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Australian Lawmaker Refers To 'Final Solution' In Push For Muslim Immigration Ban

Australia's prime minister has condemned a fringe party lawmaker who called for a return to racially based immigration policies and invoked the term "final solution" in a speech before Parliament.

Malcolm Turnbull, who faces voters next year, joined all of Australia's major parties in rejecting the remarks by Queensland Sen. Fraser Anning, who is the only member of the federal Senate from the far-right Katter's Australian Party.

Anning, in his first speech to Parliament, called for a return to the country's historic "White Australia" policy that explicitly favored immigration by Europeans over Asians and Pacific islanders. Those policies were dismantled over decades and the last vestiges disappeared in the 1970s.

In the speech, Anning lamented the demise of "our predominately European identity" and called for a "drastic" cut to immigration and a return to racially discriminatory preferences.

"Diversity should be managed to remain compatible with social cohesion and national identity," he said. "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."

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Anning labeled Muslims criminals and "welfare-bludgers" and spoke of "black African Muslim gangs terrorising Melbourne."

"While all Muslims are not terrorists, certainly all terrorists these days are Muslims, so why would anyone want to bring more of them here?" he asked.

"The final solution to the immigration problem, of course, is a popular vote," Anning said, invoking the infamous term used by leaders of Nazi Germany to refer to the Holocaust.

Speaking to reporters later, Anning said he had "always been a big supporter of the Jewish community and they know that." Asked if he should apologize for the remark, Anning said: "No, I don't apologize for anything I say."

The speech has sparked outrage across the political spectrum.

"We reject, we condemn racism in any form, and the remarks by Sen. Anning are justly condemned and rejected by us all," Turnbull told Australia's parliament.

In Parliament, Muslim Sen. Anne Aly delivered an emotional response, saying "I'm tired of fighting. I'm tired of having to stand up against hate, against vilification, time and time again."

Many compared the speech to one given in 1996 by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson in which she declared Australia was "in danger of being swamped by Asians."

Anning is a former member of One Nation and won his seat in Parliament after the removal of One Nation Sen. Malcolm Roberts, who was deemed ineligible due to his citizenship status. The two small parties share a similar ideology. Even so, Hanson joined in the chorus of condemnation of Anning's speech. "We are a multi-racial society and I have always advocated you do not have to be white to be Australian," she said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.