Scott Morrison Condemns 'Ugly Racial Protests' At St Kilda, But Not Fraser Anning
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has thanked police for dealing with "ugly racial protests" organised by far-right groups in Melbourne, but stopped short of condemning an independent Senator who attended them.
Hundreds of police occupied the foreshore of St Kilda on Saturday where far-right groups converged for a "political meeting" on Saturday.
They were met with left-wing and anti-fascist groups who held large counter-protests, in solidarity for targeted minority groups.
The day after the rally, Morrison spoke out against the far-right protest but made no comment on Senator Fraser Anning's appearance.
"Intolerance does not make Australia stronger," he said on Twitter.
"Australia is the most successful migrant country in the world. This has been achieved by showing respect for each other, our laws and values and maintaining sensible immigration policies.
"Let's keep it that way, it makes Australia stronger."
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten issued his own response a short time later, saying right-wing extremists are turning attacks on minorities into "a political art form".
"Australia won't achieve any of what our nation's great destiny can be by pulling the racist lever," he tweeted on Sunday afternoon.
"The simple truth is this: we are a stronger, better country because of all those who've come across the seas and joined their story to ours.
"We are strong because we are diverse."
Neither the prime minister nor opposition leader mentioned Anning, who is under fire for attending the far-right rally along with convicted criminals Neil Erikson and Blair Cottrell.
Video footage captured at the scene showed attendees acting out Nazi-esque goose-steps and appearing to perform one-armed Nazi salutes.
Anning appeared listening to convicted extremist Cottrell and others speak about their concerns about immigration and crime.
Morrison's statement earned ire for not condemning the far-right protest strongly enough, with Victorian Labor MP Philip Dalidakis calling it "disgraceful".
"You are meant to show leadership during times like this," Dalidakis posted on Twitter.
"There were people wearing Nazi symbols, flying Nazi flags. Show some response to our Holocaust survivors, our Jewish community, to all Australians and to your yourself.
"Condemn it. Strongly."
He joins a number of other politicians, including Labor MPs Tim Watts and Helen Polly, who have spoken against Anning's appearance.
Watts described his behaviour as racist.
"Today, around 100 neo-Nazis, white nationalists and racial supremacists rallied in St Kilda accompanied by an Australian senator," he tweeted on Saturday night.
"The objective of rallies like this is to intimidate minorities in our country.
"In response, we need our community to send a clear message that racists like this will be not tolerated anywhere in our country."
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young said the PM should refuse support from Anning in the upper house after showing "he is unfit to be in the Parliament".
Anning came to Parliament on the One Nation ticket after replacing the disqualified Malcolm Roberts in late 2017.
He now sits as an independent after later being booted from Bob Katter's party over views on immigration and race.
He recently sparked widespread anger over a vile speech where he praised the White Australia policy and echoed Nazi rhetorical in calling for a "final solution" to immigration.
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Featured image: AAP