Politics

Three Days After Christchurch, A Liberal Senator Linked Refugees To Terrorism on ‘Q&A’

What's the difference between this and Fraser Anning?

Linda Reynolds links refugees to terrorism on Q&A

Just three days after the Christchurch mosque shooting left 50 people dead, Liberal senator Linda Reynolds has used an appearance on Q&A to make the thinly veiled suggestion that bringing sick refugees to Australia could lead to terrorism — while at the same time chastising politicians and commentators for using the New Zealand terror attack to make “cheap political points”.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Reynolds made the comments following a question from an audience member about whether politicians and the media were responsible for an increase in Islamophobia in Australia in recent years.

Asked by Q&A host Tony Jones whether she agreed politicians were using a “fear of others” for political purposes, Reynolds responded by… well… doing exactly that.

“This is a very personal issue for me and the circumstances that you were talking about are things I’ve lived through,” Reynolds said. “Last month I gave probably the hardest and the most personal speech I’ve ever given in the Senate. And it was in response to Labor’s amendments to the medivac bill. And I was literally almost physically ill when I saw some of my Senate and House of Representatives colleagues in the chamber cheering and high fiving the passage of these amendments because I was one of the few in that chamber who has lived through terrorism and the impact of the Bali bombings.”

“I was up there, I saw, I smelt … There are people in our own nation and there are people overseas who want to do us harm. They don’t respect our compassion. And they certainly do not respect our way of life.”

At this point, Jones interrupted and asked whether Reynolds was “drawing a link between the Bali bombings and refugees coming to Australia for medical services?”

“What I’m saying is having my colleagues cheer for this policy that will inevitably lead to the boat trade coming again,” she replied.

Reynolds went on to echo Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who on Monday denied reports that he once suggested in a shadow cabinet meeting that the Liberal party should exploit community fears of Muslims in order to win votes.

“The PM has been very clear tonight it did not happen. It simply did not happen,” Reynolds said.

But the Senator saved perhaps her most staggeringly hypocritical remark for last.

“My bigger point is for anybody to try and politicise this issue now, while events are still unfolding in New Zealand, is inappropriate and tacky.”

Yeah, no kidding.

For what it’s worth, Reynolds told the Q&A audience that she supported a bipartisan censure of independent senator Fraser Anning, who on Friday claimed the cause of the Christchurch terror attack was “the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place”. Anning was rightfully condemned (and egged) for his comments.

But let’s be honest. Reynolds just went on national television and said the thought of bringing sick asylum seekers — many of whom come from predominantly Muslim countries — to Australia made her feel “physically ill”. She justified this by invoking the spectre of the Bali bombing, knowing full well that the people in asylum seeker detention had nothing to do with that horrific attack.

She did it, like Anning, to stoke fear, and to appear tough on border security. In other words, to win votes.

Reynolds’ comments weren’t as baldfaced as Annings’. But were they really that much better?