Chris O'Brien, ABC (Australia), August 16, 2018
Some residents in the north-western Queensland city of Mount Isa have voiced their support for Senator Fraser Anning’s controversial call to limit immigration, even as the comments earned bipartisan condemnation among Queensland MPs.
Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) is resisting pressure in Queensland to denounce its senator’s maiden speech this week, claiming Senator Anning had popular support for his stance against Muslim immigration.
On Tuesday night, Senator Anning called for a complete overhaul of the immigration system, insisting most migrants should be from a European Christian background and all Muslims should be banned from migrating to Australia.
Both houses of Federal Parliament condemned the speech and Queensland Parliament followed suit on Thursday.
Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and LNP Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington both condemned Senator Anning’s comments and called on Katter Party state leader Rob Katter to distance himself.
“I would like to see members of the state Katter Party come out and condemn those comments,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander echoed the Premier’s condemnation.
“These comments are totally unacceptable,” Mr Mander said.
“The Katter Party themselves, Robbie Katter needs to come out and give his opinion on it and denounce it.”
KAP Queensland leader Rob Katter could not be contacted on Thursday afternoon, but state parliamentary colleague Nick Dametto backed Senator Anning.
“Listening to some of the words and how they’ve been skewed and spread around … those words have been twisted a fair bit,” Mr Dametto said.
“It’s not how I would have delivered my first speech, but at the same time I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what he said.
“Of course as soon as there’s an opportunity to put it on the KAP, [the Government and Opposition] are going to take that opportunity.
“Yesterday we did get a chance to screen the phone calls that were coming through to our offices, and 90 per cent of the people who were calling were supportive of Senator Anning’s speech.”
Mount Isa residents supportive of comments
In Mount Isa, a city in the heart of Katter country, locals expressed varying degrees of support for Senator Anning when approached by the ABC.
“They need to do something and they need to do it right now,” local resident Cathy Conroy said.
“This country was the lucky country, but it’s getting not lucky.
“I don’t [support a ban] on everyone, but the ones that are taking over this country.
“Am I allowed to say the Muslims? The ones that just want to make us toe the line to their rules and regulations, not to what Australia is.”
Mount Isa resident Catherine Hill said she wanted broader limits on immigration.
“I’ve definitely got nothing against people of whatever colour they are, or who they are, but I think we have to take a stand on the number of people coming into Australia,” she said.
Another Mount Isa resident, Aaron, called not for limits on Muslim immigration but “the Muslim way of life”.
“Because we don’t want to become like them. We don’t want to have their rules and regulations, and the way that they put women second,” he said.
Another man told the ABC: “This is a Christian country, we’ve got Christian morals, Christian laws and stuff, and if people can’t abide by them they should be sent back to where they come from.”
Anning speech ‘probably a political stunt’
Griffith University political analyst Paul Williams said KAP was targeting the same section of the electorate as One Nation in the lead-up to the next federal election.
“You’d have to say that there’s probably some sort of political tactic in Fraser Anning’s speech in terms of the content and the timing,” he said.
But Mr Dametto rejected the suggestion.
“After listening to Pauline Hanson yesterday attacking the Katter Party, we’re definitely not trying to be like Pauline,” he said.
“I don’t think in any way, shape or form we’re trying to change what we believe in or our attitude towards things to be like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, that’s for sure.”
“I don’t believe that we’re a racist party, we’re probably the most unracist [sic] party out here,” he said.