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PM Buckles To Pressure On One Nation Preferencing After NRA Guns Bombshell

Scott Morrison has buckled to pressure and announced the Liberal Party will preference One Nation below Labor.

UPDATE: Two days after fronting media and refusing to comment on the issue, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed the Liberal Party will be preferencing One Nation below Labor in the upcoming federal election.

Speaking to media in Perth, Morrison said it was not a decision he'd taken lightly, and had consulted widely on the issue, including with former Prime Minsiter John Howard.

"This is a decision I have taken in concert with the party organisation and discussing it with the federal President, state President, particularly the Queensland LNP President who I have had discussions with this morning," Morrison said.

"What the Nationals do is a matter for them, that's a separate issue."


Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to commit to preferencing One Nation last in the upcoming federal election, despite a scandal involving senior party figures seeking millions in funding from US gun lobby groups.

The issue of preferencing Pauline Hanson's far-right party has dogged the Coalition for some time, but gained new momentum following the Christchurch terror attack and amid discussion in Australia over racism and Islamophobia.

Labor has ruled out doing a deal with One Nation, but Morrison has repeatedly insisted the Liberal Party will not announce preferencing arrangements until nominations close, which won't happen until an election is called.

On Tuesday, despite describing the alleged actions of senior One Nation figures James Ashby and Steve Dickson as "abhorrent", Morrison refused to confirm his party would place One Nation last on their how-to-vote cards.

"There are many candidates who should go last," a visibly frustrated Morrison told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday.

"You won't know all those names and all the individuals and all those parties until nominations close."

Photo: AAP.

The issue of preferencing reached another head on Tuesday after a bombshell Al Jazeera report exposed One Nation figures Ashby and Dickon engaging in covert meetings with powerful gun lobby groups in the US, including the NRA.

When pressed to say if the Liberals would at least put One Nation below Labor and the Greens, Morrison threw out this hypothetical:

Tell me this: Fraser Anning runs a candidate in Queensland in every single seat, who goes last?

Anning -- whose comments after the Christchurch attack have been condemned worldwide -- is starting his own party but has given no indication he plans to run a candidate in every seat. Earlier this week, he said he "couldn't care less" about his place in politics, but "will leave it to the Australian people to make the decision" on who they elect.

The issue of preferencing One Nation is publicly splitting the party, with moderate Liberals becoming increasingly scathing of Pauline Hanson following the Christchurch mosque massacre.

Hanson and Ashby pictured in Parliament House in 2017. Image: AAP

Liberal MP Tim Wilson said One Nation should be put "dead last", while frontbencher Kelly O'Dwyer said she couldn't "see any reason why [they] wouldn't be preferenced last."

However, senator Simon Birmginham refused to give a clear answer on the issue, instead telling the ABC that Australians should "reject extremism in all its forms".

Photo: Al Jazeera.

One Nation is again under the microscope after the Al Jazeera report uncovered meetings between the party and American gun groups including the National Rifle Association.

The aim of the meetings was to secure funding from gun lobby groups to fund One Nation election campaigns and ultimately weaken Australia's gun laws, Al Jazeera alleges. Accepting foreign political donations of more than $1000 is a crime under legislation enacted in 2018.

"One Nation has asked Al Jazeera to show complete transparency and release the full context of conversations," a spokesperson told 10 daily.

The party has referred Al Jazeera to both the AFP and ASIO, claiming "foreign interference" in the upcoming federal election.

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au