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The Age

Hanson's $500,000 blocked

Date: 14/07/1998
Words: 444
          Publication: The Age
Section: News
Page: 6
A $500,000 payment to One Nation has been halted by Queensland's Electoral Commissioner, Mr Des O'Shea, as a result of moves to have Mrs Pauline Hanson's political party deregistered.

The money was to have been paid directly to Mrs Hanson today. Federal Government MPs have expressed concerns that the funds would be used as a ""war chest" by One Nation to run its coming federal election campaign.

The $500,000 was due to One Nation under electoral laws as a payment of $1.13 for each of the nearly 440,000 votes it received in the recent Queensland poll.

In a hearing before the Queensland Supreme Court yesterday, Mr O'Shea gave an undertaking not to release the funds until the court heard an application to deregister One Nation. The case has been adjourned for two weeks.

The writ against One Nation was lodged by two former candidates in the Queensland poll, Mr Terry Sharples and Mr David Summers.

They allege the political party registered by Mrs Hanson was not properly constituted and had no general membership at the time.

Mr Sharples said a list of 530 members of the One Nation political party submitted were, in fact, members of a different body, the Pauline Hanson Support Movement and its registration was invalid under the Queensland Electoral Act.

Mr O'Shea said he had investigated the claims but believed there were no reasonable grounds to cancel One Nation's registration. His rejection prompted the pair's appeal to the Supreme Court.

He said he did not know what would happen to the $500,000 if the court ordered One Nation be deregistered. ""In that case we would be looking to the court for orders," Mr O'Shea said. ""I would be happy to pay the funds into the court for it to decide."

One Nation has now joined the case with the Electoral Commission, opposing the move for its deregistration.

A spokesman for One Nation, Mr David Oldfield, has described Mr Sharples and Mr Briggs as ""disgruntled former members" who were making mischief.

A Federal Government MP, Mr Tony Abbott, has claimed the $500,000 could be pocketed by One Nation officals, as the party was controlled by a company run by Mrs Pauline Hanson, Mr Oldfield and Mr David Etteridge, not by its members.

Mr Abbott has asked the Australian Electoral Commission to reconsider One Nation's federal registration and called for electoral laws to be amended to ensure One Nation could not obtain electoral funding under its current structure.

Under federal electoral laws, One Nation would receive $1.60 for every vote it received in the coming federal election.

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