Queensland Senator Fraser Anning has defended his presence at a far-right rally over the weekend as state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk urged voters to "get rid of him".
Mr Anning defended his participation in the Melbourne rally, saying he attended in response to the issue of rising gang crime in his home state of Queensland.
“I went to Melbourne to represent the people of Queensland who have also been subjected to African gang violence recently.
“These issues are not just confined to Melbourne anymore, as we have seen they are rapidly spreading to my own state,” he said in a statement.
He also said his presence at the rally should not be taken as a sign that he endorsed the views of other attendees.
“My presence at the event should in no way be considered an endorsement by me of the views of other speakers or attendees,” he said.
“However the truth is that attempts to claim that this rally was a ‘far right’ event appear to be left wing media attempts to distract attention from the purpose of the protest – African gang violence.
“I didn’t see any people there who appeared to be radicals. There were no skinheads, just ordinary working people who’d had enough.”
Ms Palaszczuk said Mr Anning's attendance at the rally, where some crowd members were pictured performing Nazi salutes, was appalling.
"As the granddaughter of Polish migrants who made Australia home after fleeing the brutality of the Nazi regime, I am appalled that an elected representative would attend such a rally," she said in a statement on Monday.
The Queensland Police Service has said there is no widespread issue with African gang crime in the state.
Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack condemned Mr Anning and said he should reconsider his position in parliament, a sentiment echoed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Warrego MP Ann Leahy said it was important to remember how Mr Anning wound up in the Senate to begin with.
“Regional Queenslanders are telling me they are trying to survive in the face of a prolonged and severe drought, stock water and fodder shortages, and bushfires that have burnt for weeks in and around National Parks threatening local landholders,” she said.
“We should not forget Senator Anning came to the Australian Parliament via the Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party senate ticket and receiving only 19 first preference votes.
“This is precisely why the Palaszczuk Labor Government should scrap their plans to introduce a similar Senate style voting system for Queensland local governments in Labor’s Belcarra Stage 2 reforms.”