Chapter 2 . Bruce Whiteside ....the crusade
The Whiteside family had a long history of achievement and respect in its early origins in England. There is a Whiteside Coat of Arms that was granted to the Rev. John William Whiteside, Vicar of Scarborough. His brother was The Right Hon. James Whiteside, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland.
Bruce Whiteside’s father was a prolific writer of poems, and this had a marked effect on the way Bruce was to live his own life. During the depression years his father experienced the degradation of lining up for free meals at the soup kitchens. This taught him a lot about life, with the knowledge gained passed on to his son.
Bruce was born in Invercargill, New Zealand in 1934, and like his father chose painting and paperhanging as his trade. In 1979 he immigrated to Australia. Although having lived in Australia for over thirty years he remained a passionate New Zealander at heart, and would constantly sing the praises of his sporting nation, especially when their team of whatever calling happened to win against opposition teams.
Whether it was rugby, cricket, netball, or sailing, any win was a good win in his eyes.
He was always quick to remind anyone who would listen that New Zealand troops in the First World War stood side by side with Australian troops, and hence the NZ in Anzac, the never to be forgotten Australian and New Zealand Army Corp.
He hated what he called the injustices that occur in our society, especially those where the legal eagles (as he called them) were involved. He differed from the average man in the street in that he was always trying to arouse public opinion into supporting his viewpoint, even though at times he had to admit he was wrong. Whiteside, as he was known to most people who had anything to do with him, is described as a rather difficult person to categorize.
He was however shrewd, not from his academic achievements as he had none, but because he had the ability to sum up a person and either put them on a pedestal, or put them down. He could be very direct and argumentative, but on the other hand he could also show a great deal of care and understanding. This is exactly what occurred with the Tom Jarrett.
Prior to his association with Tom, Whiteside became obsessed with two issues that were to make a few politicians uneasy. The first related to the Japanese invasion on the property front, especially the Gold Coast, whilst the other concerned the rise and fall in the political world of a maverick auburn-headed female named Pauline Hanson.
Hanson went on to win a seat in the Australian Federal Parliament.
In the late 1980’s investors with foreign capital from Japan were acquiring large parcels of real estate, including in particular, property on the Gold Coast. What had once been the domain of the Australian investor was rapidly changing due to the influx of investment monies from overseas, which seemed to be coming from a bottomless barrel.
The surf, sun and sand that had attracted the domestic holiday makers, was now attracting tourists with money to spend. This in turn sharply increased property values which encouraged developers to take advantage of the increased demand for home ownership and commercial developments. So they set about building even more properties with carefully designed commercial buildings, high-rise apartments, and cluster housing in suitably located precincts. The resultant momentum began to gather pace, and the Japanese investors saw an opportunity to capitalize on the situation by purchasing anything reasonable that came onto the market.
Whiteside describes the scene as follows – ‘Land developers, planners and real estate agents, staring a bonanza in the face, played the Japanese investors as a master violinist would play a Stradivarius’.
And so a new era began which was an open invitation for Whiteside to test the resolve of the Australian public. He set about airing his views in the local media which resulted in an unprecedented wave of enthusiasm, as one person after another rang his home to congratulate him, and offer their support in his efforts to curtail foreign investment in Australia.
This unexpected response was the beginning of Whiteside’s notoriety, as he sought to impose his views on the locals in order to save Australia from losing its heritage. He began his crusade to raise issues which the politicians of the day seemed afraid to tackle, and he acknowledges that his inspiration came from reading one of his father’s many poems titled ‘Apathy’. What then was he to do with his newly found reputation?
After much publicity, and with the support of some 1,500 people in attendance at the first public meeting he called, Whiteside gave a stirring address on the concerns he had on what he termed, was a Japanese invasion on our soil. It seemed that most were ecstatic that someone had the gumption to stand up and be counted, although there were the doubters who were in the minority.
The large auditorium was filled, and television cameras from the four major channels cluttered the foreground. There were journalists from all parts of the globe along with local press representatives, and they seemed to relish the thought of publishing the controversial views of Whiteside.
Laws on foreign investment were later introduced to ensure overseas investors did not flood the market, thereby increasing property values further by the ever increasing numbers of buyers after prime real estate. He called upon those present to embrace the well worn adage - ‘Think not what Australia can do for you, but rather what you can do for Australia’.
In his closing address at his first meeting, he made a passionate plea to those in attendance to take a firm stand against the establishment, in order to preserve the balance necessary to maintain control of their own destiny.
Of equal significance in the life of Bruce Whiteside, was his involvement with former fish and chip operator Pauline Hanson as she set about forming a new political party styled -
‘One Nation’ - The phenomenon of this lady, and the attacks upon her by the major political parties of the day raised many a question as to whether Australians really did live in a free society.
In September of 1996 after being elected to the House of Representatives, Hanson was to make her maiden speech in Parliament. This caused a furor as that speech referred to her views concerning a belief she had that aborigines received more welfare benefits from the taxpayer’s purse than did non-aborigines. She then attacked migration, which led to her being labeled a racist by the powers that be. Life was not meant to be easy for this outspoken critic.
However, Whiteside saw in her a breath of fresh air, which eventually led to a move to deliver moral support. This was to be by way of the establishment of the Pauline Hanson Support Movement, followed by a public meeting on the Gold Coast. It proved more than successful, and a membership roll was set up, and fees began to flow into the coffers.
Unfortunately political opportunism resulted in the movement being taken over by others.
Whiteside was later to admit that there were personality clashes due to the fact that both he and Hanson were rather headstrong and stubborn, and this was not the way to formulate a successful partnership. The One Nation Party was successful for a time, but it was inevitable because of pressure applied, that the Party would fold.
It was later in August 2003 that a jury in the District Court of Queensland, convicted both Hanson and her associate Ettridge of electoral fraud. They were sentenced to three years in prison for falsely claiming that 500 members of the ‘Pauline Hanson Support Group’ (set up by Whiteside) were members of the political organization ‘Pauline Hanson’s One Nation’, solely for the purpose of registering the party for electoral funding. Bruce knew all about the circumstances surrounding the membership roll, but was never called as a witness at the trial.
In November of 2003, the Queensland Court of Appeal quashed all of Hanson’s and Ettridge’s convictions, and they were immediately released from jail. The Chief Justice of Queensland, Paul de Jersey, had suggested that – ‘If Hanson and Ettridge, and especially the Director of Public Prosecutions had used better lawyers from the start, the whole matter of the court hearing may have been avoided altogether’.
There were political overtures with even the Prime Minister at the time being rebuked for attempting to influence the judicial process. Here we have lawyers failing the system to judge right from wrong.
Bruce Whiteside as a participant in the formation of the Pauline Hanson Support Group, followed the case with interest, and based on his knowledge, could have given vital information that might have saved the unlawful imprisonment of both Hanson and Ettridge.
This then is the man who will figure prominently in the Whiteside v Smyth case as we progress further into the history of the over-turned will of 1 December 1999.