Senator Fraser Anning has been branded a disgrace by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for his shocking comments following the Christchurch shooting attack, as Aussie politicians and voters have begun calls for him to be removed from Parliament completely.
The independent senator sparked major backlash this weekend when he said in a statement that while he was opposed to violence of any form, “what it highlights is the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence”.
Ardern has since slammed him over the insulting remarks, according to Nine News, telling reporters: “They were a disgrace.”
Meanwhile New Zealand High Commissioner Annette King told reporters: “We just condemn what he said and I’m absolutely delighted that his comments were condemned from the very top of government here in Australia and by the people of Australia.”
They join a huge outcry from Aussie politicians over the comments, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Anning’s remarks were “appalling and ugly and they have no place in Australia”.
The prime minister announced the Coalition and Labor would pass a motion when parliament returns next month, censuring Anning for the statement he issued on Friday.
“These comments are appalling and they’re ugly and they have no place in Australia,” Morrison told reporters on Saturday, according to SBS. “In the Australian parliament also. He should be, frankly, ashamed of himself.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten tweeted: “While families in Christchurch mourn for loved ones they’ve lost, an obscure Australian Senator saw this act of terrorism and tragedy as an opportunity to blame the murder victims.”
And Peter Dutton has added his voice to the backlash, urging voters to have their say in the upcoming election.
“People can express their view freely and respectfully at the ballot box and I think that is the strongest possible message that can be sent,” the minister told Nine on Monday. “Anybody who seeks to make a political opportunity out of a tragedy like this is right to be condemned.”
While Morrison confirmed the motion to censure Anning, Greens leader Richard Di Natale wants them to go further and told the Australian: “We are exploring all options, including amending section 8 of the Privileges Act to allow members of parliament to be expelled by their fellow MPs.”
Now, a Change.org petition has been set up to have Anning removed from Parliament, with more than one million people already signing it within days.
“Senator Fraser Anning’s views have no place in the government of our democratic and multicultural country. Within the bounds of Australian law, we request that he be pushed to resign from his position as Senator, and if appropriate, be investigated by law enforcement agencies for supporting right wing terrorism,” the message on the petition reads.
It concludes: “We call on the Australian government to assist in demanding a resignation from this man who blames victims for their own violent deaths, and uses references to genocide to further his hateful agenda. There is no place in Australian government for Neo-Nazis. There is no place for bigotry. There is no place for hate speech.”
And that joins another fundraising page that is currently raising money for a teenager, William Connolly, who gained huge internet fame on Saturday after smashing an egg on the senator’s head during a press conference. It prompted Anning to swing punches at him, while supporters of the senator tackled the 17-year-old to the ground.
The page was initially created to pay for “legal fees and more eggs,” but it has since raised $40,000 and Connolly has since confirmed the majority will be sent on to the families of victims of the Christchurch shooting.