Fraser Anning Speaks: 'I Shouldn't Be Condemned'
Fraser Anning has stood by his comments on Muslim immigration in the wake of the New Zealand terror attack, saying his response has been "twisted" by the media.
The far-right Queensland senator and former One Nation member sparked widespread condemnation after he claimed that Muslim immigration was the "real cause" of the attack on two Christchurch mosques, allegedly at the hands of a white Australian man, that have so far claimed 50 lives.
In a statement issued hours later on Friday afternoon, he condemned the attack before going on to highlight the "growing fear within the community" of the increasing Muslim presence.
Anning said the latter part of his statement has been "taken out of context".
"I said that countries that allow Muslim immigration invariably have escalations in crime and terrorist attacks. As far as I'm concerned, that is a statement of fact," he told reporters in Brisbane on Monday.
Anning has been branded a "disgrace" by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for his comments that were swiftly condemned by Australian politicians across the aisle.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his views "had no place in Australia, let alone Australian parliament".
But the independent senator accused Morrison of being "hypocritical" and refused to back down, rejecting calls his statement was antagonistic or a form of victim blaming.
"I see nothing disgusting about stating facts. In this country, as far as I am concerned, we have freedom of speech. If I make a statement of fact, I shouldn't' be condemned for it," he repeated.
Anning said he was acting in self-defence when he hit the Melbourne teenager who cracked an egg on the back of his head during a rally on Saturday.
"That's what Australians do, usually. If you're attacked, you defend yourself," the senator said, rejecting calls he overreacted.
"He (the boy) got a slap across the face which is what his mother should have given him long ago because he has been misbehaving badly," he said.
Victoria Police is continuing to investigate the incident "in its entirety", it said in a statement on Sunday, including the actions of Anning and "others".
Meanwhile, an online petition calling on the senator's removal from Parliament has cracked more than one million signatures. Anning said he isn't feeling the pressure.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion ... however a lot of people have told us they are happy for me to stay where I'm at," he said.
When probed about the number, he said he had "no idea" but insisted it was "quite a lot".
"I'll let them decide at the ballot box," he said.
It's a call echoed by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, as the the Liberal and Labor parties prepare to move a joint motion calling on the Senate to censure Anning when parliament resumes.
Dutton said voters would be able to react to Anning's "appalling" comments at the May election.
While the parliament can censure -- or officially condemn -- a member, constitutional experts say there is no mechanism by which a federal elected official can be removed from parliament by a simple decision or vote.
Politicians can be deemed ineligible to sit in parliament by reason of criminal convictions or other eligibility issues.
Calls from The Greens to change the law to allow politicians to be expelled have reportedly been rejected.
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