WHEN thinking of Pauline Hanson, the First Lady of One Nation, I can’t help but remember a ‘60s Aussie band and my nearly being crushed to death.
There have been only two occasions on which I felt I even remotely close to being crushed by a crowd of excited and irrational people.
The first was 1965 in hometown Launceston when two schoolboy friends and I made the mistake of loitering unwittingly inside the same record bar as the hottest pop band in the country, The Easybeats, was conducting an “in-store”.
It all happened in the blink of an eye. One second we were standing at the back of the Allen’s Music store in front of a makeshift stage which had magically filled with five skinny, longhaired blokes; the next we were being hauled bodily on to the stage by “security”, which in 1965 was Kevin, the store’s Hammond organ teacher and the band’s lead singer, “Little Stevie” Wright, when a marauding horde of screaming 12 to 14-year-old females started flooding forward.
The second “near-crushed-to-death” experience came almost 30 years later, at the Port Macquarie Town Hall.
The political pop-star of the time, Pauline Hanson, was in town as a guest of the local branch of her burgeoning political party, One Nation.
Ms Hanson had already proven a security nightmare for organisers (security being a tad more sophisticated by then) at rallies around Australia, but this was a hard-core “Pauline” crowd.
Covering the event as a journalist, I’d barely stepped into the foyer before being targeted by locals who believed the media had given her a tough time and felt the need to “jostle” our small and startled media pack.
Ordinarily, my beat didn’t involve pensioner pushing and shoving, but on this day it surprisingly morphed into something potentially more dangerous.
Things got a bit “too close for comfort” and police gathered up the media party and Ms Hanson and shoved us all through a door to the safety of backstage.
When Pauline came to Canberra in 2012 to appear on my radio program, one thing was crystal clear; she was still extremely popular with the punters for her “straight talking” approach.
The mere mention of “Pauline’s talkback radio tryout” resulted in stories in newspapers from Perth to Sydney and was covered on scores of national radio and TV programs. And whether you like or loathe her, she will continue to be force to be reckoned with, even if it is on Kochie’s couch.
For the record, The Easybeats haven’t made an “in-store” for some time.
This is an edited version from Mike Welsh’s blog “Mockery of Shockjockery, thoughts of an ex radio shockjock”.