There is no sugarcoating it. Australian politicians are not offering great options to Australian Muslim voters.
Australia’s current Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Alex Hawke MP, chose not to make any media comment when The Australian Human Rights Commission released their landmark report following the Christchurch massacre, Sharing the Stories of Australian Muslims.
Ironically, the Report showed the desire of Australian Muslims for more public visible allies, including politicians. Instead, there was the opposite from our Government.
Still, he is an improvement on his predecessor Alan Tudge MP, who suggested in September 2020 that immigration detainees were ‘paedophiles, extremists and drug dealers’. Australian research has documented which online groups those narratives come from. The connection to mainstream political discourse was alarming.
Tudge delivered a National Press Club address on the day Australian white nationalist terrorist Brenton Tarrant was sentenced, but made no reference to the rising threat of white supremacist extremism or Islamophobia. The only reference he made was to ‘Islamic extremism’. His approach left me and many other Australian Muslims at a disappointing loss.
Considering these signs, it became apparent why it’s been so hard to get any changes since the Christchurch massacre.
Facebook and Twitter allow Brenton Tarrant’s ideology to run rampant by actors who claim to be merely ‘anti-Islam’ and ‘anti-jihad’. We are dehumanised as rats, aids, scum, tarts, disease, cancer, snakes and vermin. The Australian Government doesn’t appear to even have a team looking at it.
We know there are members of the LNP who support Muslims, who are even Muslim themselves. We hope they will raise their voices.
Meanwhile, Federal Labor and Greens are not offering Australian Muslims helpful policies. The Australian Greens do not support the religious discrimination bill. Federal Labor is unclear.
The only party to be actively pushing a federal religious discrimination bill is the Liberal National Party (who have Government), although they haven’t supported our amendments to include vilification (hate speech).
Moving forward, we have to seek clear commitments from all major and minor parties about where they stand on legislating protections against religious discrimination and vilification. It doesn’t have to be in standalone legislation, but those protections are urgently needed.
We don’t want harmful dog-whistling, but we also don’t want parties that claim to care about us (usually to our leaders behind closed doors) and waste our time.
We are a strong community that contributes a great deal to the Australian community and economy.
With the Federal Election coming, it’s time to expect more.