Australia

PM makes bid to lure One Nation voters as government split on preferences

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The government is under pressure to rule out preferencing One Nation above Labor and the Greens after explosive recordings revealed the minor party sought donations from the NRA to weaken Australia's gun laws.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made a direct pitch to One Nation voters after explosive revelations the party sought millions in donations from the NRA, but isn't committing to preferencing the party last. 

The government has ruled out doing a deal with One Nation to swap preferences at the expected May election, but the PM is under increasing pressure to also commit to putting One Nation candidates last on Liberal how-to-vote cards. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is under pressure to rule out preferencing One Nation above Labor and the Greens.
AAP

While strongly criticising Pauline Hanson's One Nation party, Mr Morrison again dodged questions on Wednesday about whether the Liberals would preference the party below Labor and the Greens.

He instead focused on convincing One Nation supporters to desert the party and back the Coalition, saying he was criticising the party, not their supporters. 

"You won't find a serious program to manage our population growth in the minor parties or in One Nation or any of the others. You won't find it," he told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

"These are not parties of government. They're parties of grievance."

Senator Hanson's chief of staff James Ashby and Queensland leader Steve Dickson were caught on camera by an undercover Al Jazeera journalist seeking tens of millions of dollars from the US gun lobby to help weaken Australia's gun laws.

One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is under pressure to put Pauline Hanson's party last.
AAP

Mr Ashby and Mr Dickson told reporters on Tuesday they were drinking at the time those comments were made, and met the National Rifle Association to get campaign advice, not cash. 

The party has been roundly condemned and the explosive revelations have fuelled the internal debate in the Coalition about where to put One Nation on its how-to-vote cards. 

Mr Morrison said he wanted to wait to make a decision until the full list of candidates was finalised. 

But Jobs Minister Kelly O'Dwyer, who will retire at the election, said there was no reason to wait. 

"I personally don't see why we would in an shape or form not put them last," Ms O'Dwyer said.

"You need to call it as you see it and you need to demonstrate leadership."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is yet to decide whether to put Pauline Hanson's One Nation below Labor and the Greens.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is yet to decide whether to put Pauline Hanson's One Nation below Labor and the Greens.
AAP

Another retiring minister, Michael Keenan, was more concerned about the Greens. 

"The Greens are, I think, more dangerous than One Nation in many ways," the outgoing human services minister told Sky News.

Queensland Nationals MP Keith Pitt agreed the Greens were worse.  

"The Greens are absolute idealists who want to destroy our nation and our way of life," Mr Pitt told ABC radio.  

While refusing to say where One Nation should be placed on their how-to-vote cards, Mr Pitt said the party's candidates should reconsider standing. 

"This is really a question for their candidates and whether they should even run at all."

Labor has already decided to put One Nation last on its how-to-vote cards. 

"One Nation is a circus, they're a dangerous circus and they've been caught out and the government should not give them any support," Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told reporters in Sydney. 

Parties produce how-to-vote cards to guide supporters on the order they should award preferences to candidates in their electorate, but voters are not compelled to follow the advice. 

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