“There Was A Mistake Made”: Peter Dutton Has Called Out Malcolm Fraser For Embracing Migrants

There's a good chance the Immigration Minister just insulted your parents or grandparents.

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Though the 1970s and ’80s were mired with huge problems for refugees and migrants resettling in Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser is often remembered as a champion of an accepting and multicultural Australia. More than 200,000 people moved from Asian nations over his term, including roughly 50,000 refugees from the Vietnam War — 2,000 of which arrived undocumented by boat. In recent years, he spoke out against the government’s treatment of asylum seekers and the petulant way in which former PM Abbott defended it.

After his death last year, he was remembered fondly for this. Human rights campaigners and politicians who oppose mandatory detention labelled him a “man of compassion” and a “visionary”. There’s a good chance your mum or grandad or mate’s family said the same; his immigration policies had a huge hand to play in the lives of millions of Australians.

Remembering Malcolm Fraser: Our Last Great Intellectual Prime Minister

However, this does not seem to be the view shared by current Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. In an interview with Andrew Bolt on Sky News last night, Dutton stated that Fraser had “made a mistake”. “The reality is Malcolm Fraser did make mistakes in bringing some people in the 1970s and we’re seeing that today.”

Stressing the need to have “an honest conversation” about the topic, Dutton stated that many foreign fighters travelling to the Middle East are the descendants of migrants who moved to Australia in the ’70s and ’80s (Bolt specifically cited refugees which escaped the Lebanese Civil War). The conversation also revolved around some recent Sudanese migrants who have been involved in gang-related crime.

“People who’ve arrived here have done well, they’ve worked hard, they’ve educated their children, and it’s the second or third generation that are going off to fight. We need to have a proper look at what has gone wrong — and clearly something has gone wrong when you have this level of violence and gang-type activity.

“I think we need to put it into perspective by way of what the rest of the community is doing, but we do review the program each year, and if we feel there are problems with particular cohorts, particular nationalities, particular people who might not be integrating well and not contributing well, then there are many other worthy recipients who seek to come to a country like ours and make an opportunity their own.”

“If it can be demonstrated that we have a significant proportion of a particular community — we’re talking about the Sudanese community in this instance — then we need to work out what’s gone wrong.”

This topic and the direction it went were all directly pushed by Andrew Bolt. The host raised the topic of a “huge crime wave in Melbourne”, immediately linking it to “young men of African descent”, then brought up Fraser’s policies suggesting immigration was the root cause of the crimes. Dutton first appeared keen to speak about Daniel Andrews’ state government justice system, then tentatively concurred with Bolt and went after Fraser.

But that doesn’t make his statements any less concerning. Not only did he infer there’s some implicit racial or cultural element which can make people more or less suited to live peacefully in Australia, his denouncement of Fraser’s work is a slap in the face to everyone who had a shot at a new life because of it. It’s a concerning thing to hear the same week as a new parliamentary inquiry into “migrant settlement outcomes”, and people are not happy about it.

The response on social media is definitely a step above the regular standard of Dutton hate:

Seems like a good day to read some different perspectives on the great and ongoing contributions of Aussie migrants, or share your own.