Pauline Hanson’s One Nation has been accused of asking the powerful US gun lobby the National Rifle Association for $US20 million ($A28m) in funding, in part to help it roll back gun control in Australia.
Queensland leader Steve Dickson and Senator Hanson’s chief of staff James Ashby made the request in a meeting with NRA of America officials and other pro-gun groups in the US, an undercover investigation by Al Jazeera reveals.
One Nation has responded by trying to discredit the news organisation.
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“Al Jazeera are a state-owned propaganda arm of the Qatari government that supports Islamic extremist groups and are not a legitimate media organisation,” the party told AAP in a statement.
“The matter has been referred to ASIO and the Australian Federal Police due to concerns of foreign interference into Australian politics in the lead up to the imminent federal election.”
The party believes it was targeted because it advocates cutting Australia’s immigration intake and putting in place “a travel ban on countries with terrorism links”.
The investigation, broadcast overnight on Monday, features a recording of a meeting in Washington DC last September, captured by an undercover journalist.
In it, Mr Dickson tells NRA officials that for the world to look to Australia as a model for gun control would be “poison”.
“If we don’t change things, people are going to be looking at Australia and go ‘well, it’s OK for them to go down the path of not having guns, it’s OK for them to go down that politically-correct path’,” he says.
“And it’s like a poison – it will poison us all unless we stop it.”
Mr Ashby is also heard saying $US20 million in donations to One Nation from US pro-gun lobbies would give the party parliamentary influence in Australia.
“If you had 20 [$US20 million], you would own the lower house and the upper house,” he says in the recording.
Electoral commission data from 2017/18 shows the Nationals received just over $8 million in combined donations while the Greens took in almost $13 million. Both parties currently hold more federal seats than One Nation.
AAP has sought comment from the NRA.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham called Senator Hanson to front the cameras on Tuesday to explain the “sickening” reports.
“She should explain whether or not she was truly seeking an amazing $20 million in foreign donations to One Nation,” he told ABC’s Radio National.
He said the idea of rolling back Australia’s gun laws seemed remarkable in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre two weeks ago, in which a lone shooter allegedly motivated by right-wing extremism killed 50 people at two mosques.
The NRA meeting came not long before legislation cleared federal parliament in November banning foreign donations.
Al Jazeera’s two-part documentary will be shown on the ABC on Tuesday and Thursday, and is available online.
© AAP 2019