Many comments by Australian politicians about Islam are racist: former PM

Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser believes many comments by Australia’s politicians about Islam are racist.

Mr Fraser also said many of the words used to stimulate debate about the need for a set of Australian values were code for saying Muslims did not comply with Australian values. And he questioned whether the next federal election would be fought using a race card. Mr Fraser made the statements during the official launch of the Australians All website aimed at promoting an inclusive, diverse, multicultural, peaceful and prosperous Australia.

More than 40 eminent Australians are involved in Australians All – taken from the opening line of the national anthem – including ACTU president Sharan Burrow, the Reverend Tim Costello, Islamic Council of Victoria’s Waleed Aly, and Muslim Community Reference Group chair Dr Ameer Ali. The members say they were forced to begin the website because of a lack of positive political leadership and diverse discussion about Australian issues.

“I think, and we all felt, that Australia needs a voice for sanity, for reason, for inclusiveness, for acceptance, for respect for diversity, respect for difference, and knowing of course that people who live in this country accept Australian laws and the primacy of Australian democracy and all the things which are necessary for a peaceful and prosperous Australia,” Mr Fraser told reporters in Melbourne.

The Age, 16 November 2006