Inside Fraser Anning’s bizarre party
WARNING: Coarse language
Fraser Anning has emerged as the federal election's most controversial candidate. But the controversy doesn't stop with him.
A news.com.au investigation can reveal some candidates running for Senator Anning's Conservative National Party have likened gay people to paedophiles, been accused of animal cruelty and been linked to racist groups.
Many of the right-wing party's candidates regularly post memes and photos railing against immigrants from third-world countries, Muslims, political correctness, LGBTI people and climate change action.
One party representative has even posted on social media about incestuous child sex, rape and animal porn.
Seventy candidates will stand for the party this election. News.com.au made repeated attempts to contact them for comment on their campaigns and histories, but most did not respond.
Here is a roundup of the colourful characters standing behind Senator Anning this election.
GARY YOUNG, NSW SENATE
Former horse breeder Gary Young, of Gundary near Goulburn, was found guilty in 2012 of aggravated animal cruelty after RSPCA inspectors found a neglected and emaciated horse heavily infected with lice.
The RSPCA said the mare had to be euthanised when its condition worsened, the ABC reported.
Mr Young confirmed to news.com.au via email that the RSPCA took him to court, but he denied responsibility, claiming he did not own the horse and it was "not at any time" present on his property. He also said the case was dismissed.
He claimed the RSPCA pursued him "as a vendetta" and "an act of … revenge" after he sued NSW branch president Peter Wright the year before on animal cruelty allegations. Mr Young's case against Mr Wright was thrown out by a Sydney magistrate.
Here is Mr Young's response to the incident.
News.com.au understands the charges against Mr Young were dropped in 2016 under section 32 of the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990 conditional upon him entering into a mental health treatment plan.
Mr Young launched a failed bid to sue Facebook for more than $1 million in 2015, claiming the social media network was "malicious" after it banned him for three days from the "patriot" group he administered, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The anti-Islam activist was one of two administrators of Common Cause, a far-right group that advocated for banning halal food and foreign property ownership.
The Federal Court dismissed the case as it had "no reasonable prospect of success", and ordered costs against Mr Young.
Mr Young claimed the only reason Facebook won was because he sued Facebook Australia instead of Facebook Ireland.
In an email to news.com.au, he said: "I did sue Facebook. They won because I sued FB Australia instead of FB Eireland (sic). however our differencers (sic) were resolved as well at that time (sic) … and they backed of (sic) with their intimidation of me and I was reinstaed (sic) with whatever righst (sic) I had prior … I still have the right to refile that lawsuit … naming FB Eireland."
Mr Young's group is still active on Facebook, and regularly posts memes against the major parties, the Greens, Pauline Hanson, Muslims and climate change.
He runs two accounts on Facebook - a personal one with an assumed name of "Gee Young", and a semi-anonymous official account tied to his candidate email address, which features no identifying photos of himself.
TAMARA DURANT, TOWNSVILLE
Townsville candidate Tamara Durant shares posts from fringe websites promoting anti-vaccination conspiracy theories, and has likened LGBTI people to "paedophiles" online.
Last month, she posted a story about a push in Colorado to introduce LGBTI topics into education, and commented underneath: "Paedophiles pushing their agenda …"
She also shares posts from Collective Evolution, an "alternative news" pseudoscience website that promotes anti-vaxxer propaganda and September 11 conspiracy theories.
In a friend's post that claimed "we (white people) have halved, while Africans have more than doubled", she responded: "I don't know about this white privilege thing … it seems as if we are the slaves while they languish on benefits these days."
Ms Durant did not respond to news.com.au's requests for comment.
BRANDON LEES, LINDSAY
Brandon Lees, who describes himself as an actor on social media, is running for the NSW seat of Lindsay.
On his personal Facebook account he has made a number of graphic posts - some of which reference child sex, auto-fellatio and "donkey porn".
In 2012, a public status posted from his profile read: "I wish I could suck my own c*ck."
One month later, he said: "I am just getting absolutely hammered in my bum right now by programming. Why the f*ck would any retard make it this f*cking difficult to make such useless programs?! I don't need this sh*t to upload donkey porn."
In 2013, Mr Lees posted a rape joke. "Learning at UWS. A semicolon is usually used before an adverbial disjunct. My note. 'I think Jeff is gay; however, he did rape that girl the other day'," he wrote.
In 2014, he uploaded a meme relating to two underage cousins having sex, captioning the public post "Oldie but a goldie".
Mr Lees told news.com.au he was "fairly young and looking for attention" when he made those posts.
"I also was doing shock value stand-up comedy and a lot of what was said was for cheap 18-19-year-old laughs," he said. "I was pretty disappointed in the stuff I wrote back then so I made a new account but obviously didn't delete the old one."
He also claimed his account was hacked in the case of the auto-fellatio post, although he did not delete it and it remained public for seven years.
A number of candidates from various political parties have dropped out of the election race in recent weeks based on past social media posts.
DAVID ARCHIBALD, WA SENATE
Former One Nation candidate David Archibald, who writes a column in The Spectator, made headlines a couple of years ago over a 2015 article he wrote describing single mothers as "too lazy to attract and hold a mate, undoing the work of possibly 3 million years of evolutionary pressure".
"This will result in a rapid rise in the portion of the population that is lazy and ugly," he said.
The Perth-based geologist claimed child care was also a lifestyle choice that should not be funded by the government, writing that support payments for single mothers should be axed and said single motherhood was a "lifestyle choice".
"Mothers who do work are, in effect, cross-subsidising those who also leave their children to the care of strangers," he said. "If society wishes to encourage child-bearing, it should reward that with tax rebates to the child-bearing pair and leave it at that."
In a 2017 interview with The Australian, he said single mothers are a "drag on society".
Mr Archibald wrote a piece for Quadrant in 2017 arguing gay people should have "been bred out of the population long ago, yet it persists", and that only a "degenerate culture" would permit same-sex marriage.
In a 2015 piece for the same magazine, he took aim at disability pensioners, saying "a good proportion are able to drive cars, bash police and each other, (and) go fishing", and should lose their payments.
"We often hear about disability pensioners because their active lifestyle resulted in a contretemps with another party, most recently the recipients of disability payments who have overcome their infirmities to take up arms against civilisation in Syria and Iraq," he said.
Mr Archibald has also made several false predictions about climate change. In 2006 and 2007, he predicted it would be colder next decade by 2C, dismissing the role of extra CO2 in driving temperatures.
According to his predictions, temperatures would peak in 1998, and would stay that way until at least 2030.
In reality, 1998 has dropped down to the eighth warmest year, according to the US government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In a blog post to announce he was joining Mr Anning's cause, Mr Archibald said: "If anyone in the Australian parliament has moral authority it is Senator Fraser Anning."
MARK ABSOLON, QLD SENATE
Mark Absolon, who is running for the Senate in Queensland, has been listed as a member for the Messianic Ministries, a religious group that operates in Australia and New Zealand.
In his bio, he says he deplores "any & all racism, anti-Semitism & white supremacy organisations".
He also includes, as a religious mission, "speaking out boldly against the abominations of our day that God hates", and lists abortion, homosexuality, adultery and divorce as examples.
Requests for comment from both Mr Absolon and the Messianic Ministries went unanswered.
MIKE JESSOP, FISHER
Mike Jessop joined Senator Anning's Conservative National Party a week before the ballot draw, having run as an independent in the Queensland seat of Fisher before that.
But his website, signage and contact details still showed him as a candidate for the Whig Party.
The move fuelled accusations he was deceiving voters, with Queensland independent senate candidate Sue Mureau accusing the Conservative National Party candidate of "misrepresenting himself".
Mr Jessop said he didn't have time to update his advertisements after switching parties due to the election being called "too soon".
"It's a major job, sorting this all out," he told the Sunshine Coast Daily.
"(The voters) won't be confused. We're going to put stickers over the independent part."
GRANT PRATT, CAPRICORNIA
Capricornia candidate Grant Pratt joked about the Holocaust during a campaign event in Mackay last weekend.
He introduced himself to a crowd of supporters gathered at the Boomerang Hotel by opening his speech with the words "final solution", The Daily Mercury reported.
It was a reference to Senator Anning's maiden speech, which was widely condemned after he called for a total shutdown of Muslim immigration to Australia, praised the White Australia policy and advocated a "final solution to the immigration problem".
The phrase "final solution" is closely associated with the Nazis' systematic murder of Jews during World War II.
"While all Muslims are not terrorists, certainly all terrorists these days are Muslims. So why would anyone want to bring more of them here?" Anning said during the speech.
"The final solution to the immigration problem is of course a popular vote."
SHANE VAN DUREN, ACT SENATE
Senator Anning's lead Senate candidate in the ACT is Shane Van Duren, a veteran with a criminal history that includes assaulting a police officer and choking an RSPCA inspector.
Mr Van Duren, 44, was charged in 2017 after a physical altercation in which police and animal inspectors attempted to collect his dog from his house.
The dog had been given to Mr Van Duren to help with post-traumatic stress disorder, but was handed to the RSPCA after it was found to be a stray.
In December 2015, Mr Van Duren broke into the RSPCA's Weston headquarters to get the dog back.
When two police officers and two RSPCA inspectors went to his house to retrieve the animal, he punched one of the police officers and strangled an RSPCA inspector.
Speaking about the incident last month, Mr Van Duren said the case wasn't relevant to his Senate run, telling The Canberra Times he was "only charged with assault because there's no self-defence for police brutality".
"If no one in the Senate brings a malicious case and steals my dog in front of my children, I probably won't choke anybody there," he said.
JULIE HOSKIN, BENDIGO
Senator Anning's candidate for the Victorian electorate of Bendigo is Julie Hoskin, a former councillor whose bankruptcy has already made her ineligible to serve in parliament.
Ms Hoskin, 54, went bankrupt after she led an unsuccessful legal campaign against the construction of a mosque in Bendigo.
The proposal to build a mosque in 2014 saw the city turned into a rallying point for far-right groups across Australia, and attracted counter-protests from anti-fascist groups.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Ms Hoskin still owes more than $92,000 in unpaid legal fees after her anti-mosque campaign, which means she cannot sit in parliament even if she is elected.
Section 44 of the Constitution states that anyone who is an "undischarged bankrupt or insolvent … shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives".
But a spokesman for the Australian Electoral Commission said Ms Hoskin's nomination would still stand and her name would still appear on the ballot paper, as it is not authorised to determine candidates' eligibility to run, even if they're ineligible to sit in parliament.
In an email to all those who expressed an interest in running with him, Senator Anning stressed the importance of campaign costs.
"Campaign costs are variable depending on what you choose to invest in and how much you decide to spend, but don't expect to be able to run a credible campaign with less than $5000," he wrote.
SCOTT MOERLAND, OXLEY
Scott Moerland will represent Senator Anning's party in the Queensland seat of Oxley, where One Nation leader Pauline Hanson began her political career in 1996.
Before his election run, Mr Moerland was a senior figure inside the United Patriots Front, a leading far-right organisation in Australia.
On his public Facebook page, Mr Moerland has defended Senator Anning from white supremacist allegations.
But Mr Moerland has links to far-right extremists Blair Cottrell and Neil Erikson, contradicting Senator Anning's claim in April that he would not run anyone associated with them.
He defended Cottrell after the UPF figure was photographed buying food from a kebab store in 2016, appearing to contradict his stance against halal-certified food.
Self-confessed terrorist Brenton Tarrant referred to Cottrell as "Emperor" three years before he carried out the attack.
In early April, The Australian reported Senator Anning had promised not to invite white supremacists and neo-Nazis to run with him.
An instruction manual issued to candidates warned them they would be dropped if they were found to have a suspicious past.
"We need to know ahead of time what issues may arise," it reads. "These issues may include: past criminal or legal issues; controversial career paths … inflammatory social media comments; anything else that could become an issue."
PARTY'S LINKS TO EXTREME RIGHT
Senator Anning is largely known for a string of controversies, which include evoking the Nazi phrase "Final Solution" in his maiden speech, blaming Muslim immigrants for the Christchurch mosque shootings, and for his supporters' ties to far-right rallies and organisations.
In the wake of the Christchurch mosque massacre in March, he was globally condemned after blaming "Muslim immigration" for the white supremacist's deadly terror attack.
Outside of immigration, the party also supports repealing Australia's gun restrictions, and is opposed to same-sex marriage, abortion rights and euthanasia.
The senator - who got into parliament with just 19 votes at the 2016 election - is contesting the election on a platform of fighting against non-"European Christian" immigration, and is in favour of relaxing Australia's gun laws, creating a not-for-profit government bank and opposing same-sex marriage.
The party's constitution lays out a vision of Australia as a "predominantly European Christian Commonwealth, as originally described in 1901 when Australia as a nation was founded".
Last month, Senator Anning's party made a Facebook post endorsing The Great Replacement,
a conspiracy theory prevalent among far-right nationalists that the white Christian European population is gradually being replaced by African and Middle Eastern populations through mass migration.
"We need to preserve our ethno-cultural identity, or we will fast become a minority," Senator Anning's post said.
Brenton Tarrant, the alleged perpetrator of the Christchurch attacks, appeared to have been heavily influenced by this theory before opening fire on two mosques killing 50 unarmed worshippers.
He made similar arguments in a 74-page document he released ahead of the mass shooting, which was also entitled "The Great Replacement".
Tarrant also praised other far-right figures such as Australian white supremacist Blair Cottrell, a "self-confessed Hitler fan", convicted arsonist and Nazi sympathiser, whose demonstrations Senator Anning has attended in the past.
Tarrant was also an avid follower of the far-right United Patriot Front and True Blue Crew organisations, which some members of the Conservative National Party have been affiliated with and made appearances at.
Dr Chris Salisbury, a researcher in Australian politics at the University of Queensland, told news.com.au the party was attempting to appeal to the far-right end of the spectrum, and seek votes from disaffected National Party supporters.
But while Senator Anning claims to speak for the "silent majority", Dr Salisbury says it is unlikely he'll appeal to more than a small far-right fringe of the electorate, many of whom are more likely to preference One Nation regardless.
"The 'silent majority' is a common line among parties on the right, but I do suspect he's over-reading," he said.
He believes Senator Anning's string of controversies since his election were deliberate publicity moves designed to improve his profile.
"He had a very minor profile and received just 19 votes at the last election," Dr Salisbury said. "Pretty much everything he's done since then has been geared towards raising his profile."
But with competition from the more prominent One Nation and Palmer United parties, he says it's unlikely they'll win more than a few protest votes.
In the lead-up to the election, Senator Anning issued an instruction manual to candidates warning they would be dropped if they were found to have a suspicious past.
"We need to know ahead of time what issues may arise," reads the manual, which was obtained by The Australian last month.
"These issues may include: past criminal or legal issues; controversial career paths … inflammatory social media comments; anything else that could become an issue."
It also offered advice to any candidate about how to deal with the media, using "beating your wife" as an example.
"We want you to get publicity, but we are also mindful of avoiding media traps," the email to first-round candidates read.
"If you are being interviewed and are asked a loaded question designed to have no good answer (as a classic example, "Have you stopped beating your wife?"), remember that the best way to respond is usually by challenging the premise of the question (e.g. 'I never beat my wife in the first place')."