Australia

'No regrets': Fraser Anning dismisses petition to remove him signed by one million

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Fraser Anning is unmoved by condemnation of his comments asserting Muslim migration was partly to blame for the far-right terrorist attack in New Zealand.

Queensland Senator Fraser Anning says he has no regrets about linking Muslim migration to Friday's shootings in New Zealand.  

Speaking to reporters in Brisbane, the independent Senator, who has been widely condemned for the inflammatory statement issued on the same day as 50 people were shot dead at two mosques, doubled down on his comments.

Senator Anning accused the media of taking his comments out of context, before repeating his assertion that allowing Muslim migration led to an increase in violence. 

Senator Fraser Anning has been under fire this week for his comments in the wake of the Christchurch attacks.
Senator Fraser Anning has been under fire for his comments in the wake of the Christchurch attacks.
AAP

"That's just a statement of fact and for some reason that's upset a lot of people including Mr Morrison," Senator Anning said. 

"He said my statements were disgusting. I see nothing disgusting about stating the facts. If I make a statement of fact I shouldn’t be condemned for it."

An online petition calling for his expulsion from Parliament has been signed by more than one million people, making it the biggest online petition ever started in Australia. 

Senator Anning said the petition would not change his actions.

“Quite a lot of people have told us they're happy for me to stay where I’m at.”

Asked to put a number on his supporters he said “lots and lots”, saying he would leave it to the voters at the next election to make a final decision on his future.

Bi-partisan censure motion

The petition's authors, Sydney doctor Kate Ahmad and Melbourne author Harris Sultan, acknowledge that the Parliament doesn't have the power to kick him out.

"Within the bounds of Australian law, we request that he be pushed to resign from his position as Senator, and if appropriate, be investigated by law enforcement agencies for supporting right wing terrorism," the petition states.

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WATCH: Labor MP Mark Dreyfus calls for 'code of conduct' to be signed by MPs and Senators.
WATCH: Labor MP Mark Dreyfus calls for 'code of conduct' to be signed by MPs and Senators.

Only a politician with a criminal conviction or dual citizenship can be forced out. The Morrison government and the opposition have rejected calls to change laws to allow politicians to be expelled from federal parliament after the issue was raised by the Greens.

Instead the government and opposition have drafted a joint censure motion condemning his "inflammatory and divisive comments seeking to attribute blame to victims of a horrific crime and to vilify people on the basis of religion, which do not reflect the opinions of the Australian Senate or the Australian people."

Hanson and Hinch clash

Senator Anning stood as a One Nation candidate, but when he entered Parliament to fill a casual vacancy caused by the dual citizenship saga, he immediately quit the party. 

His former leader Pauline Hanson was grilled by fellow Senator Derryn Hinch on Channel 7's Sunrise on Monday morning. 

"Did you pick this arsehole because of his views - his white extremist views - or despite them?" Senator Hinch said. 

One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson responds to Senator Fraser Anning's first speech in the Senate.
One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson responds to Senator Fraser Anning's first speech in the Senate.
AAP

Senator Hanson rejected the question as "absolutely disgusting", but would not say whether she would join the major parties in censuring Senator Anning when Parliament returns next month.

"What is a censure? It will not prove a damn thing," Senator Hanson said. 

Senator Anning briefly joined the Katter Party, but was dumped for his extreme views.  

The now-independent Senator further inflamed the situation by attending a gun show in Queensland on Sunday.

Media were banned from entering the Brisbane event where Senator Anning had his own stall displaying gun paraphernalia, just two days after 50 people were gunned down at two mosques in New Zealand. 

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WATCH: Derryn Hinch and Pauline Hanson clash on Sunrise over Fraser Anning.
WATCH: Derryn Hinch and Pauline Hanson clash on Sunrise over Fraser Anning.

'Up to voters to dump Anning'

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton urged voters to dump Fraser Anning, who received just 19 first preferences at the last federal election. 

"People can express their view freely and respectfully at the ballot box and I think that is the strongest possible message that can be sent," the minister, who also hails from Queensland, told the Nine Network on Monday.

Katter's Australian Party Senator Fraser Anning speaks on Senator Pauline Hanson's "Ok To Be White" motion in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, October 16, 2018. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
While the Parliament can't expel Fraser Anning, Peter Dutton says voters can't dump him at the next election.
AAP

"Anybody who seeks to make a political opportunity out of a tragedy like this, is right to be condemned."

Greens leader Richard Di Natale wants the parliament to go further.

"We are exploring all options, including amending section 8 of the Privileges Act to allow members of parliament to be expelled by their fellow MPs," Senator Di Natale told The Australian newspaper on Monday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Senator Anning should face the "full force of the law" after he reacted violently to a teenage boy who allegedly cracked an egg on the back of his head.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Senator Anning's comments were a "disgrace".

Senator Anning was roundly condemned after invoking the phrase "final solution" in his first speech to parliament  a term linked to the Holocaust.

He was also criticised for attending a far-right rally in Melbourne where participants made Nazi salutes.

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