A freshman Australian lawmaker has came under fire after giving a speech calling for a “final solution” to Muslim immigration.
Queensland senator Fraser Anning was criticized by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and others for both his call to ban non-European immigration to Australia and his use of the term “final solution.”
The words usually refer to the Nazi policy of extermination carried out against the Jews during the Holocaust.
“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,” Turnbull 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 senator, who recently joined nationalist Bob Katter’s Australia Party, 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.
The speech was quickly condemned by voices across Australia’s political spectrum.
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.
Responding to Anning’s comments in a speech to the Lower House, Shadow Multicultural Minister Tony Burke called the words “bile.”
“The words that happened in the other place are not the words of a proud Australian. They are the words of people who hate modern Australia, people who hate who we are as Australians,” he said.
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
“The use of such language risks inciting the most serious kind of hatred and violence against Muslims,” Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said according to Australian news site SBS. “Anyone who knows a thing about history will have felt a shiver up their spine upon learning of Fraser Anning’s words.”
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. 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.”
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
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.
Bob Katter, the head of Anning’s party whose own family emigrated from Lebanon, is expected to address the controversy later Wednesday.