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Australia

Australian senator Fraser Anning defends ‘neo-Nazi’ rally, attacks ABC

  • Anning is no stranger to controversy, having claimed in his maiden speech to the Senate that Australia had an immigration problem in need of a ‘final solution’
PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 January, 2019, 10:28am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 January, 2019, 4:54pm

Queensland senator Fraser Anning has compared his use of taxpayer money to attend a fascist rally in Melbourne to public funding for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, as politicians from all sides condemned his attendance.

The independent senator, who was dumped by both One Nation and Katter’s Australian Party, and faces impossible odds of being re-elected, has spent the past 48 hours defending his decision to attend a St Kilda rally alongside neo-Nazi sympathisers.

Tony Abbott joined the condemnation on Monday, telling 2GB Anning’s behaviour was “poor judgment”.

“We’re all against soft-touch policing, we’re all against kid-glove policing, but that doesn’t mean that we should be supporting extremists of the left or the right,” Abbott said.

The immigration minister, David Coleman, said Anning should “absolutely not have attended” a rally that contained “disgraceful racist behaviour”. Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Anning was unfit to be a senator.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for Fraser Anning to hang out with his Nazi mates,” she posted on Twitter on Monday.

Australia PM Scott Morrison slams ‘ugly racial protests’ in Melbourne

Speaking on ABC News Breakfast, Hanson-Young said she was surprised neither Prime Minister Scott Morrison nor the opposition leader Bill Shorten had mentioned Anning’s attendance in their comments on the rally.

“This bloke doesn’t deserve to be [in parliament],” Hanson-Young said. “He’s shown no respect to the Australian people this morning in his response to his behaviour over the weekend, and he thinks it’s OK to bill the taxpayer – well, it’s not.”

The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, urged voters to get rid of Anning if he stands for re-election as a Queensland senator.

“As the granddaughter of Polish migrants who made Australia home after fleeing the brutality of the Nazi regime, I am appalled that an elected representative would attend such a rally,” the premier said on Monday.

Speaking on ABC RN on Monday morning, Anning attempted to shift blame for Nazi salutes witnessed at the rally to “the loony left”, and said he was entitled to bill taxpayers almost A$3,000 (US$2,100) for his business class flights because he was worried about criminal gang violence in his home state.

Anning said the ABC “should have been shut down years ago” because of its A$1 billion funding bill.

“You’d have to go and get a real job then,” he told interviewer Alison Carabine.

After being told that ABC employees would not attend “fascist rallies on the taxpayer coin”, Anning said “definitely not on the conservative side, no, maybe on the other one”. Anning also said it “won’t worry me in the slightest” if he was not re-elected.

In his maiden speech to the Senate, Anning said Australia had an immigration problem that needed a “final solution”, the term used by Nazis to describe the genocide of Jewish people during the second world war.

After the speech, Anning said he was unaware of the historical use of the term, but his refusal to stop talking about banning “non-European migration” eventually proved too much for the Katter party, which expelled him a few months later.

The independent MP Kerryn Phelps was among MPs who came out most strongly on Sunday against Anning’s decision to attend Saturday’s “demonstration by a neo-Nazi group”.

“I don’t believe it has any place in Australian society,” Phelps told the ABC on Sunday. “We have a harmonious, multicultural community and I think Australians want to keep it that way and these kinds of demonstrations are not what I would like to be seeing in Australia.”

The state Liberal member for Caulfield, David Southwick, who is Jewish, condemned the Melbourne rally, saying Australians needed to speak out against the “appalling behaviour” displayed by racists at the event.

The Labor leader, Bill Shorten, said there was no excuse for Anning’s attendance at the rally, and his view had no place in the federal parliament.