Is Peter Dutton just a simple man trying to deal with a complex problem?

The ABC reports: Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has suggested that the Fraser government made a mistake by resettling Lebanese refugees.

Mr Dutton last week stated that former prime minister Malcolm Fraser “did make mistakes in bringing some people in” as part of his immigration policies in the 1970s.


Malcolm Fraser: Prime Minister of Australia (1975–1983)

When pressed on those comments during Question Time today, Mr Dutton singled out people of Lebanese-Muslim background.


“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,” he said.

His statement in parliament today falls in the category of “so bad it’s difficult to start explaining it”.

Let’s start with the issue of  racial prejudice which is attributing certain patterns of behaviour to a group of people on the basis of their ethnicity.

In this case it’s “You’re a Lebanese-Muslim, so you must be a terrorist” or even better “You’re a Lebanese-Muslim,so your grandchildren will be terrorists.”

Yes, it’s stupid, illogical and discriminatory  but it’s a kind of thing that feeds into the core beliefs of some of the least desirable elements of our society.

Unfortunately, it will do nothing to endear the coalition government to the local Muslim community and will certainly reinforce the views of young alienated Muslims.

It is disgraceful that a Minister of the Crown should be saying this in Parliament. Malcolm Turnbull should hang his head in shame if he does not reprimand Dutton and publicly repudiates his comments.

The main reason for Turnbull to do this is that what Dutton is saying is deeply divisive and will only serve to inflame relations between right-wing fascist elements of the community and radicalised Muslims.

To suggest that people charged with terrorist-related offences have committed those offences because their parents or grandparents came from Lebanon demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of the causes of radicalisation amongst young Muslims.

Making this statement also suggests that the solution to people committing acts of terrorism in Australia is simply to stop people migrating from Lebanon.

Unfortunately, no matter what Peter Dutton thinks, it’s just not that simple.

Presumably, he thinks we can solve the problem by simply banning those people who would be likely to have grandchildren who would become terrorists.

But that would be a really difficult task, to say nothing of time-consuming and expensive. And it also assumes there are good predictive tools available to help make these decisions, which there are not.

What is so profoundly offensive about Dutton’s behaviour is that it mimics some of the worst aspects of Donald Trump’s outrageous behaviour during the presidential election.

And why does he do?

Because he and Malcolm Turnbull both think that this is the kind of rhetoric that will endear them to Australian voters.

It probably won’t because many people are not going to change their mind as result of what Peter Dutton says and people who are going to be impressed by what he says already vote for One Nation.

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