Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party sought millions of dollars in funding from America‘s gun lobby in exchange for a proposed loosening of Australia‘s firearm laws, according to an explosive undercover investigation.
One Nation chief of staff James Ashby and Queensland branch chief Steve Dickson were secretly recorded liaising with National Rifle Association (NRA) figures by the Al Jazeera network for their new report, How To Sell A Massacre.
The bombshell programme, which premiered overseas last night, uses hidden camera footage to document how One Nation sought policy and media training advice from the NRA – an organisation which vigorously fights gun control measures, despite the nation’s scourge of mass shootings.
Footage shot late last year shows Ashby and undercover reporter Rodger Muller discuss how much funding One Nation should aim to receive from the American gun lobby in order to bolster their presence in the Australian parliament.
After Muller questioned whether One Nation could ask for $10 million, Ashby said “you would pick up eight Senate seats.”
Dickson said that parliamentary firepower would grant One Nation the ability to weaken Australia’s tough gun laws.
“I mean, that guarantees you the balance of power, you’d have the whole Government by the balls.”
In a separate sequence, Dickson said “Mate, we want to get funding.
“That is really the nuts and bolts, because we can change everything in this country… If they threw ten million at us, we could fucking win a heap of seats.”
Ashby and Dickson were explicitly told the NRA works to combat the argument that Australia represents a solid example of gun control measures reducing mass shootings, suggesting the gun lobby was eager to work with a political party to wind back that legislation.
The NRA didn’t just suggest One Nation enact change in Parliament, either. Footage shows NRA figures recommending One Nation seek like-minded reporters to insert lines about the benefits of gun ownership in stories about local crime.
When Dickson referenced media reports on the so-called African gang crisis – which have been exaggerated in the media to the point of censure from the Australian Communications and Media Authority – NRA lobbyist Lars Dalseide suggested using sympathetic journalists to drop in lines promoting gun ownership.
“Every time there’s a story there about the African gangs coming in with baseball bats, a little thing you can put out there, maybe at the top of a tweet or Facebook post or whatever, like with ‘not allowed to defend their home’, ‘not allowed to defend their home’. Boom,” he said.
In a particularly telling sequence, Dalseide ran through the NRA’s communications strategy after a mass shooting.
“Just shame them to the whole idea,” Dalseide said, referring to gun-control advocates who speak up after a massacre.
“If your policy isn’t good enough to stand on itself, how dare you use their deaths to push that forward? How dare you stand on the graves of those children to put forward your political agenda?”
“I love that, thank you,” Dickson said in response.
It is unclear if One Nation secured funding from the foreign gun lobby. One thing is clear, though: One Nation definitely didn’t want this getting out.
“If it gets out, it’ll fucking rock the boat,” Ashby said.
The figures included in the report are yet to respond to questioning from Al Jazeera or the ABC. You can watch the full piece below.