Last night, the human rights lawyer Julian Burnside QC gave the annual Walter Lipmann Oration at the Melbourne Town Hall presented by the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria.
His speech is reproduced in its entirety below. In it, Burnside charts Australia’s inconsistent, if not volatile, approach to multiculturalism and how the John Howard Tampa affair has shaped the last 17 sorry years of our treatment of refugees.
He argues that the Tampa episode, coupled with the terror attack of 9/11 revived an ancient fear in Australia that our hold on this country is insecure. He cites 20th century world events, UNHCR reports, Australian legislation and recent witness statements and reports from those incarcerated or working in detention centres to conclude that a fear of Islam, triggered by 9/11 and fanned by political dog-whistling is a real threat to multiculturalism.
He also refers to the recent juggling in the government Liberal leadership, describing Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton “as arguably, the most dishonest hypocrites ever to hold high office in this country”.
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