November 23, 2016








SUBJECT/S: Peter Dutton


DR ANNE ALY MP: Good morning everyone. You know, it wasn’t that long ago that Malcolm Turnbull said that ‘the best weapon against terrorists is an inclusive nation’. And you know, if Malcolm Turnbull believes that – if he really believes that – he would have come out and slap down Peter Dutton’s disgraceful comments against migrant Australians who have helped build this nation. Malcolm Turnbull also said that Malcolm Frasier was ‘ahead of his time’ both in immigration and in anti-racism, and I think it’s time for Australians to ask for what they deserve – they need to ask for a principled leader, and they need to have somebody to show some leadership on this. Peter Dutton’s comments have already started to have impacts around communities, people are feeling the impacts of those comments, they are comments that are very typical of the politics of fear and the politics of division. The kind of politics that we really don’t need right now in Australia. I’m happy to take any questions.

JOURNALIST: So, these comments to appear to be resonating with a broad section of the community – do you think that there’s a waft around Dutton that’s not going away?

ALY: I don’t know that they’re resonating with a broad section of the community, I think they are resonating with a section of the community that has particular ideas and ascribes to particular notions, populist notions --

JOURNALIST: Rather the backlash against them is resonating.

ALY: The backlash against –

JOURNALIST: His comments.

ALY: Against his comments? I don’t know about that. I hope that they are. There are a lot of people who have come out and called them out for what they are and that’s really heartening to see. What I would like to see, however, and what I think Australians deserve, is also some leadership on this. We deserve for Malcolm Turnbull to also come out and take a stand against these kinds of divisive comments.

JOURNALIST: Can you tell us about some of those impacts? Can you elaborate on that?

ALY: Well, I got some rather nasty emails just yesterday. I had one saying that ‘Peter Dutton is correct and that I need to ‘____ ___’ home and take all my terrorist friends with me’. Now if I’m getting those kinds of emails, you can be sure that there are people out there in the communities, people out there in Liberal-held seats of Arab, or Muslim, or Lebanese background, or just any kind of migrant background who are also going to be getting comments like that in the streets. And we don’t need that in this country. We’ve been a very successful multicultural country. We are a nation that is built on migrants and what we need right now is to come together, not to be pushed apart.

JOURNALIST: So as a person, how did those emails make you feel?

ALY: I’m pretty much used to them and I’ve got a pretty thick skin; I can handle it. But there are a lot of people out there who I think will be much more affected by it.

JOURNALIST: When you first heard the comments reported and then when you saw yesterday that the Prime Minister refused to condemn the comments, how did that make you feel personally?

ALY: You know, I think – I’ll tell you a story. When I was a kid there was a girl at school, her name was Christine – I’ll never forget Christine, it’s funny the people that you kind of remember from school – and for some reason Christine took an instant dislike to me. I was about 10 years old. She would follow me around the playground and she would make fun of me about my religion, and she would make fun of me about my background and about how I looked. And then one day she pulled me aside and she spat on me and she called me a “dirty Muslim and a dirty Arab”. And I went to the teacher and I told the teacher that this had happened and the teacher turned to me a said “oh, don’t be stupid”. You know, and to this day it’s not so much the comments that Christine made that resonate and that stay with me, it’s the fact that the teacher did nothing about it. That the teacher who should have shown leadership, who should have stood up and said “no that’s wrong”, who should have slapped down those comments. It was the lack of leadership that affected me. And so I think the same thing here. You know, when there is no leadership, particularly by somebody who in the past has said things that I would certainly agree with, things that are all about being an inclusive nation, who has praised Malcolm Frasier for his stance on immigration and anti-racism, particularly from somebody who in the past appeared principled in this – that’s what really, I think, is missing here. That’s what I think really is the rub here.

Thanks guys.