'I Wasn't There For A Picnic': Fraser Anning Doubles Down On Neo-Nazi Excuses
Fraser Anning has defended spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on flights to attend a rally organised by far-right extremists, and again denied there were neo-Nazi supporters among the protesters.
Anning, the independent senator from Queensland, told Studio 10 on Monday he was standing about 150 metres away from those appearing to give Nazi salutes.
Video footage from the event, at Melbourne's St Kilda beach, shows a handful of demonstrators giving Nazi-style one-arm salutes. Another photo showed a man holding a helmet with the logo of the SS, or Schutzstaffel, the Nazi paramilitary organisation.
But Anning has claimed, without evidence, that it was left-wing counter-protesters who were saluting. He also criticised media for their coverage of the event.
"That wasn't the rally that I was at. The rally that I was at was peaceful, there were three speakers. At no time was there any violence. There were no neo-Nazi signs. No Nazi salutes," Anning told Studio 10 on Monday.
"Radical left-wingers, they were the ones that were shouting 'Nazi, Nazi, Nazi', doing the salutes and of course, the left-wing media tried to put that on people who were peacefully demonstrating their discontent with the government."
Anning came under fire for attending a rally at Melbourne's St. Kilda Beach on Saturday, featuring alongside convicted criminals Neil Erikson and Blair Cottrell.
But Anning denied he is a Nazi sympathiser, claiming he is a supporter of the Jewish and Israeli communities in Australia.
Anning, a former member of Pauline Hanson's One Nation and the Katter's Australia Party, has been roundly criticised by many in parliament, with calls for him to repay the taxpayer-funded flight he took to Melbourne.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said there was "no excuse or explanation" to justify the senator attending the event.
Anning told Studio 10 he was simply doing his job when he attended the rally by representing the concerns of Queenslanders.
Anning also confirmed he travelled business class from Queensland to Melbourne but deflected responsibility for this by saying the flights were booked "by the travel agency that looks after all our travel details".
"Well, I didn't go down there for a picnic. I went down there doing the job that I am supposed to do, representing the people of Queensland, the people who support me and that's what we get a travel allowance for," Anning said.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, these flights cost more than $2,800.
When questioned by host Kerri-Ann Kennerley about why Victorian affairs concerned him as a Queensland Senator, his answer referenced so-called 'African gangs'.
"They [Queenslanders] are very concerned with what is happening in Melbourne and Victoria with the African gangs, so it has now spread to Queensland," Anning said.
"It's a very concerning matter and because there is not consequences for these people down there, these thugs beating up on innocent people, on their beaches and in their homes. The Queensland people are quite concerned about that and so are the people I represent."
"They have had enough, they are fed up with importing people who hate us and attack us so, and not only that, doing it on our welfare."
Anning copped backlash in August when he used his maiden Senate speech to call for a "final solution" to immigration, echoing anti-semitic Nazi rhetoric.
Featured Image: Facebook/ Studio 10.
Contact Siobhan at firstname.lastname@example.org