Ex-Queensland One Nation president Jim Savage accepted a nomination to replace his leader. (ABC News: Anna Hartley)
Several disgruntled One Nation members have been refused entry to the party’s Annual General Meeting in Brisbane, after they refused to pay for entry tickets.
- Jim Savage, a former state branch president, said party members felt Pauline Hanson should not be both senator and party president
- Mr Savage said charging members to attend the meeting was a violation of One Nation’s constitution
- Another member, Vivian Schnell, said she could not afford to buy tickets and was unhappy Senator Hanson was running the party
Former Queensland One Nation president Jim Savage was among those refused entry and said he would now leave the party after 22 years as a member.
“I am very sad but I am not leaving the One Nation I joined,” he said.
“What I am leaving is an abomination.”
Tickets to the One Nation AGM cost between $100 and $150 and the location of the meeting was a secret to paying members until Friday.
Mr Savage said by charging paying members to attend the meeting, One Nation was in violation of its own constitution.
“An AGM is an occasion for members to go along, decide who will run the party, the direction it will take in the next year and have input in policies in the next year,” he said.
“Members do not have to pay to vote. I’ve been a member for over 20 years, I’ve put a large amount of blood, sweat and tears not to mention money into the party and I want it to prosper but One Nation has lost its way.”
‘I’m a pensioner, I can’t spring for that’
The ABC has seen a copy of the original website invitation which called the event an annual general meeting, but the wording now refers to it as a national conference.
The event was listed as an AGM at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on Saturday morning.
Queensland One Nation member Vivian Schnell was one of those refused entry and said she could not afford to buy tickets to attend.
Pauline Hanson is One Nation’s president for life after party rules were revised in 2018. (ABC News: Jed Cooper)
“I’m a pensioner, I can’t spring for that,” Ms Schnell said.
“I’ve been a strong supporter of this party since it started and have worked on election booths.
“If they give us an AGM we should be able to enter without having to pay. If it’s an AGM we want to have our say.
“Somebody else should be running the party as president and leave Senator Hanson to do her job, because she does a good job, but she can’t spread herself too thin. I am not happy.”
Political commentator Paul Williams said despite the party’s leadership woes, voters did not appear concerned.
“It doesn’t seem to have impacted their primary vote too much,” he said.
He said he was concerned that One Nation was charging members to attend and vote on party matters.
“I think most Australians would be gobsmacked that delegates of that party to a state or national conference would have to pay to attend their own party,” he said.
Calls for Hanson to step down
Former One Nation member Sandy Turner last week launched an online fundraising page to help members pay for tickets.
He called for Senator Hanson to be replaced as president, despite her being made president for life of One Nation under revised party rules in 2018.
“Pauline Hanson is a Queensland senator, which is more than a full-time job,” he stated.
“There are many party members who are of the opinion that Pauline needs to concentrate on her Senate work and leave other capable people to manage the executive and finances of One Nation.”
Mr Savage said he also wanted Senator Hanson to step down as party leader.
“North Korea has a president for life, China has a president for life, One Nation has a president for life,” he said.
“It is not acceptable — it needs to change.
“Scott Morrison is not the president of the Liberal Party and Anthony Albanese is not the president of the Labor Party.
“I don’t think any party can thrive and prosper when it’s subject to the whim of one person.”
Mr Savage said members believed change was needed to “bring some sanity back to the party”, adding many felt Senator Hanson should not be both senator and president.
“Pauline is a federal senator, she can’t do both jobs at once,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the management of the party is continually letting us down.
“She needs to be on camera doing what she does well and leave the administration to people who know how to do it.”
Senator Hanson with Steve Dickson, who visited a strip club earlier this year. (AAP: Mick Tsikas)
The Lockyer Valley-based One Nation stalwart of 20 years said if it were up to him, James Ashby would be expelled from One Nation.
“In 2016, we had four senators elected but by the time we went to the polls in 2019, we already had lost 50 per cent of our senators, Rod Cullerton and Fraser Anning could not get on with Pauline,” he said.
“It is a personality issue and it’s coming from Pauline and her management, there’s only one person who’s the manager, and that’s James Ashby.”
Mr Savage said rumblings within the ranks increased following Mr Ashby’s trip to America where he was filmed soliciting funds and tactics from the US gun lobby group, the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Footage was later released of the party’s former Queensland leader Steve Dickson at a strip club during the same trip.
“It was disgraceful,” Mr Savage said.
“Steve Dixon and James Ashby have done nothing but bring embarrassment to the party.”
Hanson decisions not conservative enough, members say
Mr Savage added members were left disappointed following several decisions in the Senate they felt did not align with One Nation’s core conservative values.
“One Nation is not a blunt object for individuals to use for their own use,” he said.
“One Nation belongs to the members and the members are conservative.
“Our policy is we do not support same-sex marriage, we support traditional marriage, no ifs buts or maybes, but when Malcolm Roberts and Pauline voted, they abstained.
“We, the members, are just left totally confused.”
He said those in the party were also left angry after One Nation preferenced Labor in several seats during the 2017 Queensland state election.
“James Ashby’s hate of the Liberal Party overrode the wishes of the members and their candidates and now we are responsible for a Labor government,” he said.
“[Legalising abortion] is an absolutely diabolical policy in the opinion of all One Nation supporters but the party enabled that to happen by preferencing Labor.
“The members I know feel like basically they’ve got no input and they’ve got no access.”
Accusations of ‘ghost candidates’ in federal election
Mr Savage also accused One Nation of filling several seats in the 2019 federal election with “ghost candidates”, saying the party’s candidate in his electorate of Blair Chris O’Callaghan was not known to members or voters.
“We didn’t even know if it was a man or a woman,” he said.
“There were no photos of them, just cardboard cut-outs of Pauline.
“I think One Nation had about a dozen candidates up until about two weeks before closing time and suddenly they filled all the seats with ghosts.”
The ABC has contacted One Nation and Mr Ashby for comment but they have not responded.
Os textos, informações e opiniões publicados neste espaço são de total responsabilidade do(a) autor(a). Logo, não correspondem, necessariamente, ao ponto de vista do Central da Pauta.