Citizen Journalism

Archive for the ‘The Hanson Affair’ Category

The legal saga against One Nation, and legal possibilities against Abbott

In The Hanson Affair on April 18, 2013 at 2:15 PM


Margo Kingston: For people interested in the details of the One Nation court saga, the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission published a report in 2004. Here we publish its findings on Abbott’s involvement, then my 2003 Webdiary piece  on the possibilities for legal action by Hanson and Ettridge and an explanation of champerty and maintenance.

CMC Report into the prosecution of Mr Ettridge and Ms Hanson

Source: CMC Report
First publisheed January 2004

Turning to Mr Abbott’s involvement, the Commission wrote to Mr Abbott and asked for
a submission. Having initially informed us that his part in the Hanson litigation was on
the public record, Mr Abbott replied by a letter dated 25 November 2003, which
attached published material relating to his connection with the matter. The
Commission has proceeded on the assumption that the material, in so far it attributes
statements or actions to Mr Abbott, is believed by him to be substantially correct. It
follows that Mr Abbott appears to accept that he established a trust to deal with One
Nation, with funds donated by a number of people whom he named, as well as a
number whom he did not name.

Mr Abbott indicated he would not provide details of the others who made donations
to the trust without an instruction from the Australian Electoral Commission, in
accordance with a provision of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The CMC has
no authority to pursue this aspect further.

On 3 September 1998 the Australian newspaper published that the trust had about
$100,000 in funds. Mr Abbott has said, in effect, that the trust was not a Liberal Party
organisation and that his purpose was to expose One Nation as a fraud. He also
explained to the media that he had, with the funds raised, supported two separate
legal attempts to shut down One Nation, one being an application made by a Ms
Barbara Hazelton and the other proceedings brought by Mr Sharples. Mr Abbott
appears to have admitted, on one occasion, that he had given a misleading answer to
an interviewer in relation to the matter, to the effect that he had not promised Mr
Sharples money at the outset, to be paid into a solicitor’s trust account; Mr Abbott later
explained that he had taken the interviewer’s question to relate solely to Liberal Party
funds. Mr Abbott said that he had once told Mr Sharples that he had organised pro
bono lawyers that he had organised pro bono lawyers for him and that he had
‘someone’ to cover the costs should they be awarded against him.

As to the criminal proceedings, Mr Abbott denies that he had any connection
whatsoever with them.

Mr Abbott’s activities gave financial support to Mr Sharples’s successful attempt to
establish that the registration of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation was procured by fraud.
The Commission has not been supplied with any evidence to contradict the substance
of Mr Abbott’s account of these events.

It seems clear that eventually Messrs Abbott and Sharples fell out, but the Commission
does not think it necessary to discuss the details of that disagreement. Nor is any
opinion here expressed as to whether, as has been suggested, what Mr Abbott did by
promoting litigation against Ms Hanson amounted to one or both of the two civil
wrongs called maintenance and champerty. That assertion, whether or not it is legally
correct, has no connection with the question whether Ms Hanson was accorded due
process — that depends on the nature of the court proceedings in which she was
involved and whether they were instituted and conducted fairly and with due regard
to her rights. Clearly, Mr Abbott’s conduct could not amount to misconduct within the
meaning of the Crime and Misconduct Act 2001. Read the rest of this entry »

Citizen journos unite!

In AFHP, Journalism, Margo Kingston, MSM, The Hanson Affair on March 15, 2013 at 9:01 PM


By Margo Kingston
March 15, 2013
Source: Sheilas

Sarah Capper, Sheilas editor: Veteran political journalist and author Margo Kingston is back! And just in the nick of time with an election year upon us.

After some time off, Margo returned to writing at the end of last year, spurred into action when she heard Opposition leader Tony Abbott attacking the Prime Minister over the so-called ‘AWU’ slush fund. In her best-selling book ‘Not Happy John!’ (recently relaunched by Penguin as an e-book), Margo examined Tony Abbott’s own involvement in a ‘slush fund’ – with the dubiously named ‘Australians for Honest Politics’ fund that was set-up to bankroll court action against Pauline Hanson. Margo reminded readers of this with articles published on the Independent Australia website, and was then further encouraged back into writing when former Webdiarist Tony Yegles created a website under the same fantastic title of ‘Australians for Honest Politics’. Welcome back, Margo!

In terms of returning to a ‘virtual reality’, she explains:

After seven years in the real world I’m back in the virtual one until the election. Once I dabbled on twitter and realised the extent of the collapse of the mainstream media as an accountability mechanism, it was inevitable. So I have deferred the final year of my nursing degree, accepted the services of the geek who created a website, and got to work with fellow citizen journos. I’m excited to be again fulfilling my vocation, this time watching the death of the old media and playing a part in the creation of the new.

We hope to publish more of Margo Kingston over this election year and link readers to articles on her new site. In this piece for Sheilas, Margo looks at what’s been making news through Twitter over the last week – click on the links below to be redirected to articles:

On March 7, Australian Women’s Weekly editor-in-chief Helen McCabe linked this post on Twitter:

Miranda Devine on “mummy bloggers” and the PM’

I came across it on International Women’s Day. Grrrrr. It read to me like sour grapes from a columnist who had privileged access to the former Prime Minister John Howard, and was now pissed off from feeling a little, well, displaced.

Helen McCabe is an old friend – we did the road trip chasing Pauline Hanson in her 1998 election campaign – so in response, I tweeted:

Why Miranda on PM dinner, Helen? Why not run someone AT dinner? ‘mummy blogger’ sexist on IWD!‘.

Vigorous twitter talk ensued, and Helen asked for pieces – which she paid for – on why the phrase mummy blogger was not OK.

Mandy Lee wrote ‘‘Why I hate the term mummy blogger’ .

Zoe Arnold wrote ‘Why mummy bloggers are so much more than their condescending name suggests’ .

Kim Berry wrote ‘Don’t call me a mummy blogger’.

To Helen’s credit, she then used her gig on Network Ten’s The Project to put the wider world in the picture.

This is what can happen on Twitter.

I felt uncomfortable watching Tony Abbott use his sister to remake his image on Sixty Minutes.

So did Shelly Horton, Sydney party reporter for the Sunday tabloid the Sun Herald. She tweeted:

‘I don’t think Tony Abbott is a reformed woman-loving gay-accepting man. I just think he’s been media trained to be polished liar’.

Her personal opinion on the Abbott interview summed it up for so many that the original tweet was retweeted nearly 500 times. Read the rest of this entry »

In Politics, Slush Happens

In Mike Seccombe, The Hanson Affair on December 4, 2012 at 11:37 PM

By Mike Seccombe
Source: The Global Mail
November 29, 2012

26 August 2003

26 August 2003

Extract 1:

Abbott insisted the whole thing was done at his own initiative, and that neither John Howard nor anyone else in the government had been involved.

Said Abbott in our interview: “There was myself and two other trustees. We raised … it may not have been $100,000 but it was certainly close to $100,000 and the job of Australians For Honest Politics was to fund court cases against One Nation.”

He said most of the money had been spent trying, unsuccessfully, to get another One Nation defector, Hanson’s former private secretary Barbara Hazelton, to take legal action to stop the payment of $470,000 in public election funding, following the failure of similar action by Mr Sharples.

There was more to the story. You get the drift, though. And the irony, too, given that Abbott — who set up his slush fund 14 years ago — is now leading the call for the removal of Prime Minister Julia Gillard for her role in setting up a slush fund 20 years ago.

Extract 2:

Abbott’s actions 14 years ago were a manifestation of such internecine nastiness. Let us not forget that Pauline Hanson was a creation of the Liberal Party, which selected her as its candidate for the seat of Oxley in Queensland. Abbott himself was even more deeply involved; he employed the man who would later become Hanson’s Svengali, the egregious David Oldfield. (Just another of those interesting personal associations which mark Abbott’s career, like BA Santamaria, George Pell, Cory Bernardi, et al.)

Then of course the Liberal Party and Abbott got rid of Hanson and Oldfield, but adopted much of the substance of One Nation’s distasteful policies on race issues. Then they set up a slush fund to try to ruin Hanson.

Full Story at the The Global Mail.

Abbott faces questions over Hanson slush fund

In Guest Author, The Hanson Affair on December 4, 2012 at 2:10 AM

Source: The 730 Report ABC TV
26 August 2003

Kerry O'Brien

KERRY O’BRIEN: Welcome to the program.
A political furore has erupted over revelations that one of the Howard Government’s most senior ministers, Tony Abbott, set up a slush fund to pay for legal challenges to Pauline Hanson and her party, One Nation.

Despite repeated denials back in 1998, Mr Abbott last night acknowledged to the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ newspaper he’d raised almost $100,000 in an attempt to fund actions against One Nation.

While he and his colleagues were refusing to make any comment today, the admission is a setback for the Government.

It clearly suggests Mr Abbott did not tell the truth in the affair at the time, and has provoked government fears of a backlash from voters responding angrily to Pauline Hanson’s jailing.

Then, today, Mr Abbott’s stalking horse, One Nation dissident Terry Sharples, claimed that the PM was also aware of the machinations.

Heather Ewart reports.

HEATHER EWART: Pauline Hanson is wreaking political havoc once again.

The severity of her sentence handed down last week raised widespread public debate and was questioned by various politicians across all parties, from the PM down.

JOHN HOWARD, PM: Like many other people, I find the sentence certainly very long and very severe.

HEATHER EWART: But how the political wind can shift so quickly.

Now it’s turned to a desperate bid by the Liberal Party to fob off revelations today that one of John Howard’s most senior Ministers, Tony Abbott, had set up a $100,000 slush fund to ruin Pauline Hanson.

And the Labor Party is having a field day.

CRAIG EMERSON, OPPOSITION INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS SPOKESMAN: The PM has sought to gain the support of One Nation voters by expressing sympathy for Pauline Hanson and yet his senior minister was up to his neck in raising funds and disbursing funds to ensure that she was prosecuted. Read the rest of this entry »

A question of character?

In Ashby Conspiracy, Margo Kingston, The Hanson Affair on December 3, 2012 at 10:05 AM


by Margo Kingston
Source: Independent
30th November, 2012

My mouth fell open when I heard Abbott’s final flourish in Thursday’s speech denouncing Gillard as unfit for office. I remembered, suddenly, vividly, Tony Abbott’s very own slush fund. Could he too have forgotten?

It’s ancient history now, Abbott’s slush fund ― but less ancient than the slush fund now in the news. And there’s many unanswered questions about it, and him.

In 1998, Abbott privately agreed to bankroll Terry Sharples, a disaffected One Nation member, to take legal action against Pauline Hanson.

Less than 2 weeks later, he categorically denied to the ABC that he had done so, and 18 months later he repeated the lie, this time to the Sydney Morning Herald’s Deborah Snow. But when she
confronted him with his signed personal guarantee, he said that:

‘…misleading the ABC is not quite the same as misleading the Parliament as a political crime’.

He then created a slush fund he called Australians for Honest Politics and raised $100,000 for it from 12 people he declined to name. The fund began bankrolling more court actions against Hanson and her party.

And there it rested, his lies largely unknown to the public, until court proceedings by Sharples he’d helped kick-start finally resulted in her being jailed.

The overwhelming majority of Australians, like her or hate her, hated that, blamed Abbott for setting the legal wheels in motion, and wanted to know the details.

In a famous interview, Kerry O’Brien demolished Abbott’s facade of misunderstood nice and proved to a much bigger audience that he was a serial liar.

But there’s more!

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Mike Seccombe then reported that, in 1998, the Australian Electoral Commission asked Abbott to disclose his donors, as required by law.

He refused, telling the Commission that before seeking donations:

‘I spoke with one of Australia’s leading electoral lawyers who assured me that the trust would not be covered by disclosure provisions.’

The AEC took him at his word and closed the file until forced to reopen it in 2003.

Abbott had lied again! Read the rest of this entry »

Tony Abbott’s unholy dealings with the AEC

In Christian Kerr, The Hanson Affair on December 3, 2012 at 10:02 AM

By Christian Kerr
Source: Crikey
30th December 204

Has Tony Abbott been protected by some slip-shod work at the Australian Electoral Commission? Read on.

Yours truly is a friend of Margo Kingston’s, but when I reviewed Not Happy John in July I had the following to say:

“Margo pinpoints everything that’s wrong with the Howard Government – but, being Margo, wants to talk about more. Much more. Too much more.

“Eighty odd pages of brilliant polemic on matters ranging the corruption of the system supposed to protect the integrity of Australia’s electoral system downwards is obscured by 350 pages of tangents. It’s so Margo. Passionate, captivating and utterly infuriating all at once.

“Buy it and persevere. Yes, you’ll want to bin it at times. Skip some parts altogether – the Hanan Ashrawi peace prize folly chapter, definitely – but plug on. Read the damn thing.”

I don’t think Margo liked my remarks, but six months and an election later, I feel that they’re even more applicable – particularly after reading The Australian today.

Towards the end of Not Happy John there’s a fascinating chapter called “Australians for Honest Politicians”. It’s lengthy and impossible to summarise adequately here, but is perhaps the most comprehensive journalistic investigation of the campaign Tony Abbott conducted against Pauline Hanson under the Australians for Honest Politics banner. It’s also scary as all hell. And – surprise, surprise – it got completely buried by the hype and hyperbole surrounding much of the other material in the book.

The chapter makes some serious allegations about the truthfulness of Abbott’s public statements about Australian for Honest Politics.

More concerning, it also examines the legality of Abbott’s activities in his campaign against Hanson – and, remember, whatever you think of Margo, she is a lawyer by training.

Margo looked in detail at the way in which the Australian Electoral Commission – the supposed guarantor of the integrity of the way in which the elections that are fundamental to our democracy are run and the integrity and propriety of their participants – dealt with Australians for Honest Politics.

Given its subject matter, it deserved to be higher up the book. Much of its contents, alas, were obscured in Margoisms, too. The key conclusion, however, was unmistakeable. Read the rest of this entry »

Abbott set up slush fund to ruin Hanson

In Mike Seccombe, The Hanson Affair on December 3, 2012 at 9:59 AM

Abbott set up slush fund to ruin Hanson

By Mike Seccombe
Source: SMH
August 26, 2003

26 August 2003

26 August 2003

One of the Howard Government’s most senior ministers last night revealed he raised nearly $100,000 to lay the groundwork for Pauline Hanson’s prosecution for electoral fraud.

The Minister for Workplace Relations, Tony Abbott, admitted setting up a trust, Australians for Honest Politics, from donations to pay for legal actions against Hanson and her party, One Nation.

He had also organised a separate “donor” to support a One Nation dissident, Terry Sharples, in seeking an injunction to block One Nation from receiving public electoral funds.

Mr Abbott said the money was promised to cover Mr Sharples if the case failed and costs were awarded against him.

The minister organised a team of lawyers who would represent Mr Sharples without charge, and then a second team after Mr Sharples sacked the first.

Mr Abbott also acknowledged that he had at one time instructed his lawyers to offer Mr Sharples $10,000 of his own money if he would stop pursuing him for money to cover his huge court costs.

He said he had set up Australians for Honest Politics in 1998 because he believed One Nation was fraudulently registered.

Last week, Hanson and her fellow One Nation founder, David Ettridge, were jailed after the party received nearly $500,000 in electoral funding to which it was not entitled because it had been falsely registered.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, said the sentence was excessive, but Mr Abbott denied that Mr Howard or anyone else in the Government had been involved in the attempt to fund actions against One Nation.

“There was myself and two other trustees. We raised … it may not have been $100,000 but it was certainly close to $100,000 and the job of Australians For Honest Politics was to fund court cases against One Nation.” Mr Abbott did not say who contributed.

He said most of the money had been spent trying to get another One Nation defector, Hanson’s former private secretary Barbara Hazelton, to take legal action to stop the payment of $470,000 in public election funding, following the failure of similar action by Mr Sharples.

Ms Hazelton had decided not to go ahead, Mr Abbott said. “By that stage we’d spent a lot of money and the balance … was distributed back to the donors in proportion to their original contribution.”

He said his $10,000 offer to Mr Sharples was made in light of a disputed agreement between them that Mr Sharples would be covered by an open-ended indemnity for the costs of action against Hanson and One Nation.

Mr Abbott had given, in writing, “my personal guarantee to you that you will not be further out of pocket as a result of this action”.

The minister said he believed that promise covered only the $10,000 guarantee he had arranged, but Mr Sharples thought it applied to any legal action.

“Yes, I did make a commitment to Sharples and yes the commitment was to back him to the tune of $10,000,” he said last night, “that being the maximum downside that we could have expected.”

But after Mr Sharples went on with other action, incurring big bills, and the original guarantor dropped out, Mr Abbott was facing possible personal liability. Read the rest of this entry »

Honest Politics archive

In AFHP, The Hanson Affair on December 3, 2012 at 8:10 AM

Source: Margo Kingston Webdiary
Australian Financial Review
27th of April 2004, Page 8

Advice, but no action on Abbott

Mark Davis, Political correspondent

The Australian Electoral Commission received legal advice last year that it was possible Health Minister Tony Abbott breached electoral laws by failing to disclose his backing of court action against Pauline Hanson ‘s One Nation.

The Australian Government Solicitor told the AEC Mr Abbott’s promise to pay the court costs of a dissident One Nation member, Terry Sharples, might amount to a gift which should have been disclosed under the Electoral Act.

But despite this advice, provided in July last year, the AEC is yet to announce any decision on its investigation of Mr Abbott’s dealings with Mr Sharples.

The AEC has been considering whether Mr Abbott breached electoral laws by failing to disclose his backing of legal actions against Mrs Hanson by Mr Sharples and another One Nation dissident, Barbara Hazelton.

During 1998 Mr Abbott promised Mr Sharples he would not be left out of pocket if he pursued legal challenges to One Nation.

Separately, Mr Abbott established a trust fund that raised $100,000 to fund another court case against Mrs Hanson by Ms Hazelton.

The AEC has been considering two legal issues:

* Whether Mr Abbott’s promise to pay Mr Sharples’ court costs was a gift intended to benefit the Liberal Party which should have been disclosed;

* Whether Mr Abbott’s Australians for Honest Politics trust fund was an “associated entity” of the Liberal Party and was therefore required to disclose the names of its donors.

The legal advice provided by the AGS in July last year a copy of which has been obtained by The Australian Financial Review dealt with the first of these questions.

The AGS’s senior general counsel, Frank Marris, was asked to give advice based on a hypothetical payment by Mr Abbott of $20,000 towards Mr Sharples’ legal costs.

Mr Sharples claimed Mr Abbott promised to pay him $20,000 but failed to do so and then promised to ensure that Mr Sharples would not be left out of pocket from pursuing the legal action.

In the advice, Mr Marris says section 305B(2) of the Electoral Act requires a person who makes a gift to any other person with the intention of benefiting a registered political party to disclose details of the gift as if it had been made directly to
the political party.

“In terms of subsection 305(2) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, the question becomes whether the hypothetical `gift’ to [Sharples] was paid with the intention of doing good to, or being of service to a particular registered political party or State branch (e.g. the Liberal Party),” the advice says.

“If [Abbott] made the payment, I do not know what his intention would have been, but it is certainly not beyond the bounds of possibility that it was to benefit the Liberal Party by furthering the deregistration and financial embarrassment of a rival political party.”

Australian Financial Review, Thursday 22nd of July 2004, Page 4

Abbott cleared on Hanson fund

Mark Davis Political correspondent

Health Minister Tony Abbott has been cleared of allegations that he breached electoral laws by not disclosing donors to a fund to fight Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party.

The Australian Electoral Commission has concluded that Mr Abbott’s Australians for Honest Politics trust fund is not covered by disclosure requirements because it was not linked to the Liberal Party or any other political party.

The AEC also concluded that Mr Abbott was not required to disclose details of assistance he provided to a dissident One Nation member, Terry Sharples, in a court case against the fringe right-wing party.
Ms Hanson was sentenced to a jail term for electoral fraud but released after she won an appeal.

Since then the AEC has been considering two legal issues:

* Whether Mr Abbott’s Australians for Honest Politics trust fund was an “associated entity” of the Liberal Party and therefore required to disclose the names of its donors.

* Whether a promise by Mr Abbott to pay Mr Sharples’ court costs was a gift intended to benefit the Liberal Party which the minister should have disclosed.

In a statement issued this week, the AEC said it had concluded the trust was not an associated entity after reviewing new information and taking legal advice.

As part of its 12-month investigation the AEC had issued notices to officers of the trust requiring them to produce information but after an appeal by one of the officers the notices had been set aside.

The three trustees of the fund were Mr Abbott, former Labor senator John Wheeldon and former NSW Liberal MP Peter Coleman.

On the second legal issue, the AEC said it had no evidence that Mr Abbott had made any payment to Mr Sharples that would require disclosure as a gift to a registered political party.

“Accordingly, the AEC is of the view that Mr Abbott is not required to lodge a disclosure return in respect of any payment made to Mr Terry Sharples.”
Mr Sharples made a statutory declaration to the AEC that Mr Abbott had arranged to have $20,000 put into a solicitor’s trust account to help finance his legal action against One Nation.

The Australian, 30 December 2004

by Sid Maher

AN Australian Electoral Commission investigation into whether a trust fund, which bankrolled legal action against One Nation, was linked to the Liberal Party, was dropped after Health Minister Tony Abbott objected.

Documents obtained by The Australian under Freedom of Information laws show the AEC issued a demand to Mr Abbott in May requiring him to reveal the donors to Australians for Honest Politics, which backed legal action that ultimately led to the jailing of Pauline Hanson.

But Mr Abbott wrote back to the AEC on June 8, objecting to the demand and describing it as “unreasonable”. The AEC announced it had dropped the investigation in July.

Mr Abbott set up the Australians for Honest Politics in 1998 to challenge the validity of the Queensland registration of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party.

The documents show the AEC received draft legal advice in April 2004 suggesting there was sufficient evidence to issue a notice under section 316(3A) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act to require Mr Abbott to produce documents.

“It is open to an authorised officer (of the AEC) to form the belief that Mr Abbott is capable of producing documents or other things relating to the financial affairs of the trust (including the names of donors and the amounts of their donations) on the grounds that as `managing trustee’ Mr Abbott must know about, and have access to, the financial records of the trust,” the legal advice said.

Under electoral laws, a trust set up to benefit a political party can be classified as an associated entity and must lodge a return with the AEC showing its donors.

Mr Abbott has consistently refused to release the names of those who provided $100,000 to the trust. In his June letter, Mr Abbott asked the AEC to review its decision, saying it was unreasonable on two grounds: that the trust was not an entity associated with the Liberal Party; and, even if this were not accepted, it would be unfair to require disclosure of donors six years afer the trust was established, especially given the AEC had advised him in 1999 that disclosure was not required.

Mr Abbott said the fact that there may have been some indirect benefit to other political parties in a successful legal challenge to One Nation’s registration “certainly does not make the trust an associated entity”.

All that had changed “in the highly charged atmosphere after her jailing last year, was Mrs Hanson’s status from villain to victim”, Mr Abbott wrote.

A spokesman said Mr Abbott was on leave.

An AEC spokesman referred The Australian to advice on its website, posted on July 14, where it announced the trust was not an associated entity and would not be required to disclose its donors under the Electoral Act.