Manlygate is the title I have given to the undemocratic removal of Pauline Hanson and her political party One Nation.
My involvement is very simple. I formed the Pauline Hanson Support Movement. The movement was raided and our membership list seized. Our infrastructural paperwork was passed off as One Nation’s. This is thought to have been conducted through the offices of Steven Menagh. As a result it appears he was made a non-voting executive along with Andrew Carne of One Nation Ltd. This was a David Ettridge reward for services.
I was approached by Terry Sharples, who as a result opted to run as a candidate for One Nation. That went pear shaped and Sharples approached Hanson for reimbursement. He then sought help from me to bring a case against One Nation. He became the skirt to ride on for Tony Abbott.
The rest is history.
My initial involvement began innocently with the creation of the Pauline Hanson Support Movement. The meeting that attracted 850 people at the Albert Waterways Community Hall, October 28, 1996, was covered by national media. In a short space of six weeks our small team of three people established 39 branches, had in the vicinity of 5000 members and meagre finance, that was ploughed back to keep the movement going forward. Early in December 1996 a John Samuel from Balga just out of Perth rang me asking if I could approach Hanson to run candidates in the WA elections. Without going into details of that outcome John and I developed a rapport that became a working relationship where he became a part of the PHSM in Perth. So much so that his wife along with three others were on a ballot paper on a PHSM ticket. I understand to this day there is still money in a bank from those days. Samuel had lines of contact to two people according to him; namely a high profile engineer Harold Clough of Perth and Melbourne businessman John Elliott of Melbourne. At the time this meant absolutely nothing to me, except that I was well aware of who Elliott was. Samuel told me that he was partly instrumental with the demise of the former Premier Brian Burke, that appeared to involve the Burswood Casino and spilled over into something known as WA Inc. Once again this did not really interest me. There was another matter that Samuels related that at the time did not arouse concern, but did much later. It had to do with the Australian Democrats and in particular the former leader Cheryl Kernot. Samuel was in the process of trying through the court system to buy the name Australian Democrats. The reason was to break the stranglehold that they were creating to stifle Howard legislation in the Senate; . i.e waterfront reforms. All of this was at the time over my head. Our relationship carried on and Samuel intimated on more than one occasion that both Clough and Elliott were sympathetic to what Pauline Hanson was saying. This was Samuel’s evaluation, not mine, in fact I have never spoken with Harold Clough.
When I created the PHSM I did so with the intention of it being a ‘local support’ group here on the Gold Coast. After our meeting that was recorded by the TV channels the idea exploded. We were swamped from all over the country. We received no help from Hanson, nor did we solicit it. She arrived on Dec 23 to seek help from the committee of the PHSM to prevent me from speaking to the press, because the Movement was attracting too much attention away from her. What she failed to realise was that it was because it was associated with her name that it did so. She flew off to the USA announcing that when she came back ‘all would be revealed’.
The following day I rang the man that Samuel had informed me was sympathetic to what Hanson was saying, namely John Elliott. Now he was a not a man to tangle with and it was with a degree of trepidation that I even approached him, but I did. He was not in his office and his secretary informed me that he would ring back. I never gave the matter another thought until the phone rang in my home and a voice announced that he was John Elliott. The time 4.30pm, 23 Dec 1996. ‘Can I speak with Bruce Whiteside’? For me it was a little daunting. Elliott was in those days a very prominent Australian feared by more than one. Initially I apologised for taking up his valuable time and said in all probability he did not know who I was. His answer frankly astounded me. ‘Mr Whiteside I know precisely who you are’. After that I felt at ease. The call finished a couple of minutes before five o’clock.
My intention was to seek a possible $1000 from Mr Elliott in the light of his ‘Samuel alleged’ sympathy. This led to a discussion where Elliott told me that at that he was engaged with two financiers in Melbourne establishing a fund.’ For obvious reasons’ he went on, ‘I cannot be seen to be associated with this’. ‘I want you to understand that the money will not be there to help Hanson as such, but to clear the blockage in the Senate’. I was aghast and there followed a very pregnant silence. Elliott again. “Do you understand ...this is about the removal of the Australian Democrats’.
Those words are seared into my memory.
The fund was created to build a Senate team around Hanson. To this day I don’t believe that Hanson was even made aware of this strategy to control the Senate. The Bulletin Magazine in fact trumpeted the fact that plans were afoot. http://onenationwa.asn.au/History.html. It was about this time that the PHSM was attracting members from the Warringah Electorate. One of those was a President of the Young Liberals Wakehurst, a Steven Love who approached me about joining. I thought nothing of it and we accepted him as we had others from various political persuasions. When Greg Roberts of the SMH rang me in respect of a National member that he had been told wanted to join I casually passed the remark ‘Greg they are coming from across the political spectrum’, and went on to relate the story of Steve Love. Roberts broke the story next day and all hell broke loose. Love rang me that night telling me that he had been heavied by Tony Nutt (NSW Liberal President ...who went on to become John Howard’s personal secretary, replacing Graeme Morris) and Bronwyn Bishop a Cabinet Minister. To further add to the turmoil Pauline Hanson sent John Pasquarelli to my home with a letter telling me not to speak again to Greg Roberts. I have that letter.
It is my understanding that Love was called into the Manly Warringah office and ‘read the riot act. This was not a good image that Liberals should be seen defecting to the Hanson camp.
So we come to the development of the Hanson Senate team. Bear in mind here that Tony Abbott was always John Howard’s anointed one. Who better to bring this plan of a Hanson led Senate team together? Who better to put a barrier between the Prime Minister and this seemingly covert operation to put together a Senate team for the sole purpose of ‘clearing the blockage in the Senate’?
In the meantime the funds are building, the notion of a Hanson led Senate is touted by the Consolidated Press Holding’s prestigious Bulletin is aired, and Tony Abbott has in his office’s bosom the obscure David Oldfield, brought in ‘to keep an eye on him’.
Oldfield however had a covert operation of his own, didn’t he? From the night of September 10 1996, the night of Hanson’s maiden speech until April 11, 1997, the name David Oldfield was known to very few. In that time Hanson employed the political savvy John Pasquarelli as her advisor and when he was disposed of on the advice of Oldfield, he was replaced with a shadow advisor devised to shield Oldfield’s involvement with Hanson. His name David Thomas. This was deception, deliberate and effective.
You do not have to be an Einstein to work out that Oldfield was in this for himself. Be it Hanson, be it Abbott, nobody was going to stand in his way. There were plans afoot and he saw the marvellous opportunity to lead the Senate team that would in all likelihood control the Senate through the One Nation Party.
But after the launch of One Nation in Ipswich, where Oldfield lurked in the shadows unknown, whilst Hanson, Iris Whiteside (PHSM Secretary) and David Ettridge sat at the dinner table representing the face of One Nation, things were about to happen ...big time.
Incredibly Tony Abbott denies that he was ever aware that his staffer was engaged in nefarious dealings. Bear in mind that Ettridge and Oldfield set up an office on Manly’s Corso about 150 metres from Abbott’s own office in Sydney Road. Why would this have been necessary if everything was open and above board?
Abbott and Oldfield were both head kickers. Both were Liberal stalwarts. Both are/were very ambitious men. Suddenly the Hanson Senate team became a battle field between the two men. The idea that Oldfield was not aware of the Hanson Senate team does not gel. What does is the clash between Tony Abbott and David Oldfield. Would Oldfield go to the media and spill the beans that the Liberal party were allegedly engaged in a covert operation thus exposing John Howard and his government or would he press on thus ensuring his political career was not in jeopardy? He took a risk and counted on Hanson’s popularity to carry the day ...it went very close to succeeding.
Abbott was faced in my view with no alternative. He had to be seen as the destroyer of Hanson and what better way than to be publicly seen as doing that through One Nation. If it ever emerged that the Prime Minister was privy to a mechanism to obtain control of the Senate then the country could well face a crisis. To this end the Australians For Honest Politics came into being. The mechanism that saw issues come into play that involved barristers, solicitors,’ wronged candidates’ and at the end of it all myself, pivotal to the required documentations. It culminated in a series of Court cases, appeals and acquittals that saw Hanson destroyed, Sharples broken, myself refused access to the political trial and the Liberals coming away pure as the driven snow.
Journalist Marg Kingston’s version of events are accepted as the Bible. It commences with the arrival of the Australians For Honest Politics. I don’t have a problem with that. What I want to know is what became of the ‘fund’ that was created back in 1996 to set up the Hanson Senate team? Why was this never investigated? Why was the question of that fund not linked to the ‘so called Australians For Honest Politics’. Was it too hard or was it like the Hanson trial itself fraught with political interference?
Try as I might nobody would listen. The media have shunned me as though I am a leper
In 2003 the ABC Today Program put my story to air. It lasted one airing and was buried immediately. When asked about my ‘claims’, John Elliott denied them. ‘Mr Whiteside rang me asking seeking to become a Liberal Party member’.
Why would an old age pensioner ring one of the most powerful Liberals in the country to seek membership when he had and has never voted Liberal or Coalition in his life and furthermore if that were the truth then he only had to call at the local office? Furthermore why would it take nearly half an hour to ask to become a member?
No, it was far easier to walk over people who challenged the system as happened with Pauline Hanson, as happened with Terry Sharples and happened with the writer which begs the question; If democracy in all its forms is to survive then shouldn’t the truth be sought even if it fells giants in its path? Apparently not. Those with the power, those with the money, those with the right connections can afford to employ the solicitors and the barristers to bend the truth and dispense with the natural justice. The system demands nothing less for without it governments might fall and the chosen will not go on to become prime ministers.