By Andrew L Urban.
The usual suspects have derided Immigration Minister Peter Dutton this week (November 23, 2016) for pointing out that mistakes in immigration polices can have long term negative consequences, citing the Malcolm Fraser folly of 1976. That year, against strong departmental advice, Fraser agreed with Lebanese lobbyists to waive the usual eligibility conditions. A year later he rescinded that decision after seeing the flood of migrants who would not find a happy home here due to their lack of work and language skills, etc, as forecast by the department and others.
It was indeed a mistake, as acknowledged by the Fraser government among others including Labour.
Dutton quoted current security agency figures showing that of the 33 terrorist convictions on record, 22 are against Muslim Lebanese individuals.
Ah but, came the defensive response from Labour MP Terri Butler on the ABC’s Q&A and ex Labour NSW Premiere Christina Keneally on Sky News’ Credlin and Keneally … that is 22 out of 180,000 Lebanese in Australia: numerically insignificant and therefore presumably not a valid point.
But of course it isn’t the 22 out of 180,000 figure but the 22 out of 33 that is the critical number. Besides, dismissing 22 terrorist convictions with such ease raises the question of reality awareness; how many terrorists would attract their attention?
Butler and Keneally were just two of those who feared Dutton’s plain speaking would demonise the whole Lebanese community and make them less willing to co-operate with authorities in the fight against Muslim terrorism and radicalisation in Australia. This argument is always called upon when there is no rational response available to push back. The argument is so shallow as to be risible. Why would peace abiding Lebanese take offence? They want to feel safe and protected as much as all other Australians.
The underlying issue is that as ever Islam occupies a special place in public discourse. We must not upset the Muslims, goes the irrational and immature argument, because they can help us fight terrorists in our midst. How insulting to intelligent and law abiding Muslims (who are the minority to the Christian majority among Australians of Lebanese descent).