Australia's right wing party blames alcohol on loose tongue after asking for donations from NRA

Australian right-wing party officials have blamed alcohol after they were apparently caught seeking a donation from the U.S. National Rifle Association in an effort to lobby a change in gun laws in the country.

The One Nation party was criticized by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday for trying to “sell Australia’s gun laws to the highest bidders” after asking for the donations.

The criticism came after an Al Jazeera undercover documentary in which One Nation party officials, Steve Dickson and James Ashby, flew to the U.S. and met with NRA officials.

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Australia's One Nation party officials, Steve Dickson (right) and James Ashby (left)  have blamed alcohol on a recording in which they apparently sought a donation from the U.S. National Rifle Association in an effort to change gun laws in the country.

Australia's One Nation party officials, Steve Dickson (right) and James Ashby (left)  have blamed alcohol on a recording in which they apparently sought a donation from the U.S. National Rifle Association in an effort to change gun laws in the country. (Sky TV)

They were caught allegedly asking for financial support just weeks before the Australian Parliament banned foreign political donations.

But the party defended itself this week, blaming alcohol for the officials’ loose tongues and slammed the broadcaster for putting their comments out of context.

“These conversations with the NRA were to look at nothing more than their techniques,” Ashby told reporters, adding that the trips he made were about learning about the ways President Trump won the election in 2016.

"These conversations with the NRA were to look at nothing more than their techniques. This was not about sourcing money from the NRA, this was about sourcing technology, an understanding of how they operate, but never was it about seeking $20 million from the NRA."

— James Ashby

“This was not about sourcing money from the NRA, this was about sourcing technology, an understanding of how they operate, but never was it about seeking $20 million from the NRA,” he continued.

“The conversations that have been recorded where there is talk of $10 and $20 million dollars — I’ll be the first to admit, 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.”

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The broadcaster was able to catch the One Nation officials after one of their journalists, Rodger Muller, pretended to be a grassroots gun rights activists in the U.S. who set up a meeting with the NRA, which he then covertly filmed.

Dickson, the other One Nation party official recorded at the meeting, said they hadn’t broken any rules during their trip to the U.S. and reiterated that the comments were made under the influence of alcohol.

"Just to clarify a lot of this. We’ve landed in the United States, this trip has been organized 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."

— Steve Dickson

“Just to clarify a lot of this. We’ve landed in the United States, this trip has been organized 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,” Dickson told reporters.

“There are many, many things that were videoed, and I believe a lot of those things were taken out of sequence,” he continued.

“I’m going to apologize 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.

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“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.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.