Australian politician under fire for posting gun range photo on Facebook
A conservative Australian politician who posted a photo of himself on Facebook holding a gun in a dig at environmentalists was reported to police and accused of being insensitive after a mass shooting at a US school.
George Christensen put up the image on Saturday showing him at a shooting range with the comment: “You gotta ask yourself, do you feel lucky, greenie punks?”
He said it was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the “Dirty Harry” films starring Clint Eastwood who takes on “people who are conducting illegal activity, such as the greens are”.
The MP has criticised environmentalists – sometimes backed by the Greens political party – who have tried to block mining projects, including chaining themselves to machinery.
The Facebook post was referred to the Australian Federal Police by the Greens, with their Senator Sarah Hanson-Young saying on Twitter she had received an emailed threat from one of Christensen’s supporters.
“Frankly, guns are not a joke and particularly in the wake of the massacre in the US only last week, 17 people shot dead, including children,” Hanson-Young told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the post “very inappropriate”. It was also widely criticised by politicians from other parties.
Christensen, whose National Party is the junior partner in the government’s ruling coalition, later deleted it but responded defiantly, saying: “I’m not going to be moralised to by these extreme greens who put the livelihoods, safety and lives of other people at risk.”
He said the post had nothing to do with the American shooting last week where a 19-year-old killed 17 people at his old school, claiming instead it was a comment on environmentalists’ “illegal activism on mine sites”.
Australia introduced tough gun laws, including bans on certain weapons, a minimum age, licences and secure storage, after a mass shooting in Tasmania in 1996, where 35 people were killed.
The uproar is the latest headache for the ruling Liberal-National coalition, with Turnbull last week publicly criticising National Party leader Barnaby Joyce for having an affair with a former staff member who is now pregnant with his child.