Abbott insisted the whole thing was done at his own initiative, and that neither John Howard nor anyone else in the government had been involved.
Said Abbott in our interview: “There was myself and two other trustees. We raised … it may not have been $100,000 but it was certainly close to $100,000 and the job of Australians For Honest Politics was to fund court cases against One Nation.”
He said most of the money had been spent trying, unsuccessfully, to get another One Nation defector, Hanson’s former private secretary Barbara Hazelton, to take legal action to stop the payment of $470,000 in public election funding, following the failure of similar action by Mr Sharples.
There was more to the story. You get the drift, though. And the irony, too, given that Abbott — who set up his slush fund 14 years ago — is now leading the call for the removal of Prime Minister Julia Gillard for her role in setting up a slush fund 20 years ago.
Abbott’s actions 14 years ago were a manifestation of such internecine nastiness. Let us not forget that Pauline Hanson was a creation of the Liberal Party, which selected her as its candidate for the seat of Oxley in Queensland. Abbott himself was even more deeply involved; he employed the man who would later become Hanson’s Svengali, the egregious David Oldfield. (Just another of those interesting personal associations which mark Abbott’s career, like BA Santamaria, George Pell, Cory Bernardi, et al.)
Then of course the Liberal Party and Abbott got rid of Hanson and Oldfield, but adopted much of the substance of One Nation’s distasteful policies on race issues. Then they set up a slush fund to try to ruin Hanson.