Australian senator censured for racist remarks on NZ terror attack

Published 04.04.2019 00:41

Australia's Senate formally censured Wednesday Senator Fraser Anning for his widely condemned remarks, blaming immigrants for last month's deadly New Zealand terror attacks against Muslims.

Senators officially censured independent Queensland Senator Anning for his anti-Muslim, racist remarks in a session led by Labor Senator for South Australia Penny Wong and Mathias Cormann, the ruling Coalition's deputy leader in the Senate.

The censure motion was supported across the aisle, with only one senator in the 76-seat body voting against and three abstaining.

Wong called Anning's statements "shameful and pathetic."

"There is a difference between freedom of speech and hate speech," she said, adding: "The former is a feature of our democracy. The latter is an attack on democracy."

"We have to be uncompromising in our rejection of racism, prejudice, discrimination and hate speech, and we must call it out wherever we see it," she said.

"It is very important that the Parliament is unified in its condemnation of these appalling comments that have been made," Cormann said.

"Senator Anning's comments were ugly and divisive. They were dangerous and unacceptable from anyone, let alone a member of this place," he added.

At least 50 Muslims were killed and as many injured on March 15 when a terrorist entered the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch and shot worshipers in cold blood, including four children. The incident has been internationally condemned and various protests were held calling for steps against anti-Muslim sentiment.

In the massacre's aftermath, Anning tweeted: "Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?" Despite outrage at his tweet, he later added: "The real cause of the bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place."

Birmingham said Anning had acted in a way that "would potentially fuel more acts of terrorism and violence."

"You have failed the test of character I would expect of anybody who is elected to this place," he told Anning.

Some 1.4 million people have signed a petition calling for Anning's removal from the Senate, a sanction that requires a higher bar than the censure vote.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter