‘Pauline cannot be voted out’: Members’ outrage
ONE Nation has been compared to the North Korean dictatorship by a former party president who was among a group of members refused entry to its national conference in Brisbane today.
Jim Savage had planned to attend the conference, which is also the Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party's annual general meeting, to push for controversial figure James Ashby to be given the boot.
The former president and candidate had wanted to challenge Senator Pauline Hanson's status in the party's updated constitution, which effectively anoints her president for life, he told The Sunday Mail outside the Brisbane Convention Centre after being shut out of the conference.
Mr Savage, of Gatton, was one of six members refused entry today because they did not hold a ticket, which he said were being sold online for $150, or $100 for pensioners.
He said he and others had not been sent an invitation to the AGM as required under the constitution and, when a fellow member made inquiries, the man was told an invitation would arrive this week.
When it had not arrived by last Wednesday, he said he attempted to buy a ticket online, but ticket sales had by then been closed off. He then tried to pay at the door yesterday but was turned away.
That was despite Mr Savage turning up with a legal letter stating financial members are eligible to vote under the constitution and "any refusal to allow our client to attend would be unlawful."
He said even those invitations that were sent had been issued later than required under the rules.
"Candidates all over Australia didn't get an invite. There's dozens that I know of," he said.
"Under our constitution it clearly states that membership gives voting rights."
"I wanted to change our constitution because Pauline is president for life. As far as I'm concerned there's only two other places I know, and I might be wrong..but I do know North Korea has a president for life and I know China has a president for life and I'm not aware of anybody else.
Pauline cannot be voted out. We have a national executive that is not accountable to the members, Pauline's not accountable to the members, and any members that may be deemed a little bit pesky by asking questions doesn't get an invite to the AGM."
He said he also wanted Mr Ashby's membership cancelled for allegedly bringing the party into disrepute following a series of scandals, including when he was caught on camera soliciting millions of dollars of donations from a US guns rights lobby group to help it pick up seats. The Sunday Mail has sought comment from Mr Ashby.
Disability pensioner Vivvi Schnell, 57, of Hattonvale, was also turned away on Saturday.
She has been a member for three years, but said she was considering quitting.
"I don't have that much to spend in the bank," she said. "It's no longer the party it was."
A listing on ticketing website Eventbrite states attendees would receive a "limited edition conference pack valued (at) over $150," including a shirt, cap, stubby cooler and backpack.
"Due to security control measures the event location will be released to ticket holders closer to the event date.." it continued.
The ticket price drew attention when a member turned to online fundraiser Go Fund Me "to raise money for those members who cannot afford to attend the AGM."
"Political parties should be democratic," it says. It had raised $390 as of today.