Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has commended Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on doing an “outstanding job” and is not going to remark on Dutton’s suggestion that allowing the ‘Lebanese-Muslim’ community to settle in Australia should not have happened.
“Peter Dutton is a thoughtful and committed and compassionate Immigration Minister.
“There is no question that there are lessons to be learned from previous immigration policies and the minister was reflecting on … policies many years ago. He’s entitled to do that.”
During parliamentary question time on Monday, Dutton commented that former PM Malcolm Fraser should not have allowed Lebanese Muslims into Australia during the 70s due to descendants being charged on terrorism-related grounds.
“The advice I have is that out of the last 33 people who have been charged with terrorist-related offences in this country, 22 of those people are from second and third-generation Lebanese-Muslim background,” Dutton said.
While Dutton did not wish to “shy away from the facts”, he did not want to entire Lebanese Muslim community to believe they are defined by individuals or groups “who are doing the wrong thing”.
As a multicultural nation with many communities from non-English speaking backgrounds, the racial remark has not gone unseen, causing a stir in both the general public and parliamentary members.
Lebanese Australians have said they are hurt by the remarks. Trent Zimmerman described the minister’s comments as “unhelpful”, especially in regards to building relations with ethnic communities. Labor’s Tony Burke has stated security agencies will be disappointed due to the hard work put into cooperating with the local Muslim community on issues such as counter-terrorism.
“This is a bizarre, weird argument of racial profiling,” Burke said.
Labor Member for Lakemba in NSW and Muslim Lebanese-Australian, Jihad Dib, stated it was erroneous for the Liberal Party to “generalise” the Muslim community as it undermined the work towards inclusion and harmony for all Australians.
“It’s ill thought of and the purpose, I think, is solely to try to appeal to a nationalistic sense — that’s to provide a sense of exclusion rather than one of inclusion,” he said.
The response to Dutton’s comments have gone as far as to call for his removal. And if you haven’t noticed already, the hashtag #SackDutton is trending on Twitter.
By @PeterDutton_MP's logic that means any potential children of mine will be terrorists? Who knew my lack of a biological clock saved lives?
— Lee Lin Chin (@LeeLinChinSBS) November 21, 2016
— Ivana Kovac Kuti (@IKKsays) November 22, 2016
By praising Dutton, Turnbull has just given the middle finger to Second & Third Generation "Australians" #SackDutton
— Close Manus & Nauru (@I_stand_for) November 22, 2016
This new normalisation of increasingly outrageous rhetoric aimed at vulnerable communities cannot be allowed to proceed further. #SackDutton
— Ruby Hamad (@rubyhamad) November 21, 2016