Australia

Pauline Hanson's Port Arthur 'conspiracy' claim dismissed as 'ridiculous'

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Pauline Hanson has been caught on camera appearing to suggest that the 1996 Port Arthur massacre was a government conspiracy.

Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie has dismissed comments made by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson about the 1996 Port Arthur as "ridiculous".  

Senator Hanson is facing a fresh round of criticism after appearing to insinuate Australia's worst mass shooting was a government conspiracy.

One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson is set to front the media over a guns scandal engulfing her party.
One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson is set to front the media over a guns scandal engulfing her party.
AAP

Hidden camera footage, released by Al Jazeera as part of an undercover operation, showed her saying she had "a lot of questions" about Port Arthur.

"An MP said it would actually take a massacre in Tasmania to change the gun laws in Australia," Senator Hanson told Al Jazeera reporter Rodger Muller.

"Haven't you heard that? Have a look at it. It was said on the floor of parliament.

"I've read a lot and I have read the book on it, Port Arthur. A lot of questions there."

Al Jazeera's secret filming of One Nation figures meeting NRA  representatives
Al Jazeera's secret filming of One Nation figures meeting NRA representatives
Al Jazeera

But Senator McKenzie said the One Nation leader's comments were not worthy of media coverage. 

"I think the less airtime we give these ridiculous comments from Pauline Hanson the better," Senator McKenzie told reporters on Thursday.

She also defended a government survey on the importance of shooting to Australia.

The questionnaire was issued last year and Senator McKenzie rejected questions about whether it should be pulled after the Christchurch mosque shootings. 

"My question to you is are you conflating law abiding citizens participating lawfully in their sport with an extreme terrorist?"

One Nation engulfed in scandal

The footage of Senator Hanson has been released after another of Al Jazeera's videos showed Queensland One Nation leader Steve Dickson and her chief of staff James Ashby speaking to the undercover reporter about potential donations.

Senator Hanson is due to hold her first press conference since the secret recordings were revealed on Monday night. 

The men claim they were "on the sauce" when the conversation took place, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison said being drunk was no excuse.

He urged Australians to abandon the conservative minor party.

"Being drunk is no excuse for trading away Australia's gun laws to foreign bidders," Mr Morrison told reporters on Wednesday.

In Al Jazeera's footage, Mr Dickson says One Nation could get the government "by the balls" through holding the balance of power in both houses if they could get millions in funding.

John Howard marks the 10th anniversary of the massacre in Port Arthur.
John Howard marks the 10th anniversary of the massacre in Port Arthur.
AAP

That would allow them to weaken Australia's gun laws, a point they raised with powerful lobby groups in Washington DC, including the National Rifle Association.

Senator Hanson broke her silence on Wednesday, saying she was shocked and disgusted with the "hit piece" by Qatari TV network Al Jazeera.

"A Qatari government organisation should not be targeting Australian political parties. This has been referred to ASIO," she tweeted.

The One Nation leader has been suffering from a tick bite on her face for the past week, but is expected to go public on Thursday.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has repeated his assertion the prime minister needs to back up his condemnation of One Nation by putting them last on Liberal how-to-vote cards.

Mr Morrison has consistently said the Liberals will wait until final nominations before deciding on its preferences.

Mr Ashby said the pair spoke only with undercover Al Jazeera reporter Rodger Muller about the potential $US20 million in donations.

Mr Muller posed as the head of fake lobby group Guns Rights Australia and initiated the One Nation meetings with the NRA.

Mr Ashby accused Mr Muller, who is Australian, of being a "Middle Eastern spy".

With AAP

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