Cory Bernardi and George Christensen to speak at $150-a-head dinner for anti-Islam group
Conservative Liberal parliamentarians to appear at dinner hosted by Q Society to raise funds to defend a defamation case brought by a halal certifier
Photo: MP George Christensen will be a keynote speaker at a fundraising dinner for an anti-Islam organisation. The $150 ticket buys patrons ‘a generous serve of free speech’. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian
Monday 2 January 2017 07.12 GMT
Last modified on Monday 2 January 2017 07.14 GMT
Conservative Liberal party members George Christensen and Cory Bernardi will be drawcard speakers at a $150-a-head dinner next month to help raise funds for an anti-Islam organisation to defend a defamation case brought by a halal certifier.
The dinner will be held in Melbourne on 10 February, with the cost of the tickets including a “sparkling welcome, a variety of fine finger food and a generous serve of free speech”.
“This is an excellent opportunity to mingle with outspoken advocates for Liberty and Western values and show your support for this important cause,” the dinner advertisement says.
The response to the $150 ticket price has been mixed on Facebook.
Anti-halal campaigner sued over claims Islamic certification supports terrorism
One user posted “Love to come. But I live in Qld... good luck”, while another said “150 per head, bugger that!” and another posted “Sorry I am busy - I have to stay home and cut my toe nails!”
Sydney will host a similar dinner on 9 February, without Christensen or Bernardi. Its speakers will include Sky News host Ross Cameron, controversial cartoonist Larry Pickering, Angry Anderson, and crime author Gabrielle Lord.
The dinners will be hosted by the Q Society, which calls itself “Australia’s leading Islam-critical movement”, and has called for a 10-year moratorium on immigration from Organisation of Islamic Cooperation countries, and for Australia to withdraw from the “hijacked” UN refugee convention.
Last year Mohamed El-Mouelhy, the head of Halal Certification Australia, launched legal action against the organisation and three of its members over two videos posted on YouTube in 2013 and 2014.
The defendants include Kirralie Smith, a New South Wales Senate candidate for the Australian Liberty Alliance who narrated the videos, and Debbie Robinson, national president of the Q Society.
According to a statement of claim filed in the action, the videos posted by the defendants made several defamatory imputations about El-Mouelhy, including that he sought to mislead and deceive the general public, was pushing for sharia law in Australia, and was promoting “a global push for Islamisation calculated to destroy Australia values of freedom and tolerance”.
El-Mouelhy is seeking damages, aggravated damages, interest and injunctions against further publication of the imputations. Smith says YouTube has blocked both videos from Australian IP addresses.
“So unless you have a different IP address you are not able to judge for yourself the content of these publications,” she said.
Last month Christensen told Guardian Australia he had been asked to appear at the fundraising dinner in Melbourne “to assist my good friend Kirralie”.
“I will be speaking in support of free speech and against political correctness.”
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Bernardi, who has made accusations against El-Mouelhy under parliamentary privilege, told the Australian last month he was “more than happy to assist in raising money to fund the legal defence of a friend against Mohamed El-Mouelhy”.
Smith says all proceeds and donations will go towards the legal expenses incurred by Q Society of Australia Inc, Smith et al in the defamation action.
A trial has been set down for four to five weeks in the NSW supreme court in March.