A freshman Australian senator who came under fire for calling for a “final solution” to Muslim immigration has received full support from his party leader, who on Wednesday called the speech “absolutely magnificent” and said the lawmaker had “absolutely no idea” the term was used by Nazi Germany to advocate the Holocaust before and during World War II.
Bob Katter, the head of Fraser Anning’s nationalist party, praised the latter’s maiden speech in Australia’s senate which was widely condemned across the political spectrum, including by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and a Jewish MP.
“I love it,” said Katter, head of Katter’s Australian Party. “Our phones are on fire. Ninety percent of Australia have been waiting for someone to say it and believe it.”
“Absolutely 1000 percent I support everything he said. His speech was absolutely magnificent,” Katter, whose family is originally from Lebanon, told Australian media. “It is everything his country should be doing. It was solid gold.”
Katter’s Australian Party has only one member — Katter himself — in the country’s 150-member House of Representatives. It recently attained representation in the 76-member Senate for the first time when Senator Anning quit another party and joined his.
Anning gave his maiden speech to the Upper House of Parliament Tuesday, deriding Muslim immigration as making the country less safe.
“We as a nation are entitled to insist that those who are allowed to come here predominantly reflect the historic European-Christian composition of Australian society,” he said. “While all Muslims are not terrorists, certainly all terrorists these days are Muslims, so why would anyone want to bring more of them here?”
“The final solution to the immigration problem of course is a popular vote,” he added.
here's the video of Fraser Anning saying "the final solution to the immigration problem, of course, is a popular vote" pic.twitter.com/n6ohvUW6Vp
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) August 14, 2018
The words “final solution” usually refer to the Nazi policy of extermination carried out against the Jews during the Holocaust.
Katter vehemently defended Anning’s use of the term, saying the outrage was over a “ridiculous technicality.”
“He didn’t get to a university to know the significance of all these words,” Katter said. “He’s smart, but he hasn’t read all the history books. He doesn’t know what any of this means. And nor will he spend any time finding out.
“I’m sick of you lily-pad lefties coming at us on some absolutely ridiculous technicality that has nothing to do with the issues.”
He said his party was completely “pro-Jewish” and seeks to defend Jews from the Muslim “persecutors” allowed to immigrate from Middle East countries.
Prime Minister Turnbull had quickly condemned Anning’s speech.
“Australia is the most successful multicultural society in the world built on a foundation of mutual respect. We reject and condemn racism in any form,” he said on Twitter.
Well said Alan. Australia is the most successful multicultural society in the world built on a foundation of mutual respect. We reject and condemn racism in any form. https://t.co/RHslbs1FNs
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) August 14, 2018
The speech was also condemned by many local politicians.
Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, who is Jewish and who lost relatives in the Holocaust, called Anning’s speech “hurtful, divisive and unacceptable.”
“Fraser Anning should not only retract his comments last night but he should also immediately go and visit a Holocaust museum … and hear first hand from survivors how raw the pain is and hear about and see the destruction and devastation caused by the Nazi killing machine,” he told Australian media, according to The Guardian.
Katter retorted that Frydenberg should be “ashamed of himself” for being a member of a government which allows Muslim immigration.
Responding to Anning’s comments in a speech to the Lower House, Shadow Multicultural Minister Tony Burke called the words “bile.”
MP Graham Perrett called Anning a “myopic red-neck.”
My statement about the first speech from a Queensland senator. pic.twitter.com/89YgMUzKc4
— Graham Perrett (@GrahamPerrettMP) August 14, 2018
Dvir Abramovich, head of Australia’s Anti-Defamation Commission, said the senator had discredited himself by using the term “final solution.”
“Invoking terminology from the darkest and most unique tragedy in human history cheapens and taints this important debate,” he said in a statement. “This is historical trivialization of the worst kind imaginable.”
Anning brushed off the criticism and indicated he didn’t care if people were offended, telling multiple media outlets he was being victimized by the “thought police.”
His office told The Guardian that the use of the term was incidental, and pointed to his support for Israel.
“It is ironic that those on the left such as the Greens and some Labor who seek to criticize me are the same people who refused to support my efforts to stop Australia funding the Palestinian Authority who finance terrorist attacks against innocent Israeli women and children,” the statement read.
Anning told Australia’s Channel Nine that “didn’t even think about that, funnily enough,” when asked about the criticism of the term ‘final solution.’
“It was never meant to denigrate the Jewish community, it is two words and if that offends anyone unfortunately that is the way it has to be.”
But Pauline Hanson, whose One Nation party Anning originally entered Parliament under, distanced herself from the remarks and said the speech had been written by a former One Nation staffer Richard Howard and was reminiscent of Nazi propaganda.
“The speech was written by a Richard Howard, straight from [Joseph] Goebbels’ handbook from Nazi Germany,” she told Parliament on Wednesday. “I’m appalled by Fraser Anning’s speech … I have always advocated you do not have to be white to be Australian.
Several people have compared Anning’s speech to one delivered by Hanson in the mid-1990s, which also recalled the White Australia policy. Derryn Hinch, a fellow member of the opposition, called it “Pauline Hanson on steroids.”
Hinch apologized Wednesday for shaking Anning’s hand after the speech as part of protocol and said he had immediately gone home to scrub his digits.
“I felt like I was trapped in a Ku Klux Klan rally,” he said.