Australia out of step on Muslim immigration
Germany, France and Britain are critical but both major Australian parties are resisting the reality of Muslim difference -- and too bad what the public thinks: They can be "educated"
Scott Morrison's predecessor in the immigration portfolio has condemned as "un-Liberal" suggestions the party should capitalise on Australian fears about Muslim migrants.
Leading Victorian moderate Sharman Stone, who lost her portfolio to Mr Morrison when Tony Abbott replaced Malcolm Turnbull as Liberal leader, said such a move would be unpalatable. “That approach would be most un-Liberal and it is totally contrary to Liberal values and beliefs. Our values and beliefs are non discriminatory,” she told The Australian Online. “It was the Liberal Party that began the breakdown of the White Australia policy in the early 1960s. The Liberal Party has a proud record of being colour blind.”
Dr Stone's comments come after reports that Mr Morrison told a meeting of shadow ministers in December the Coalition should make political capital out of Australians' concern about multiculturalism and fears about Muslim immigration.
Senior Liberals Julie Bishop and Philip Ruddock are reported to have rejected Mr Morrison's suggestion at the time.
The growing debate in Liberal ranks about how to approach immigration and multiculturalism comes as Immigration Minister Chris Bowen offered an impassioned defence of Australian multiculturalism yesterday - rejecting a rising tide of criticism directed at the policy by European leaders - as he unveiled a new multicultural strategy.
Dr Stone emphasised that no-one in the party had sounded her out about taking a tougher line on Muslim migration. “My electorate of Murray is possibly the most multicultural outside the capital cities, we have a 70-year-old mosque here, our Muslims in our community are no different to other faith groups in the contributions they make, in their philanthropy, they are the same as other Australians,” she said.
Coalition frontbencher Greg Hunt denied the opposition was seeking to exploit religion for electoral advantage. “Our position is very clear. That we are completely colour blind, race blind, religion blind on the issue of immigration,” he told ABC radio. “Where we do have a difference with the government is where people are being lured with policies to travel in dangerous leaky boats, then we think that is a great risk to common humanity.”
Mr Hunt said Mr Morrison was a compassionate man. “Unfortunately I wasn't at the meeting, but I know Scott, and his style is deep compassion, he is deeply compassionate, he agonises around the issues of protecting people who are being lured to their deaths,” he said.
Labor senator Doug Cameron says the report shows Mr Morrison urged his colleagues to capitalise on anti-Muslim sentiment. “(Scott) Morrison should be sacked immediately ... (and) join One Nation,” he told Sky News.
Liberal backbencher Steve Ciobo queried the accuracy of the reports that Mr Morrison had called for the Liberals to capitalise about concerns over immigration. “It's great for a headline but I doubt that was actually what was said,” he said.
And the Labor party doubles down on Muslim immigration
And opposition to it is "racist". Not a whisper about the many Australians who died in Bali at the hands of Muslim fanatics. In the flexble worldview of the Left, that did not happen
The Gillard Government will beef up a campaign supporting multiculturalism in the face of what is seen as growing resistance to new arrivals. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen tonight revealed the campaign would salute what he called "the genius of Australian multiculturalism".
The Government will create a new independent organisation, the Australian Multicultural Council, and ACT senator Kate Lundy will be made parliamentary secretary in charge of managing multicultural programs.
The fresh emphasis on the policy comes amid growing public hostility towards asylum seekers, and against significant population growth through immigration.
There also is apprehension that the increasing number of Muslim migrants will produce big cultural changes, and even the introduction of Islamic-based legal codes.
"Australian governments do not defend cultural practices and ideas that are inconsistent with our values and ideals of democracy, justice, equality and tolerance. Nor should we be expected to," Mr Bowen told the Sydney Institute tonight.
"For those fleeing persecution, terror and hatred, they come to Australia in search of peace, justice and harmony. "For many others, they come in the hope of creating, in this new land, a new life for themselves and their loved ones for prosperity and in the knowledge that, in Australia, their children will not be discriminated against for their colour or creed.
"For these men and women, the last thing they want is Australia to change, to become less free, to become less democratic, to become less equal." [Has he listened to any Muslims lately?]
Mr Bowen said multiculturalism was under attack in France, Germany and Britain, but that Australia had a different and successful system. "But it is a unique, Australian multiculturalism, built differently to other models around the world," he said.
He said Australia had social unity, and a requirement that people become citizens to enjoy the full benefits of living here. "In my view, this is the most beautiful citizenship pledge in the world," said Mr Bowen.
He said: "English is the national language here, its use in our public and private institutions is to be respected, and the learning of English is to be encouraged.
"Ours is a citizenship-based multiculturalism. To enjoy the full benefits of Australian society, it is necessary to take a pledge of commitment as a citizen."
The minister said the new multiculturalism council would "act as a champion for multiculturalism in the community, will advise the Government on multicultural affairs and will help ensure Australian Government services respond to the needs of migrant and refugee communities". "We will also establish a National Anti-Racism Partnership and Strategy to design and deliver an anti-racism strategy."