SCANDAL: One Nation Capricornia candidate in damage control
WHEN news of the One Nation Party's gun laws and foreign donations scandal broke on Tuesday, Capricornia's ONP candidate Wade Rothery was underground and oblivious - busy mining coal.
Speaking to The Morning Bulletin not long after he returned to the surface, Mr Rothery said he was still trying to get his head around the story that entangled two senior party members, chief of staff James Ashby and Queensland leader Steve Dickson, in controversy.
The men were caught up in an Al Jazeera investigation using hidden cameras and a journalist posing as a grassroots gun campaigner where they discussed securing donations from US organisations (including the National Rifle Association) with a goal of securing the balance of power in Australia's parliament, leading to a windback of Australia's gun laws. They also made positive comments about the NRA's tactics post mass shootings and criticised Muslim immigration.
The embattled One Nation Party members told the media they were "on the sauce" and claimed they were entrapped by Al Jazeera, which amounted to foreign interference in Australian politics on the eve of the Federal Election.
While Mr Rothery wouldn't be drawn on the actions and fates of Dixon and Ashby, saying it was "one for the party executive and Senator Hanson to address", he did address the party's approach to gun laws.
"One Nation's gun policy is clearly laid out for voters to view," Mr Rothery said.
"One Nation remains a strong voice for the lawful ownership of guns within Australia. It does not seek to reverse a ban on semi-automatic guns or dissolve the 1996 gun laws implemented by John Howard."
Mr Rothery said One Nation remained committed to removing guns from criminals and people on terror watch-lists, while increasing penalties and jail time for owning illegal guns.
After being declared by Mr Ashby to be "ill" on Tuesday, party leader Pauline Hanson was confirmed to be under medical care, recovering from a tick bite that had left her face swollen and red. Ms Hanson lashed out on Twitter over the controversy saying she was "shocked and disgusted with the Al Jazeera hit piece" where a "Qatari government organisation" targeted her party.
She said the incident was referred to ASIO and she would make a full statement and take appropriate action after the second part of the investigation aired.