Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s prime minister, criticised an MP in his ruling coalition who posted a photograph online of himself holding a gun, Dirty Harry-style, and asking: “Do you feel lucky, greenie punks?”.
George Christensen's post appeared to be aimed at the green lobby, as the MP has been critical of environmentalists - sometimes backed by the Greens political party - who have tried to blockade mining projects, including chaining themselves to machinery.
Mr Turnbull said Mr Christensen took down the post "after he was spoken to about it".
As police investigated the image, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young revealed that the post had led to her receiving death threats.
Ms Hanson-Young posted a tweet she received from a supporter of Mr Christensen saying they hoped he had 'left one in the chamber' to fire directly into her groin. The Greens referred Mr Christensen’s post to police and called for him to be sacked.
Mr Christensen is an outspoken member of the Liberal National party, which is part of the ruling federal Liberal-National coalition. He is known for his strident right-wing views, particularly on Islam and climate change.
Following widespread condemnation of his post, Mr Christensen refused to apologise but changed the caption to read: "You gotta ask yourself, do you have a sense of humour, greenie punks?"
He later deleted the post but defended it, saying he was angry at the Greens opposition to a proposed mine in Queensland. He said his post was a “tongue-in-cheek” reference to the famous line in the 1971 film Dirty Harry, in which Clint Eastwood’s character asks: “Do I feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?”
"I'm not going to be moralised at by these extreme Greens for a joke that I put up on social media," Mr Christensen said.
"The flippant comment I made online was a quote from Dirty Harry, who was a police officer speaking to people who are conducting illegal activity such as the Greens are. "
Mr Trunbull told radio 3AW the post was "clearly inappropriate". “I will let the police complete their evaluation,” he added.
The Australian Federal Police are investigating the post following a referral by the Greens, who said it incited violence. Police in Queensland were also asked to investigate but said it appeared that no crime had been committed.