Egged senator faces huge pressure
IT'S been a hell of a week for Fraser Anning - but his abrasive "victim blaming" comments in the wake of Christchurch and his reaction to being egged may spell his downfall.
The Queensland independent senator is now facing an unprecedented tide of public backlash that has taken the form of a Change.org petition, which has amassed more than one million signatures.
That makes it by far the largest Australian online petition in history, eclipsing the Sydney Opera House horse racing advertising backlash last year, and its creator has a simple aim - to remove Mr Anning from parliament.
"Senator Fraser Anning's views have no place in the government of our democratic and multicultural country," the petition reads.
"Within the bounds of Australian law, we request that he be pushed to resign from his position as Senator, and if appropriate, be investigated by law enforcement agencies for supporting right wing terrorism."
It points to his divisive comments following the Christchurch terrorist mass shooting on Friday.
"Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?" Mr Anning tweeted shortly after 50 innocent Muslims were shot dead in their place of worship.
"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," he said in a later statement.
The petition also took aim at Mr Anning's infamous "Final Solution" comments in relation to Muslim immigration in his maiden speech to parliament, calling them a "direct reference to genocide during WWII".
The extreme right-wing populist politician felt a taste of the public fury against him, as he was ambushed by a teenage boy, Will Connolly, who cracked a raw egg over his head on Saturday - prompting a furious double slapping reaction from Mr Anning.
Just hours after cleaning the yolk from his shirt, the senator was ambushed again.
Ali Bidiri, 20, filmed himself approaching Mr Anning at Melbourne Airport on Saturday night.
"Don't you have any f***ing remorse?," Mr Bidiri is heard saying in the video.
Mr Anning can be heard telling him to "stand back" before appearing to call him a "maggot".
Mr Bidiri continues his foul-mouthed tirade against the senator as assistants help Mr Anning board the plane.
The senator made his flight to Brisbane to appear at the Modern Arms & Militaria Fair in Ipswich, Queensland on Sunday, but his reaction to earlier egging incident could soon catch up with him.
Seventeen-year-old Connolly, who refers to himself as the "Egg Boy", has been described by some as a hero.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the senator should be charged.
"The full force of the law should be applied to Senator Anning." he told reporters.
Police in Victoria released a statement, saying Mr Anning "retaliated and struck the teen twice" before Mr Connolly was dragged to the ground by supporters
"The incident is being actively investigated by Victoria Police in its entirety," the statement read.
Pressure on Mr Anning is also mounting from within parliament, as the government and Labor will move a censure motion against Senator Anning when parliament resumes on April 1 condemning his "inflammatory and divisive comments seeking to attribute blame to victims of a horrific crime and to vilify people on the basis of religion".
However, the Greens say this does not go far enough, because it can't punish him in any practical way. They want to expel him from federal parliament.
"We are exploring all options, including amending section 8 of the Privileges Act to allow members of parliament to be expelled by their fellow MPs," Greens leader Richard Di Natale told The Australian.
What Fraser Anning did was shameful and a disgrace to our Parliament, but let’s not think for a moment that this is about just one person. Fraser Anning was a member of our Parliament because One Nation put him there. One Nation’s racism and bigotry contributed to this.— Richard Di Natale (@RichardDiNatale) March 17, 2019
"While politicians should be held responsible for their actions by the voters, in extraordinary circumstances like these where there is a pattern of behaviour that is so far outside acceptable norms, we must be willing to take extraordinary action to protect the community."
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the first time on Sunday joined the public condemnation of Anning.
Asked by a journalist what she thought of Mr Anning's comments, she replied simply: "They're a disgrace."
A GoFundMe page set up to raise $2000 to pay for Mr Connolly's "legal fees" and "more eggs" had exceeded $25,000 on Sunday.
The site says most of the money will go to Christchurch victims.
"Love the spunk of egg boy who puts his egg where we'd like it to be!" donor Val Lehmann-Monck posted.
"This kid is awesome. The senator will not get re-elected due to the publicity and those comments and his reaction," donor Nikhil Reddy wrote.
After the egging, Mr Anning supporters pinned Mr Connolly to the ground until journalists appealed for him to be allowed back on his feet, The Sun-Herald reported.
Far-right activist Neil Erikson, who was involved in tackling Mr Connolly, shouted for reporters to be removed from the area.
"Get the journalists out of here ... If you don't like, get out," Mr Erikson was quoted as saying.
Police say they arrested Mr Connolly, took his details and then released him without charge.
The teen urged his online followers not to follow his example.
"Don't egg politicians. You get tackled by 30 bogans at the same time," he said in a video. "I learnt the hard way."