[2020 update: We did! Woooo!!!!]
Senator Fraser Anning fell into a senate seat and a $200,000 annual taxpayer funded salary after receiving a grand total of 1 9 votes in the 2016 Federal Election. His elevation to the Upper House is, in my humble view, the most unexpected and the most tragic outcome of the whole ‘section 44’ debacle that consumed so much of our politics in 2017. Hopefully you have forgotten that incredibly forgettable of periods in Australia’s political history and I apologise for bringing it up here. However, it explains why such a terrible person as Senator Anning now gets to call himself, and be called, Senator Anning. The very short version of how he finished up where he is now is this:
– At the 2016 election, people in Queensland decided that neither major political party deserved their vote, which is fair enough. So a whole lot of them decided to vote for One Nation instead, particularly in the Senate. I will hold back on my views on the decision of so many Queenslanders to send a message to the major political parties by voting for a racist, corrupt, unrepresentative and hate mongering political party that has no place in our modern social or political landscape. Because I am trying to be objective here, you see.
– Thanks to racism, One Nation got not just one but two Queensland Senate seats in Federal Parliament. The first went to party leader Pauline Hanson, whose rise and fall and rise and fall and rise again over the past 20 years would be inspirational if she were not so insidious. The second One Nation Queensland Senate seat went to Malcolm Roberts, who was such a man of the world that he had held, at various stages in his life, Indian, British and Australian citizenship.
– Senator Roberts spent a glorious year and a half in the Australian Senate, abusing minorities and generally causing trouble, before someone asked him the question: ‘Hey mate, were you still a Brit when you ran for the Senate?’. To which Senator Roberts replied ‘Um… no. Because I emailed the British Consulate at an email address ending in .uksydney, which is completely legit, and they never replied. And I believe I am Australian mate. And if I believe I am, then I am.’ Turns out that Senator Roberts was, in actual fact, still a British citizen when he signed his Senate nomination form, meaning he was not eligible to stand for election under section 44 of our amazingly quaint Constitution.
– In a show of undivided loyalty (to herself) Senator Hanson referred Senator Roberts to the High Court, where he and a bunch of other polycitizenal (new word!) politicians were all declared ineligible to hold their position given their foreign citizenship. With Roberts out of the way, Senate rules said that the next candidate on the One Nation list got to fill Roberts’ seat. That candidate was Fraser Anning, who as I mentioned earlier received just 19 actual votes in the 2016 election. 19. Votes. Sigh.
Senator Anning clearly believed in going hard early, and made his position on life, love, and white supremacy very clear in his first speech in Parliament, where he dropped such delightful thought bombs as:
‘In order for us to remain the nation that we are now, those who come here need to assimilate and integrate. Those who are most similar to the mainstream majority in terms of ethnicity, culture, language and values most readily do so. Historically, however, the one immigrant group here and in other Western nations that has consistently shown itself to be the least able to assimilate and integrate is Muslims.’
‘…it appears that many of those who claim to be asylum seekers are actually just welfare seekers who only come to Australia to live on welfare in public housing at the expense of working Australians’.
What where his views on the Safe Schools program? Just as nuanced. He said in Parliament that the Safe Schools program would turn all children homosexual and that: ‘Fifty years ago, if a communist pervert had proposed that our nation’s children be forced to listen to sexually deviant propaganda, they would probably have been strung up…Today, this disgusting garbage is called the Safe Schools program, and its leading exponents hold comfortable government funded positions.’
Other notable highlights in Annings’ senate career include attending a far-right rally in Victoria, funded by taxpayers, and staying at his brother’s hotel in Queensland, funded by (yep, you guessed it) taxpayers.
But it was this weekend where Anning truly exposed his despicable, wicked and horrible nature for the world to see. Within hours of the horrific events that occurred in Christchurch on Friday, Anning blamed Muslim immigration for the acts of violence that occurred on that tragic day, saying that: ‘The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.’
Any of Senator Annings’ actions or comments before those he made on Friday should, in my view, have been enough to have him removed from Parliament on the grounds that he and his values and believes are not just inconsistent with, but wholly contrary to, those of the Australian people and Australia as a country. His comments on Friday should have resulted in more than other politicians simply moving to censure Senator Anning. Why did the Prime Minister or the Opposition Leader not call for the removal of Senator Anning from the Senate. Why is this man allowed to remain in Parliament despite all that he has said, all that he has done, and all that he believes?
The reason, sadly, is that it is very hard to legally remove a sitting member of Parliament. I tried to find a way that Senator Anning could be removed. I really, really did. And I am sure that many smarter minds than mine, with a great deal of experience in political laws, rules and regulations have tried even harder. Under our laws, it is almost impossible to remove a politician from Parliament once they are elected to it, regardless of how they were elected and what they do once they are there.
Since a change in law in 1987, it is no longer possible for Parliament to expel a member, no matter what that member says or does. That means that the only way Senator Anning can be removed from the Senate before the next election (where, thankfully, he is sure to be booted) is if:
– like Malcolm Roberts before him, he is found to have had dual citizenship at the time he declared himself a candidate for the Senate. No-one has suggested that this is the case for Senator Anning, unfortunately.
– he was employed by the Commonwealth Government when he won his seat in the Senate, or was at any time during his stint as Senator employed by the Commonwealth Government. Again, there is nothing I can find that suggests that this was or is the case.
– he has some sort of business interest with the Commonwealth Government and so has a financial conflict of interest by sitting in Parliament. This ground for removal could still undo Peter Dutton, who holds an ownership stake in some Commonwealth Government subsidised child care centres, but unfortunately cannot undo Senator Anning so far as I can tell.
– he is declared bankrupt. There was a small chance of this happening just before Anning took his seat but unfortunately the court case that could have brought about his bankruptcy settled and he was held to be non-bankrupt, if that is a word.
– he is convicted of a crime that has a sentence of more than one year. Now, before this weekend I would have said that this option too was off the table and could not be used to remove Anning from the Senate. But maybe, just maybe, thanks to an egg carrying 17 year old, this ground for removal could be relevant. When, at an Anning press conference on Saturday, our hero egg-carrier smashed the egg onto Anning’s head, Anning turned around and hit the 17 year old twice. On camera. Clearly. And Deliberately. Look, I know it will never happen, but if that 17 year old charges Anning with battery for those two punches, and a court finds Anning guilty, there is the very small chance that Anning will face a jail sentence of more than a year and hence be ineligible to take his seat in the Senate.
This outcome is but a dream of mine, though. The sad reality is that Anning will not be charged with battery, and with the 2019 Federal Election so close to hand we will all simply have to accept the fact that we are in for a few more weeks of the hate-filled and ignorant comments of one of the most undeserving people to ever enter our Federal Parliament, let alone fill a seat in it. At least we know that he will not serve another term as a Senator. Let us hope he is never heard from again.
Given the lack of any legal options to remove Senator Anning before the next election, I instead choose to use Senator Anning’s comments and actions as a call to action for myself. A call to reject his racist views, and instead find ways that I can spread peace and happiness and joy to all people, regardless of their race, sex, age, religion, or reason for sharing Australia with me. I hope everyone reading this finds their own ways to reject the views of people like Senator f***ing Anning, so that the events of this weekend become a catalyst for peace and love, and not a trigger for hate and fear.