Immigration minister says remarks by far-right figure were appalling and foment hatred and division
The Australian government has cancelled the visa of far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos just a week after it was personally approved by the immigration minister.
Immigration minister David Coleman said on Saturday that comments about Islam made by Yiannopoulos in the wake of the Christchurch massacre were appalling and foment hatred and division and he would not be allowed in the country.
It comes a week after Coleman approved Yiannopoulos visa against the advice of the home affairs department, which said the commentator may fail the character test to enter Australia.
Coleman said the attack in Christchurch was an act of pure evil carried out on Muslims peacefully practicing their religion.
Australia stands with New Zealand and with Muslim communities the world over in condemning this inhuman act, he said.
Labor spokesman for citizenship and multiculturalism, Tony Burke, earlier on Saturday called on Coleman to treat far-right extremism as it would other forms of extremism and revoke Yiannopouloss visa.
If someone wants to come to Australia and we know that theyve been speaking in support of values that have given rise to other forms of terrorism, we dont give them a visa, Burke told ABC24.
Only a few days ago, the government intervened against the department to provide a visa for someone to have a tour here in Australia to whip up hatred against Muslims. I would be stunned if the government goes ahead with that visa.
The department has the ability to block a visa from a person on character grounds if it perceives theres a risk they will commit a crime, harass people, vilify a segment of the Australian community or incite discord.
Recent speaking tours of US whistleblower Chelsea Manning and British conspiracy theorist and anti-semite David Icke were blocked after their visas were rejected on character grounds.
We knock back people all the time with respect to other forms of hatred that have been consistent with what has resulted in terrorism actions, Burke said. We need to make sure the full force of the law treats this as the same as any other form of terrorism.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has called Fridays massacre a violent, extremist, right-wing terrorist attack and also condemned comments from Queensland senator Fraser Anning, saying that blaming the murderous attacks by a violent, right-wing, extremist terrorist in New Zealand on immigration are disgusting.
Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian parliament, Morrison said.
The Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, said Anning did not represent Australia.
Burke also criticised Annings comments but said: the normalisation of bigotry is something that is not only confined to him.
He said the use of hate speech was connected to violence and extremism and should be taken more seriously.
Theres been an attempt in Australia by many people to normalise hate speech, Burke said. We get told, Oh, its just freedom of speech.
He said that view had been pushed by some [television] networks and said the normalisation of hate speech was not the whole story of whats happened, but there is no doubt it is part of it.
The Australian man charged with murder over the Christchurch attack was not on a terrorist watchlist, and Burke said it was possible that up until now, many people would not have viewed this form of extremism as being as dangerous to people as every other form of extremism.
Anyone who had that doubt, that doubt finished yesterday, he said.