News National Pauline Hanson slaps gag order on former party treasurer over covert tapes

Pauline Hanson slaps gag order on former party treasurer over covert tapes

Pauline Hanson
Pauline Hanson said she was genuinely concerned for the media industry's future. Photo: ABC
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One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has succeeded in temporarily gagging former party treasurer Ian Nelson from making more secret recordings public.

On Thursday morning legal representatives for Senator Hanson lodged an injunction in the NSW Supreme Court seeking to stop the ABC from broadcasting more covert material.

The injunction comes one week after the ABC’s 7.30 program revealed a secretly recorded phone conversation between Senator Hanson and Mr Nelson where Senator Hanson appeared worried the alleged donation of a light aircraft would become public, months before it became a controversy.

Senator Hanson’s legal representatives Peter Breen & Associates applied to the court for Mr Nelson and the ABC to be permanently stopped from “broadcasting, publishing, distributing, copying, using or dealing in any way with any recordings made by him of any telephone conversations” that concerns the business and affairs of One Nation.

Senator Hanson requested “…all recordings in the possession, custody or control” of either Mr Nelson and the ABC be delivered to her.

The One Nation leader also wants an inquiry to be held for unspecified financial damages to be paid by Mr Nelson and the ABC for the loss and damage caused by the disclosure of her confidential information.

At the hearing an interim order was made restraining Mr Nelson until the court returns next Tuesday.

However, the orders Senator Hanson sought against the ABC do not currently apply.

Pauline Hanson and One Nation's light plane
In a recorded phone conversation, Senator Hanson appeared worried the alleged donation of a light aircraft would become public. Photo: One Nation

ABC director of news Gaven Morris said the broadcaster was “satisfied with the outcome of today’s proceedings”.

“The ABC vigorously defends our role in reporting stories that are in the public interest, especially where stories concern the nation’s electoral processes, its political representatives and political parties,” he said.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is investigating whether One Nation breached any disclosure laws, after Mr Nelson’s allegation in April on Four Corners that property developer Bill McNee paid for the aircraft used during the 2016 election campaign.

Mr McNee has denied donating the plane, and One Nation has denied breaching electoral laws by not declaring the donation.

Mr Nelson made the recording of the telephone call and provided it to the 7.30 program because he claims it proves Senator Hanson was aware the plane was donated and wanted it kept quiet.

The recording was also obtained by the Courier Mail newspaper and received widespread media coverage.

Ian Nelson with James Ashby and Pauline Hanson
Former One Nation treasurer Ian Nelson (r) with James Ashby (l) and Pauline Hanson (c). Photo: ABC

Following the 7.30 story One Nation threatened to block the passage of the Turnbull government’s budget bills in the Senate until the ABC’s funding was cut by $600 million over four years, but later backed down.

It is the second covert recording to embarrass One Nation after Senator Hanson’s chief of staff James Ashby discussed inflating the cost of electoral material to make money for the party, something he later described as part of a “brainstorming session” and never put into place.

During the telephone conversation in November taped by Mr Nelson, Senator Hanson asked him how a newspaper journalist found out about Mr McNee’s financial contributions.

“We’ve got word there’s a story coming out in The Australian [newspaper] 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,” she said.

“Who the bloody hell did they get that off?” Mr Nelson replied.

One Nation has been plagued by infighting with former candidates complaining about what they claim is the excessive cost of electoral material and the control Mr Ashby has over the party.

However, One Nation claims it is being subjected to a destabilisation campaign being waged by disgruntled former insiders, including Mr Nelson.


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