The Perils of Pauline (Continued)II

It was certainly spectacular. Just as dusk fell in Brisbane last night, Pauline Hanson and David Ettridge walked free from their respective prisons, acquitted of the fraud charges that had incarcerated them 11 weeks previously. Hanson looked thinner, a bit vulnerable (not surprisingly) and sounded disappointingly upbeat about the quality of her fellow inmates – at least as far as the massed media was concerned. Not a single retributive punch-up to report. Just empathy, caring and understanding. Mark Latham’s observation – that she’d called for harsher sentences and now she was getting one – was sounding a bit tinny in retrospect.

The appeal court judgment whacked the DPP, defence counsel and – oddly – a range of named right wing pollies – for criticising the severity of the sentence that their Honours had just seen fit to overturn. Justice McMurdo opined that these worthies risked damaging the integrity of the appellate process by so doing. However, one might have reasonably concluded that Her Honour was rather missing the point: they seem to have been vindicated to some extent . Judge Patsy Wolfe (who sentenced Hanson and Ettridge) wasn’t.

Things got a little surreal later when Margo Kingston and David Oldfield were interviewed about Hanson on Lateline. Margo continued her bizarre campaign to reinvent Hanson as some sort of heroine of the Left while Oldfield was….well…Oldfield. With “supporters” like these two emerging, Pauline might have been forgiven for a moment’s reflection on the merits of remaining inside.

Pauline herself singled out Alan Jones and Bronwyn – “she’s a political prisoner” – Bishop for special mention. Justice McMurdo also mentioned Bronwyn but in less flattering terms.

What happens next? Book and magazine deals I suspect. Politics? What do you think?

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kez
kez
2022 years ago

one judge sends them to jail, the other judge sets them free..

politics indeed..

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

Dunno about anyone else, but I thought the judges’ comments about people who’d criticised the sentence were outrageous.

I can’t distinguish any principle behind what they said other than that they believe that the judiciary should be immune from criticism. To which, the only sensible response from the citizenry is “go f*ck yourself!”

If they really thought that there was a danger in the politicians’ comments “influencing the judicial process”, why did they not single out for criticism those who publicly supported the verdict, who could equally (and equally foolishly) have been said to be attempting to influence the court to uphold the sentence?

And as Geoff points out, given that the judges themselves obviously thought that the result the first time around was wrong, to criticise those who said so publicly at the time is just bizarre. Were they afraid that if they didn’t make this admonishment, people would think that they were bowing to public opinion?

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Interesting that Mrs Hanson has found a new empathy with prisoners, how they have been failed by the system, etc.

I suppose it would be unkind of someone to dig up her old speeches on the topic. While I don’t remember what she said, I’ll bet she waxed lyrical [well, as lyrical as she was capable of] about the luxurious country club conditions that prisoners enjoy, courtesy of the long suffering taxpayer, blah blah blah (and of course how more law breakers should be sent to jail, for longer periods of time …)

The old cliche about a conservative being a liberal who has been mugged by reality appears to have been turned on its head. (And no, I am not joining Margo’s bandwagon.)

Hanson, at the height of her powers, was not only ignorant (about everything), she wore her igmorance as a badge of honour, and this attracted similarly wilfully ignorant people to her cause. If a few months in jail has taught her that she her home-spun prejudices have no basis in reality, then well and good.

As for Howard and the rest commenting on her sentences, the judges were right. Howard didn’t give a toss about whether the sentence was too harsh, he was just using the criminal justice system as an instrument to play dog whistle politics. That’s what the appeal judges were objecting to, and they are 100% justified.

Murph
2022 years ago

Mork,

Gotta agree with you there. It’s about time that judges be accountable for shitty decisions.

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

Dave – the judges aren’t in a postion to know Howard’s motives, and it’s not their role to offer their opinion. They’re judges, not political commentators.

It would be one thing for a judge to correct a factually erroneous statement about the case, or even to defend the merits of a judgment, but to criticise the very act of commenting on a decision is way beyond the pale.

If judges don’t like their judgments being publicly discussed, they should get another job, or find a totalitarian state where judges are beyond criticism.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“As for Howard and the rest commenting on her sentences, the judges were right. Howard didn’t give a toss about whether the sentence was too harsh, he was just using the criminal justice system as an instrument to play dog whistle politics. That’s what the appeal judges were objecting to, and they are 100% justified.'”

No, that’s what you’re objecting to Dave. The judges didn’t have anything to say about “dog whistle politics,’ just the horrific and scandalous idea that the administration of justice might be subject to political comment. A truly shocking notion.

All Howard said was that he thought the original sentence looked a bit excessive. So did Bob Carr.
They were right as it turns out.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Murph, what do you mean by making judges “accountable”? Do you think they should put themselves up for election and re-election, as in the United States? There could be no surer way to get bad judgments – bad in terms of the law, that is.

But judges are already accountable, to higher courts. Judges hate having their judgments overturned on appeal. Only High Court judges aren’t accountable in this way. And there is a fail safe mechanism with the High Court, too. A single “shitty'” opinion will not get majority support.

Mork, Howard’s motives are so transparent, Stevie Wonder could see them. Judges don’t mind their judgments being criticised, even by politicians. It happens all the time. What they do mind is seeing the judicial system being used as a plaything by politicans who are motivated by the desire to stir up the lumpenproleteriat, as was plainly the case here.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

How is observing that the sentence looked a bit rough – a view which most federal politicians, regardless of party, seemed to share – “stirring up the lumpenproletariat.”?

Whatever you think of Hanson’s politics, she clearly didn’t merit the legal penalty dished out to her. Most people had formed that conclusion well before the Queensland Court of Appeal got around to acknowledging it. If anyone is guilty of “stirring up the lumpenproletariat” in this instance it’s the Queensland DPP and judiciary.

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

What they do mind is seeing the judicial system being used as a plaything by politicans who are motivated by the desire to stir up the lumpenproleteriat, as was plainly the case here.

Dave, in an extreme case, I might have some qualified sympathy for that view (I can think of specific criticisms of the high court in recent years that made me feel a little uncomfortable).

But whether his motives were malign or not, what Howard said in this instance was indistinguishable from the response of a person who had reached a reasoned view that the sentence was excessive, and responded honestly (and moderately) to a question when asked.

A judge simply has no place objecting to that sort of comment.

Murph
2022 years ago

Dave

The overturning of decisions does not make the judiciary accountable. It only makes their decisions accountable. There needs to be a mechanism by which judges are queried as to their motives in their decision making. The nature of their decision making should be accountable to other members of the judiciary, though not the parliament.

BTW, Patsy Wolfe is an ALP hack and probably salivated at the prospect of making herself a hero of the Left by throwing the book at St Pauline. I have no doubt that she let her politics get in the way.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Geoff, the Queensland Court of Appeal did not acknowledge that the penalty dished out to Hansen was too harsh, even though she was guilty, which is what Howard was banging on about. The Court of Appeal found that Hansen was not guilty of the crime. That is a completely different matter.

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

Well, Dave, if they thought she was innocent, does it not go without saying that they also thought that the sentence was too harsh?

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“Geoff, the Queensland Court of Appeal did not acknowledge that the penalty dished out to Hansen was too harsh, even though she was guilty, which is what Howard was banging on about. The Court of Appeal found that Hansen was not guilty of the crime. That is a completely different matter.”

Dave, far be it from me to point out the blindingly obvious – not being guilty of a crime would seem, on any fair-minded analysis, to render being penalised for it, harsh.

I couldn’t agree with you more on the general principle that pollies and criminal sentencing can be a toxic combo. However, in this particular instance, her Honour’s spray at politician culpability stacks up pretty unsatisfactorily with the less than impressive legal and judicial performance that lies at the heart of the matter.

She may not have meant it to be read as such, but McMurdo’s blast looks like a pompous re-ordering of accountability priorities. It was ill-judged and poorly-timed.

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2022 years ago

Geoff, for the record I commented on this matter yeaterday in the original “Perils of Pauline” thread, and I am repeating it here:

It’s taken two and a half months but Pauline Hanson and David Ettridge have at last been released from jail.

On reading the The Queensland Court of Appeal’s reasons, it’s apparent that a monstrous injustice has been perpetrated. It was certainly no technicality that got them off. The 500 members of the “Support Group” were clearly members of the One Nation party. Paragraphs 14 and 15 of the Appeal reasons demonstrate this with no room for dispute.

Acquittal was the only available verdict. Nevertheless serious questions remain about the corrupt (not too harsh a word) administration of justice in this country.

First of all it’s manifestly unjust that a convicted person is forced to begin a custodial sentence before the conclusion of judicial processes including appeals, even where (as in this case) absconding was not an issue. The timing of this appeal appears to have been accelerated because of the intense public interest, but it is conceivable that a convicted person could actually complete a prison sentence before an absolving appeal verdict can be brought down. In this case two and a half months have been served, an immensely long time for anyone unused to prison. Just the appearance of Pauline Hanson in tonight’s news was shocking.

For all the unavoidable correctness of this verdict, reading the judgement highlights to this laymen a disgustingly smug, self-satisfied attitude in the judges.

Everyone gets a serve, including prosecutors (deserved), the appellants for not having more qualified lawyers (paragraph 40) – a classic case of blaming the victim! – politicians for daring to speak (paragraphs 51 to 59) the obvious truth about the harshness of the sentences (the severity of which the judges excused themselves from considering because it was “unnecessary”. Less necessary apparently than Justice McMurdo’s self-indulgent swipe at John Howard, Bronwyn Bishop, Bob Carr, Frank Hough and Bill Flynn.

This case speaks volumes about the incompetence of high-level practitioners of a profession that is so busy making judgement on the judge-defined negligence of practitioners of other professions, particularly doctors. But not one word of criticism against the trial judge (a fellow practitioner, of course) in this verdict except as implied by allowing the appeal.

I do believe in the Rule of Law. The main problem with it in this country is not the concept, but the practitioners.

Robert
2022 years ago

All Howard said was that he thought the original sentence looked a bit excessive. So did Bob Carr.

They were right as it turns out.

No, as a matter of fact they weren’t. The judgment did not address the suitability of the sentence (by all accounts it was at pains to avoid doing so), but found that the evidence did not support a conviction. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that if the evidence had been better, the sentence would stand.

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

Would a magnifying glass help you split that hair a little finer, Robert?

Presumably if the evidence had been “better” (by which I assume you mean “incriminating”) she would have deserved some sort of criminal sanction.

Robert
2022 years ago

Sorry. “Better” was not the best choice of word.

But it’s not splitting hairs, Mork, it’s the way things work. First you decide whether somebody is guilty, then you decide what penalty they deserve. They are two separate issues. If they are subsequently proved innocent, that doesn’t mean the penalty was too harsh for the crime, it means the crime wasn’t committed. The penalty is attached to the crime, not the person who committed it.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“The judgment did not address the suitability of the sentence (by all accounts it was at pains to avoid doing so), but found that the evidence did not support a conviction.”

Exactly. So any sentence must, by definition, be harsh in the circumstances. You might be right about “better evidence” Robert, but it’s never going to be tested. I know this, you know this, so does Justice McMurdo.

Howard and Carr observed that the sentence looked excessive for what she was alleged to have done. It was. It subsequently turns out that the Queensland Court of Criminal Appeal doesn’t believe she’s guilty of anything, on the facts presented. It seems to me that in those circumstances, judicial outrage at pollie complaints about the severity of the original sentence looks ill-advised , to say the least.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Geoff, you are wrong. What Howard effectively said was: “Even though she did it, she shouldn’t have gone to jail. The punishment did not fit the crime”. Hanson had been found guilty, and it was no longer a matter of something she “allegedly” did. The allegation has been proved.

The Appeal Court said: “There was no crime”. It did not say that the Judge Wolfe made the wrong sentencing decision in the circumstances in which a decision had to be made, which was that Hanson had been found guilty.

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2022 years ago

“The penalty is attached to the crime, not the person who committed it.”

This is nonsense. A penalty relates to both. All sorts of considerations about the person are taken into account in the sentencing process, including remorse, previous record, whether he or she pleaded quilty and a number of other mitigating factors.

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

… and the severity of the offence!

Robert
2022 years ago

A fair point, Ron.

But as Pauline Hanson did not plead guilty or show remorse (for now-obvious reasons), the trial judge was right to give her a stiff penalty. There is a difference between a trial judge overruling a jury’s decision and an appeals court doing so. Due process was followed, and the sentence was in the circumstances reasonable.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Geoff, you are wrong. What Howard effectively said was: “Even though she did it, she shouldn’t have gone to jail. The punishment did not fit the crime”

For the record Dave, what Howard ACTUALLY said was that the sentence seemed very long. I thought so too.

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

I’m sure it’s merely coincidence, not anything contagious; but at the risk of alarming Rob, I’ve now agreed [in general terms] with him three times in a week. It’s good to see Rob mellowing. I’m not detecting a great deal of mellowing among most of the rest of you though, so try to take a leaf out of his book — but only from this week’s book, mind you.

Niall
2022 years ago

sounded disappointingly upbeat about the quality of her fellow inmates… now there’s an all-encompassing and knowledgeable statement on human nature.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“Due process was followed, and the sentence was in the circumstances reasonable.’

Except that the majority of punters thought otherwise. Their gut feel was that it didn’t add up. They were – it turns out – right. Those who thought otherwise, wrong. And attempts to blame the whole thing on Howard, in the final instance, just look ineffably tragic.

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2022 years ago

“Due process was followed”. Certainly a process was followed but to call it “due” process is an abuse of language. The truth is that the process was faulty because of the gross negligence of Patsy Wolfe. If she was that negligent in the practice of any other profession she’d have had her arse sued off.

As for blaming Hanson and Ettridge for using inadequately experienced counsel (in Ettridge’s case, himself), this is nothing but a great cop-out by the appeal judges. The trial judge is supposed to be highly qualified and she should have exposed the deficiencies in the evidence in directing the jury.

It’s disgusting that McMurdo should criticise all and sundry yet leave his fellow judge unscathed (except for the implicit criticism in allowing the appeal).

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“sounded disappointingly upbeat about the quality of her fellow inmates… now there’s an all-encompassing and knowledgeable statement on human nature.’

Well….it was more irony, Niall. But…you know…

mark
2022 years ago

What Rob said (and Norman! Crikey!).

Mork: personally I see nothing wrong with citizenry criticising judges, but politicians are a different matter. It’s the legislature attacking the judiciary, which should not be happening — one arm of government taking on another. There’s a difference between keeping each other in line and publicly being at odds.

Imagine a judge saying “this is a bloody stupid law, I will not enforce it.”

craig
craig
2022 years ago

The court is right, it is never acceptable for government to criticise the judiciary.

I find it more disturbing that they seem to be of the opinion that unless you have the money to spend on top legal representation you can’t expect justice.

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2022 years ago

Imagine a judge saying “this is a bloody stupid law, I will not enforce it.”

Judges do in fact say “this is a stupid law” quite often. Of course they still enforce it, but are you seriously trying to draw an analogy of a judge refusing to enforce a law with the mild comments of John Howard and Bob Carr. Surely not, Craig! That’s just bloody ridiculous.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

*The truth is that the process was faulty because of the gross negligence of Patsy Wolfe. If she was that negligent in the practice of any other profession she’d have had her arse sued off.*

Ron, come off it. It’s not as though Wolfe’s was the only judgment that has ever been overturned on appeal.

All we know is the Queensland Appeal Court said Wolfe made an error. If the DPP appealed to the High Court, it might reverse the Appeal Court’s findings. The High Court often reverses the findings of appeals courts which have reversed the findings of a trial judge.

As for the alleged inadequacies of Australian judges: compared to who? Think about the Lord Chief Justice in the UK who allowed the convictions of the Birmingham Six to stand, even though he knew they were convicted on manufactured police evidence, because to quash the convictions for that reason would have damaged public confidence in the British legal system!

Is it your opinion that the Australian judicial system, criminal and civil, is riddled with miscarriages of justice? If so, yours is very much a minority view.

craig
craig
2022 years ago

I am not drawing an analogy with anything. Government should never publically comment on court decisions. Where do you draw the line?

Best leave it out.

Judges do on occasion disagree with the strict letter of the law, but the law is the law.

Zoot
Zoot
2022 years ago

What’s the consensus on Tony Abbot’s culpability in the wrongful jailing of Ms H? Is there a chance he might be convicted?

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2022 years ago

“Government should never publically comment on court decisions. Where do you draw the line?”

This is simply your own dogmatic opinion. I strongly disagree. There is absolutely nothing implied in the principles of the separation of powers preventing commentary either way. Judges often comment about law and politics (The former Family Law Chief Nicholson habitually did it). Magistrates are always doing it (Pat O’Shane is only the most egregious example, along with Brian Deegan). Politicians often comment about judicial decisions. I disagree with the thrust of McMurdo’s remarks and criticise him for it, but I don’t use some weird interpretation of separation of powers in my argument. The separation of powers is about legal power, not opinion.

McMurdo says that John Howard and Bob Carr were improperly trying to influence the appeal. Does he think his fellow judges are so lily-livered that they are going to be unduly influenced by mild expressions of opinion. Shows zero faith in their moral and intelectual integrity. He’s just being precious, an unfortunate tendency that is prevalent among judges.

Herbert Thornton
Herbert Thornton
2022 years ago

The Common Law system has always allowed criticism of judges’ decisions, so long as they do not impute improper motives to the judges.

I have read the various politicians’ statements that Justice McMurdo singled out (see paragraphs 52 to 56 of the judgment) for criticism. Not one of them alleged improper motives.

Justice McMurdo on the other hand asserts that the legislators’ statements “could reasonably be seen as an attempt to influence the judicial appellate process and to interfere with the independence of the judiciary for cynical political motives”. For a judge to impute such motives when the criticism was entirely lawful and legitimate seems to me to be quite improper.

There is also an unfortunate statement by the Chief Justice at paragraph 39 of the judgment where he says – “It should be understood that result will not mean that the process has to this point been unlawful”. It seems to me that it was not necessary to say this, because the lawfulness or otherwise of the process was not in issue: and such an obiter dictum (if that is what it was) can be read as prejudicial to further proceedings alleging unlawful conduct.

I raised in another thread (though this may be the better one) the questions of –

1. Whether Hanson and Etteridge now have any prospect of being awarded damages from Abbott and the ‘slush fund’ organisers (or indeed from anybody else) on the basis of champerty, maintenance or malicious prosecution;

2. Whether there ought to be investigation of the actions of the people involved in this chain of events to determine if charges should be brought under the Queensland Criminal Code for the crime of conspiracy; and

3. Whether One Nation is now entitled to a return of the $500,000 that was repaid, but which it now appears they did not obtain by fraud.

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2022 years ago

To correct some of my comments above. I was not aware until reading this morning’s SMH that Justice McMurdo is a woman (Margaret). I was incorrect in using the terms him and he in referring to her.

Her gender was not apparent from reading the judgement.

craig
craig
2022 years ago

Its all about maintaining that separation and if my desire for the maintenance of the separation is dogma, I can wear that.

Where do you draw the line?

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2022 years ago

Herbert,
It appears from news reports that there is no chance that any of the $500,000 will go back to One Nation without a court order. This whole case smells more and more like the Chamberlain case, with the state government and its agencies gracelessly refusing to accept that any wrong has been committed.

Herbert Thornton
Herbert Thornton
2022 years ago

Craig – I think we’re all more or less in favour of the principle of separation of powers as between one branch of government and another but I find it hard to view the exercise of freedom of speech as the exercise of a power. Exercising freedom of speech is, I should have thought, the exercise not of a power, but of a right – and it may even be, sometimes, a duty.

If the the judicial branch seeks to prevent of members of the legislative branch from simply speaking their minds, that, it seems to me, is a very dangerous development.

Herbert Thornton
Herbert Thornton
2022 years ago

Craig – I think we’re all more or less in favour of the principle of separation of powers as between one branch of government and another but I find it hard to view the exercise of freedom of speech as the exercise of a power. Exercising freedom of speech is, I should have thought, the exercise not of a power, but of a right – and it may even be, sometimes, a duty.

If the the judicial branch seeks to prevent of members of the legislative branch from simply speaking their minds, that, it seems to me, is a very dangerous development.

Geoff
Geoff
2022 years ago

I made a comment in the original “Perils Of Pauline” thread that may be of interest now:

I agree that the case against Hanson and Ettridge may collapse if it appears that members of the support group did retain the right to vote in manner that made the management committee ultimately accountable to the general membership – support group or otherwise.

It appears that the support group may have had this right, despite the intentions of the management committee to limit such membership to three only.

In other words, the One Nation constution seems to allow general party membership, even though Hanson , Ettridge and Oldfield set up a byzantine organizational structure to prevent this.

They are also on record stating that the structure was designed to limit actual party membership and restrict voting rights.

The appeal judgement notes that although Hanson, etc, had this belief in fact, by the requirements and obligations of contract law, this belief was in error at law.

In other words, Hanson and Ettridge may be saved by their own incompetence, by not designing a constution that gave effect to their publicly stated intentions.

Put simply, in the original trial, the prosecution argued the fact of Hanson and Ettridge’s intentions and actions to deny party membership to the rank-and-file. By their words and deeds, Hanson and Ettridge intended and believed that the rank-and-file were not party members, even though they were aware that party membership of at least 500 was required to satisfy Qld electoral law. In other words, the prosecution argued, there was evidence of an intent to defraud.

The jury accepted the fact of such intent and action, and accepted that the consequence of the intent and action was to deny party membership to the rank-and-file, and to relegate the rank-and-file to support group membership only.

However, as the appeal judges determined, having an intention and a belief that the rank-and-file are denied membership is not sufficient. There’s this little thing called contract law. If you tell people that they are joining a political party, and they pay up, then they are considered members (in law), even though you intended and believe otherwise (in fact).

The consideration of contract law was brought up in the appeals process, I believe, by Cedric Hampson, QC, for Hanson. I’m not sure if it was brought up by council for Hanson and Ettridge in the original trial, or if the jury had heard any evidence of contract law applying in this case.

So, because contract law trumps Hanson & Ettridge’s intent and actions, the support group memebrs were actually party members. And if they are party members, then Hanson and Ettridge cannot be found guilty of violating Qld electoral law.

However, I see nothing here to exonerate Hanson and Ettridge of anything other than being saved by their own incompetence.

Either:

(a) they believed (as evidenced by their intent and actions) that support group members were not party members, and intended to defraud but got off by a contract law technicality that they were unaware of; or

(b) they knew that support group members were in fact (and in law) party members, but made deliberate misrepresentations to confuse and restrict the application by the membership of their democratic rights, but would not admit to this under oath and instructed council not to raise the defense that would allow them to walk free.

I’m leaning heavily towards the first option. In either case, they must stand completely discredited.

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2022 years ago

Discredited they may be for acting like the managers of most other political parties (certainly the ALP, Liberals, Nationals, Greens and nationals). Perhaps the Australian Democrats empower their members more, but we’ve all seen the result whereby that party was hijacked by a relatively small number of way-out lefties whose actions virtually destroyed them as a party.

Geoff Nobody, this is not admirable conduct of course, but it is not criminal. They did not get off on a technicality. They got of because they did not commit a crime. I repeat, they did not commit a crime. The appeal judges did their professional duty by overturning the conviction despite their intemperate remarks in blaming Hanson and Ettridge for not appointing well qualified counsel in the first place, in self-indulgently using the bench to castigate our ELECTED representatives for expressing mild opinions about the sentences, and in not more explicitly condemning Justice Wolfe’s grossly incompetent directions to the jury, which led directly to their lack of understanding of the validity of the “evidence”.

Herbert Thornton
Herbert Thornton
2022 years ago

Geoff – you seem surprisingly sure that Hanson and Etteridge intended either –

1. to commit a crime by getting money by fraud, or

2. to get money lawfully, while at the same time running their party by deceit and fraudulent management.

What that amounts to is believing is that whatever Hanson and Etteridge may have intended, it must have been bad. It sounds rather like animus.

I don’t think you can actually know what was in their minds. Not everybody is as ill-intentioned as you may want to believe.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“I don’t think you can actually know what was in their minds. Not everybody is as ill-intentioned as you may want to believe.”

Perhaps. There would, however, appear to be little doubt that Ettridge and Oldfield were engaged in attempting to secure their own control over One Nation in ways that militated against broad membership participation in party decision-making or agenda-setting. Whether Hanson was similarly determined is less obvious but she certainly acquiesced in the strategy.

Leaving aside the legalities of it all for the moment, this rather negates the leadership claim that One Nation was somehow emblematic of a ‘new’ grassroots, participatory democratic movement in Australian politics.

Herbert Thornton
Herbert Thornton
2022 years ago

I’m a bit confused. My posting that said –

“I don’t think you can actually know what was in their minds. Not everybody is as ill-intentioned as you may want to believe.”

was in response to the posting by a Geoff (‘nobody@hotmailccom’). Is that the same person as Geoff Honnor (‘arcofeb@bigpond.com’)?

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

No.

Geoff
Geoff
2022 years ago

In my comment I stated that, because of contract law, Hanson and Ettridge cannot be found guilty of fraud. This applies despite the stated intentions and actions to deny membership to the rank-and-file.

My point is that either Hanson & Ettridge believed that their efforts to deny such membership was valid (and therefore they had intended to commit fraud, but were too incompetent too realize that contract law had already thwarted such efforts), or that they always knew that supporters were members (and deliberately tried to misrepresent the party structure to those members to retain power).

Either they intended to defraud, but contract law rendered the intention moot anyway; or One Nation is just another political party that denies democratic power to its members and Hanson is as much to be distrusted as any faceless ALP/Liberal backroom hack.

This is a simple issue that I’m yet to see satisfactorily explained in the mainstream media. As far as I am aware, only the Courier-Mail in Brisbane has raised such a distinction.

Herbert Thornton
Herbert Thornton
2022 years ago

Geoff, what bothers me is your insistence that they intended to commit fraud. In saying that you seem to be making a moral judgment. I should have thought that to really have that intention – in the moral as opposed to the legal sense of the word – you have to understand what you are doing.

I think that we should remember that ignorance or even incompetence are one thing: moral turpitude is quite another.

You acknowledge in your one posting that they “got off by a contract law technicality that they were unaware of” but that in the other, you say that they intended to commit fraud, but were “too incompetent” to realize that contract law had already thwarted such efforts.

I think we should remember that Judge Patsy Wolfe also appears to have been unaware of this vital ‘technicality’. It seems a bit much to expect Hanson and Etteridge, who are not lawyers, to understand all the technicalities of their situation when this particularly vital technicality escaped Judge Wolfe.

I the facts as a whole fall a long way short of entitling us to pass such a harsh moral judgment.

Geoff
Geoff
2022 years ago

Herbert, I appreciate your argument, and I realize that I’m coming across as too strident in stating a deliberate intention to commit fraud.

What bothers me most in the media coverage is that there has been virtually no discussion about the efforts by the One Nation management to separate party members from party supporters. This is reflected in public statements from the management, the constitution they devised, and so on.

Either the One Nation management believed they had succesfully quarantined the party from general membership, or they knew their public statements were deliberate misrepresentations to prevent the party membership exercising their democratic rights.

Both choices offer interesting analyses and consequences, but I’m yet to see any serious discussion in the media on this. This lack of serious commentary allows attitudes such as “government conspiracy” and “political prisoner” to flourish, which (I believe) is a nonsense.

I remember a section of the judgement in the initial appeal, which stated that:

[…] the Crown case that Ms Hanson and Mr Ettridge believed those persons were not members might be factually correct, but those beliefs would be an error in law on which the Crown case was also based.

And, also, in the judgement of the successful appeal, Chief Justice de Jersey stated that:

Much of the evidence led at the trial amounted to the subjective interpretations of the applicants for membership and the appellants of the party structure, as to what was intended and what was in fact achieved. The applicants for the most part apparently believed they had joined the party. On the other hand, the appellants were at pains to stress that the only members of the party were themselves and Mr Oldfield. Although evidence of various statements of that ilk made orally or in writing was admissible, so far as it came from the appellants, in relation to proof of the dishonesty alleged in the charge, those subjective interpretations could not legitimately aid a determination of the scope of the contracts entered into by the applicants for membership including identifying the contracting parties.

Justice McMurdo stated that:

The evidence of statements made by Ettridge and Hanson suggesting that those who applied to be members of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation did not become members of the party but of the support group, was not evidence of the objective intention of the parties at the time of contracting to join the unincorporated association, the political party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. That evidence was, however, directly relevant as to whether the appellants had a dishonest intention when they presented that list to the Electoral Commissioner.

But then Justice McMurdo also states the following:

When all the evidence is considered, the prosecution was unable to negate the inference reasonably open that those on the list given to the Electoral Commissioner were members of the political party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, and that the statements made by Hanson and Ettridge to the opposite effect were simply misinformation intended to confuse the membership and to entrench the Management Committee’s grip on power under the party’s Constitution.

So there’s reasonable evidence to point either way, though, on the balance of probabilities, I’m leaning towards the former alternative. But I’m willing to accept that a quite considerable effort was made in devising statements, constitutions, documentation, management structures and so on as part of an elaborate ruse to mislead the rank-and-file.