‘Abhorrent’: PM rips into One Nation
PRIME Minister Scott Morrison has ripped into One Nation over the "abhorrent" revelation that it sought millions of dollars in foreign donations from the American gun lobby and claimed it could weaken Australia's gun laws.
Speaking at a press conference in Brisbane this afternoon, Mr Morrison reacted to the explosive undercover investigation from Al Jazeera, which documented One Nation's efforts to solicit funding through the National Rifle Association (NRA).
"There are many reasons not to vote for One Nation. It's a long list," Mr Morrison said.
"Today we saw further evidence of that.
"One Nation officials have basically sought to sell Australia's gun laws to the highest bidders, to a foreign buyer. And I find that abhorrent.
"No law should be up to the highest bidder as some part of foreign interference."
Mr Morrison has been under intense pressure in recent days to commit to preferencing One Nation last at the election.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly said preferences are a matter for the Liberal Party's state divisions and will be determined once all candidates in each seat have been announced.
"Frankly, there are many candidates who should go last. And you won't know all those names and all those parties until nominations close," he said.
"Tell me this. If Fraser Anning ran as a candidate in Queensland, in every single seat, who do you put last?
"There are plenty of extreme views out there, and those extreme views which are dangerous to Australia are not hostage to the left or the right of Australian politics."
He deflected when asked whether he thought One Nation should be preferenced below Labor and the Greens, and suggested the question should be turned on its head.
"The Greens are in favour of death taxes. Do you think the Labor Party should be putting the Greens ahead of the Liberal Party?" Mr Morrison said.
He did once again rule out any preference deals with One Nation.
"I'm not interested in getting One Nation's preferences. I'm interested in getting their primary vote," he said.
"To the people of Australia who have voted for One Nation, good Australians, I invite you to vote for a party of government that can deliver on the issues that matter to you."
In his wide-ranging press conference, the Prime Minister also made a significant announcement on energy policy, revealing the government would consider underwriting "one very small" coal upgrade project in New South Wales.
The project, based in Lake Macquarie, is one of "a dozen" on a shortlist the government will now consider. It is the only coal project on the list. Most of them involve either gas or hydro-electric power.
"A shortlist of projects that will now be examined in closer detail before any decision is made on the underwriting of these projects," he told reporters.
"We're talking about a range of projects across the various fuel sources, and our approach has always been to have an agnostic approach when it comes to the fuel source.
"Wherever it comes from, we just want what is going to provide the reliability that is necessary."
The government will also do a feasibility study on power generation to meet the industrial needs of central and north Queensland.
Mr Morrison's announcement could address the concerns of restless National MPs from Queensland, who have been pressuring the government to underwrite a new coal-fired power station in their state.
Their push was recently boosted by the public support of former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce. He responded to Mr Morrison's press conference with this tweet.
On another matter, the Prime Minister spoke about his plans to punish social media companies for failing to remove footage of terrorist acts quickly enough.
He was about to meet with executives from platforms such as Facebook and YouTube and demand "an understanding from them about how they are going to make their products safe".
"We want the same rules to apply in the online social media world that exist in the physical world," Mr Morrison said.
"There are many challenges in this space, whether it's online bullying, predatory behaviour or child pornography. There is the way social media is used to blacklist businesses. There is the way these sites can be used to put forward very dangerous information."
His push is a response to the Christchurch terror attack, which was live streamed by the gunman. The footage was reposted across social media, and the companies struggled to take down all of it quickly.
"You can't let a terrorist atrocity be filmed and streamed and be up for 69 minutes. Sixty-nine minutes. That is not acceptable. It has to change," Mr Morrison said.
"They can get an ad to you in half a second, they should be able to pull down this sort of terrorist material in the same sort of time frame."