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Pauline Hanson's release from jail.



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Craig Emerson, MP

Press Release

PAULINE HANSON’S RELEASE FROM JAIL

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, THURSDAY 6 NOVEMBER 2003

Emerson: Labor has consistently said that we respect the judicial processes. We respected the decision of the jury in the first case and now we respect the decision of the Court of Appeal to set Pauline Hanson free.

Quite separately, this decision now leaves a situation where Tony Abbott, the minister who was involved in bankrolling legal proceedings against Pauline Hanson, has no reason to avoid basic questions about setting up his trust fund called Australians for Honest Politics.

There is now no reason for Tony Abbott to hide the details of this trust fund and in particular, to hide the donors to the trust fund Australians for Honest Politics. Tony Abbott bankrolled legal proceedings in a civil case that provided evidence that was used in this criminal case.

So I am calling on Tony Abbott now to come clean and tell the truth about Australians for Honest Politics, the trust fund that he established and then lied about.

Reporter: Were you surprised by the decision?

Emerson: I don’t comment on the decision. I am maintaining the position that Labor has consistently had and that is that we respect the judicial processes of this country. We respected the decision of the jury in the first instance; we respect the decision of the Court of Appeal in this instance.

Reporter: Is that it for you as far as the legality of the Pauline Hanson One Nation is concerned? You accept the judge’s decision - or this one - and that’s it?

Emerson: Labor certainly accepts the decisions of the judicial system. What it does do, however, this decision does raise real questions about the involvement of Tony Abbott - questions that he now must answer.

He has hidden behind these legal proceedings in creating an argument, an excuse not to reveal the full extent of his involvement, and the donors to the trust fund that he established called Australians for Honest Politics. He lied about his involvement in bankrolling legal proceedings against Pauline Hanson. It is now time for Tony Abbott to tell the truth.

Reporter: So you reckon Tony Abbott’s a shonk but Pauline Hanson isn’t?

Emerson: I am saying that the judicial processes have followed their course and they have led to Pauline Hanson being set free. We respect that decision.

Reporter: Does this mean that Pauline Hanson can stand for Parliament again?

Emerson: My understanding is that Pauline Hanson would be able to stand for Parliament again.

Reporter: Would you welcome that?

Emerson: I have no comment to make on that other than the fact that we, Labor, have consistently and assiduously opposed the policies of Pauline Hanson. But we pursued the policies of Pauline Hanson the right way - through the ballot box, around the front. And we made our position very clear in relation to that.

The trouble is, the Government adopted a different approach. John Howard danced with Pauline Hanson while Tony Abbott went around the back and whacked her on the back of the head, she fell to the ground and then he said “oh my God, who did that?” Well we know who did that.

Labor pursued Pauline Hanson and her policies through the ballot box, the principled way. What the government did was engage in a very sneaky exercise to bring Pauline Hanson down.

Reporter: Len Harris has called for Pauline Hanson to be given compensation … [inaudible]

Emerson: I don’t have anything to add except that we respect the judicial processes that have now taken their course.

Reporter: Are you aware of allegations that Tony Abbott misled the AEC in correspondence about the Honest Politics trust; that is, that he may have committed the very offence that Pauline Hanson was alleged to have committed?

Emerson: I understand there was quite an exchange in Senate Estimates last night involving the AEC and Labor’s Senator John Faulkner. The AEC has indicated that it is looking at this trust fund afresh in light of new information and it is doing that very carefully. We welcome that. We welcome the AEC examining whether Australian for Honest Politics is in fact an associated entity - that is, an entity associated with the Liberal Party.

The AEC was given information about this several years ago. New information has come to light and the AEC is examining the matter. We welcome the AEC’s re-examination of the status of Australians for Honest Politics as to whether in fact it is an entity associated with the Liberal Party.

Reporter: Do you think that the AEC should call Tony Abbott to give sworn evidence given that he has lied about it in the past?

Emerson: This is a matter for the AEC. And just as we respect the judicial processes that have led to the outcome for Pauline Hanson today, we respect the processes that have been adopted by the AEC.

Reporter: Do you have any words for Pauline Hanson as she goes free tonight?

Emerson: I am sure Pauline Hanson is very relieved and will look forward to Christmas - Christmas outside jail is a lot more enjoyable than it is inside jail.