Calls for a “final solution” in immigration to Australia have united federal Parliament, with politicians condemning Queensland senator Fraser Anning for an inflammatory maiden speech.
The One Nation defector, now a member of Bob Katter’s Australian Party, refused to apologise on Wednesday for suggesting Australia should ban Muslim arrivals, hold a popular plebiscite on the migration intake and return to White Australia Policy settings to favour “European Christian” values.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten led speeches describing the reference to the Holocaust as shocking and offensive, while One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said her former ally’s comments were “straight from the Goebbels handbook for the Nazi Germany”.
Mr Turnbull told Parliament there could be “no place in Australia for racism”.
“We are a nation that does not define its nationality, its identity, by reference to race or religion or cultural background or ethnic background,” he said.
“People from every corner of the earth, from every religion – or of none – and every race can connect, be inspired by, be part of our values. That is Australia.”
He descried the use of loaded terms, which Senator Anning says were taken out of context, as a “shocking insult” to Australian Jews and Holocaust survivors.
Labor motions recognising the end of the White Australia Policy and subsequent non-discriminatory immigration policies passed both houses without opposition during a suspension of normal business.
Mr Shorten said the comments amounted to racism which should be rejected by all Australians.
“I do not like seeing majorities pick on minorities. That is not the Australian way.
“You can pretend it is whatever it is. It’s just racism.”
While MPs from across the major parties made emotional speeches, Senator Anning refused to apologise in a round of media interviews, claiming he was exercising free speech.
“It was never meant to denigrate the Jewish community and it’s two words and if that offends anyone unfortunately that’s the way it has to be.”
The Greens called on Mr Katter to expel the Queenslander from his party, with leader Richard Di Natale calling Senator Anning “a myopic red-neck reaching out from another time to another people”.
Instead Mr Katter backed the comments and called for cuts to Australia’s migrant intake, including from the Middle East and Africa.
“We as a race of people are being buried by a mass migration program to line the pockets of the rich and powerful in Sydney,” Mr Katter said.
“It was a magnificent speech. It was solid gold.”
Senator Hanson said she was appalled by her former party colleague’s speech and rejected comparisons to her own record on Muslim migration.
She said the speech had been written by staffer Richard Howard, previously sacked by disqualified One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts.
First elected in 1996 as a lower house member, Senator Hanson sparked a similar outcry when she used her own maiden speech to argue that Australia risked being swamped by Asian immigration.
She has also previously called for a ban on Muslim migration.
“Senator Anning’s remarks are appalling. I condemn them and I reject them in their entirety,” she said on Wednesday.
“We reject and condemn racism in any form.”
Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg, whose mother was a Hungarian refugee who escaped the Holocaust, demanded Senator Anning immediately retract the “ignorant and insensitive” remarks.
“I call on Fraser Anning not only to apologise, but also to go and visit a Holocaust museum, and to hear first-hand from the survivors how the pain is still raw, and to see the devastation and destruction caused by the Nazi war machine.”
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