Former One Nation turned independent MP Mark Latham has launched a savage spray against his old party, unleashing allegations it misappropriated taxpayer funds to purchase thousands of dollars of party merchandise.
In a speech to parliament on Wednesday, Mr Latham listed more than $79,000 of party expenses, including $5500 on 200 jigsaw puzzles, plus more than $3000 on 25 table throws, $1400 on door hangers and more than $9000 for T-shirts bought from a company called PromotionsOnly.
He said the items had been purchased with funds from the NSW Electoral Commission (NEC) that should have been spent by One Nation’s NSW office however were used by the party’s Queensland’s head office.
“To move all of that junk around in (senator Pauline Hanson’s chief of staff James) Ashby’s warehouse in Eagle Farm, MHA Products were paid $4000 for an expanding roller conveyor belt,” he told the parliament.
“Other invoices, none of them requested or needed in NSW, included over $23,000 for baseball caps and over $16,000 for sun lotion.”
Mr Latham’s spray comes just months after he sensationally quit the party in August alongside fellow One Nation MP Rod Roberts.
At the time, they accused One Nation’s Queensland head office of misappropriating more than $270,000 of taxpayer funds provided by the NEC.
The controversial MP also claimed in parliament on Wednesday that fellow upper house MP Tania Mihailuk – who is One Nation’s lone NSW representative – was aware of the spending.
“The Hon. Tania Mihailuk was told about this in April, May, June and July but then wrote to the party membership, saying that she only found out about it in August,” he said.
“That is completely untrue. She knows they are corrupt and she tolerates it every day of the week.”
Mr Latham also revealed that former Survivor contestant George Mladenov had been hired by One Nation’s NSW outfit as the “independent reviewer of the party’s finances” and questioned whether this was appropriate.
During question time, Mr Latham asked Special Minister of the State John Graham whether the review could be truly independent. He said Mr Mladenov was working “hand in glove” with One Nation while “he is supposed (to be) at arm’s length and doing a review that is totally independent”.
Mr Graham acknowledged the allegations made by Mr Latham and said they had been referred to the NEC and would be “looked at seriously”.
“I am yet to be advised by the Electoral Commission about the outcome of any of those allegations, but I will be certain to update the member and the House when that is the case,” he said.
However, he agreed with Mr Latham that One Nation’s review into its finances was not independent.
“It does not appear that way to me. The party should reflect on that. It is a matter for that party. I will not comment on that further,” he told the parliament.
“The member (Mr Latham) is right to raise those concerns.”
A spokesperson from Ms Hanson’s office questioned why these allegations were being raised under parliamentary privilege, which grant the speaker legal protection.
“We suggest that Mr Latham be asked to repeat these allegations outside the parliamentary chamber,” they said.
“We also suggest Mr Latham be asked for copies of the purchase orders for the items to which he refers.
“Senator Hanson and Mr Ashby were not members of the One Nation state executive when these items were allegedly ordered.”