Pauline Hanson has shut down questions on a damaging new secret recording of One Nation discussions by bringing up the death of a Queensland police officer and the chilly weather.
Former One Nation official Ian Nelson has released a secret recording to media he claims proves Senator Hanson attempted to hide the donation of a plane allegedly funded by property developer Bill McNee.
The Australian Electoral Commission is investigating whether One Nation breached disclosure laws after Mr Nelson claimed Mr McNee had paid for a plane the party used in the 2016 election campaign.
Senator Hanson, who can be heard in the recording – aired by the ABC – raising concerns about a journalist linking the developer to the plane, angrily dismissed questions about the scandal outside Parliament House on Tuesday morning.
“I cannot believe you would ask me some stupid questions like that when I have had a gentleman who’s been shot dead in his electorate,” she said, referring to slain Queensland police officer Brett Forte.
“We have people homeless in the cold weather like this, we have the state of this country and you’re worried about that from some disgruntled people?
“I think it’s disgusting.”
See Senator Hanson’s response below
— David Sharaz (@DavidSharaz) May 29, 2017
Mr McNee has denied allegations he wrongly bought the plane and One Nation says it has not breached any laws regarding the declaration of donations.
Mr Nelson says his recording of a conversation he had with Senator Hanson in November last year, shows she was trying to keep Mr McNee’s name out of the public domain.
“We’ve got word there’s a story coming out in The Australian tomorrow and they’ve actually been told that Bill McNee actually donated the money to pay up front for the office for the year and for the plane,” Ms Hanson is heard saying.
“They’ve already rung Bill and asked him and he said, ‘Yep, but I’ve donated to a lot of parties’.”
Mr Nelson replies, saying: “Where the bloody hell did they get that?”
Ms Hanson goes on to say Mr McNee’s identity was a tightly guarded secret within One Nation.
“Who knows Bill’s name? No-one, we always kept it very, very quiet. Who knows that he paid the money upfront for the office,” Ms Hanson says.
“There was only the four of us who knew. It was tight-knit.”
In the recording, Ms Hanson suggests the information may have come from One Nation staffer Saraya Beric, who along with Mr Nelson has left the party.
She also says: “Everything was above board because that was all recorded with the AEC and donations and it was all correctly done. And if it wasn’t, it’s going to come back with her because she was secretary of the party.”
Senator Hanson’s chief-of-staff, James Ashby, meanwhile says Queensland police are investigating whether he was illegally recorded while addressing One Nation officials.
Mr Ashby told AAP he complained to police last week, but declined to say whether Senator Hanson would follow suit.
Mr Ashby made his complaint after an earlier recording surfaced in which he suggested One Nation might make money by selling campaign material to candidates at inflated prices.
“That’s a complaint I’ve made. I also know that other members within the One Nation party office have made complaints over secret recordings,” said Mr Ashby said, without naming them.
Malcolm Roberts backs Senator Hanson
Queensland senator Malcolm Roberts says Senator Hanson has nothing to worry about from investigations into its affairs because “everything is above board”.
Mr Roberts said Mr Ashby and Senator Hanson were “completely trustworthy”.
“I just accept what she says because I’ve been dealing with her now for 12 months and she is just fabulous, she is straight up,” Mr Roberts told Sky News.
“The slightest thing deviating from the truth, she quickly corrects it – she is very strong on integrity and the same with James (Ashby).”
Asked why Senator Hanson indicated in the phone call she wanted to keep Mr McNee’s identity a secret, Mr Roberts said: “I’ve never met Bill, but he’s a very private person.”
– with AAP