Police have charged a 19-year-old man after he allegedly punched a photographer and heckled a female journalist at a news conference called by Senator Fraser Anning at the site of the Cronulla riots.
Senator Anning chose the provocative location in Sydney’s south to introduce NSW candidates for his party, Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party.
Anning supporters heckled journalists during the news conference, including local reporter Eliza Barr.
When the press conference ended, Ms Barr was followed out of the park where one of Senator Anning’s supporters made derogatory remarks.
When News Corp photographer Dylan Robinson attempted to take photos of him, the man lunged at him, throwing punches.
Mr Robinson’s shirt was badly torn in the altercation.
A Fraser Anning supporter has been arrested after an alleged assault on a News Corp journalist and cameraman in Cronulla.
— Christine Vanden Byllaardt (@cvbyllaardt) April 26, 2019
NSW Police charged the Randwick man with common assault, intimidation and behaving in an offensive manner.
He was granted conditional bail and is due to appear at Sutherland Local Court on May 16.
The controversial senator was in Cronulla, the scene of the 2005 riots, to launch his NSW Senate team and a local candidate, former One Nation councillor Peter Cook, for the seat of Cook — a seat currently held by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Ms Barr, who has previously attracted harsh comments from far-right conservatives for her reporting, was heckled after she challenged the Senator’s claims about Muslims.
During the press conference, Senator Anning spoke against Muslim immigration and said Sudanese gangs were terrorising Sydney but declined to outline any evidence to support the claim.
“I don’t need to,” he said.
“I have police reports. I can give you those if you like.”
Footage of the attack showed the 19-year-old man repeatedly punching Mr Robinson before bystanders intervened.
The photographer, his shirt badly torn, continued to take photos of his alleged attacker as he walked away.
A short time later, police detained the young man and took him to Sutherland Police station in the back of a police vehicle.
The alleged attacks on Mr Robinson and Ms Barr were condemned by the Prime Minister, who said “that behaviour has no place in Australia”.
“I find it absolutely appalling,” he said.
“And his [Senator Anning] number – he is placed last on my ticket, on our party’s ticket.”
Peter Kelly, the Conservative National candidate, said he had left before the scuffle occurred but did see police officers approaching the park.
He also condemned any violence and abuse thrown towards reporters.
“I find name calling to be particularly abhorrent,” Mr Kelly said.
“She [Ms Barr] is doing her job, as is her right.”
The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, a union representing journalists, described the alleged attack as “absolutely shocking”.
“It’s completely unacceptable in a democracy for journalists to be physically threatened or assaulted in the course of doing their job,” it said in a statement.
“Journalists perform an important role holding politicians to account, they deserve to be able to ask questions in complete safety.”
Senator Anning tweeted about the morning press conference around 1.30pm to reiterate he would “ban all Muslim and Black immigration”, but did not mention the assault.