One Nation leader Pauline Hanson says Australia needs a leader like Russian President Vladmir Putin who “will stand up and fight for this country”.
The comments came in a wide-ranging interview on Insiders, which also covered cuts to penalty rates, vaccinations and LNP MP George Christensen’s status within the Government
Insiders host Barrie Cassidy questioned Senator Hanson on her public admiration for Mr Putin, citing comments she made earlier this month during one of her party’s “weekly wrap-up” broadcasts on Facebook.
“I listened to a speech he gave in Parliament,” Senator Hanson explained.
“Even the people here in Australia were saying, ‘I wish we had a leader like that here, I wish someone would stand up and fight for this country’. That’s what the people expect.
“I think he is a strong man and I think what I was reading is about 97 per cent of people in his country respect him as a leader for their nation,” Senator Hanson said, citing an unspecific opinion poll.
When Cassidy questioned the credibility of the poll, Senator Hanson quipped: “Do you believe everything you read?”
Senator Hanson then said she “couldn’t care less about Russia” and her interests lay here in Australia.
‘But did he push the button?’
Senator Hanson has been repeatedly criticised for her support of Mr Putin given Russia’s involvement in the MH17 tragedy which killed 35 Australians in 2015.
“How can you have admiration for somebody like that?” Cassidy asked.
She called the incident “disgusting” but questioned Mr Putin’s direct involvement in the downing of the plane, despite a Dutch inquiry linking the origin of the missile to Russia.
“Do I hate the man for killing people? If he was — have you got the proof he did it?” Senator Hanson said.
“Did he push the button? There is a lot of things here … We say these things. All I’m saying is — my comments were I respect the man.”
Senator Hanson reverted back to her earlier comments saying Australians wanted to see leadership similar to that displayed by Mr Putin.
“So many Australians here want that leadership here in Australia. They want a leader here to stand up for the people and fight for this nation.”
‘That’s a dictatorship’
The subject of the interview shifted to Senator Hanson’s previous comments on a link between vaccinations and autism.
“What I’ve heard is from parents and their concerns about it and I have advised them to go out and do their own research with regards to this,” she said.
Cassidy accused the senator of promoting an anti-vaccine campaign and grilled her on the issue, asking, “How could [the parents] be better than the medical people to make that kind of judgement?”
Senator Hanson accused the Australian Government of “blackmailing” parents by linking welfare payments to vaccination programs.
Successive governments have sought to boost immunisation rates by cutting childcare subsidies and family tax benefits to parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.
But the One Nation leader said parents should be allowed to have their children tested before vaccinations, saying some had reported problems.
“What I don’t like about it is the blackmailing that’s happening with the Government,” she said.
“Don’t do that to people, that’s a dictatorship.”
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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