Why Pauline hasn't faced the cameras over NRA scandal

Where is Pauline Hanson?

One Nation's James Ashby and Steve Dickson have both fronted the cameras to explain their conduct in the undercover footage taken by Al Jazeera, which showed them meeting members of the American gun lobby.

But One Nation's leader has been mysteriously absent since the story broke. Now we have an explanation.

The New Daily reports Ms Hanson is currently "unrecognisable" after being bitten on the face by a tick last Thursday.

The injury reportedly caused "neurological symptoms, including facial paralysis", and she is still under medical care.

Mr Dixon and Mr Ashby, who is Ms Hanson's chief of staff, did not go into detail when they explained her absence yesterday, simply stating she was "quite ill".

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson. Picture: AP
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson. Picture: AP

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hit back at the pair, saying alcohol was "no excuse" for their conduct in the United States.

Mr Ashby and Mr Dickson, who is One Nation's leader in Queensland, were the central figures in Al Jazeera's undercover investigation.

They were recorded talking about soliciting millions of dollars in foreign donations through the National Rifle Association (NRA). They suggested they could use the funding to weaken Australia's gun laws.

Speaking yesterday afternoon, Mr Dickson and Mr Ashby blamed that part of the documentary on alcohol, saying they had "got on the sauce" with the undercover journalist, Rodger Muller.

"We'd arrived in America, we'd got on the sauce, we'd had a few drinks. And that's where those discussions took place. Not with any potential donors. No one but Rodger Muller, Steve Dickson and myself," Mr Ashby said.

"We were three men talking together and we were having scotches for three or four hours. That is the truth of the matter," said Mr Dickson.

 

One Nation party officials Steve Dickson (left) and James Ashby. Picture: AAP
One Nation party officials Steve Dickson (left) and James Ashby. Picture: AAP

At a press conference today, Mr Morrison was not buying the excuse.

He rebuked Mr Ashby and Mr Dickson while making a pitch to One Nation voters to switch their support to the Coalition.

"I want to be very clear here. When I make comments about One Nation, I'm not making comments about One Nation voters. They're very different things," the Prime Minister said.

"Of course what we saw yesterday - and frankly, being drunk is no excuse for trading away Australia's gun laws to foreign bidders - that's the conduct of One Nation officials.

"What I'm talking about is directly to those who have either voted One Nation in the past, or are considering voting One Nation in the future, that across all of these smaller parties, these minor parties, you won't find those answers there.

"You won't find a serious program to manage our population growth in the minor parties, or in One Nation, or any of the others. You won't find it.

"You won't find answers to Australia's water challenges in these parties either.

"These are not parties of government, they're parties of grievance. And what we're about is actually responding to, listening to and meeting these concerns, which are very legitimate, that have been raised by people who are considering voting for these minor parties.

"Don't vote One Nation. Don't vote One Nation. Don't vote for any of the other minor parties or the independents. Vote for the party that can actually deliver."

The Prime Minister was echoing his comments from yesterday, when he once again ruled out a preference deal with One Nation and slammed its officials' comment as "abhorrent".

"There are many reasons not to vote for One Nation. It's a long list," Mr Morrison said. "Today we saw further evidence of that.

"One Nation officials have basically sought to sell Australia's gun laws to the highest bidders, to a foreign buyer. And I find that abhorrent."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: AAP
Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: AAP

Mr Dickson and Mr Ashby offered a limited apology when they spoke to reporters, claiming they were the victim of a "spy" employed "by a Middle Eastern country" to "infiltrate Australian politics".

The pair said they had broken no rules during their trip to America.

"Just to clarify a lot of this. We've landed in the United States, this trip has been organised by Rodger Muller - who again, I want to make this point very clearly, was employed by a Middle Eastern country, Al Jazeera, to come to Australia as a spy to infiltrate into Australian politics," Mr Dickson said.

"There are many, many things that were videoed, and I believe a lot of those things were taken out of sequence.

"I'm going to apologise to the people of Australia for some of the things that Rodger Muller has taped me saying when we were having a few drinks at the bar at our hotel. I don't talk like that publicly, we were three men talking together and we were having scotches for three or four hours. That is the truth of the matter.

"It wasn't a secret meeting. I put it on Facebook. I showed the world we were there. Everybody in this country knew we were there.

"We have followed every rule and regulation."

One Nation party officials Steve Dickson (left) and James Ashby. Picture: AAP
One Nation party officials Steve Dickson (left) and James Ashby. Picture: AAP

One Nation's Queensland leader specifically addressed a couple of his more controversial comments from the video footage.

"I said if we were fortunate enough to get into government and have the balance of power, we would have the government by the kahunas. I won't use the word that they've said last night, it would be inappropriate of me to do so," he said.

"But that means very clearly, and I don't know if most men here understand that, it means you've got the balance of power.

"I've used the word kill on a number of occasions. And that means stop. Kill a project, kill a program, kill that deal. And that is stop. That's what it means to me.

"I do use colourful language in my everyday life. I was born on the land, it's the way I grew up.

"I apologise to the people of Australia for the use of those words."

Mr Ashby called the undercover documentary "a deliberate set-up by the Qatari government".

"He (Mr Muller) set these meetings up. This is skulduggery at its worst. This is the very first time Australia has witnessed political interference from a foreign government," he said.



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