Australia

Fraser Anning candidate given Queen's birthday honour says party's leader is not a racist

Prof Adrian Cheok was awarded an Order of Australia earlier this month. Source: AAP

Professor Adrian Cheok, who was awarded an Order of Australia medal on Monday, says Fraser Anning is not a racist.

An accomplished Adelaide-born professor and federal election candidate, who on Monday was awarded an Order of Australia medal, says there's nothing wrong with former Senator Fraser Anning's views on immigration.

Professor Adrian Cheok, who has made his name in artificial intelligence and advocating for sex with robots, was named in the Queen's Birthday Honours for his "significant service to international education".

Dr Cheok ran as a Fraser Anning Conservative National Party candidate in Boothby, South Australia, after quitting the Palmer United party because he was reportedly told to "dumb" down his policies. 

Fraser Anning with Dr Cheok during the election.
Former senator Fraser Anning with Dr Cheok during the election.
AAP

A week before the award was announced, Dr Cheok drew condemnation when he posted a photo of Labor Senate leader Penny Wong, Labor leader Anthony Albanese and deputy Labor leader Richard Marles with the text "two and a half men" to his Twitter page, which features a photo of himself and Mr Anning.

But amid backlash on Wednesday, Dr Cheok said he stands by Mr Anning's work and his political views.

"I agree with that point, his immigration view is determined by that point, which is, overall, in the future, we should be a western democracy and I think that is one of the advantages in Australia," he told SBS News.

"When you are in China, in every street corner is a camera tracking you ... do we want to live in a totalitarian state?"

The professor said he believes Mr Anning is not a racist but just a man who thinks about the country's future.

"People do not realise that we are now in a kind of almost cold war ... what is going to be the future of the state - is it going to be the Chinese-style more totalitarian government or are we going to have a free liberal democracy?"

Dr Cheok said some people had tried to reduce his scientific work to his views on "sex with robots". He predicts that "in the future, robots will be in our home, they will take care of our grandparents, they will be helping take care of our kids, they will be helping to do household chores". 

Meanwhile, the organisation tasked with awarding Order of Australia medals has stood by their decision to award Dr Cheok one of Australia's highest honours.

A spokesperson for the Honours and Awards Secretariat, a body within the Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General, told SBS News deliberations on any specific nomination were confidential but said all candidates were independently checked by the secretariat.

"The Council considers all nominations on their individual merits and their recommendations are based on information provided by the nominator and referees, including referees independently sourced by the Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat," the spokesperson said.

The Order of Australia was established in 1975 as an “Australian society of honour for the purpose of according recognition to Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service”.

Any person or group is able to nominate someone to be considered for an Order of Australia medal. These nominations are researched by the Secretariat before recommendations are made to the Council for the Order of Australia.

The Governor-General has the power to terminate an appointment if "the holder of the appointment or award has behaved or acted in a manner that has brought disrepute on the Order".

Mr Anning was censured in the Senate earlier this year for comments that linked Muslim migration to the Christchurch terror attacks that left 51 worshippers dead.

The bipartisan motion, moved by leader of the government in the Senate Mathias Cormann and Ms Wong, condemned Senator Anning for "his inflammatory and divisive comments seeking to attribute blame to victims of a horrific crime and to vilify people on the basis of religion".

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