Thursday, 1 August 2019
Questions without Notice
Conservative Political Action Conference
My question is to the minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. Earlier this year the government banned right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos from entering Australia. Mr Yiannopoulos has described young Muslims as 'rapefugees' and Islam as 'barbaric' and 'alien'. Can the minister explain why the government banned Milo Yiannopoulos from entering Australia?
These were judgements that were appropriately made, consistent with the provisions in the Migration Act, as I indicated to the chamber yesterday. The Australian government is committed to protecting the community from criminal or other serious harm by noncitizens. All noncitizens who apply for entry into Australia must meet the character test set out in the Migration Act.
A noncitizen can fail the character test for a number of reasons, including where they have a substantial criminal record or where their conduct causes a risk to the Australian community. For visitors who may hold controversial views, as I said yesterday, any risk they may pose will be balanced against Australia's well-established commitment to freedom of speech and freedom of beliefs, amongst other relevant considerations. These are judgements that are made on a case-by-case basis. While we never comment on individual cases, obviously the case that Senator Keneally refers to was approached in the appropriate way, consistent with our laws, and as will all cases be into the future.
Mr Raheem Kassam has campaigned against Muslim migration, described Islam as a fascistic and totalitarian ideology and said the Koran was 'fundamentally evil', yet the government is refusing to ban Mr Kassam from entering Australia. Can the minister please explain the difference between Mr Raheem Kassam and Mr Milo Yiannopoulos?
As I indicated yesterday, I fundamentally disagree with some of the views that he has expressed and that you have now related to the chamber. In fact, I object to those views. But I would also make the general point to just further what I've indicated in the primary answer—and I've written this in the letter to the Senate President earlier today too—that the government fundamentally believes in and supports the principles of freedom of thought, speech, expression and association. It is those freedoms which underpin a strong and healthy democracy.
Obviously, everyone who comes to Australia has to comply with Australian laws.
Senator Wong interjecting—
Everyone who comes to Australia must comply with Australian laws. I think that Senator Wong is well aware that we do have laws that appropriately deal with hate speech, vilification and the like. Those laws appropriately deal with those matters. I would say again that the government will always stand against— (Time expired)
Given Mr Kassam's comments and their similarity to Mr Yiannopoulos's comments, will the Prime Minister now instruct the Minister for Immigration to review Mr Kassam's visa?
As I indicated to the chamber yesterday, it would be entirely inappropriate for us to detail individual cases and the consideration of individual cases under the Migration Act in the way that Senator Keneally has invited me to do. If Senator Keneally understood the Migration Act and how that is appropriately administered, she would not have asked me that question.