Friday, November 25, 2016
"Why can’t I talk about the facts?" asks an Australian government minister
IMMIGRATION minister Peter Dutton won’t step back from his comments regarding a small portion of the Lebanese Muslim community.
Australians were “sick” of over the top political correctness, the Minister told media after a Greens Senator said his comments might be factual but they weren’t “productive”.
Mr Dutton rejected suggestions his comments were whipping up racism. Instead, he blamed the “tricky elite”, Opposition leader Bill Shorten and Greens MPs for making the remarks a big deal to win political points.
“I want to have an honest discussion,” he said. “The vast majority of Lebanese Australians are law-abiding, hard working, good decent people who are besmirched by the small element within the community who are doing the wrong thing. “I made that clear.”
Earlier, Greens Senator Nick McKim had attacked Mr Dutton for telling politicians in Question Time on Monday 22 out of the last 33 people charged with terrorist-related offences in Australia were from a second and third generational Lebanese-Muslim background.
“Undoubtedly the advice he’s got is accurate but just because something is fact doesn’t mean that it’s reasonable or productive to talk about it,” Senator McKim said on Sky News.
“What we’ve got is a deliberate attack from Mr Dutton by quoting these numbers on a particular subsection of the Australian community.”
Mr Dutton had been clarifying this comment to a Sky News interview last week: “The reality is Malcolm Fraser did make mistakes in bringing some people in the 1970s and we’re seeing that today.”
On Thursday, Mr Dutton questioned why he couldn’t talk about facts. “Mr McKim gave the game away today when he said ‘What Dutton has said is factual and reasonable but shouldn’t be spoken about’,” he said. “Australians are sick of that. “They want to have an honest discussion.”