James Ashby’s takeover of One Nation has been swift and complete.
One can only speculate on who first contacted whom but, all of a sudden in 2015, up pops James Ashby as Pauline Hanson’s pilot and apparently with aspirations to be a whole lot more
“I’ve learnt a lot over the last couple of years and that experience comes in handy,” he said.
The party’s name was changed to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Ashby immediately set to work.
Ian Nelson was the state director and president in Queensland and national treasurer of One Nation. He had been a member for 20 years and was instrumental in convincing Pauline to rejoin the party she had quit over a decade earlier.
All of a sudden he found himself cut out of the loop.
In February 2016 he sent Ashby an email warning him that he was overstepping his authority.
“Don’t you ever speak to anyone about a possible candidate for this party unless you discuss it with the executive,” he emailed, confronting Ashby over what he alleged to be breaches of One Nation’s party constitution.
“Do not meet with anyone unless you clear it with me first. You have been in this party for a very short time. Respect our constitution and rules of process … share with the executive … no secrets please, not in this party.”
But Pauline was enthralled. Far from reining Ashby in, it was Nelson who was effectively cut out of preselection decisions and strategy during the federal election campaign.
By May 2016, Ashby was being referred to as Hanson’s “minder”, arranging appearances and meetings for her including with sitting Senator Glenn Lazarus. Hanson referred glowingly to James as her “adopted son” – a cuckoo chick determined to push the others out of the nest.
Saraya Beric was employed in 2013 to organise the One Nation headquarters in inner-Brisbane Albion. In addition to managing the office, Beric helped set up computers, operated the website, and managed candidates and marketing during the 2015 Queensland election and last year’s double- dissolution campaign.
After Hanson’s electoral success, any pretence at including the party executive vanished with Ashby stating he would be making the staffing decisions and there would be no “jobs for the boys”. He then sacked Ms Beric and replaced her with Hanson’s brother-in-law, Greg Smith, and added he and Malcolm Roberts to the executive without party endorsement, decisions which led to Nelson calling Ashby a “maggot” and tendering his resignation both from the executive and the party.
“Anybody who stands up to Ashby is gone,” Nelson says. “That’s what happened to me, that’s the way it is. It’s a full-on dictatorship at the moment. Pauline seems to think the One Nation political party is her own personal property.”
And that has been made patently clear ever since. Anyone who upsets her boy James will not survive.
In November he threw a phone at Rod Culleton’s chief-of-staff Margaret Menzel for not following HO orders regarding Facebook KPIs.
PHON candidate Shan Ju Lin made the mistake of saying “gays should be treated as patients” on Facebook and was immediately sacked by Ashby. She was the second Queensland candidate to bite the dust with Currumbin candidate Andy Semple withdrawing from the party just two days after the December 18 announcement of candidates after he was reportedly asked to delete a tweet from his personal account.
“It seems #PHON (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation) only likes certain types of Freedom of Expression,” Mr Semple tweeted.
It’s hard to know which of his tweets they found offensive, as there were comments about burqas being banned, describing vegans as “miserable people” and that women with unshaved armpits are “not cool at all”.
Two WA candidates have also got the chop.
North West Central candidate Dane Sorensen and Thornlie candidate Sandy Baraiolo have been disendorsed after criticising the party’s preference swap deal with the Liberal Party.
One Nation’s WA leader Colin Tincknell said “We unfortunately had to disendorse both of these candidates as they did not meet the standards that are required to be a Pauline Hanson One Nation candidate.”
Yet it seems they are sticking by Cameron Bartkowski, PHON candidate for the Upper House in the South West region, whose Facebook likes show pages such as ‘hot booty ebony’, ‘world class babes’, ‘hot girls worldwide’, ‘I cuckhold all my boyfriends’ and ‘f**k my ex’.
Likewise, One Nation said it was standing by its candidate for the seat of Pilbara, David Archibald, despite his offensive and bizarre comments towards single women labelling them too “lazy to attract and hold a mate” and suggesting welfare should be cut from single mothers to avoid “a rapid rise in the portion of the population that is lazy and ugly.”
Then there was “pastor” Lawrence Shave, One Nation candidate for the seat of Dawesville, who had plans to open a “bikini baristas” drive-through coffee shop, where staff donned only scantily-clad swim wear.
Who can tell who will pass muster in Ashby’s unrelenting push for power as Pauline smiles obliviously on.
Historical note: The high point of Rasputin’s power in Russia was in 1915. Popularity then started waning until, on the night of 29-30 December 1917, Rasputin was assassinated by a group of conservative noblemen who opposed his influence over Alexandra and consequently the nation’s leader, subsequently leading to the uprising of the peasants who were starving due to the government’s mismanagement..