Newly-elected Liberal senator and retired senior Army officer Jim Molan is defending his decision to share anti-Muslim videos posted by far-right UK group Britain First on Facebook.
In March last year Mr Molan, who was sworn in as a senator this morning, shared posts from the group on his personal, public Facebook page.
One of the Britain First videos purports to show Muslim men attacking a police car in France, while the other purports to show Muslim men harassing and assaulting young women in France and the Netherlands.
The second video has been discredited by online fact-checkers.
Today Senator Molan said he did not remember sharing the videos, but upon watching them again, was shocked by the violence within them.
He said the videos were not inflammatory, and not racist.
“I have no apologies, I have no regrets,” he said.
Senator Molan said he rejected any suggestion he was racist.
“I put my life on the line for Islamic countries, for people to come out now and say that this is racist, or is anti-Islamic, I find deeply offensive,” he said.
Senator Molan said it was the violence within the videos that troubled him.
“What strikes me about them is not the Islamist side of it, the Islamic side of it, but the violence,” he said.
“It is just duplicitous for anyone to be coming out now and saying that this is anti-Islam.”
Trump’s Britain First tweets sparked anger in UK
Britain First shot to global attention when US President Donald Trump shared anti-Muslim videos from the group in November last year.
It prompted outrage in Britain, and he was criticised by UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
Last week Mr Trump apologised for re-tweeting the posts, saying he knew nothing about the group.
Senator Molan has also shared posts made by far-right figure Milo Yiannopolous and controversial cartoonist Larry Pickering.
Those posts were not anti-Muslim in nature.
A spokesman for Senator Molan said the senator shared content online to provoke debate, and was not endorsing anything.
“The senator often posts material in order to generate debate,” he said.
“The sharing of any post does not indicate endorsement.”
Senator Molan has not posted commentary with the more controversial posts, and does not regularly respond to comments made on the posts.
But he did respond to a comment on one Britain First post, which read: “Charming. And we’re meant to be tolerant, accepting and welcoming of this ‘breed’ in our country.”
Senator Molan replied: “Unbelievable”.
Senator Molan was chief of operations for the Coalition forces during the Iraq war, and after his retirement he helped develop the Coalition’s border protection policy known as Operation Sovereign Borders.
He is closely aligned with the conservative wing of the New South Wales Liberal Party.
‘I think he should be dragged into the Prime Minister’s office’
Labor MP Stephen Jones said Senator Molan should apologise for bringing the videos to wider attention.
“He’s used his public profile to spread fake stories to provoke race hate — there’s only one word for that, and it’s racism,” Mr Jones said.
“He’s done it for one reason, and that’s to draw attention to himself from people who he thinks share the views of the people who produced those videos in the first place.
“If he’s not being racist himself, he’s trying to profit from it — and it has to be condemned.”
Mr Jones said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should act fast to pull his new senator into line.
“I think he should be counselled,” he said.
“I think he should be dragged into the Prime Minister’s office, and be given a dressing down.
“And I expect to see an apology from Senator Molan some time in the next 24 hours.”