Fraser Anning invoked the Nazi party’s “final solution” in his maiden speech in the Senate last week in relation to “the immigration problem,” right after he’d stated that “the reasons for ending all further Muslim immigration are both compelling and self-evident.”
The senator outlined that his final solution is to hold a national plebiscite “to cut immigration numbers.” However, the sinister aspect of Anning’s reference to the Nazi party’s genocide program following his critique of the Muslim community was lost upon no one.
Anning further lamented the end of the White Australia policy: a group of policies that were in place over the 70-odd years following Federation that saw people of non-European descent barred from immigrating to this country.
Whilst singing the praises of “an immigration program that actively discriminated in favour of Europeans,” Anning took aim at the Whitlam government, criticising it for dismantling this system via its adoption of “Soviet inspired UN treaties on discrimination.”
The rise of race politics in Australia has been a focus of concern over recent months, with Coalition politicians claiming that there’s an African gang crisis in Melbourne, along with the airtime that Sky News afforded avowed neo-Nazi Blair Cottrell.
So, while it wasn’t completely surprising to discover that there’s a fringe section of Australian society still professing retrograde racist ideals, there was something deeply disturbing about Anning being able to stand in parliament and spout such malevolent rhetoric.
Stumbling into parliament
It’s a fluke that Anning ever set foot in the Senate. He only received 19 first preference votes, when he ran on the One Nation ticket in the last federal election. But, he replaced One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts in parliament, after he was found ineligible to remain due to his dual British citizenship.
After entering the Senate, Anning quit One Nation to become independent, before joining Katter’s Australian Party. Leader of the party Bob Katter praised his colleague’s final solution speech. He also posed for a photograph with Cottrell and other United Patriots Front members back in 2016.
Shifting the centre
Parallels have been drawn between Anning’s speech and Pauline Hanson’s 1996 maiden speech in the lower house of federal parliament. During that speech, Hanson said that she believed Australia was “in danger of being swamped by Asians.”
Back in the late 1990s, Hanson was said to have served the Howard government well, as her racist rhetoric swung the political pendulum so far to the right that the Coalition’s policies appeared to be moderate in comparison.
And in an absurd set of circumstances, Anning’s reference to genocide allowed Senator Hanson to take the moral high ground, as she condemned his speech as going “too far.” However, later that same day, Hanson went onto introduce a bill advocating for a national vote on immigration levels.
Relating Coalition sentiments
Anning’s speech also shifted the focus from the racist rhetoric that Coalition politicians have been bandying about over recent months. Following the speech, Malcolm Turnbull was able to say that he “condemned and rejected” the comments the new senator had made.
However, Anning utilised some of the very same rhetoric that Turnbull and other Liberal party members have been using, when he stated, “we have black African Muslim gangs terrorising Melbourne.” Indeed, the myth of the African gang crisis has propagated up by the Coalition.
At a New Year’s Day press conference, Greg Hunt stated “African gang crime is clearly out of control” in Melbourne. On the following day, Peter Dutton appeared on 2GB radio, claiming that Victorians were too scared to go out to dinner at night for fear of “African gang violence.”
While, last month, Turnbull stated that there is a “real concern about Sudanese gangs.” And this is all despite Victoria police repeatedly asserting that there are no organised African crime gangs operating in that state.
As The Project’s Waleed Aly has pointed out, Sudanese-born Victorians accounted for just one percent of offenders last year, while Australian-born Victorians accounted for 72 percent of offenders. And the crime rate had actually dropped by 9 percent over that same period.
A descendant of terrorists
During his speech, Anning also made reference to what he referred to as “the first terrorist act on Australian soil.” This was a 1915 incident that occurred in Broken Hill that involved two men from South Asia, who shot and killed four people.
But, as Padraic Gibson, senior researcher at the UTS Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, pointed out in a post, if Anning is going to deem this incident a terrorist act, then he’s ignoring the terrorism perpetrated against Aboriginal people over the 127 years prior.
And Mr Gibson further pointed to research that reveals that the senator is actually “descended from terrorists.” Mr Anning outlined during his speech that his family settled in the Charter Towers region of Queensland in the 1860s.
As Mr Gibson put it, the Anning family “helped lead a genocidal invasion of Gudjal country in North Queensland to steal the land. Frank Hann, the manager of the Lolworth Cattle Station right near the Anning property, wrote in his diary… he had ‘met John Anning just coming back from hunting blacks.’”
Mr Anning also made the statement that “a majority of Muslims in Australia of working age do not work and live on welfare.” This is a claim he previously made earlier this year, which was promptly debunked.
The senator tweeted in May that 56 percent of working-age Muslims aren’t in the labour force. But, when the ABC checked this was actually 43 percent. And when the figures were further crunched it was found this was due to the large number of Muslim women carrying out unpaid work at home.
The change is already here
“Now, on the brink of irreversible change, it is time for us to decide whether we as a people will rise up against this,” Anning said as he brought his speech to a close. But, what he doesn’t seem to understand is that Australia has already undergone irreversible change.
The pre-Whitlam Australia that he hearkens back to was never truly white, as this continent was populated by First Nations people way before the British ever arrived. And today, the multicultural character of this country is well developed and much appreciated by the majority.
But, what is a national shame is that the Australia political system so poorly reflects the diverse identity of this nation, whilst it allows dinosaurs like Anning free rein.
Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He has a focus on human rights issues, encroachments on civil liberties, drug law reform, gender diversity and First Nations rights. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, he wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.