| 28.03,19. 03:18 AM |
Tim Fischer says One Nation should pay preference price for seeking to import NRA's 'evil playbook' on guns
Tim Fischer says One Nation 'should pay a price' after revelations of meetings with NRA. (7.30)
Former Nationals leader Tim Fischer has said One Nation should be placed last on his party's how-to-vote cards in the upcoming federal election, despite multiple current Nationals MPs suggesting they should be placed above the Greens.
Mr Fischer, who sat in the Howard cabinet that implemented sweeping gun reforms in the wake of the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, told 7.30 he was "disgusted" by revelations that senior One Nation figures had met with the US-based National Rifle Association (NRA) to discuss political tactics and potential donations.
Asked if One Nation should be listed last on Coalition how-to-vote cards in the upcoming election, he replied: "My preference? I'd put them last."
He went on to stress that the decision did not rest with the Nationals' "hardworking" federal president Larry Anthony, but rather with the state divisions and individual candidates.
Mr Fischer's comments stand in stark contrast with those of several current Coalition MPs, who say the Greens deserve to be ranked below One Nation on their preference cards.
Llew O'Brien, a Nationals MP from Queensland, said his "default position" was to put the Greens last because of their policies on drugs and the economy. Nationals colleague Ken O'Dowd has made similar comments, while Liberal MP Scott Buchholz said the Greens were a "greater risk" to his electorate.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to say he would put One Nation below Labor and the Greens in every seat, urging would-be One Nation voters to back the Liberals instead.
'NRA hates Australian gun laws because they work'
Mr Fischer said the NRA was on a mission of "global conquest", seeking to water down gun laws across OECD economies.
The Al Jazeera documentary How to Sell A Massacre, which aired on the ABC this week, showed senior One Nation figures discussing tactics for convincing the public to adopt less restrictive gun laws with representatives from the NRA in meetings orchestrated by an undercover reporter.
In the program, NRA representatives are seen telling Pauline Hanson's chief-of-staff, James Ashby, and the party's Queensland leader, Steve Dickson, they are constantly forced to combat arguments that portray Australia as a country where gun restrictions have successfully reduced gun violence.
Mr Fischer told 7.30 Australia was "rapidly approaching another turning point" on guns at the upcoming election, and would need to defend its current laws.
"We now need to defend [the law], and defend it with smart strategies to combat the pure poison and the evil playbooks we've now sighted," he said.
In the documentary, US gun lobbyists recommend casting the gun control issue as a matter of self-defence. They also recommend accusing those who recommend tougher gun laws in the wake of mass shootings of exploiting tragedy for their own political purposes.
"The NRA hates Australian gun laws because they work," Mr Fischer said.
"Because they drained the suburbs and country towns of semiautomatics and automatics but kept guns with sporting shooters, responsible farmers and the like.
"They don't like us because we prove there is another template that doesn't mean there are 100 people being shot every day, as is the case in the United States."
Gun reforms 'quite hard' for some Nationals: Howard
Mr Fischer steered the Nationals party room through the implementation of the 1996 National Firearms Agreement and faced some internal opposition to the reforms, which effectively banned automatic and semiautomatic weapons around the country.
Former prime minister John Howard has previously said the reforms were "quite hard" for members of the National Party, some of whom felt "unfairly caught up" in the response to the massacre.
At a 1996 pro-gun rally in the Queensland town of Gympie, protesters held up a sign saying "Tim Fischer: Traitor".
A sign bearing the same words was around the neck of an effigy that was hanged by a rope outside the town's civic centre, in a scene described by former Gympie Times editor Michael Roser as "one of the saddest sights" he had ever seen in the region.
Mr Fischer said he conceded some regulations around gun registries needed "attention and update", but said Australia had made a "U-turn" away from the NRA's "laissez-faire" approach and should maintain its strict laws.