Prime Minister Scott Morrison has finally confirmed how he will preference One Nation at the upcoming federal election, following a tumultuous week for Pauline Hanson’s political party.
Morrison had previously refused to comment on where One Nation would fall on the Liberal party’s how-to-vote cards, however on Thursday he confirmed that the party will be preferenced lower than Labor.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Morrison told a press conference on Thursday morning: “This is a decision which is based on our strong view about the sanctity of Australia’s gun laws and to ensure that at no stage that those things should ever be put at risk.
“It is very important – having been the party that introduced those laws – that we ensure that they are forever protected and there can be no compromise when it comes to those issues or any trading on the issue of those gun laws.”
The prime minister’s announcement comes just days after the first part of an explosive documentary aired on the ABC, which showed One Nation Chief of Staff James Ashby and Queensland leader Steve Dickson meeting with NRA and pro-gun group officials and discussing potential cash donations.
Further scandal also rocked the party on Thursday when hidden camera footage emerged showing the Queensland Senator questioning the 1996 Port Arthur massacre and appearing to suggest it was a government conspiracy.
In footage taken by undercover Al Jazeera reporter Rodger Muller, Hanson can be heard discussing the tragic event that left 35 people dead in Tasmania. Throughout the video, the 64-year-old can be heard saying she has “a lot of questions” about the mass shooting that rocked the nation.
“An MP said it would actually take a massacre in Tasmania to change the gun laws in Australia,” Hanson tells Muller, who posed as the leader of a fake gun lobby group called Gun Rights Australia. “Haven’t you heard that? Have a look at it. It was said on the floor of parliament.”
Many pollies and commentators had called on the PM to list One Nation last on their ballot papers after a week of scandal for the party, after shocking footage from Al Jazeera documentary How to Sell A Massacre was released earlier this week.
However Morrison did not confirm whether One Nation would be listed lower than the Greens, adding: “There are a lot of parties that have a lot of extreme positions. Frankly, I’ve always found the Greens to be a very serious danger to Australia.
“If the Labor Party wants to create some equivalence between the Labor Party and the Greens, that’s up to the Labor Party.”
The first episode showed Ashby and 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).
The footage, which was covertly recorded by an undercover journalist from Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, also 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.”
Ashby and Dickson addressed the press in Brisbane on Tuesday, with Hanson’s most-trusted adviser telling reporters he was “on the sauce” when the meetings were recorded in Washington DC last September.
He also called on Al Jazeera to release the full recordings, adding: “We would like Al-Jazeera to release all the footage. On those secret recordings that were made, we were not going to water down any of Howard’s legislation. Steve had said it, I had said it. We said it is not going to happen. You are not putting forward the full facts, that’s what’s being required. We want the facts out.”
The second part of How to Sell A Massacre will air Thursday night on the ABC.