Contributed by Adam Carlton
As much as Andrew Bolt might deny it, his beloved One Nation is in trouble. Bolt may dismiss the party’s internal woes as ABC lies, but he is standing on quicksand.
There is no way of getting around the discrepancy between the promises and what the leadership is doing in practice. This is the basic source of its troubles.
A symptom of this was the backlash against the recent support given to the cutting of penalty rates. The feedback has been such that Pauline Hanson has had to come out and admit she made a mistake over this issue.
Another disaster was the electoral collapse in Western Australia.
Then there is the parade of ex One Nation members and candidates who are going public over the dictatorial methods being consolidated by the leader and the close group around her.
One Nation is in the process of being re-structured to resemble more a private company than a political party, ensuring Pauline Hanson has nominal personal control over everything. The word is nominal, because it is really the small group of advisors that are pulling the strings.
The Queensland division was changed from One Nation to One Nation Inc on 16 November 2016. Although state law provides some more access for members to information, it is still nor clear how this is going to pan out in practice. One thing that is clear, is that a perpetual leadership has been locked in.
Perhaps the best illustration off this is the wealthy backer James Ashby, who has been propelled upwards, without proper internal party process. Pauline has just made him secretary of the new incorporated entity. Another, Greg Smith was appointed as Treasurer in a similar way. He happens to be Hanson’s brother in law.
Then there is the Pauline Hanson plane issue, where it is alleged proper disclosure obligation were not met. The ins and outs of who owns the plane, who it was paid by and other issues remain uncertain. But that this is taking the shape of a public brawl is telling.
Former and deposed party treasurer, Ian Nelson said, Four Corners reported, that the plane was insured in Ashby’s name, but was purchased to ferry Hanson around. If this is the case, it should have been declared as a donation to the Australian Electoral Commission.
No doubt more will come out as this saga unfolds.
Taken together, the buildup of incidents makes One Nation certainly has the look of a party beginning to unravel. So long as control at the top is tightened, and so long as One Nation is made into an appendage of the government and branding itself as part of the political establishment it claims to oppose, so long as it denies proper internal process, it is hard to see how the slide downhill is going to be stopped.