'Shameful And Pathetic': Fraser Anning Denounced By Almost The Entire Senate
Labor's Penny Wong has slammed far-right senator Fraser Anning as "pathetic" and "shameful", as the parliament moved to censure him for his comments following the Christchurch terror attack.
The parliament has now voted to censure, or officially condemn, Anning for his comments blaming Muslim immigration for the mosque attacks by an Australian white supremacist, but One Nation has abstained from the vote after earlier appearing to back in Anning's claims.
Anning was dragged by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Labor leader Bill Shorten, and every politician in-between, as well as comedian John Oliver, and was infamously egged while speaking at a far-right meeting in Melbourne.
An online petition calling for his removal from the parliament was signed by more than one million people, and was tabled in the Senate on Tuesday by Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi.
But while that petition doesn't have any legal weight, on Wednesday, the federal Senate moved to hit Anning with the most powerful measure available to it: a formal censure -- or condemnation -- motion.
"The Senate censures Senator Anning for his inflammatory and divisive comments are seeking to attribute blame to victims of the horrific crime and vilify people on the basis of religion which do not reflect the opinions of the Australian Senate or the Australian people," government Senate leader Mathias Cormann said, adding he wanted to "to condemn in the strongest possible terms" the senator's comments.
Labor's Senate leader, Penny Wong, refused to even speak Anning's name as she excoriated him for his "extraordinarily offensive and divisive statements."
"While those injured were being treated, this Senator sought to further fan the flames of division. How pathetic. How shameful," Wong said.
"Shameful and pathetic attempt by a bloke who has never been elected to get attention by exploiting diversity as a fault line for political advantage."
"He doesn't represent Australian values."
Anning, sitting in the Senate chamber as the speeches occurred, appeared to roll his eyes and smirk as Wong spoke.
Wong linked Anning's comments to what she saw as a general deteriorating of comment and debate in Australia, with moves toward relaxing laws around hate speech, and various racist incidents in politics and the media.
"We have to be uncompromising in our rejection of racism, prejudice, discrimination and hate speech and we must call it out wherever we see it," she said.
"It is a great sadness in me to see the way in which some on that side have failed to repudiate the ideology and the hate speech that we have seen in recent times."
The Senate hosted further speeches on the censure motion. Derryn Hinch called Anning "totally dangerous"; Stirling Griff said he was "hated" and "ignorant"; while Labor's Pat Dodson spoke in Maori and teared up during his speech.
"We cannot let the stench of racism and hate linger in this chamber," he said.
Anning himself did not apologise for his comments when it came to his time to respond. He called the egging "political violence" and claimed the censure motion was "left-wing virtue signalling", claiming his "freedom of speech" was under attack.
Anning was defended somewhat by two other senators, in Cory Bernardi and One Nation's Peter Georgiou. Bernardi said the censure motion should not go ahead because of what he saw as a threat to freedom of speech, while Georgiou -- briefly Anning's colleague, when the now-independent senator was part of One Nation -- claimed the censure was hypocrisy and a "public flogging".
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson was not present during the motion, after earlier saying she would abstain from the vote.
Anning had earlier come to national attention after appearing to praise the White Australia policy and calling for a "final solution" to Muslim immigration in his maiden speech last year. He had came to parliament under the One Nation banner and instantly quit the far-right party on his first day.
More to come.