While I’m no fan of Pauline Hanson, I’m concerned about the processes that have led to her being imprisoned for three years.
As I understand it, her offence was to create a political structure under which she and her immediate circle constituted and controlled the One Nation Party, while the ordinary members belonged to a ‘supporters group’ with no power to do anything. Since the Party proper did not have 500 members, its registration was an offence, as was the receipt of electoral funds.
The fact is that, with the exception of the Australian Democrats (and maybe the Greens, I don’t know how they work) all the major Australian political parties have structures under which the leadership is a self-perpetuating elite and the ordinary members belong, for all practical purposes, to a supporters group. Particularly in the Labor Party, the exclusion of the members from any real power has been a slow and painful process, which has taken decades. Hanson’s crime was to cut corners in an effort to achieve the same outcome quickly.
More importantly, I don’t think the requirements of the Electoral Act for 500 members were meant to ensure party democracy, but merely to avoid the registration of bogus parties as a political device. Whatever its faults, One Nation was (and I suppose, still is) a real political party.