On Tuesday, August 5 the Prime Minister and the Attorney General announced firstly that the proposed changes to the Anti Discrimination Act would not go ahead and secondly that there will be an expansion of the Anti-Terror legislation to give security organisations more powers particularly in regards to individuals travelling overseas to locations that the Government has or will identify as regions of concern.
On Tuesday 5 August the Prime Minister and the Attorney General announced firstly that the proposed changes to the Anti Discrimination Act would not go ahead and secondly that there will be an expansion of the Anti-Terror legislation to give security organisations more powers particularly in regards to individuals travelling overseas to locations that the Government has or will identify as regions of concern.
It goes without saying that the ICV is pleased at the first announcement and fundamentally opposed to the second. This however is not the most significant issue with the Prime Minister’s staged press conference. The issue of greatest concern is that the Prime Minister clearly linked the two issues with the Muslim community as the focus of the two. Essentially the Prime Minister said that the reason for not proceeding with the Anti Discrimination changes was that it had become a threat to community ‘unity’ particular with support the government needed from the Muslim community in supporting the Anti-Terror regime. He then went on to say that we should all be part of ‘team Australia’ effectively labelling anyone as un-Australian who didn’t support the changes. Given his specific mention of our community this was clearly aimed at ourselves.
The ICV is appalled at such behaviour by the Prime Minister for the following reasons:
- There is no connection whatsoever between the two issues and by linking them through the Islamic community has clearly used our community for his political schemes.
- The announcement gave the impression that the Islamic community had in fact been ‘bought’ through the abandoning of the Anti-Discrimination changes.
- This will fuel the Islamophobic sentiment in the community.
- Once again we are being asked to prove our ‘Australianness’.
We categorically object to this and in no way support the expansion of the Anti-Terror legislation.
We will no longer allow such insults and cheap rhetoric to go unanswered.
Our community has been repeatedly targeted in this regard for over 2 decades now and we will not tolerate it any longer. Muslims have been a part of the Australian landscape since before the arrival of Europeans to this land. We have and will continue to make significant contributions to this society and we find it insulting and offensive that we are repeatedly asked to reassert our connection with this country.
Finally we would give the Prime Minister and his Government some free advice. Criminalising the support of rebellions overseas will in no way stop young Australians from doing this. The Government needs to stop focusing on these sensationalist symptoms that accrue them political mileage and genuinely look at the root causes. The question of why young Australians would willingly put themselves in harms way is much more complex than some spurious notion of religious extremism. We would point the Government to its own foreign policies as a starting point. The government stance on the issue of Israel and the massacres in Gaza over the last 4 weeks has done more to ‘radicalise’ people than this boogie monster of radicalisation that it uses to periodically scare the community and divert attention away from the reality.
The Islamic community is not what it was 20 or even 10 years ago. We will no longer stand by and be treated as the demon used by political parties for their own gains. The sooner all politicians come to terms with this the sooner we can have genuine engagement.
Secretary, Islamic Council of Victoria
Source: ICV email list.