Malcolm Turnbull has been forced to defend new Liberal Senator Jim Molan as he faces criticism for refusing to delete anti-Muslim social media posts.
During Question Time on Tuesday, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten urged the Prime Minister to direct Senator Molan to remove the posts, which were shared on his Facebook page last year.
An angry Mr Turnbull defended Senator Molan, saying the former Army General did not “have a racist bone in his body”.
Molan won’t apologise
Senator Molan, who was sworn in on Monday, refused to apologise for the posts, though he said the Britain First group was “appalling”.
“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.
In the Senate, Greens leader Richard Di Natale attacked Senator Molan’s record in the army, noting UN criticisms of the assault on Fallujah. Senator Molan led Australia’s party.
“I’ve heard some extraordinarily unedifying things … But that reflection on the service of a senior Australian army officer takes your lows to depths I did not think you could plumb,” Defence Minister Marise Payne said.
The anti-Muslim group Britain First gained prominence after US President Donald Trump shared its posts in November last year, drawing criticism from UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
Mr Trump has since apologised for the posts.
Citizenship circus continues
Meanwhile, the government turned the screws on Labor over embattled Queensland MP Susan Lamb as the citizenship crisis returns to Parliament.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby used Question Time to argue “
Mr Joyce was himself forced into a byelection by the High Court over dual citizenship.
Ms Lamb, who holds the seat of Longman, previously held by the Liberals Wyatt Roy, has been under pressure to resign from Parliament after it emerged she had not successfully renounced her UK citizenship.
Noting the citizenship spotlight had now turned onto the Opposition after Mr Shorten lauded Labor’s candidate vetting processes, Mr Joyce earlier reporters: “We are going to let him fry in his own juices over this.”