Peter Khalil: The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection confirmed yesterday that he believed that tens of thousands of Lebanese who migrated to Australia were a mistake, because 22 of their grandchildren had been charged with terrorist offences. By this twisted logic, all migration from the UK would be a mistake, because David Hicks was charged with terror offences.
The Minister has displayed a breathtaking ignorance of the success of generations of Lebanese Australians, the success of people like former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour, Richmond footballer Bachar Houli and my mate David Basheer at SBS.
It was during the early 1970s that my parents also were able to escape a war-torn Middle East for a life of peace and security in Australia. Like millions of migrants, including the Lebanese, they worked hard and made a contribution to their adopted country, instilling in us, the next generation of Australians, the importance of giving something back to the country that gave us such an opportunity.
The minister refused to apologise for his offensive comments; he doubled down. It was a pathetic, sad attempt at divisive politics. He may seek to distract from the myriad failings occurring under this government, but, in doing so, he causes enormous damage to our social cohesion. Worse, he has abrogated his responsibility as Minister for Immigration to bring Australians together. Rather, he has chosen to divide us through fearmongering.
And I ask the Minister for Immigration: does he believe, as he does for the hundreds of thousands of Lebanese Australians, that letting my family migrate from Egypt to this country was a mistake?