'We had a few drinks': One Nation defends NRA comments

ONE Nation officials say they were drinking scotches for three or four hours when they made comments about getting $20 million from a foreign pro-gun lobby group.

Pauline Hanson's chief of staff James Ashby admits "we'd had a few drinks" and "got a bit carried away" but say they went there with good intentions.

Despite PHON state leader Steve Dickson being caught on tape saying Australia's gun laws were like "poison" and that gangs were robbing people at knife point, today he said One Nation would never allow the return of semiautomatic weapons.

One Nation's NRA move could cost Coalition dearly

The explosive revelations have rocked Australian today, receiving accusations from Prime Minister Scott Morrison they were "selling Australia's gun laws to the highest bidder".

Senator Pauline Hanson was to hold a press conference outside The Courier-Mail newsroom late today.

 

Queensland One Nation leader Steve Dickson with Hanson. Picture: AAP
Queensland One Nation leader Steve Dickson with Hanson. Picture: AAP

 

One Nation's Steve Dickson's and James Ashby went to the US to meet with the NRA, organised by Al-Jazeera journalist Rodger Muller who was posing as an Australian gun rights lobbyist.

At one point in the video they say with $10 million they could win eight Senate seats and hold the balance of power, while another while on the way to meet representatives of Koch industries, Mr Ashby suggests they should seek $20 million.

Mr Dickson said the initial conversation came after hours of drinking shortly after arriving in the US.

"I'll be brutally frank, I was drinking scotch with this bloke for three or four hours. A number of things were said there," he said.

"I absolutely apologise and regret using some of the words I did. I was with three blokes, having scotches at the bar of the hotel we were staying at."

Mr Ashby said the intent of the trip to the US was not to raise donations, but that Mr Muller had raised this with them.

"When you're on the piss mate, if someone says how much you want, well $20 million go for it," Mr Ashby said.

"Any donations that are offered to this party need to be checked with Pauline first."

Prior to a meeting with Koch Industries, Mr Muller asked what sort of dollars they were thinking about. Mr Ashby replies he was thinking $20 (million).

Mr Ashby said the purpose of the trip was to learn from the NRA, seek advice and potentially campaigning technology.

"There was never any prospect of money coming back. He just set this whole thing up," he said.

"I don't recall every asking for a donation of any amount. I was looking for advice and technology.

"Maybe we call got a bit carried away. We went there with good intentions with people who could teach us a few things."

In the secret records, Mr Ashby is heard saying: "If the NRA want to rally their supporters within Australia, that's one start," Mr Ashby said.

"Two, I'd love to get my hands on their software. And three, if they can help us with donations, super."

Mr Ashby said Senator Hanson was aware of the trip and approved of Mr Dickson and himself going, but did not wish to attend herself.

He claimed much of the interview was out of context and called for the full footage to be released.

"He was constantly saying to us we need to get semi-automatics back in the country. I can't tell you how many times Steve told him it's not going to happen, it's not our policy and the public don't want it," Mr Ashby said.

In the secret recordings, Mr Dickson said it would be like "poison" for the world to look to Australia as a model for gun control.

"If we don't change things, people are going to be looking at Australia and go 'Well, it's OK for them to go down the path of not having guns, it's OK for them to go down that politically-correct path'," he says in the interview.

"And it's like a poison - it will poison us all unless we stop it."

Mr Dickson said it was taken out of context and that: "The rest of that sentence was when guns are taken away from Australians, all guns."

Mr Ashby said he also did not remember saying that if their trip to the US was made public it would "f**king rock the boat. This sh*t goes through my head every single minute of my day".

"I don't know what the context was. I don't know," he said.



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