Controversial Queensland senator Fraser Anning has stood by his decision to attend a far-right-wing protest in Melbourne on the weekend, at taxpayers’ expense.
- Senator Anning flew business class and billed taxpayers $3,000 to attend the rally
- He says it was part of his job to represent the people of Queensland by attending
- Multiple MP’s including Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young have expressed their disgrace in the senator
The rally organised by the United Patriots Front has been widely condemned by all political parties, with some attendees making Nazi salutes and wearing Nazi insignia.
Senator Anning said he went to the demonstration at St Kilda Beach to protest against violence committed by “African gangs”.
He told Channel Nine: “I’m a supporter of the Jewish community and I fight hard for the Israelis, as everyone knows.”
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Senator Anning was an “idiot” and the public should not be charged for him to “hang out with these thugs”.
tweet- Sarah Hanson-Young
“I don’t think the Australian taxpayer should be footing the bill for him to hang out with these Nazi mates of his,” she said.
“He is treating the Australian public, and the taxpayers, as mugs.”
Senator Anning, who flew business class and billed taxpayers $3,000 to attend the rally, said he was merely representing the people in his electorate.
“My job is to represent the people of Queensland and that’s exactly what I did,” he said.
“The people that I talked to were quite happy for people to gather, and show their displeasure at this Government for allowing these thugs to enter this country.”
Senator Anning also denied the people he was with were responsible for the Nazi salutes.
“The group I was with — there were no Nazi salutes,” he said.
“There was another group up the road … the left-wing lunatics, and they were doing the Nazi salutes.”
Some of the demonstrators were well-known Nazi sympathisers, including event organiser Blair Cottrell — a “self-confessed Hitler fan”.
Senator Anning said he had not met Mr Cottrell before and it was “irrelevant” who else was there.
Immigration Minister David Coleman said he “absolutely” condemned Senator Anning for attending the event.
“No member of Parliament should have attended such an event,” Mr Coleman said.
“It was an event that contained disgraceful, racist behaviour and it is absolutely morally wrong for that individual to have attended that event.”
Despite doing four television interviews on Monday morning, Senator Anning denied using the furore as a publicity stunt ahead of this year’s election.
The independent politician entered Parliament under the One Nation banner after Malcolm Roberts was disqualified over his dual citizenship.
At the last election, he collected just 19 first preference votes and conceded he has “not a lot of chance” of being re-elected to his $200,000-a-year position.
He was also kicked out of Katter’s Australian Party, which said his views were too extreme.
Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek described the protest as “disgusting”.
“It’s an ugly rally, it’s motivation is an ugly effort to divide Australians rather than bring us together,” she said.
“I would never vote for him. I hope others will reconsider their support for him in the future.”