Pauline Hanson launches Ashbygate James towards the Keppel wrecks

Gun Rights

James Ashby is running for office in the Queensland seat of Keppel. Ross Jones and Dave Donovan take a close look at the Pauline Hanson One-Nation poster boy.

THIS COULD BE FUNNY, in a vicious mud-slinging kind of way. It could also prove to be quite unfunny, at least for Queensland electors.

Just last week, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation issued a media release, announcing:

‘Pauline Hanson’s chief of staff and Yeppoon resident James Ashby will stand for One Nation in the seat of Keppel at next year’s Queensland State Election.’

At a later press conference, One Nation boss Pauline Hanson said Ashby would ‘bring a wealth of high level parliamentary and political experience’.

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The election is scheduled to be held on 26 October 2024.

Ashby has a chance of winning this Capricorn Coast seat, as we will shortly explain. However, it is the sort of “experience”, parliamentary, political and otherwise Ashby would bring to Queensland’s electors, about which IA holds grave fears.

We have been following and investigating Ashby’s colourful and chequered career for over a decade and it is our opinion that he is far from fit to ever hold the title of “The Honourable”.

James Ashby's brilliant career

ASHBYGATE: JUST ONE PART OF JAMES’ ‘BRILLIANT’ CAREER

Of course, longtime readers of Independent Australia will be fully aware that James Ashby infiltrated Peter Slipper’s staff roster soon after the former Speaker became an Independent and held a casting vote in PM Julia Gillard’s minority Government. Ashby claimed Slipper sexually harassed him and was instrumental in a News Corp/Coalition campaign to force the then Speaker to resign and topple the Government.

Ashby’s luridly detailed salacious claims, headlines splashed all over the Murdoch empire, were subsequently shown in court to be politically motivated.

In December 2012, Justice Rares found:

“Mr Ashby acted in combination with Ms Doane and Mr Brough when commencing the proceedings in order to advance the interests of the LNP.”

Rares also found:

“…The evidence also established that the proceedings were an abuse of the process of the Court.”

(Ashbygate: The Plot to Destroy Australia’s Speaker, p320.)

In short, we concluded Ashby was a Liberal Party operative.

This is something IA has explained in detail after undertaking a laborious investigation, funded by an unprecedented $55,000 donated by outraged Australians from all over the nation.

We even wrote a book about this scandal, published in 2015, ‘Ashbygate: The Plot to Destroy Australia’s Speaker’. (You can acquire a copy of this forensic investigation HERE.)

The Australian Federal Police investigated Ashby over this particular affair, which, as usual when it comes to scandals involving conservative figures, ultimately did absolutely nothing.

Subsequent to this, Ashby hitched his wagon to Pauline Hanson. This was – typical of Ashby – also peppered by scandal, misdemeanours and alleged criminality.

BEFORE ASHBY GOT WRECKED AT KEPPEL

But even before Ashby wrecked his home with Slipper, and then found one with Hanson, Ashby courted controversy and the courts, for example, in the media.

Ashby is now a regular pundit on Sky News, who claimed in a recent article he had lived in Yeppoon – in the seat he is to stand in – for 23 years. As with much of this News Corp outlet’s output, this is completely false — perhaps 2.3 years.

However, Ashby does have links to Central Queensland. Before politics, Ashby briefly worked as a disc jockey for a Rockhampton station before being let go.

Said Ashby about the incident:

“I unfortunately left on bad terms with Sea FM Rockhampton and was told I would never work in radio again. Famous last words.” 

He then gained employment for a Newcastle radio station NXFM, which came to an even more calamitous end. This time, with Ashby being convicted of making threats over a carriage service, fined $2,060 and placed on a three-year good behaviour bond. 

The threats were made to a fellow local DJ, with Ashby texting him:

“Yeah, go for it you fucking psychopath. Next time I see you riding your fucking bike I’ll hit you, you idiot, or [sic] over the sloppy road, you dumb prick.”

There were other incidents, including a poisoning at a strawberry farm he worked at on the Sunshine Coast and a questionable fire at a Townsville printing works.

Ashby’s working career has been so sketchy, before and after politics, IA could not possibly hope to encapsulate every scandal. However, we will, at the end of this piece, provide our top nine.

But first, does he stand a chance in Keppel?

CAN ASHBY MAKE IT TO SHORE IN KEPPEL?

Starting with the bad news, he’s a chance. A long shot, but a chance in Keppel.

The seat is currently held by Labor’s Brittany Lauga, who managed an impressive 46.22% of the primary vote at the 2020 Election after pulling 43.06% in 2017 and 44.43% 2015.

So Lauga will be difficult to dislodge. But the electoral effect of Annastacia Palaszczuk retiring, the ascension of Steven Miles to Premier and the meh factor of centrist Queensland L-NP David Crisafulli will play out in ways yet unknown.

One Nation’s last foray into Keppel in 2020 saw Wade Rothery achieve 10.63%, a big drop from their previous candidate Matt Loth’s 25.45% in 2017.

But neither Rothery nor Loth was over-endowed with electoral charisma, while James, as mentioned earlier, has been a regular feature on Sky News, delivering the IPA view on everything from Israel to pigeons.

Ashby gets quoted in the media; Rothery and Loth did not.

One Nation’s Stephen Andrew holds the adjoining seat of Mirani. It’s a wafer-thin margin, but probably enough to inspire some confidence at head office.

Nevertheless, electoral success in Keppel will be a hard ask. But maybe that doesn’t matter? One theory among One Nation people is that Pauline will retire late next year and then hand her Senate seat to Ashby. Another is that Ashby will run in his own right, in which case Keppel is money for jam that can then be spent on any Senate run.

WHAT DOES ASHBY WANT?

James’ eyes have been on the Senate for a long time. He’ll milk Keppel for the advantages it can supply his reputation as a Senate contender.

At about $3 per vote once you get above 4%, if James can increase One Nation’s primary vote there is a quid in it, but there are only about 32,000 voters in Keppel, so in a three-way race against Labor and the LNP, it would be a handy drink at best.

But this is One Nation we’re talking about here, the grift party.

Get ready for the merchandising. Stubby holder anyone?

TOP 9 ASHBY SCANDALS 

Trouble and James are old friends. From before Ashbygate to now, mischief has followed like a dog. It is those around him who have felt the impact.

1. A traitor

Ashby colluded with News Corp to destroy Peter Slipper, a man who had given James a whole new and exciting life and considered Ashby a friend. James stabbed him in the back.

2. Disturbing the peace

As detailed in Ashbygate: The Plot to Destroy Australia’s Speaker (p34), Ashby was suspected of providing male liaisons to patrons of a Sunshine Coast restaurant: 

Ashby [was] accused of leading a posse of buff, aggressive gay goons in February 2011 who created a noisy and dramatic disturbance at a prominent Sunshine Coast café … The entrepreneur was becoming concerned about the turnover of young, attractive barmen and the image the bar was attracting locally. He said he became more concerned when he realised these young staff were partying … on a regular basis. He suspected Ashby of procuring. 

3. A danger to other politicians

In this 2013 article, IA was informed by several witnesses that a former Howard Government political staffer: 

‘…alleged he had a long-term affair with [then Federal Member for Sturt] Mr Christopher Pyne but was jilted when Mr Pyne met and began an affair with James Ashby. Read that again. The guest, moreover, reportedly allege[d] that Pyne [was] “up to his neck” in the Ashbygate affair.’ 

4. A serial liar

Valerie Bradford is an elderly, rusted-on LNP member and a former Sunshine Coast party official. She too thought Ashby a friend. He responded by lying to her over and over then exploiting her naivete to cover his collusion with the Coalition against the former Speaker of the House.

Pauline Hanson lying high: The strange case of James Ashby's aeroplane

5. The dodgy aeroplane 

A company registered to Ashby, Black Bull Qld, was convicted and fined for failing to comply with the Australian Electoral Commission’s request for information over the use of a private plane.

This is just one story regarding the mysterious Jabiru light aircraft dressed in One Nation livery. As IA pointed out, its provenance and funding are a murky business.

6. Throwing phones at senior citizens

Ashby was accused of throwing a phone at former Senator Rod Culleton‘s chief of staff Margaret Menzel after an argument in the Senator’s Parliament House office.

Margaret Menzel was a very mature woman and incapable of defending herself when Ashby intimidated her.

And it wasn’t the first time James chucked a phone in a dummy spit, either.

7. Brawling in Parliament House

Then there was the time Ashby had his parliamentary pass revoked by the Senate President following an altercation with former One Nation Senator Brian Burston.

Ashby has about 30 years on Burston, but that didn’t stop him from having a physical go at the old bloke anyway.

8. The grift

In 2017, The Queensland Government ‘threatened to bring One Nation into the crosshairs of tougher electoral funding laws after revelations of James Ashby’s proposal that the party could “make some money” by inflating campaign expenses’.

James always has an eye on the grift.

9. Cash for guns

And the time Ashby and his fellow PHON colleagues sought millions in donations from the U.S. pro-gun lobby in order to dilute gun control laws in Australia. 

James was sprung hands-down conspiring to thwart Australian laws and grift a few million from the chronic thieves and mass murderers of America’s National Rifle Association.

AR-15s for all!

This is only half the story — subscribe to IA to read the full version of this editorial now! It takes less than a minute to subscribe and costs as little as $5 a month, or $50 a year — a tiny sum for quality journalism and many great extras! 

You can follow investigations editor Ross Jones on Twitter @rpzjones_finand founder and director Dave Donovan @davrosz. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentausand Facebook HERE.

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