Hating Abbott vs hating Pauline Hanson
"Isn't it great. Isn't it grand. After years of getting our "Hate Abbot" caffeine shot every morning from Age Letters. Now we can look forward to a new superior blend of "Hate Hanson" every morning. (No need to explain)," writes David (ZPG) Hughes in a letter to the Age editor, which he cc'd to candobetter.net. Mr Hughes, who once manned the website 'Crowded Planet," which aimed to supply contraceptives in response to global need, is a keen observer of mass media hypocrisy. But there is a lot more to be said about the relationship between Abbott and Hanson and the Liberal Party and One Nation.
When you consider that the Age's promotion of 'hate Hanson' militancy was preceded by 'hate Abbott' militancy, it is ironic that it was Mr Abbott who established a Liberal-backed fund that supported the false imprisonment of Hanson for political reasons. Yet that false imprisonment (she was let out, cleared of all charges of electoral fraud) probably lent new sympathy to her cause because there is nothing so inspiring to the underdog as a politician who is imprisoned because of the threat that the popularity of their views poses to the political establishment. Similarly, Derryn Hinch, another new senator, probably gained support because he also went to prison for actions related to his political views, but his imprisonment was actually upheld. In my eyes, there is no contest between a person falsely imprisoned and the agent of their jailing. Tony Abbott led a despicable action. That he was then elected as leader of the Liberal Party and became a Prime Minister is far more shocking than anything that Hanson has been accused of.
Below is a rundown, using other sources, of what happened to Hanson:
'Abbott says sorry in Hanson fund row,' By Annabel Crabb, The Age, August 27, 2003:
"Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott last night apologised for not fully disclosing his involvement in a $100,000 "slush fund" devised in 1998 to bring down One Nation leader Pauline Hanson.
Mr Abbott strongly denied, in an ABC Four Corners interview on August 10, 1998, that he or any Liberal Party figures had been involved in funding the legal campaign by disaffected One Nation members to have the minor party declared invalid under electoral laws.
But last night's statement confirms that only two weeks after making that denial, he established a formal trust, Australians for Honest Politics, which collected $100,000 to funnel into anti-One Nation legal actions.
Mr Abbott confirmed that at the time of making the statements to Four Corners, he had already promised to underwrite the legal costs of disaffected One Nation litigant Terry Sharples.
"Strictly speaking, no money at all had been offered," Mr Abbott said last night.
"The lawyers I organised were acting without charge and the support for costs which I had promised would only become an issue in the event of a costs order being made against Sharples."
In 2003, a Brisbane District Court jury found Hanson guilty of electoral fraud. The convictions were later overturned by three judges on the Queensland Court of Appeal. As a result of the convictions, Hanson spent 11 weeks in jail prior to the appeal being heard.
Reporter: Dea Clark
Ms Hanson and fellow One Nation founder David Ettridge walked free after their convictions for electoral fraud were quashed.
The decision has caused legal upheaval in Queensland while in Canberra, John Howard has rejected accusations by the appelate judges that he attempted to influence the case.
Dea Clark reports.
DEA CLARK: After celebrating into the small hours, Pauline Hanson was back home on her property at Ipswich, enjoying her first day of freedom in 11 weeks.
Her priority, raising the flag and catching up on some chores around the farm.
PAULINE HANSON, ONE NATION FOUNDER: Yeah, the cobwebs, the pool needs cleaning, the mowing.
You can't leave it up to your sons, you really can't.
DEA CLARK: While it was business as usual today, last night was a time to catch up with family and friends, celebrating her freedom at an Italian restaurant on the Gold Coast.
While Pauline Hanson was out on the town, David Ettridge was boarding a plane home to Sydney, convinced yesterday's decision will spark a political resurgence for One Nation.
DAVID ETTRIDGE, ONE NATION FOUNDER: It will rise like a phoenix.
People who didn't vote for One Nation are going to say, "Well, we'll protest against what was done," and the attack on their democratic rights.
DEA CLARK: While it seemed she was enjoying being back in the media spotlight, Ms Hanson was tight-lipped about a possible return to the political stage.
PAULINE HANSON: I tell you what, I'd need rocks in my bloody head if I thought about that again.
MARK SIMKIN: In yesterday's Court of Appeal judgment, Justice Margaret McMurdo criticised several politicians, including the PM, for their public comments about the case.
She described them as: " -- An attempt to interfere with the independence of the judiciary for cynical, political motives."
JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: My comments were not in any way calculated to influence the outcome.
I don't believe for a moment they did.
BRONWYN BISHOP, LIBERAL BACKBENCHER: Freedom of speech is our paramount right, and I will always speak out when there's a need to.
DEA CLARK: Back in Queensland, the political impact of yesterday's decision is already making waves.
In the wake of criticism over the handling of the case, the Queensland Government today announced an immediate review of the State's justice department, focusing on the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
But the Premier says compensation for wrongful imprisonment is out of the question.
PETER BEATTIE, QLD PREMIER: The Queensland Government, if it paid compensation here, would inevitably expose taxpayers to millions and millions and millions of dollars over a period of time, because appeals do succeed.
TERRY GORMAN, COUNCIL FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES: How unfair is it, whether it's Pauline Hanson or Mr and Mrs Anonymous from the suburbs, that they sit in jail for 4-6 months, they have their appeal overturned and they're supposed to grin and wear it.
DEA CLARK: But, for the moment, the political debate surrounding the former party leader is a world away.
Dea Clark, Lateline.
 Hinch was imprisoned for contempt charges related to his political conviction of the need to publicly name pedophiles.