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Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party

It seems Pauline Hanson has learnt little since she first burst onto the Australian political scene in 1996.

She has a universally recognised name "One Nation", yet she still insists that the Party must carry her personal name.  Pure ego.

The Australian Electoral Commission provides very clear guidelines for what is required to register a political Party for electoral funding in Australia, but she still seemingly cannot follow those simple instructions.  Incomprehensible.

Twenty years ago she was given a proposal for a democratic Constitution by some of her most dedicated supporters in Queensland, but she had the author expelled for "disloyalty".  That Constitution set out a structure that was transparent and accountable to the membership of the Party.  It met all the requirements of the AEC, and more.  It empowered the membership, giving everyone a way to contribute through a stable, democratic structure that the members were asking for.  Pauline is still insisting that she runs the Party and everything must be done her way.

Twenty years ago, members knew that they needed to find the right candidates to be successful against the "major Parties", but Pauline still has no workable system of finding, coaching and empowering candidates.  Pathetic.

The blind followers are screaming "Unfair!"  They are convinced the other Parties are cheating or rorting the system, but, really, when will you listen, Pauline??  For the second time, you have given your enemies everything they need to attack you through the system itself.  You have the country begging for something better, but you have fallen into the trap again.  You cannot do it outside of the rules.  And you cannot do it without the support and contribution of thousands of Aussies.

Having watched Pauline from before her first election as the Member for Oxley in 1996, nothing has changed.  She listens to the wrong advisors, she is filled with her own ego, and she does not understand how the political system works so she can use it successfully to build a long-term, stable, political alternative.

The article below from investigative journalist Tom Ravlic tells the story pretty well.

29 April 2017


Issue #154 April 29 – May 5, 2017

"As Pauline Hanson wrests control of One Nation’s state branches, the newly incorporated party faces deregistration due to breaches of electoral guidelines"

Tom Ravlic, investigative journalist and specialist in business regulation


 

Exclusive:  One Nation breaks electoral rules

One Nation risks deregistration in Queensland following the failure of Pauline Hanson to advise the Electoral Commission of Queensland about a botched incorporation that has left it with a noncompliant constitution. The party secretly switched legal structures last November without telling members, using a draconian clause in its superseded governance rules that allowed One Nation state executive members to do whatever they chose without question. Former insiders have said a principal purpose for the incorporation was to put in place a corporate veil so the entity rather than members of the executive would be the subject of legal action.

The method of incorporation and the failure to consult is consistent with a trend of centralising all of One Nation’s power in Queensland, which has in the past been illustrated by attempts to close branches across the country through the use of proxies to forcibly remove “troublesome” state leaders, attempts to close bank accounts over which the One Nation national committee had no authority, and the initiation of complaints to police to intimidate a sub-branch in the Northern Territory.

At the same time, the party neglected to observe mandatory rules contained in Commonwealth and Queensland electoral laws, which must be included in its constitution for One Nation to be a political party with legal standing. Breaches of provisions that specify which clauses must appear for a constitution to be compliant under law are grounds for the cancellation of a party’s registration under Section 78 of Queensland’s Electoral Act.

Neither Senator Hanson nor the deputy registered officer – party treasurer and Hanson’s brother-in-law Greg Smith – informed the electoral commission of the changes in legal structure of the entity. There were two reporting deadlines missed by One Nation – notification of the changes should have been delivered seven days after December 31 and March 31. 

A letter from the national committee of One Nation requested the account be frozen. It sought to have the funds transferred from WA to the national division.

News of One Nation’s constitutional high-jinks follows revelations over the past six months related to the party’s preselection and disendorsement processes during the West Australian election, questions about its compliance with goods and services tax legislation, and doubts about the donation and declaration of an aeroplane to Pauline Hanson for campaigning purposes.

It also follows a network-wide ban of the ABC, announced in a Facebook video posted by Hanson after the April 3 airing of a Four Corners report that highlighted a range of issues faced by One Nation. The program, criticised by Hanson and her colleagues as a media “stitch-up”, has resulted in a formal investigation by the Australian Electoral Commission, related to the donation of the two-seater plane.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation is the business name of One Nation Queensland Division Incorporated, which was an unincorporated association since it registered on January 23, 2001. That changed last year when the entity was incorporated with the same ABN. 

The entity is regarded as the same for tax purposes and the name of the unincorporated body has transitioned into the incorporated form.

There is also another business name that is attached to the ABN. One Nation is getting ready for a Tasmanian foray and it has a business name, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation – Tasmania, ready for use when the party secures registration in the state.

Documents obtained from Queensland’s Office of Fair Trading state that the incorporation of One Nation Queensland Division is effective from November 16, 2016, and that the association had adopted the model rules rather than develop their own.

While the incorporation was effective from November last year the party updated its online ABN Lookup entry for the change in its entity name much later. The party updated its ABN Lookup entry to reflect the change in registered name, and the entry now states that the name change was registered on February 28.

The model rules, which a committee of a group can adopt with the tick of a box online, are compliant with the associations’ legislation in Queensland but they are not designed for groups that have a broader purpose than running a club or society.

Political parties, for example, can use the model rules as a base to ensure compliance with the state-based legislation but they must also amend the model rules to accommodate the requirements of the electoral commissions in the jurisdictions in which they want to stand candidates.

Queensland’s Greens are incorporated under the same state law legislation and they have built in to their constitution the relevant clauses or rules of association to ensure that they comply with electoral regulation. This includes the objective to endorse and run candidates for election to the Legislative Assembly in Queensland, which is one of several required clauses in Queensland law. 

One Nation Queensland Division does not have the objective of running candidates in the latest iteration of its foundation governance document. All that its two-page association rules disclosure states is that it has the objective to “operate a political party” and any new members, who must be 18 years of age or over, have to support just one association objective: operate a political party. 

No policies or other objectives such as those reflected on the One Nation website or the previous constitution appear in the form filled in by the party and obtained from the Office of Fair Trading.

The total page count for their current governance blueprint as regulated by the Office of Fair Trading is 16 pages: two pages of minor filling in of blanks and 14 pages of a set of basic unamended model rules. One Nation’s previous compliant constitution was 49 pages long.

A similar issue was encountered by One Nation in 1997 when there was an application to register the party in Queensland. The party first lodged an application that had the same words as the one prepared for the national electoral commission, which only referred to the Commonwealth parliament.

No mention was made in that instance to the state parliament and an amendment was necessary for the paperwork – including the constitution – to be compliant.

The model rules adopted by One Nation last November also fail to include the following prescribed clauses as specified in Section 76(1) of Queensland’s electoral act: a rule prohibiting a person from becoming a member of the party if the person has been convicted of a disqualifying electoral offence within 10 years before the person applies to become a member; a rule prohibiting a person from continuing as a member of the party if the person is convicted of a disqualifying electoral offence; a statement about how the party manages its internal affairs such as the formal party structure and processes for dispute resolution; a rule or rules for the selection of a candidate to be endorsed by the party for an election or an election for a local government; and, rules requiring that preselection ballots must satisfy the general principles of free and democratic elections.

Section 76(2) of the legislation lists a range of features of democratic elections as applied to a preselection ballot.

That the absence of critical clauses in the association’s rules jeopardises the party’s registration is one thing, but the secrecy under which this incorporation has been shrouded is another. The only official word from the party on matters of communication is on its website, where it describes as a member benefit a “quarterly Member’s Newsletter from Pauline Hanson which will inform you about what’s been happening in the party”.

Other observers are more forthcoming about the lack of news on the legal morphing of the party.

Elise Cottam, a disendorsed candidate and former member of the Queensland state executive, says she received nothing as a member at or after the time the entity was incorporated. 

“Absolutely not. There was no information, no emails, no phone calls. There was nothing to let us know that there was a change in the organisations,” Cottam says.

“It doesn’t surprise me. I registered to be a member back in March 2016 and it took them eight weeks to get me my membership card. There’s been no member communication of any kind flagging the change to the party. Its more than six months since the last newsletter and there have been no annual general meetings.”

Former One Nation national secretary Saraya Beric, who was also responsible for getting newsletters out to party members on a quarterly basis, confirmed that there has been no communication to members about the incorporation.

Beric resigned from the executive of the party on October 13, 2016, and said there was no communication received by her in her capacity as a member of One Nation about the incorporation of the party under state law.

“Following my resignation all I got was a generic Christmas card and two phone calls from One Nation requesting assistance,” Beric, also the subject of vilification and slander by party officials following her departure, said.

“I am still receiving calls from party members who have not received any formal communication – not all party members use Facebook.”

Failure to communicate the change in structure to members of the party also makes it difficult for the party to know its legal membership numbers. Clause 6 of the model rules provides for an automatic transfer of membership from the unincorporated association to the incorporated association, provided One Nation gets written consent from a member for this to take place. 

No request for written consent for an automatic transfer from the old to the new had been received by members of One Nation who have spoken to The Saturday Paper.

A shroud of secrecy is yet to be lifted on the form of the party’s West Australian constitution that was lodged with the Western Australian Electoral Commission. While the party had become registered late last year in Western Australia, members of the organisation did not receive a copy of the rules to which they were entitled once that had joined the party.

Questions sent to One Nation by The Saturday Paper asking the party why neither members nor candidates were given the rules of the organisation when they joined remain unanswered. Former WA candidate Sandy Baraiolo is still feeling underwhelmed by the manner in which the party treated its membership and candidates during the state election.

She requested a copy of the constitution from the party to understand what responsibilities and rights she had as a member. No copy was forthcoming. 

“I am yet to receive a response to an email sent to One Nation requesting further information about what has happened in relation to my membership, as I had joined earlier on in the year and don’t have my membership number,” Baraiolo says.

Baraiolo is a relative newcomer to One Nation’s culture of secrecy. In previous years it has resulted in attempts to initiate a police investigation to intimidate a sub-branch in the Northern Territory and attempts to close the bank account of One Nation WA Inc in 2012 following a falling out between the national committee and the WA entity’s office-bearers.

A letter from the national committee of One Nation to the bank requested the account be frozen. It sought to use One Nation’s trademark to have the funds transferred from WA to the national division.

“Moved and carried at a national teleconference on the 19th September 2012, that the abovementioned division is no longer constitutionally supported and therefore is closed,” the letter said. “Any signatory officers registered with you are to be struck off.”

The bank did not comply with the request as it was not satisfied the national division had the authority to make it.

The current turn of events does not surprise Monash University academic and long-time One Nation watcher Zareh Ghazarian. He says that the party follows a model of small right-of-centre political organisations where it is all about the leader with little membership input. 

Ghazarian also notes that organisations like One Nation will have the leader involved in every element of decision-making often to the exclusion of the rank-and-file members.

“They don’t trust anyone,” says Ghazarian. “They don’t trust the members.”

 


This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on 29 April 2017 as "Exclusive: One Nation breaks electoral rules".

FROM:  https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2017/04/29/exclusive-one-nation-breaks-electoral-rules/14933880004569