Fraser Anning's Mackay supporters laugh at Holocaust joke
A FRASER Anning candidate thought it was comedy gold as he joked about the "final solution" at a campaign event in Mackay.
Capricornia candidate Grant Pratt introduced himself to a cheery crowd of supporters gathered at the Boomerang Hotel by opening his speech with the words "final solution".
His reference to the Queensland Senator's infamous speech in the Australian Parliament was met with laughter.
But in August last year, when Senator Anning used the phrase in reference to Muslim immigration, he was widely condemned for his reference to the Holocaust.
Speaking at the hotel, the founder of Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party disagreed his anti-immigration rhetoric was stirring up an ugly side of Australian politics.
"I don't stir anything up. It's not an ugly side at all, it's an alternative side," Senator Anning said. "I never advocate for violence."
However, on the topic of Muslim immigration, the party's candidate for Dawson, Michael Turner, said "the way things are going in the next five to 10 years there will be a civil war (in Australia)".
"There is no such thing as a good Muslim," Mr Turner said.
With more than 60 people in the crowd, attendance at Fraser Anning's Mackay meeting was three times bigger than the number of votes that launched the controversial senator into the Australian Parliament.
In an ambitious move, the former One Nation senator, who received 19 votes in the 2016 Federal election, is now running Senate candidates in every state and territory and candidates in every one of the 30 Queensland seats.
When he arrived at the Boomerang Hotel Thursday evening, he was immediately surrounded like a minor celebrity. Well-wishers lined up for handshakes, hugs and selfies with the Queensland senator.
In March, after making comments blaming the New Zealand Muslim community for the Christchurch attacks, Senator Anning was egged by a 17-year-old boy in Melbourne. Sitting down at a table ahead of the meeting, he joked that he preferred to keep his back to the wall.
"I've been attacked from behind before," he said.
But the Senator faced little hostility when he met with supporters at the Nebo Road pub. It was a cheery meeting, with most of his policies receiving either cheers, or heckled words of encouragement.
Many of his supporters have rallied behind the minor party after becoming dissatisfied with Australia's political landscape.
Blacks Beach resident Kerry-Anne Knowles said she was a traditional LNP supporter looking for change.
"I've heard they're becoming more like Labor," she said.
With Mr Anning becoming a notable far-right voice, Ms Knowles said "we've heard so much about what he wants to do for the country".
North Mackay resident Carmel Lucas said Australia was in an "era of career politicians" and this meant that no one was "saying it how it is".
A strong supporter of Senator Anning, Ms Lucas said "all of Australia has their heads buried in the sand".
She said she had held up signs saying 'Stop Islam' when campaigning for the party; and while she said she faced hostility from Dawson residents, Ms Lucas adamantly said "for anyone who calls me a racist, I will call them a traitor".
Despite being censured in Parliament for his Islamaphobic comments, Senator Anning's strong anti-immigration rhetoric has won him supporters like Ms Lucas in Dawson.
He said he was bringing "a little bit of truth and a conservative view" to the Senate.
Senator Anning claimed he was speaking for a silent majority of Queenslanders.
He said the people who disagreed with his rhetoric were "people from the leafy suburbs, sipping their chardonnays, who live in a bubble".
"Even if I'm only representing five per cent of the people - somebody has to speak for them"
"It happened in Brexit, it happened in 2016 (Trump). I'm not saying we're going to do the same, but there was a silent majority who believe."
Senator Anning said he did not deny being allied with the overseas movements, which have been accused of popularism.
"If what I say is populist then fine - all I can say is what I believe."
Despite saying immigration was the "main threat" to Australia, Senator Anning denied that he led a a one-policy party.
He said he was also campaigning on veterans affairs, aged care, pensioners, and infrastructure funding.
When asked by the crowd about public education funding, he said "everyone desires a good education. Just add three words to it 'at whose expense?".
The only point on which the crowd seemed to disagree with Senator Anning was when the conversation moved to euthanasia.
One supporter, Ian Trimble, argued with the senator's anti-euthanasia stance.
Mr Trimble said he had watched his mother "shrivel away" over two years as she fought, and eventually succumbed to bowel cancer.