Malcolm Roberts and the Gold Ashbys

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Malcolm Roberts: the One Nations senator from Two Nations (Image via @Heckliar)n

In an increasingly uncertain world, it is comforting to know that Pauline Hanson's One Nation is just as laughably bumbling and bizarre as ever. Sydney bureau chief Ross Jones announces his nominees for the 2017 inaugural Gold Ashby awards.

IN A turbulent and threatening world – from Puerto Rico to Kim-Jong-un, from Bangladesh to Donald Trump (and everything in between) – it’s comforting to know some things remain predictable.

Thank-you, One Nation (PHON), for providing us with some certainty in an uncertain world.

The certainty things will go laughably pear-shaped with a regularity that assures almost constant amusement.

It can be a blessing in depressing times.

Here are three of my tips for the 2017 Gold Ashby Awards...


Malcolm Roberts has been a wonderful spectacle and I, for one, will be sad to see him ride off into the sunset. Turns out Mr Empirical has more nationalities than the dog down the road — and didn’t they each shine through during his all-too-brief senatorial career?

My favourite was the Welsh git.

But the "M Roberts Unplugged" comedy show is far from over — it still holds the promise of being a long-running series of gags consisting mainly of pratfalls and pie-in-face moments.

Malcolm attracted 77 first preference votes at the last election (who are these people — do we know their names?) But now that Mr 77 is to be dragged, forcibly via the Court, down Osiris’ dark tunnel to the political netherworld, he’s set to be replaced by Mr 19 — one Fraser Anning.

Fraser Anning got the gig because he was listed third on the One Nation ticket, after Mrs Chips herself, who scored 20,927 primary votes, and Roberts who winged 77.

FA attracted just 19 votes at the last election – fewer than a Townsville caravan park on pension day – but this desultory number of Bundy bogans has cascaded him to instant national prominence as the One Nation senator-in-waiting.

Waiting being the operative word.

On 3 October, the High Court will decide if ABL Nominees, a subsidiary of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, will succeed in bankrupting FA and his missus, Fiona. There’s a laugh right there.

If ABL get up, that’s it for FA’s political career and it’s back to general management duties for him.


But One Nation is a knot only the most fiendish scout could devise, so nothing is simple.

If Anning is found to have been bankrupt before the election then his election would have been invalid. In that case, number four on the PHON ticket would take his place.

That person is Pauline Hanson’s sister, Judy Smith. She’d become the flake to Hanson’s chips.

Or, if FA was found to have gone into bankruptcy after the election, that would result in a casual vacancy, which means One Nation would get to nominate anyone they liked for the vacant second Senate spot.

Ashby fancies himself as a backroom boy and it’s unlikely he’ll step up, but with his apparent drive to fill One Nation with ex-LNP/Liberal members – think Steve Dickson, Michael Pucci, Neil Symes et al – maybe an ex-LNP member will fill the breach.

There’s another laugh but, as usual with PHON, there is a but...

Osiris, apart from ruling the netherworld, was also in charge of resurrection and regeneration, and it is well-possible that Roberts, now he has performed his ritual renunciation, will simply be reinstated and just Carry On.


The second delightful fiasco was the long-awaited, but only recently fought, Round One of Rat vs Rat, where Rat One defeated Rat Two in a TKO without lifting a claw.

That was because Rat Two, James Ashby, the undisputed ruler of One Nation, failed to register the PHON ratpack in time for the South Australian elections.

The result was that Rat One, Cory Bernardi, along with his ratpack Australian Conservatives, had an easy win as the go-to party for deep conservatives in the submarine state.

This was not because Rat Two blundered, as alleged, but because Rattus Ashby knew there was a dirty great rat-trap waiting immediately west of Millicent, SA.

One Nation would have been humiliated at the next SA election had it run.

The Queensland heat and humidity gets to people in a different way than the alternating freezing cold and hot, dry desert winds of SA and, while both conservative populations affect Christianity, Queensland is definitely not South Australia.

Ashby’s alleged blunder was not that at all. It was submission to Cory.

And that is a dangerous position to be in.

It holds much comedic potential.


My final pick for the Golden Ashby awards is this:

To: media@aec.gov.au
One Nation aircraft - attn Evan Ekin-Smyth

I am seeking an update regarding the progress of the investigation announced in May 2017 into the Jabiru aircraft used by One Nation.

Ross Jones


Hi Ross,

With regard to your request for further information regarding the status of AEC’s investigation, in line with standard practice, the AEC does not comment on the status of matters currently under investigation.

As with any investigation the AEC must afford natural justice to all parties concerned during the course of investigation.



Isabella McCormick | Communications Officer
Media & External Communication Section | Education & Communications Branch
Australian Electoral Commission

As they say on Fantasy Island "Ze plane, ze plane!"

It may prove to be the biggest amusement of them all.

Sydney bureau chief Ross Jones is also a licensed private enquiry agent and the author of 'Ashbygate: The Plot to Destroy Australia's Speaker'. 

You can follow Ross on Twitter @RPZJones.

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