Wednesday, March 01, 2017
Australia: Must not refer to illegal immigrants as "fleas"
None of the "asylum-seeker" detainees are in fact refugees. None of them came to Australia directly from their own countries. So they already had refuge before they departed for Australia
LIBERAL Senator David Fawcett has clarified a statement where he appeared to describe asylum seekers as “fleas” while quizzing the Immigration Department over border protection.
The senator made the statement while responding to Employment Minister Michaelia Cash in a senate estimates hearing at Parliament House today. Minister Cash had defended the Turnbull Government’s track record on border protection by saying it was “still trying to clean up” a mess left by the former Labor government.
Senator Fawcett, a panel member of the estimates hearing, responded: “I’ll leave it there, I just question the ethics of nitpicking when your particular group brought the fleas in the first place.”
Senator Ian Macdonald, who made headlines this month by defending the Life Gold Pass for retired politicians, laughingly said “Nicely put.”
Senator Fawcett has since clarified his comment, saying he was describing the Labor Party’s dispute of a very small detail of processes at a time the Immigration Department was under great stress and that the stress was due to Labor policies at the time.
“If they were nitpicking they were responsible for the cause of the irritation,” he said.
Shadow Immigration Minister Shayne Neumann had called on the senators to apologise for their comments after they were initially made.
“It is beyond belief that a Turnbull Government senator would ever refer to vulnerable people seeking asylum as fleas, and even worse, to have other Coalition senators laugh, cheer and eagerly agree,” Mr Neumann told News Corp.
“Senators Fawcett and MacDonald should immediately apologise for their comments and start treating Australia’s humanitarian program with the respect and seriousness it deserves.”