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Keating must withdraw his slur

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u° e," " ο^Γη M edia R elease 8 /92 I COMMONWEALTH

21 J a n u a r y 1992 I PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY



The Prime Minister's comments today about racism and the immigration debate have demeaned the office of Prime Minister. They are a total disgrace to him personally and to his

Government. Mr Keating must retract his unworthy and totally z -false assertions and he must do so immediately and unequivocally. . ■ i

V*, w' Mr Keating's injection of racism into the immigration debate is a sign of his inability to cope with the pressures of his office, of the fact that he has no immigration policy, and of his

preference for political mudslinging in place of reasoned argument.

Mr Keating has never been able to debate policy on its merits. He has always preferred muckraking and unfounded accusations against those with whom he disagrees. Today he has shown that nothing has changed despite all the talk about changing his

image. But he has sunk to a new low.

The Coalition generally and I personally have been leading the debate on the migration issue for over two years. We have done so to date without accusations or suggestions of racism. We have presented our arguments in a measured and balanced way, always emphasising that non-discrimination on the basis of race or religion is an underlying and indispensible element of our approach.

Mr Keating's suggestion to the contrary today is a lie and a slur { chat he must withdraw.

Immigration, like any other area of public policy, must be subject to rational analysis. Mr Keating's suggestion of racist assumptions underlying Opposition policy are an attempt to score a cheap political point at the price of rational debate. But, more than that, they risk inciting the very community divisions

that he pretends to be warning against.

To accuse the Opposition of any discrimination on the basis of race in its immigration policy is a travesty of our record and what we stand for as Parties and individuals. I have made it clear for over two years on countless occasions that the

overriding purpose of all our policy making is to make Australia a major political and economic player in the Asia/Pacific region by the year 2000. All our policy making, including our

immigration policy, is directed to that goal.

For the record, let me make it clear once again - the Coalition believes that race has no place in Australian life, law or public policy. That fundamental belief underpins our immigration policy and all our other policies. Our record clearly shows that

to be the case. To suggest otherwise is a deliberate lie for anyone and a disgrace for any Prime Minister.

Mr Keating must admit the error of his statement today. He must do so because he is wrong. But he must also do so because no

political point scoring is worth the risk that he is now inciting of deeply dividing our community.

We expect nothing less than an unequivocal apology and a complete withdrawal.

For information - 06/277 4022