Anti-Muslim politician Steve Dickson has quit his bid for Australia's Senate after a video surfaced showing him groping dancers in a US strip club. Dickson was among top leaders of the populist One Nation party.
A secretly filmed video dealt a heavy blow to Australia's One Nation party ahead of an election, after the country's Nine Network TV showed a clip of populist leader Steve Dickson (on right in above photo) groping and propositioning strippers during a US trip in September.
The 56-year-old served as One Nation's chief in Queensland and as one of the top aides to party leader Pauline Hanson. The One Nation party rejects Muslim migration and calls for a travel ban similar to the one pushed by US President Donald Trump.
In the video, which was first broadcast on Monday, Dickson is seen using derogatory language, discussing the sexual performance of women based on race, and asking one of the strippers to touch his genitals. He later says that he had asked the stripper to come to his room and have sex with him.
Dickson is married with two adult sons. He has described himself as a "woman's rights" advocate and called for reinforcing family values during his Senate run.
'It shows a person who was drunk'
The politician was forced to resign his run for Australia's assembly on Tuesday, shortly before the May 18 vote.
"The footage shown does not reflect the person I am," Dickson said in a statement. "It shows a person who was drunk and not in control of his actions and I take full responsibility for allowing that to happen."
Recorded by undercover reporter
The footage of Dickson in a Washington strip club was made by an undercover reporter working for Al Jazeera. The reporter presented himself as a US gun lobbyist and secretly captured recordings of Dickson and another One Nation official during their visit, showing them meeting with representatives of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and representatives of the conservative Koch brothers. The Australian politicians were in the US to seek funding to dilute Australia's gun laws.
The recording of these meetings were shown as part of an Al Jazeera documentary in March, drawing widespread condemnation. However, the Qatar-based broadcaster decided not to include shots of Dickson in the strip club. Instead, the video was leaked to Nine Network TV.
Hanson says Dickson 'a family man'
After it was aired, Al Jazeera said they opposed to "unauthorized use" of their footage.
"Al Jazeera did not consider it in the public interest to broadcast the material," the broadcaster said.
Dickson (r) appearing alongside party chief Pauline Hanson (c) and James Ashby (l), the official who traveled to the US with him
One Nation chief Pauline Hanson defended Dickson when the March documentary was aired. Following the latest scandal, however, she said Dickson's "language and behavior was unacceptable."
"Steve is a family man," she told reporters. "He is deeply upset about this."
The populist party had taken a dive in the polls even ahead of this latest mishap. A survey published on Monday showed only 4% support for it nationwide, half that of a month ago.
dj/msh (dpa, AP)