Things far from alright with the Right

LAST week, Pauline Hanson tightened her grip over WA’s One Nation division.

Although doing it in a seemingly ham-fisted manner, she nevertheless consolidated her already firm hold over this wealthy over-55s male-dominated group.

Just as the WA division of this largely rejectionist rightist party was to hold its Senate pre-selection, up she sprang to publicly tell the Sandgropers what she wanted.

And she made it clear that if she didn’t get her way, she’d take her marbles home by resigning from One Nation.

Her political grandstanding was designed to torpedo the bid by former Labor MHR Graeme Campbell to re-enter federal politics as a One Nation Senator.

But, despite Ms Hanson’s huffing and puffing, Mr Campbell didn’t budge.

He left his name on the pre-selection list and WA One Nation chief and new State MP, John Fischer, stated that it was the state executive that determined pre-selections, not Ms Hanson.

She then dropped her resignation threat and it seemed West Aussies had re-established supremacy in their own back yard.

But no … Ms Hanson flew into Perth and immediately launched a series of media broadsides at Mr Campbell.

Then came her expression of what may become known, if she’s not careful, as One Nation’s “führer principle”.

“I will be asking for a guarantee from Graeme Campbell that he will give me his full support to the party, the objectives and principles of the party. He will accept that I am the leader, the national president of the party, he will work as a team,” she said.

Local rightist circles are quite baffled by it all. Why had Ms Hanson targeted Mr Campbell so ardently?

The question is even more puzzling when one recalls that Mr Campbell was the only MHR not to vote for an all-party censure motion against Ms Hanson in Federal Parliament following delivery of her nationalistic maiden speech. She has other debts to Mr Campbell that she’s shoved aside.

It was he who loaned her his spin doctor staffer, now Hanson biographer, John Pasquarelli, to write that much spoken about maiden speech.

That speech, as much as Prime Minister John Howard’s ongoing attempts to discredit the one-time fish and chips shop owner, made her a national political and media celebrity, especially with over-55 males.

Three reasons are being bandied about in WA’s rightist circles as the cause of her dogged moves against a man to whom she owes so much.

Firstly, she sees him as likely to seek to topple her as leader of the fledgling rightist One Nation.

After all, he founded his own nationalistic populist party, Australia First, which closely resembled One Nation and he’s author of a book – Australia Betrayed (1995) – which spells out his, and to an extent One Nation’s, political blueprint, something Ms Hanson was incapable of.

Secondly, Mr Campbell also had aligned himself with the tiny long-time far rightist group, the League of Rights.

She objected to this at the outset of her anti-Campbell crusade, something which some interpreted as indicating she was playing to far right Lyndon La Rouche backers – another tiny maverick rightist ginger group – of One Nation, who despise the League.

Although neither reason can be discounted, both are difficult to confirm, since neither Mr Campbell nor Ms Hanson are about to disclose those cards, if indeed they hold such cards.

More likely is her long association with ex-Liberal MHR Paul Filing, who toyed with the idea of nominating for One Nation’s Senate pre-selection but, on determining Mr Campbell was likely to win, backed away.

It’s worth recalling that it was Mr Filing who sponsored Ms Hanson’s first political campai-gning trip to Perth.

Soon after, he started confidential negotiations with (then) One Nation national director and Hanson business partner, David Ettridge, to become formally associated with that party.

Correspondence between Mr Ettridge and Mr Filing that surfaced in the Perth media in July 1999 showed he was set to become One Nation’s WA agent, a type of franchising deal was being discussed.

But for reasons never explained, it was never sealed.

Soon after, One Nation began falling apart with Mr Ettridge and another early party figure and Hanson business partner, David Oldfield, parting company with her.

This was to be the pattern with all her early backers, except, interestingly, Mr Campbell.

Among those to cut their ties were close confidante and electorate staffer Barbara Hazel-ton; Ms Hanson’s original speech-writer and adviser John Pas-quarelli; and senior staffer Jeff Babb. And now we’re witness to her moves to ensure Mr Campbell goes.

At the end of her week long anti-Campbell crusade, she’d swung WA’s One Nation executive around to re-opening Senate nominations.

If Mr Filing should throw his hat into the ring and win, her hold on WA would be even tighter – as once envisaged by Mr Ettridge – opening the way for Mr Campbell to stand as an independent, thereby splitting WA’s rightist national-istic vote.

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