8 November 2003

Innocent, but not as pure as it is painted

The appeal court - in a technical judgement - found that the confused procedures used for signing up members of the two groups - Pauline Hanson's One Nation and the Pauline Hanson Support Movement - had in reality made many of them full members of Pauline Hanson's One Nation, with voting rights.

In her judgement overturning the convictions of Hanson and Ettridge, the president of the Court of Appeal, Margaret McMurdo said: '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 Commission 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 constitution.'

So much for Pauline Hanson's belief in grassroots democracy.

John Quiggin blogs that Hanson's conviction was 'unfair and unjust'. I disagree. The judgment says that the conduct of proceedings by the trial judge were completely lawful. I also think Geoff Kitney is wrong to say that the judgment was 'technical' as if that somehow vitiated the acquittal.

The court did not find that Hanson should not have been prosecuted, only that the PHSM members were also (without their knowledge) PHON members. That point was not argued at trial. The law does not know any offfence of denying party members their voting rights in party affairs and running a political party as a dictatorship. Perhaps it should.

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