Shocking footage set to air on ABC tonight shows One Nation Chief of Staff James Ashby and Queensland leader Steve Dickson meeting with officials from the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) and other pro-gun groups in an attempt to land cash donations of up to US$20 million (AU$28 million) for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party.
The footage, which was covertly recorded by an undercover journalist from Al-Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, shows Ashby claiming that a sum of that magnitude would allow you to “own” the Australian Parliament, with Dickson adding: “You would have the government by the balls.”
Airing in two parts, How to Sell A Massacre shows the pair discussing changing Australia’s strict gun laws which ban members of the public from owning automatic and semi-automatic weapons.
Dickson can be heard telling NRA members at a meeting in Washington DC last September: “If we don’t change things, people are going to be looking at Australia and go ‘Well, it’s OK for them to go down the path of not having guns, it’s OK for them to go down that politically-correct path.’ And it’s like a poison – it will poison us all unless we stop it.”
Undercover reporter Roger Muller posed as a pro-gun advocate to conduct the investigation, initially seen at the start of the first episode in the audience at one of Pauline Hanson’s party meetings in Queensland. Al-Jazeera even created Gun Rights Australia as a front for their elaborate investigation.
Muller contacted Ashby and used his links with pro-gun groups in America to arrange a meeting with the political party, having already rubbed shoulders with senior gun lobbyists in the US and even Donald Trump Jr. In return, Ashby allegedly promised to loosen Australia’s anti-gun laws.
Ashby is then seen greeting Muller at the NRA headquarters Washington DC alongside Dickson who says he dreams of changing Australia’s laws regarding weapons.
In the footage, Ashby also suggests his aims in meeting the NRA are to ask the group “to rally their supporters within Australia”, adding “I’d love to get my hands on their software … [and] if they can help us with donations, super”.
The documentary comes just weeks after the devastating terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, which saw NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tighten the country’s gun laws.
Ardern’s decision to toughen her country’s laws is similar to that take by former Australian Prime Minister John Howard who restricted gun ownership following the devastating incident at Port Arthur, Tasmania, in 1996, when Martin Bryant used an AR-15 to gun down and murder 35 people, with a further 23 injured.
The documentary is also explosive due to Hanson’s previous backing of laws to restrict foreign political donations, which were passed and came into effect on January 1 this year.
According to The Guardian, Hanson told a Senate debate that “overseas money should not have an influence on our political scene” and foreign donations “should be totally stopped”.
Ashby told the ABC One Nation had “always complied with the law”. He said: “The matter has been referred to ASIO and the Australian Federal Police due to concerns of foreign interference into Australian politics in the lead-up to the imminent federal election.”
Prime Minsiter Scott Morrison tweeted following the reports, writing: “Australia’s gun laws are world’s best thanks to John Howard & we will not be changing them. Thankfully our Gov has also made laws to criminalise taking foreign political donations so foreign lobbyists cannot seek to influence our politics. It took a Coalition Gov to do both.”
Starts at 60 has contacted One Nation for comment.
Watch the two-part Al Jazeera investigation at 8:00pm today and Thursday on ABC TV and on iview.