August 26, 2003


Our society is collapsing. People are actually daring to talk about legal issues:

One of Victoria's most senior legal figures has accused Prime Minister John Howard and senior ministers of eroding public faith in the justice system by criticising Pauline Hanson's jail sentence.

Crown counsel Peter Sallmann said the spectacle of politicians publicly critiquing the outcome was damaging to the legal process.

"I find it quite extraordinary, and no less disturbing, that senior politicians, including the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, have been expressing views about the sentence," he wrote in a letter to The Age.

"Apart from the fact that these expressions of opinion from politicians seem so unnecessary and irrelevant, they are potentially damaging to the judicial branch of government and therefore to our system of government as a whole."

Extraordinary that The Age -- a newspaper, and thus nominally interested in freedom of speech -- should be so approving of Sallman’s anti-debate nonsense. Note the Tandberg cartoon in the linked article depicting a judge-menacing John Howard. What exactly were the seditious, society-smashing words the Prime Minister used?

But if you ask me - like many other people I find the sentence certainly very long and very severe.

And that’s about it. Trembly Sallman finds this “disturbing”. He should get out more often. In other Hanson news, Tony Abbott faces a PR crisis over his involvement in bringing down the One Nation leader -- although it’s interesting that the primary attack on Hanson came from the Right rather than the Left, which accused the government of not doing enough to stop Hanson’s rise -- and Bronwyn Bishop (obviously a Slatts reader) has described Pauline as a “political prisoner”. At the risk of futher destroying all trust in everything, Paul Sheehan calibrates the Hanson sentence:

... twice as heinous as armed robbery, three times worse than robbery with violence, and six times worse than child molesting.

His expressions of opinion seem unnecessary and irrelevant and are potentially damaging to the judicial branch of government. For the good of democracy, everybody please stop discussing stuff.

Posted by Tim Blair at August 26, 2003 05:17 AM

Tony Abbott actually set up Australians for Honest Politicians "WOW" The Liberal,Labor and others cannot talk honestly about immigration without resorting to name calling.

Posted by: Jim at August 26, 2003 at 06:49 AM

Oh, pu-leeeese...

Hanson? Who dat? Some local?

Posted by: mojo at August 26, 2003 at 07:18 AM

Here is my impersonation of Andy Kaufmann impersonating me shouting "Get your laws off MY body!" with my super-special Ashcroft Gag (TM), that I got in my box of Fascist-O's, tied across my mouth:


Thank you very much.

Posted by: Tongue Boy aka Ashcroft's Count of Monte Cristo at August 26, 2003 at 08:08 AM

What's a Workplace Relations Minister? Sounds both religious and salacious.

Posted by: ed at August 26, 2003 at 08:51 AM

Actually, not expressing opinions is at the very heart of our democratic traditions. I believe it was John Stuart Mill in "On Liberty" that said, "Shut up!"

Posted by: scott h. at August 26, 2003 at 10:06 AM

I particularly like the disingenuous weasels all hiding behind a jury verdict (Hi Beattie!). I don't think anyone has problems with the verdict, just the sentence. Last time I looked, juries don't get to set sentences. That's an field of incompetence which apparently requires decades of training.

BTW, it's terrifies me that I'm old enough to remember when Tandberg was funny.

Posted by: Craig Mc at August 26, 2003 at 10:09 AM

Funny how nobody whinged about the pollies who expressed concern about justice-undermining labor magistrate di fingleton, now doing a whole six months in low security after threatening a fellow magistrate who dared to give evidence against her. Sheehan should have made that comparison.

High judicial official perverts justice - six months in jail and left-wingers complaining about the injustice of it and how the boys club conspired to do her in.

Stupid fascist politican registers a political party with a structure allowing control by a triumvirate - 3 years hard with bonus lesbo sex.

It's not hard to see that fingleton was the greater threat to society.

Posted by: PJ at August 26, 2003 at 10:12 AM

From the SMH "Mrs Bishop declared Hanson to be Australia's first political prisoner".

What about Albert Langer, jailed for publishing a pamphlet that demonstrated a way to vote that actually does not give preference to either ALP or Coalition?

Posted by: Geoff at August 26, 2003 at 10:17 AM

Hell, I'm so cut up about it I might just put a ska band together and release a protest song.

"Twenty-one hours in captivity
Are you so blind that you can not see..."

Posted by: Alex Hidell at August 26, 2003 at 11:19 AM

The ABC wants it both ways, as usual. From last night's PM:

CATHERINE MCGRATH: If Tony Abbott is right in claiming that all the work he did was off his own bat then he'll need to provide further details to support his position. If not, those One Nation supporters who claim Pauline Hanson's downfall is part of a wider conspiracy will continue to claim that darker forces were working against her.

Dark forces working against her? The Government? Which allegedly never did enough to stop her in the first place?

(Craig Mc: I'm also old enough to remember when Tandberg was funny.

And he never was.)

Posted by: ilibcc at August 26, 2003 at 11:23 AM


It's the One Nation supporters who "claim that darker forces were working against her".

Presumably these are not the same people claiming that the Government "allegedly never did enough to stop her in the first place".

Posted by: Geoff at August 26, 2003 at 11:48 AM

Actually, on re-reading, you do have a point. Oops.

Posted by: Geoff at August 26, 2003 at 11:49 AM

The biggest pyrrhic irony of this is that Abbott has now switched himself from being the darling of the cardigans-and-pearls right-wing Gold-Coast-retirees set -- the hero who sank the Republic referendum by warning that You Can't Trust Politicians!!!!! -- into their Number 1 villain. Now he's going to cop the same blasts of poorly-proofread vitriol (in BOLD ITALIC CAPITAL LETTERS and orange font on blue background) that Malcolm Turnbull copped five years ago. A more richly deserved fate for Abbottdeti cannot be imagined.

As for Hanson: (a) she's not very bright, (b) unlike many not-very-bright people, she's also very obstinate and unteachable -- ie, you could have had ten QCs warn her "registering your party this way breaches the Electoral Act" and she'd just reply "No, I don't think so, I can't see the difference", (c) she's not violent or a danger to society, (d) she paid back the full amount as soon as it was demanded, and (e) I have no doubt whatsoever that, had the forms her supporters signed specifically been for the One Nation PARTY, she'd have had no trouble getting 500 of them to agree.

So morally speaking, she's not guilty of fraud in that she didn't obtain a benefit (party registration) ONLY by deliberate deceit. It was a pure technicality. She could have obtained the same thing legally and honestly if only someone had gotten through to her that she _had to_ do it that way to stay out of jail.

This doesn't affect the yes/no question of her legal guilt, but it certainly should affect the type and severity of her sentence. Six months' community service with a Divorced Fathers' Group would be exquisitely apt.

Posted by: Uncle_Milk at August 26, 2003 at 11:51 AM

So let me get this whole ABC position straight. At the time when Hanson was in full flight, the PM and others were accused of not standing up to her "ignorant prejudices" and engaging in "wedge politics" (a lefty favourite) by failing to crush her democratic right to free speech. Now, when it transpires that Tony Abbott, a close PM confidante, was actively involved in trying to bring Hanson down this is somehow a right wing conspiracy to destroy democracy???

And by the way, since when is there anything wrong with reporting a crime / electoral iregularity. Had Hanson got away with it we would now no doubt be faced with ABC headlines along the lines of "PM implicated in Hanson cover-up".

I give up.

Posted by: The Logic Avenger at August 26, 2003 at 11:52 AM

BTW, that article is by Mike Seccombe who's written other hatchet-jobs on Appauline before. Wasn't Seccombe her maiden surname, eight or nine marriages ago? Anyone know if they're related?

Posted by: Uncle_Milk at August 26, 2003 at 12:11 PM

I think Abbott might have hurt his chance at becoming PM. Those hundreds of thousands of One Nation voters might not forget his involvement in a hurry.

Posted by: Mike Hunt at August 26, 2003 at 12:16 PM


That is a beatifully concise description of the situation. The Queensland Electoral Act provides `that the application for registration must be made to the Commission in a form approved by the Commission'. It must 'set out the names and addresses of 500 members of the party who are electors'.

You are right - she could have easily got 500 electors to sign up. The fact that she didn't indicates what a shambles One Nation was.

It must have been a strict liability offence - is that right?

Posted by: Alex Hidell at August 26, 2003 at 12:28 PM

It's one thing to claim that the Government did not do enough to prevent the rise of Hanson, when it is revealed that Tony Abbott was (behind the scenes) white-anting it from within.

However, where does the ABC claim that Abbott's actions are "a right wing conspiracy to destroy democracy"? That's the position of One Nation supporters, not the ABC, as far as I can tell.

Posted by: Geoff at August 26, 2003 at 12:28 PM

The main reason there is so much bleating about Pauline going in the slot from fellow politicians is that they may be subject to the same penalties when (not if) they are sprung branch stacking, fiddling electoral allowances etc; either way, it is fraud, and should earn time in the big house. A centrelink employee was recently banged up for 3 years for dudding the commonwealth of 500K, so the sentence seems about right on precedent
What none of them are saying is that the problem would not exist if they didn't receive public money for electoral "expenses"; allowing politicians access to public funds for self-promotion is akin to placing a large and hungry dog in charge of a butcher shop. (Compelete with gravy).

Posted by: Habib Bickford at August 26, 2003 at 12:29 PM

If we didn't fund their promotion they'd be totally reliant on private donations raising a different set of issues.

I just want fewer politicians full stop. A more accountable judiciary would be nice, too.

Posted by: ilibcc at August 26, 2003 at 12:56 PM

Agreed that the ABC are not specifically alleging a "right wing conspiracy to destroy democracy" but what is their point in putting the heat on Abbott? The Libs and the ALP devote enormous efforts to uncover alleged coruption in each other to further their political agendas (eg Tuckey's letter, Bolkas' raffle, Reith's family phone habits) so what is the difference in this case? Am I to assume that "Dark Forces" are constantly at work and that the next time the ALP dig up some dirt on a Government Minister the disclosure will be the result of the work of the forces of darkness? I doubt it - more likely the forces of light.

Posted by: The Logic Avenger at August 26, 2003 at 01:53 PM

I don't give a shit where they get their money from, as long as it's not my pocket; the party that I would donate to doesn't exist (yet). If there is a concern that donations will influence the bastards (as if they don't now), make them discolse every last razoo to whoever is interested. The only reason the ALP brought in the whole shemozzle in the first place was beacuase union memberships were drying up and most corporate sponsors wouldn't give them the steam off their shit.

Posted by: Habib Bickford at August 26, 2003 at 01:56 PM

Why is the ABC putting the heat on Abbott?

Because he's an even bigger hate target for them than Hanson ever was. In somewhat illogically doing so, they display their instinctive bias more glaringly than ever.

Abbott has given unions a taste of their own medicine, heavily criticised the ABC if not actually threatened it, and is a social conservative with, as a correspondent to this blog described some time ago, a Churchillian intellect.

'Dark forces' are just words the ABC reporter chose to use because it fits neatly with their characterisation of Tony Abbott and assists their campaign of 'truth-building' from supposition.

They're also shit-scared of him.

Posted by: ilibcc at August 26, 2003 at 04:26 PM

Can someone tell me the exact offence of which Hanson was convicted? I've come to this a bit late and can't find a reference any more detailed than 'electoral fraud'.

Posted by: Alex Hidell at August 26, 2003 at 04:50 PM

She and etterige used members of the "Pauline Hanson Support Group" as members to get over the required 500 financial members required to register as a party under the Qld Act, then proceeded to claim $500,000 from the Electoral Commision to what they were not entitled. Under the Commonwealth, it would be an offence under the Crimes Act, I would say "Imposition on the Commonwealth" the same charge used on public servants who knoeck off funds, welfare cheats etc.
It would be a similasr charge under the Qld Electoral Act, and by the looks of it would also be an absolute offence.
If this is the case, stupidity is not a defence, and she is rightfully banged up.

Posted by: Habib Bickford at August 26, 2003 at 05:58 PM

sorry about the spelling- I either have the 'flu, or there is a live rat in my brain.

Posted by: Habib Bickford at August 26, 2003 at 06:00 PM

That's rubbish Habib - if the had included a tick box making them members instead of supporters she wouldn't be where she is now. It was just a matter of form - a technicality.

If anybody knows the exact section I would appreciate the info.

Posted by: Alex Hidell at August 26, 2003 at 06:20 PM


She was convicted of 2 offences:

1. Dishonestly inducing the Electoral Commissioner to register a political party, an offence under the Qld Electoral Act;

2. 2 counts of Dishonestly obtaining property to the value of more than $5,000 (that is, 2 counts of Fraud with a circumstance of aggravation).

The offences are not absolute. The judge indicates in her sentencing remarks that the jury's finding of guilt constitutes a finding of actual dishonesty, ie that Hanson knew she was lying to the Commission. Stupidity might be a defence, but the jury believed she was actually dishonest.


Posted by: F at August 26, 2003 at 06:33 PM

Bearing in mind the party was already registered - and represented in parliament - nationally.

Still a complete cock-up though, but the vibe for me is not three years.

Even less three years without parole.

Posted by: ilibcc at August 26, 2003 at 06:35 PM

Here's a link to the transcript of the judge's remarks in full:

The fraud counts were under s408C of the Criminal Code of Qld (the value of the property being in excess of $5K was the circumstance of aggravation - she could have got 10yrs on each count).

I'm not familiar with the Qld Electoral Act so I don't know what section creates the first offence.

Posted by: F at August 26, 2003 at 06:45 PM

D'oh! Ill try that link again

Posted by: F at August 26, 2003 at 06:48 PM

Hmmmm interesting...if you can get that link working I'd appreciate it.

Posted by: Alex Hidell at August 26, 2003 at 07:32 PM

Every one of those souls who filled out an application form and paid their dues would have considered themselves "Members" of the One Nation Party.
Hanson probably thought the same.
Perhaps her case was badly defended or alternatively not competently run.
A Hanson history book, written by a wholly credible author, will make fascinating reading. Is there an Australian whose views are not yet corrupted? (No doubt the jury's were)
NB: The Australian media's archives will be totally unaceptable as source material for such a book.

Posted by: robd at August 26, 2003 at 07:43 PM

Yeah, right, RobD.

What documents do you propose to allow into this "wholly credible" account? (Sorry, I meant "wholly credible" account written by a "wholly credible" author". Great. The argument from authority.)

Or perhaps we should allow some tiny bit of these Australian archives in so that they can (for example) be critiqued?

You are going to make a great historian one day.

Posted by: Ferg at August 26, 2003 at 08:35 PM

Pauline perhaps is pure poison, but in considering her three-year sentence, the question should be asked: if it had not happened to be the hated Hanson, would the punishment have been so severe? Hard for me t o answer. being so far away, but you Aussies should be able to enlighten me. Intent would also seem to be key. Did she intend to defraud anyone? If not. comunity service and a stiff fine would appear to have been more fitting.

Posted by: Dave F at August 26, 2003 at 09:06 PM

Here's a link to the full text of the sentencing judgement, courtesy of A.E.Brain's blog.

Posted by: Evil Pundit at August 26, 2003 at 09:21 PM

Dave F,

A Queensland Labor Party member, Karen Ehrmann, was convicted of forging electoral enrolment forms and got six months.

A Queensland Chief Magistrate, Di Fingleton, was convicted of perverting the course of justice and got one year.

Posted by: Evil Pundit at August 26, 2003 at 09:24 PM

Just as I suspected the whole thing stinks.

Robd note this from the judgement.

"Whether or not those electors believed they were
members of the party, the jury has found that you knew they were not..."


"The advantage you received for yourselves has not been suggested by the learned Crown Prosecutor to be an advantage which benefited you personally, financially. The benefit was
that you continued to control the allocation, both of you, of the electoral funding and how the Party was run..."

They could have easily arranged the party to have maintained control and still had 500 members.

Thanks for the link Evil P.

Posted by: Alex Hidell at August 26, 2003 at 09:46 PM

Ironic, ain't it: in the same week, Mal Colston dead and la Hanson in jail. Five or six years ago, we all thought it’d be the other way around.

Look, if the Laboralcrat establishment thought this sentence would “encourager les autres” among the Hansonites to stop rocking the boat, they guessed wrong. People who congregate around the Lunar Right may be nutty, but they don't scare easily. They also aren't easily persuaded to change their opinions. Remember, Hansonites live in a world where 95% of Australians (including 99% of TRUE Australians) want to elect Pauline Prime Minister but are prevented from doing so by media bias/ rigged electoral systems/ ballot-box fraud/ court chicanery [, etc, ]. The mere fact of their losing an election in no way rebuts or refutes these beliefs. Likewise, the mere fact of Hanson losing a court case in no way rebuts or refutes her supporters’ belief that she has done nothing illegal.

But again, the _moral_ difference here? Where? "Yes, I support Pauline Hanson and will pay $50 to join her support movement, but no way in hell would I ever join her political party, and I'll see her in jail if she tries to claim that I would ..." Yeah, right. The law in this case is not an ass, but the application of it to these circumstances brays loudly.

Posted by: Uncle Milk at August 27, 2003 at 12:16 AM

Anyone who believes the Australian media to be the font of all truth and reality - especially when it comes to current affairs and political coverage - has got to be living in cloud cuckoo land. (Why is The Age dying on it's feet?)
The sources of undeniable truth are many and varied, they just don't get much of a run in today's opinionated mass media.

Posted by: robd at August 27, 2003 at 12:47 AM

Why read the biased Age, when I can read blogs that are better informed and more entertaining?

Posted by: Evil Pundit at August 27, 2003 at 02:25 AM

But blogs don't have lifestyle articles about, oh, the latest line in men's handbags.

For that you need The Age.

Posted by: pooh at August 27, 2003 at 11:45 AM

My understanding of the Supporters not being Party memebers was that that removed voting rights and kept oldfield,Paulinebaby,etridge et al in charge in a power sense.This was not Pauline's idea, too sharp , but who's idea was it?was it a set up?unlikely but useful to know the details for reference if one ever left the party eh?.power corrupts and as our two parties have absolute power ,well......or is it Murdoch with absolute power?

Posted by: aunty Marg at August 29, 2003 at 07:44 AM

Bye the way Timmy,visiting your site has just attached two data mining cookies to my computer including a Red Sherriff and I don't appreciate that.Auntie Marg

Posted by: Auntie Marg at August 29, 2003 at 07:54 AM

DEAR Tim Humbbbble apologieeeeees,was not your site that gave the attachments,soooo sorry,grovellgrovel.:0

Posted by: aunty marg at August 29, 2003 at 08:14 AM

Evil Pundit get your facts right. Karen Ehrmann served nine months of a three year sentence I should know I visited her. To let Pauline out now would be very unfair.

Posted by: Fred at August 30, 2003 at 12:55 AM

Evil Pundit get your facts right. Karen Ehrmann served nine months of a three year sentence I should know I visited her. To let Pauline out now would be very unfair. She should accept the sentence and be grateful she didn't get ten years.

Posted by: Fred at August 30, 2003 at 12:59 AM