Craziest Port Arthur conspiracy theories

MORE: Explosive footage rocks One Nation

In the footage, which was part of a three-year long Al Jazeera investigation, Senator Hanson is secretly filmed saying she has “a lot of questions” about what happened at Port Arthur.

“An MP said it would actually take a massacre in Tasmania to change the gun laws in Australia,” Senator Hanson told Rodger Muller, an Al Jazeera journalist who for three years pretended to be the leader of a fictitious firearm advocate group called Gun Rights Australia, an identity he established to infiltrate One Nation.

“Haven’t you heard that? Have a look at it. It was said on the floor of parliament.”

“That whole September 11 thing, too,” Mr Ashby says, immediately after the group brought up the MP’s comments about Port Arthur.

“Those shots. They were precision shots,” Senator Hanson responds.

“Check the number out. I’ve read a lot and I have read the book on it, Port Arthur. A lot of questions there.”

As with many massacres, conspiracy theories have swirled around Port Massacre since the event took place.

They largely exist on anonymous online forums and independent blogs, seeking to disprove the official account of events.


In 1996, Martin Bryant killed 35 people and wounded 21 others in Port Arthur. He was given 35 consecutive life sentences, plus 1035 years, all without the possibility of parole.

The federal and state governments responded by imposing new legislation to severely restrict the availability of firearms.

This forms the basis of most Port Arthur truthers’ theories — that the tragedy was orchestrated as an excuse to ban guns.

Books have been written, films made and tinfoil hat-style websites created aiming to convince the public that the massacre was staged.

Carl Wernerhoff, a Sydney-based conspirist, wrote an article a decade on from the massacre claiming the eyewitness accounts came from Australian security officials who were posing as witnesses.

He claimed they were there to “help manage the aftermath of the slaughter”, by hiding evidence, talking to the press and offering detailed descriptions of a gunman who bore an uncanny resemblance to Bryant.

He also claimed, like other Port Arthur “truthers”, that the attack was orchestrated as an excuse to change the nation’s gun laws, describing the gunman as “a skilled professional who did exactly what he had been trained to do”.

Some online sceptics have read into the fact that Bryant was sentenced without a trial.

In 2016, a film called Bryant — the Port Arthur Massacre cast doubt on the official version of events.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson filmed insinuating Port Arthur conspiracy theory. Picture: Al JazeeraSource:Supplied

The filmmaker, Paul Moder, attempted to argue Bryant was never given a fair trial, that no fingerprints were taken from the scene, and there was no ballistic evidence linking Bryant to the guns used to kill the victims.

What the gun rights enthusiast chose to ignore, however, was that Bryant pleaded guilty to all charges, which is why it didn’t need to go to an open trial.

Moder was shredded in an interview on The Project after he suggested Bryant “allegedly” committed the crime.

“What is that meant to mean?” the show’s co-host Waleed Aly fired back. “I mean he’s convicted, there’s no allegedly about it.”

When Moder attempted to argue there was insufficient evidence, Aly pointed out that evidence wasn’t needed because Bryant made a full confession.

“There’s nothing to be made of the fact that this evidence hasn’t been presented publicly, of course it hasn’t been presented publicly, that’s the way the system works,” the host explained.

“If there was a defensible case, it would have run at trial. That’s what would have happened and those discrepancies, if they even exist, would be discussed and judges would rule on them.”

In 2016, chilling footage was broadcast of a grinning Bryant confessing to the murder on camera.

He drew stick figures to show how he planned the massacre and explained openly to detectives how he shot the victims.

But still, truthers have their theories. They also claim that Bryant — who was intellectually disabled and had an IQ lower than most 11-year-olds — couldn’t possibly have successfully killed that many people with no firearms experience.

But it’s been noted that Bryant killed all his victims within just a few metres, missing his targets from whom he fired at a distance.

It’s also been claimed Bryant’s lawyer took photos of him during a jail visit, which were destroyed by prison authorities over fears it might be discovered that his physical description didn’t match that given by witnesses.

This is despite the fact that photos and footage of Bryant were published throughout the media after the attack, and remain all over the internet to this day.

Before the attack, former NSW Premier Barry Unsworth making the chilling prediction that “it will take a massacre in Tasmania before we get gun law reform in Australia”.

Truthers have since jumped on this remark, claiming it as proof that the incident had been “orchestrated” in advance by the government.

But the remark was made in 1987, in the context of the Premier storming out of a national gun summit in which Tasmania resisted proposals to tighten Australia’s gun laws. In other words, it was a perfectly logical statement to make at the event.

This isn’t to suggest Ms Hanson endorses every one of the conspiracy theories listed above.

But the footage suggests she may be open to the general idea.


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