Pauline Hanson broke her silence on Thursday as she fronted the media in Brisbane, standing shoulder to shoulder with her Chief of Staff James Ashby and Queensland leader Steve Dickson following what has been a tumultuous week for One Nation.
The party founder vowed to stick by the pair following the release of episode one of the Al-Jazeera documentary How to Sell A Massacre earlier this week, which featured clips of Ashby and Dickson appearing to lobby for cash donations from the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) to water down Australia’s gun laws.
The footage sparked backlash on Tuesday and Hanson, who has reportedly been ill due to a tick bite, finally delivered a press conference today in which she slammed Al Jazeera, which she branded an Islamist organisation, along with the ABC, ahead of the second part of the documentary which is due to air tonight.
“This is a political attack by Al Jazeera in cooperation with the ABC,” she said. “If ABC had any ethical bone in their body they would refuse to put this unfair and unbalanced story to air tonight.”
She then addressed ABC chair Ita Buttrose directly, adding: “Ita you need to ask, is this the unethical behaviour you support?”
The Queensland Senator described the Al Jazeera investigation as a “false story” and said Dickson and Ashby were “stitched up”, adding that they would “never ever” have visited the United States if it had not been for undercover reporter Rodger Muller, who she accused of “orchestrating meetings”.
.@PaulineHansonOz: Media across Australia have been blinded by their hate and bias towards One Nation and myself, and rushed to report on heavily edited footage … Comments aired have been taken completely out of context.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) March 28, 2019
Hanson added: “This is Australia’s first case of severe political interference from a foreign government. The question must be asked, how much involvement did the ABC have in this illegal covert operation and how much money has the ABC paid using taxpayers dollars to organisations affiliated with [the] Qatari Islamist government?’
The politician went on to say that her comments regarding the Port Arthur massacre were edited, saying there was “no question” in her mind that Martin Bryant was the only person responsible for the 1996 mass shooting.
Standing beside her chief of staff, Hanson said the documentary was a “ploy to destroy One Nation” ahead of May’s federal election, adding that there has been a “deliberate and intense effort” to destroy Ashby’s reputation since he took up the job in her party.
She added: “There has been a deliberate and intense effort for years to destroy James Ashby’s credibility since he came to work for me. He has made some stupid remarks, as we all have, but I’ve worked so closely with this man for years, to know his integrity is unquestionable, he will not be given a trial by media.”
Hanson also pledged her allegiance to “friend” Steve Dickson, saying he was “stitched up” and a “victim of entrapment” and described both of them as “very good men”.
The One Nation leader said she did not give her consent for Ashby and Dickson to have discussions about political donations, adding that she has never accepted a single foreign donation and would reject money from anyone who she believed did not share the values of the party – despite confirming that she is in need of political donations.
She also described her party’s policy on firearms as “one of the strongest in the country”, adding that it is even stronger than the recent restrictions imposed by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern following the recent terror attack in Christchurch.
Hanson also touched upon today’s news that the Coalition will preference One Nation lower than the Labor party on their how-to-vote cards, calling Prime Minister Scott Morrison a “fool”. She said: “You Prime Minister have just handed the keys to The Lodge to Bill Shorten.”
She then ended the press conference by calling out the watching media representatives who she said were “baying for her blood” before leaving the stage without answering any questions.