Senior figures in Australia’s far-right One Nation party, James Ashby and Steve Dickson, have been caught seeking millions of dollars of political donations from US gun rights group the National Rifle Association, in a bid to seize the balance of power and weaken Australia’s gun laws. The revelations are contained in an Al Jazeera investigation which used hidden cameras and a journalist posing as a grass roots gun campaigner to expose the party’s extraordinary efforts to secure funding in Washington DC in September. The footage captures Dickson, the party’s Queensland state leader and formerly a Liberal-National minister in Queensland, and Ashby, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s chief of staff, endorsing NRA counter-attack lines in the event of a gun massacre. Should New Zealand ban manifesto of accused Christchurch killer? The investigation is likely to damage One Nation both because the party was publicly supporting the proposed ban on foreign political donations at the time and because weakening gun laws has become even more politically toxic in the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attack. The trade minister, Simon Birmingham, has seized on the revelations to argue One Nation is a “risk to Australia’s national harmony” and the ban on foreign donations. The expose adds fuel to a brawl within the governing conservative coalition about preferencing One Nation at the upcoming federal election. ‘Muslims welcome, racists not’: Christchurch mosques reopen after shooting In the footage, Ashby suggests his aims in meeting the NRA are to ask the group “to rally their supporters within Australia”, adding “I’d love to get my hands on their software … [and] if they can help us with donations, super”. [One Nation will]have the testicles of the government in our hand at every given stage One Nation figure Steve Dickson, on the potential impact of NRA cash In a meeting with Rodger Muller, who posed as a gun rights advocate from the fake lobby group Gun Rights Australia, Ashby suggested that US$10 million of funding would help the party “pick up eight Senate seats”. Dickson suggested that with the balance of power One Nation will “have the testicles of the government in our hand at every given stage”. “And guns, in the scheme of things, are still going to be the be-all and end-all,” he said. Ashby and Dickson met with senior NRA officials to discuss funding, gun laws and communications strategy, including NRA media liaison Lars Dalseide who offered advice on what to say in response to mass shootings. Dalseide suggested pro-gun politicians should “shame” opponents with lines such as “How dare you stand on the graves of those children to put forward your political agenda?” Dickson replied: “I love that.” In response to the line “If your policy, isn’t good enough to stand on itself, how dare you use their deaths to push that forward”, Ashby commented “that’s very good, very strong”. Muller also recorded a meeting between the One Nation staffers and representatives from Koch Industries, which funds various conservative causes in the US. Australian politician Pauline Hanson returns to lead One Nation party Before the meeting Muller asked the pair how much money they would seek. Dickson suggested US$10 million, a demand which Ashby promptly doubled to US$20 million. There is no evidence One Nation was successful in its efforts to solicit funding from the NRA, Koch Industries or any of the other American groups the pair met on their trip. In November the Australian parliament banned foreign political donations, laws that came into effect on January 1. In a Senate debate party leader Pauline Hanson said that “overseas money should not have an influence on our political scene” and foreign donations “should be totally stopped”. Before meeting with the NRA and Koch Industries, Ashby expressed concern about the political consequences if contact with American pro-gun lobby groups became public. “If it gets out, it’ll f***ing rock the boat,” Ashby said. “This s**t goes through my head every single minute of my day.” Police visited Christchurch attacker before granting him gun licence Hanson did not go on the trip, explaining she had a “gut feeling” that “it is not going to be good for me”. In a statement, One Nation confirmed it had been invited by Muller “to meet with the NRA, American business leaders and attend the congressional sportsman’s dinner”. The party claimed Al Jazeera is “a state-owned propaganda arm of the Qatari government … not a legitimate media organisation”, accusing Muller of being a “foreign agent”. The party said it had referred the matter to the Australian federal police, questioning whether it amounted to “foreign interference into Australian politics”. “One Nation strongly supports the rights of lawful gun ownership within Australia and have clearly outlined our policy on our website. One Nation members have always complied with the law.” Birmingham told ABC Radio on Tuesday that Hanson must “front the cameras” to explain why the party had sought political donations from the NRA. He said the investigation showed One Nation is “a risk to Australia’s national harmony” and the foreign donation ban. One Nation strongly supports the rights of lawful gun ownership within Australia and have clearly outlined our policy One Nation Birmingham, a senior Liberal moderate in the governing coalition, has publicly suggested the party should put “extremists” last on its how-to-vote cards, applying pressure to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has refused to say whether One Nation is racist and to commit to put One Nation last. Birmingham reiterated that call on Tuesday, noting One Nation are “extremists” when it comes to trade policy, a tag he also applied to the Greens, who he said are also extremists on tax policy. Bridget McKenzie, deputy leader of Liberal coalition partner the Nationals, told Radio National that potential for the NRA to influence Australian politics was “exactly why our government introduced foreign donation legislation – to ban this sort of foreign influence in our political system”. But McKenzie held the line on preferences, explaining they will be determined by state branches with local input after nominations close. She backed her colleague MP Ken O’Dowd who wants the Greens put last, explaining they would “decimate” local industries. The Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi said that One Nation was “craven … in their pursuit of power” and “willing to make us less safe by weakening our strong gun laws”. “If the Liberal party has any regard for the safety of Australians they must commit to putting Pauline Hanson’s One Nation last on their ticket,” Faruqi said.