Senator Anning Stirs the Migrant Pot But Morrison Misses Opportunity
It is not clear whether or not Senator Anning’s attendance at a small St Kilda protest rally was intended to stir public discussion and comments from Morrison and Shorten. But this has happened and some points made in my Commentary on Monday have also been reflected in that discussion. Importantly, The Australian has published a number of letters (see OZ Letters on “Far-Right”), including my own as what is sometimes called the lead letter, viz
Not just extreme Right who have migrant concerns
The Australian, Letters, 12:00AM January 9, 2019 (Ed deleted bits in square brackets)
Your coverage of the [small]protest rally on St Kilda beach attended by Queensland senator Fraser Anning draws attention to his unverified relationship with Vietnamese traders who had been disrupted by youths of African origin [and] who had also caused disruption at the very same beach (”Anning not with us: Vietnamese”, 8/1). [Anning acquired his Senate seat through the back door and is no longer a member of a party. And while he is claiming his expenses, it seems that is legitimate]
[True,] Anning is said to have a “far Right” view but his expressed concern about immigrants having Islamic characteristics or having African origin may not be confined to those with a “far Right” view. As indicated by the recent debate on immigration, most Australians recognise there is limited absorption capacity both in terms of numbers and characteristics which extend beyond our Euro-Judeo culture.
The UK is attempting to stop illegal immigration across the English channel from many who see it as an El Dorado. And while France is still officially welcoming migrants, surveys reveal a majority of the French population want immigration halted or regulated drastically. That President Macron’s polling has fallen to only 18 per cent, and that changes are favoured to the hundreds of no-go zones under the control of imams and Muslim gangs, indicates the importance of having an acceptable population mix from immigrants.
Des Moore, South Yarra, Vic
My main intention was to refer to the possible implications of one of Anning’s reported observations at the rally (“I would not bring any more Muslims or Sudanese in the country. I would put a ban on that. And if any of them committed a crime, I would be shipping them home to where they came from”). As is evident from the heading made by The Australian to its main published letters the key point is that it is “Not just extreme Right who have migrant concerns”.
My letter, and Monday’s Commentary, sought to draw attention to other countries which have “migrant concerns”, notably France now led by President Macron with polling of only 18 percent and a “far-right” Marie le Pen hot on his trail. The latest report on the French crisis indicates that the French PM has taken over from Macron the handling of the “yellow vesters” and some arrests are being made (see French PM To Respond To Vesters). But it appears that France has become ungovernable unless imprisonment action is taken against violent groups, who might even include some in the Antifa movement whose members here took part in our St Kilda rally (see PS below). Other European countries have migrant concerns as indeed does the United States, with Trump about to make a major statement in support of constructing a wall to help control migrants entering from Mexico.
But most remarkable is the failure of Morrison to use the public discussion/debate on Anning and the rally to recognise that Australia itself has “migrant concerns”. In Monday’s Commentary of 7 January I noted that both Morrison and Shorten deemed it necessary to criticise Anning’s attendance at the rally and quoted Morrison as saying that “Australians are not anti-migrant nor racist. Genuine concerns held by fair minded Australians about immigration levels, border protection or law and order should not be used as a cover or be hijacked to push hateful and ugly racist agendas.”“As I did yesterday, I’ll always be prepared to call out extremism in all its forms.”
But immigration policy is not simply “calling out extremism in all its forms”. While there is no media statement for 6 January on Morrison’s media releases web, it appears that he has missed the opportunity to make a general statement along the lines that, as I say in my letter, “most Australians recognise there is limited absorption capacity both in terms of numbers and characteristics which extend beyond our Euro-Judeo culture”. Some such observation would likely put the Coalition ahead of Labor on an important policy issue.
I note that the letter published by The Australian from a Mr Jeremy Browne refers to the Antifa movement being at the St Kilda rally. That movement has US origins but is described in Wikepedia as “a conglomeration of left wing autonomous, militant anti-fascist groups in the United States. The principal feature of antifa groups is their use of direct action. They engage in varied protest tactics, which include digital activism, property damage, physical violence, and harassment against those whom they identify as fascist, racist, or on the far-right. Conflicts are both online and in real life. They tend to be anti-capitalist and they are predominantly far-left and militant left, which includes anarchists, communists and socialists. Their stated focus is on fighting far-right and white supremacist ideologies directly, rather than through electoral means”. It seems likely that it was people belonging to this movement who ensured that the rally was not a peaceful one.