Queensland senator Fraser Anning has compared Migrhis use of taxpayer money to attend a fascist rally in Melbourne to public funding for the ABC, 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”.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, who is on leave, released a second statement on Monday afternoon, saying Anning was a “repeat offender” on these issues.
“I support entirely the views expressed yesterday by Acting PM Michael McCormack, condemning Senator Anning for attending the racist rally in St Kilda and associating himself with extreme and offensive racist views that have no place in our society. He is a repeat offender on these issues,” Morrison said.
“Australians are not anti-migrant nor racist. Genuine concerns held by fair-minded Australians about immigration levels, border protection or law and order should not be used as a cover or be hijacked to push hateful and ugly racist agendas.
“As I did yesterday, I’ll always be prepared to call out extremism in all its forms.”
On Sunday, McCormack had called on Anning to consider resigning from parliament.
“Nazi salutes are abhorrent and repugnant and have no place in Australian society,” McCormack had said. “This type of extremism and the politics of hate should not be tolerated in modern society and such radicalism should be called out for what it is.
“Senator Anning’s position and future in parliament is something for his conscience to decide and no doubt the voters will also have a say on that matter in time.”
On Monday morning, speaking on ABC News Breakfast, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said she was surprised that neither Scott Morrison nor Bill Shorten had mentioned Anning’s attendance in their initial 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 in a statement 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 $3,000 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 $1bn 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, where Anning claimed thatwhat he called Australia’s immigration problem needed a “final solution”, the term used by Nazis to describe the genocide of Jewish people during world war two.
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.
The Business Council of Australia also strongly condemned the “racist demonstrations”.
In a statement on Monday, it reminded voters of the importance of Australia’s non-discriminatory immigration program.
“Migrants are valued members across the entire community, including in the business sector, where they are some of our most distinguished leaders,” the statement said.
“Successive waves of immigration have helped build Australia, making it more tolerant, more prosperous and a stronger country.
“Despite the actions of a small group of extremists over the weekend, Australians overwhelmingly support the fair and non-discriminatory immigration program that has benefited this country for decades.”
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