Australia

PM under pressure to preference One Nation last at federal election

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Scott Morrison has so far resisted calls to preference the One Nation party last at the federal election.

Scott Morrison says he is determined to ensure Australia remains the world's "best immigration nation", by promoting understanding and calling out people who go against that spirit.

But the prime minister has stressed he won't be drawn into a "slanging match" between personalities, after being asked whether Pauline Hanson and her One Nation Party are racist.

Senator Hanson has called for a ban on Muslim migrants and the outlawing of some of the religion's practices.

"I don't think it helps that we constantly go back to just herding people into tribes and seeking to create further conflict around this stuff," Mr Morrison has told 3AW radio on Friday.

"I want us to all step back from all that."

The leader is under pressure to commit to preferencing One Nation last at the next election, but has maintained the Liberal Party will decide on preferencing once all candidates have been declared.

"We've had people with very extreme views pop up in all sorts of seats. So let's just wait to see who nominates and we'll make the decision in the usual way."

Labor frontbencher Penny Wong said that attitude is not good enough at a time when the country is looking for leadership against hate speech.

The prime minister should at least to commit to putting all extremists at the bottom of the ticket, she said.

"On this one issue, surely, the Liberal Party of Australia could agree that they will put the extremists last," she told reporters in Canberra.

Mr Morrison reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring people love "all Australians", whatever their background, ethnicity or religion, in a one-on-one interview with Waleed Aly, host of Ten program The Project, on Thursday evening.

"We are the most successful multicultural country in the earth, the best immigration nation of any country in the earth.

"That's my responsibility to make sure it stays that way and that's my absolute commitment."

He said he wouldn't be shy in calling out people who go against that sentiment.

The leader also shed further light on a 2010 shadow cabinet meeting in which he has been accused of encouraging colleagues to use community concerns about Muslim migration for political gain.

Mr Morrison, who has consistently denied the allegation by unnamed sources, says he was actually seeking to improve such attitudes.

"I was acknowledging that there were these fears in the community and that we had to address them, not exploit them," he said.

Reports of the meeting resurfaced online in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre, in which a lone gunman opened fire at two mosques during Friday prayers, killing 50 people.

Waleed Aly referred to the reports in a widely-shared monologue on the show after the shootings last week.

The prime minister said he did not agree with what he put forward, saying whoever spoke to a journalist to "smear" him in that way in media reports eight years ago was lying.

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