Australia

Senate censures Fraser Anning over 'shameful' Christchurch mosque attack comments

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A censure motion against Independent senator Fraser Anning has passed the Senate without a single vote against it.

Queensland Senator Fraser Anning has been censured in the Senate for comments labelled "pathetic" and "shameful" that linked Muslim migration to the terror attacks in Christchurch last month.

The bipartisan motion, moved by leader of the government in the Senate Mathias Cormann and leader of the opposition in the Senate Penny 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".

The censure was passed unanimously after the former One Nation turned independent MP left the chamber.

Senator Fraser Anning blamed the attack on 50 worshippers at mosques last month on Muslim migrants.
Senator Fraser Anning blamed the attack on 50 worshippers at mosques last month on Muslim migrants.
AAP

"In Australia, we don't accept or tolerate that sort of divisive, inflammatory commentary which seeks to incite hatred and which seeks to vilify people," Senator Cormann said on Wednesday.

"It's absolutely right to censure Senator Anning and anyone else within our community who seeks to use a horrific tragedy like this one as an opportunity to vilify and divide people based on their religious belief."

Ms Wong, refusing to utter Senator Anning's name, used the motion to praise both parties for the bipartisan condemnation.

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Fraser Anning condemned by his colleagues in the Senate
Fraser Anning condemned by his colleagues in the Senate

"There are times in our history where bipartisanship has enabled us to confront racism and hatred," she said.

"We're about to go into an election campaign and the contest will be fierce, but there are some things which are above the political contest and this is amongst them. And if we do this, this makes our nation stronger at home and in the world."

Australian Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi speaks to the leader of the Opposition in the Senate Penny Wong on Tuesday.
Australian Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi speaks to the leader of the Opposition in the Senate Penny Wong on Tuesday.
AAP

Senator Anning denied the claim that he had blamed the victims for the attack and described the reasons for the motion as "barely coherent". 

"This censure motion against me is a blatant attack on free speech," he said. 

"The claim that this someone blames the victims is absurd, my real crime is that I simply told the truth. "

Greens MP and the first female Muslim senator in Australian history, Mehreen Faruqi, called Senator Anning "an absolute disgrace" and slammed conservative Senator Cory Bernardi for lacking an "understanding of the impacts of hate speech".

"Hate speech leads to political violence. The community stands against hatred," she said. 

"Senator Anning has well and truly crossed the line in here and out there, there is no doubt about that. He does not deserve to stand in Parliament."

One Nation Senator Peter Georgiou said his party would abstain from voting. Pauline Hanson was absent from the debate. 

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a condolence motion in which they condemned the terror attacks on two Christchurch mosques by an Australian citizen.

But Senator Anning used Senate Question Time to quiz the government about its response to a teenager cracking an egg on his head which prompted physical retaliation from the 69-year-old.

Acting government senate leader Simon Birmingham delivered a brutal take-down of the Senator Anning, backing Prime Minister Scott Morrison's comments that he should face the full face of the law for lashing out at the boy.

"The way you have conducted yourself in the time since betrays the rights you have to freedom of speech," Senator Birmingham said.

"The lack of compassion you have shown demonstrates, frankly, a basic lack of basic humanity."

Flowers at a memorial near the Masjid Al Noor mosque for victims in the Christchurch terror attack.
Flowers at a memorial near the Masjid Al Noor mosque for victims in the Christchurch terror attack.
AAP

On Tuesday, Senator Anning asked whether the government believed politically-motivated violence was acceptable in some circumstances, referencing the egg incident.

"It may have only been an idiot with an egg this time but there is a continuum that ends with a fanatic with a gun or a bomb," Senator Anning said in response to the censure motion on Wednesday. 

Senator Birmingham said Senator Anning had acted in a way that would potentially fuel more acts of terrorism and violence.

"You have failed the test of character I would expect of anybody who is elected to this place," Senator Birmingham said.

"We also trust that the people of Queensland will deal with you as you deserve to be dealt with at the next election."

With AAP

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