Source: The Guardian
By Paul Karp
A poll showing almost half of Australians surveyed want to ban Muslim immigration shows Australian leaders have not done enough to foster cohesion, the Labor deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek, has said.
The poll comes a week after One Nation senator Pauline Hanson’s first speech in the Senate, in which she reiterated her call for such a ban and has sparked a debate about the best way to tackle rising anti-immigration sentiment in Australia.
On Wednesday an Essential poll found 49% of respondents agreed with a ban on Muslim immigration, compared with 40% who opposed the idea.
The results appear to contradict the message the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, presented to a United Nations summit considering refugee policy, that Australia’s tough border policies have contributed to widespread social acceptance of immigration.
Responding to the poll on Radio National on Thursday, Plibersek said people “generally overstate the number of Muslims that we have in Australia – it’s a tiny fraction of our community”.
“What matters to me when we’re choosing people to become new Australians … is that they’re able to sincerely adhere to what we ask of Australian citizens – that they share our democratic beliefs, they respect our rights and liberties and uphold and obey our laws.
“Beyond that, I’m not interested in where they’re from, who they are, or what religion they follow,” she said.
Plibersek said she saw “great Muslim citizens who have made a huge contribution to Australia”.
She said the poll results did not mean Australians who favoured a ban on Muslim immigration were racist but rather “we’re not doing a good enough job as national leaders to bring harmony and cohesion to our community”.
“The thing that keeps us strong, and the thing that keeps us safe is harmony and cohesion.”