was that Hazelton struck a rapport with Hanson, that blossomed into a personal friendship. Hazelton resented Pasquarelli dominating attitude and felt that she was not accountable to him but to Hanson. This situation changed when Hanson told Pasquarelli that Barbara was accountable only to her. Pasquarelli's role was difficult; here he was trying to educate a political novice, whilst the novice was more interested in socialising with her now personal secretary. I know from what Pasquarelli had told me on the odd occasions I had to talk with him long before he was sacked, that he was having a terrible job even getting her to read anything that pertained to her job as a people's paid representative. I have no doubt whatsoever that Hazelton worked on Hanson to get her to dump him. At the time Pasquarelli was sacked I was impressing upon Hazelton and Hanson, when I could talk to her that she had to stop being influenced by him. Many times I asked her when she was going to do something about it, only to be told, 'it isn't that easy, but it will happen very shortly.' I did not envisage Pasquarelli being sacked, but I was concerned that the public were seeing Hanson as a puppet. Had he stepped back from the high profile he projected I would have been happy enough. However the defining moment of Pasquarelli's fate was the night of her maiden speech. Once the 'stage-managed piece of theatre' had sucked Hanson in, Oldfield exchanged pleasantries and then immediately talked business. "You are being badly advised. You must get rid of Pasquarelli'. Tragically both Hanson and Hazelton fell for the pitch.

Oldfield's job, as it was at that point, was to cultivate Hanson, so that she could be reined in. Fortunately for him, but sadly for the rest of us, Hanson became an emotional basket-case that he adroitly exploited. Hazelton initially accepted him at face value and no doubt fanned the fire to expedite Pasquarelli's departure. The cold-blooded and clinical calculation was extrapolated further when in a deliberate guise to conceal identity and intent, Hanson and Oldfield immediately replaced Pasquarelli with the stop-gap David Thomas. The man that David Ettridge was to call  ‘Mr X', (Oldfield) had to be concealed from his boss Tony Abbott. Whilst I believe Abbott was aware of Oldfield's initial clandestine meeting, he was from this point on, very much a man, like the rest of us ...in the dark.  The covert nature and deliberate cover up, that saw Pasquarelli removed and Oldfield subsequently inducted, indicts three people ...Hanson, Hazelton and Oldfield. Of these I hold Hazelton largely responsible for the way that things finally crashed. Had Hazelton told me what was going on, at a time when she was the only one in the Hanson team rooting for us, I would have sounded the alarm bells. Instead she held on believing that Oldfield and Ettridge were pristine. It remained in her interest to maintain her silence because she believed that Oldfield would be the fulcrum that finally removed Pasquarelli. Not only that but Hazelton also harboured ambitions for a Senate position. I emphasise here 'ambitions', because at that stage they were secret ambitions. A little later, I will tell how that ambition was exposed.

Hazelton's own public resignation, was the end result of a balancing act. When she did pull the plug a lot of ‘nocturnal pillow talk’ had passed between Hanson and Oldfield. Hazelton had gone from being as close to Pauline Hanson as anyone has ever been to being publicly reviled. Hanson had likened herself to Christ and Hazelton to Judas ...being sold for thirty pieces of silver, but the real Judas was Hanson herself. In the scheme of things Hanson, like her self-acclaimed National Socialist friend, sacrificed all who she did not agree with. Hanson's personality is driven by two axioms: I want, I am right. There is no sense of integrity, loyalty to those who served…only the empty rhetoric. Time will be the final arbiter of her verbal storm.(c.1998) 

Barbara Hazelton I like, but she is no great friend. On the other hand she has a genuine warm feeling for my wife Iris. It is often said that women know women and one of the turning points in my relationship with both Hanson and Hazelton revolved around a clandestine meeting, held on the seafront at Miami Beachfront one Sunday afternoon. The topic of discussion was my 'health,' Qualified no, but to expand on their implied meaning; my 'mental health'.  I will come to that episode a little later.

When Hazelton very belatedly exposed the 'rottenness' that permeated One Nation the television channels went looking for top echelon party people who would support her outburst, none were forthcoming. The night before, Channel Nine had rung me at 8.30pm asking if I would comment, even though I was long since been assassinated by the system that Hazelton now tried to expose. They never got back that evening as promised, but rang me at five a.m. the following morning because the One Nation people who wanted Hanson's henchmen thrown out, were too gutless to say so. I certainly was not. That morning I called on Hanson to dump both Ettridge and Oldfield. Cowards that they are, none of them countered the call, nor challenged it. The reason was obvious; they knew I would paint them for what I believed they were ...an opportunist and a con-man.

Not long after Hazelton resigned she accepted our invitation to dinner. It was a very pleasant evening. During the course of it I asked Barbara a question that would hurt to answer, but to which I would have understood if she had not.
"Barbara' I said, 'I want you to look me straight in the eye and tell me why, knowing full well that Oldfield was controlling Hanson, did you allow our movement and myself in particular to be used? Why did you allow us to build the movement and then send Ettridge down at Hanson's request to seize the movement and destroy me?


"Bruce I know you will find this hard to swallow but I am truly, truly sorry that I was apart of that. I am honestly ashamed. The trouble was that in hindsight we have all realised that you were the only one who had the perception to realise what was going on. You were never going to stop the tide. Everyone was fully behind Hanson and believed that everything she did had the Midas touch. Oldfield and Ettridge, were anointed by her. On the other hand people who loved what you did, suddenly saw you as turning against her, simply because you were seeing her weaknesses and portent for danger. You were like a pillar in a fast flowing river ...strong on your opinions, resolute, but you were a lone wolf, while the river of Hanson support swept by. Nobody wanted to know, until like me, they were faced with the truth. I know Paul Trewartha, like me colluded with them also, but he too now acknowledges that you were right all along."


That essentially was how she put it. It was in a sense a posthumous award for vigilance, but I appreciated Barbara’s honesty and good grace. What a pity that some of it did not rub off on her old boss.

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