The Morrison government has warned it won’t be taking “ethics advice” from the Labor Party on accepting the vote of a Queensland senator who attended a protest marred by Nazi salutes and racist abuse.
Confirming Scott Morrison will accept Senator Fraser Anning’s vote, Liberals cited the example of Julia Gillard accepting the “tainted” vote of Labor MP Craig Thomson after he was accused of using a union-funded credit card to pay for prostitutes.
Mr Thomson always denied he paid for the prostitutes.
However, the Morrison government stressed it had not “done any deals” with the Queensland senator.
“The government has rightly called out as repugnant the views that Senator Anning has associated himself with. Labor’s attempt to now try and extract some form of political windfall is cynical and shows bad faith,” a spokesman for the Prime Minister said.
“The government will not be taking political ethics advice from a Labor Party that happily took the vote of Craig Thomson, who was ultimately convicted for his crimes, and happily associates itself with John Setka, [a party that] has taken $13.3 million worth of donations from the CFMMEU, and lets them preselect Labor members of parliament, despite their abhorrent conduct.”
Senator Anning has sparked outrage by booking a business-class ticket to fly to the far-right protest in St Kilda on Saturday where he was chauffeur driven to the ugly protest in a Commonwealth car.
The day trip cost taxpayers an estimated $3000.
Senator Anning defended the trip as “official business”, stressing he was not, and had never been, a Nazi sympathiser.
But the Prime Minister has hardened his language, now openly describing the rally as “racist”.
“I support entirely the views expressed yesterday by Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack, condemning Senator Anning for attending the racist rally in St Kilda and associating himself with extreme and offensive racist views that have no place in our society. He is a repeat offender on these issues,” Mr Morrison said.
“Australians are not anti-migrant nor racist. Genuine concerns held by fair-minded Australians about immigration levels, border protection or law and order should not be used as a cover or be hijacked to push hateful and ugly racist agendas.”
But Labor’s Senate leader Penny Wong insisted it was time to take a tougher stance.
“Today I don’t just want to talk about Fraser Anning, I want to talk about the Coalition. Because standing up against prejudice isn’t just words, it is also what you do. It is who you do deals with and it’s the sort of preference arrangements you engage in. I have previously called on the Coalition to do what Labor does, which is to put extremist parties last. For example, to put One Nation last,” Senator Wong said.
“Fraser Anning votes with Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party. That is the reality, 90 per cent of the time.
“His vote delivers their legislation, delivers on their agenda in the Senate. And if Scott Morrison is serious about standing up to these sorts of extremist views that [Senator] Anning is supporting, then he should be making it clear that he is not going to be doing deals with him. No more deals to get legislation through.
“Scott Morrison should stand up and say he will not be doing deals with Senator Anning to get his legislation through the Parliament.”
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young backed Labor’s call for a ban on accepting his vote.
“He is a repeat offender, as the Prime Minister has made clear,” Senator Hanson-Young said.
“He needs to be irrelevant and only the government has the power to do that.”