SYDNEY - An Australian politician was widely condemned Wednesday (Aug 15) after demanding "a final solution" to immigration and calling for a return to the White Australia policy which favoured "European Christians".
Queensland senator Fraser Anning stunned lawmakers when he invoked during his maiden speech the infamous Nazi phrase used under Adolf Hitler in reference to annihilating Jewish people from Europe.
He also sparked widespread opposition by calling for a ban on Muslim migrants and defending the race-based White Australia immigration policy which was in place for seven decades from 1901.
"We as a nation are entitled to insist that those who are allowed to come here predominantly reflect the historic European-Christian composition of Australian society," Anning, formerly of the populist One Nation Party and now with the Katter Australian Party, told the upper house Senate late Tuesday "Those who come here need to assimilate and integrate."
He added that "ethnocultural diversity ... has been allowed to rise to dangerous levels in many suburbs". "In direct response, self-segregation, including white flight from poorer inner-urban areas, has become the norm."
The Queenslander called for migration numbers to be slashed, and a ban on Muslims, justifying his call by saying they had "consistently shown to be the least able to assimilate and integrate".
"While all Muslims are not terrorists, certainly all terrorists these days are Muslims, so why would anyone want to bring more of them here?" Immigration remains a hot button issue in Australia, amid concern about jobs and overcrowding in major cities.
Data released last month showed migration numbers hit a 10-year low last year, with the annual intake falling by 20,000 to 162,000 as vetting procedures were tightened.
Anning's comments sparked a backlash from all sides of politics, led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who emphasised Australia was one of the most successful multicultural societies in the world.
"So we reject, we condemn racism in any form, and the remarks by Senator Anning are justly condemned and rejected by us all," he said.
Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten called the speech "a low point for our parliament", while independent senator Derryn Hinch said there "was hardly a group of Australians he did not offend unless you were very close to being a member of the Ku Klux Klan".
Even Pauline Hanson, who runs One Nation on a platform of zero-net migration and opposition to Islam, said Anning went too far.
"You may have your grievances on what Fraser Anning has said, don't direct them at me," she added. "It's got nothing to do with me." Despite the criticism, Anning was unrepentant Wednesday and claimed he did not know the connection between the phrase "final solution" and Nazi Germany.
"I don't regret anything, I am not going to apologise or regret anything that I say," he said.