A senior member of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation has has been caught trying to secure millions of dollars from the US pro-gun lobby, according to an explosive report by Al Jazeera. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has described the revelation as “deeply concerning”.
The series of events happened during an elaborate sting operation conducted by Al Jazeera, where a reporter posed as a gun advocate to embed himself with the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the U.S. The undercover journalist, known as Rodger Muller, set up a group called Gun Rights Australia, according to Al Jazeera, and started to get close to the main players of the NRA by claiming he was campaigning for Australia’s strict gun laws to be repealed.
In the video published by Al Jazeera, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s chief lieutenant James Ashby and Queensland branch leader Steve Dickson are recorded during a visit to Washington DC last year talking to the media relations team of the NRA about strategies that would help to weaken Australian gun laws. In another section of the video footage, the pair tell undercover journalist they are hoping to secure $20 million in donations to hold the “whole government by the balls”.
During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon local time, Ashby and Dickson dismissed the conversation about funding as an insignificant moment following a lengthy drinking session. They also said they did not secure any funding from any US lobby groups.
“I’m going to apologise to the people of Australia for some of the things Rodger Muller filmed while we were having a drink at the bar,” Dickson said. “We were having scotches for three or four hours.”
They also claimed the undercover sting was essentially interference by a foreign government and called for Al Jazeera to release the entire footage, as they believe their comments were taken out of context. Dickson and Ashby said they were more intent on sourcing technology and operational insights from the NRA than funding.
“This was not about sourcing money from the NRA, it was about sourcing technology, sourcing an understanding about how they operate,” Ashby told the media.
“…the conversations that have been recorded where is a talk of $10 to $20 million, I will be the first to admit, we’d arrived in America, we got on the sauce, we’d had a few drinks and that’s where those discussions took place, not with any potential donors, no one but Rodger Muller, Steve Dickson and myself.”
On Tuesday morning local time, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a tweet: “Reports that senior One Nation officials courted foreign political donations from the US gun lobby to influence our elections & undermine our gun laws that keep us safe are deeply concerning.”
Reports that senior One Nation officials courted foreign political donations from the US gun lobby to influence our elections & undermine our gun laws that keep us safe are deeply concerning.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) March 25, 2019
The revelation comes as One Nation is fighting off suggestions that its anti-immigration, specifically anti-Muslim rhetoric, has contributed to the Christchurch mosque massacre in New Zealand on March 15.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern moved swiftly to ban military-style semiautomatic and assault rifles in the wake of the killings.
There is no indication One Nation was successful in securing funds from the gun lobby. The recordings were also apparently taken before Senator Hanson strongly supported a crackdown on foreign political donations over $250. One Nation has been contacted by Business Insider Australia for comment.
One Nation’s NSW leader and former ALP leader Mark Latham said 10 days ago that his state branch supports Australia’s existing gun laws “100%”.
Well done Jacinda Ardern in tightening NZ gun laws to bring them into line with Aust.
Due to 1996 Howard laws our country has been blessed to avoid public massacres for 23 yrs.
These laws also respect rights of law abiding recreational shooters.
NSW One Nation supports them 100%
— Real Mark Latham (@RealMarkLatham) March 16, 2019
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