Who should we believe on terrorism? The rabid right or the experts?

There has recently been considerable comment in the media on the appearance of One Nation leader Pauline Hanson at the Senate estimates committee to question spy boss Duncan Lewis. Lewis gave Hanson a fair hammering on her views on terrorism and Muslims.

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Michael Koziol Immigration Correspondent writing in The Age: Counter-terrorism experts have overwhelmingly backed spy boss Duncan Lewis in his assessment there was ‘‘no evidence’’ linking refugees to Islamic terrorism, cautioning his critics against inflaming tensions with Muslims.

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Mr Lewis, director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, also told One Nation leader Pauline Hanson there was no evidence the children of refugees were more likely to convert to radical Islam.

The comments sparked a wave of criticism from conservative circles.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott suggested the ASIO chief was ‘‘tiptoeing’’ around the issue, while commentator Andrew Bolt called on him to retract or quit.

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So the question is: who do you believe? It is an important question in the functioning of a democracy and in the operation of a responsible media. Lewis is an expert, the head of ASIO, Abbott is an ex-PM and should be well-versed in security matters. Andrew Bolt is a commentator and the self-appointed expert on everything.

Bolt makes it his duty to demand the resignation of anybody whose opinions he disagrees with. Quite frequently these are people who are better informed and more intelligent than he is.

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Sometimes, it’s necessary for all of us to take a step back and say, “Perhaps this guy knows more than I do on this topic and I should acknowledge that and accept his opinion.”

In the case of a relatively uninformed and bigoted radio commentator and the head of our intelligence service, this should probably be the case.

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