Australia's prime minister and politicians from across the political spectrum on Wednesday condemned a speech by a freshman senator calling for only white immigration and a "final solution" to end Muslim immigration.
Senator Fraser Anning used his first speech in parliament on Tuesday to call for a return to a "White Australia" immigration policy that reflects the "European Christian composition of society," echoing a policy that barred people of non-European descent from immigrating. The policy was abolished in 1973.
"I believe that the reasons for ending all further Muslim immigration are both compelling and self-evident," Anning, a member of the right-wing Katter's Australian Party (KAP), told a mostly empty hall of lawmakers.
"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, going on to claim Muslims are the least able to integrate, don't work and are welfare dependent.
He later called for a national vote on immigration, saying the "the final solution to the immigration problem is of course a popular vote," not a decision by a government.
"We need a plebiscite to allow the Australian people to decide whether they want wholesale non-English speaking immigrants from the third world, and particularly whether they want any Muslims, or whether they want to return to the predominately European immigration policy… I for one will be happy to abide by their decision," Anning continued.
Muslims make up about 3 percent of Australia's population.
Anning's comments spark political uproar
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull struck back at the controversial comments, arguing that Australia is one of the most successful multi-cultural 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."
"You have to be pretty outrageous to be condemned by everybody in the Australian parliament, but Senator Anning has managed to do just this,” he said.
Pauline Hanson, who leads the anti-Islam, anti-immigration One Nation Party, said Anning went overboard.
"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." Anning was elected on the One Nation ticket before switching to Katter's Australian Party.
Tim Soutphommasane, Australia's race discrimination commissioner, commended so many speaking out against Anning's racism.
Critics immediately latched onto Anning's use of the term "final solution," a phrase used by the Nazi regime to refer to the extermination policy of Jews during the Holocaust.
However, Anning said that he "didn't even think" that using the term would be offensive and refused to apologize.
"All I said was the final solution to the immigration problem is a vote of the Australian people," he said. "That has nothing to do with the ‘Final Solution,' the thought police got onto that."
"If people want to take it out of context that's entirely up to them. It was never meant to denigrate the Jewish community and it's two words and if that offends anyone unfortunately that's the way it has to be," he said.
Anning has been a supporter of Israel and in June he told Sky News Australia that Australia should follow the United States and move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, Bob Katter, the head Katter's Australian Party, said he backed his senator "1,000 percent."
"We do not want people coming in from the Middle East or North Africa unless they're the persecuted minorities. Why aren't you bringing in the Sikhs? Why aren't you bringing in the Christians? Why aren't you bringing in the Jews?" he asked.
cw/kms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)