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Monday, 17 September 2012
Page: 7037


Senator CASH (Western Australia) (15:03): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research (Senator Evans) to a question without notice asked by Senator Brandis today relating to Mr Taji Mustafa and Muslim protests in Sydney, New South Wales.

Australians have been unanimous in their condemnation of what occurred in Sydney, New South Wales, on Saturday. There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for the violence that occurred and it must be and has been rightly condemned by so many across society. No-one wants to see violence on our streets perpetrated by anyone—by anyone of any colour or of any creed—and I support the comments by some of the Labor ministers, who have rightly condemned this unacceptable behaviour.

However, in supporting the condemnation of this behaviour, I also observe that, in particular in relation to the answers given in question time today, those ministers failed to admit that their earlier actions were a contributing factor and, as such, it is hypocritical after the event to act in a way which seeks to avoid mention of the government's earlier actions. It is for that reason that, in condemning this grotesque violence, the government and the minister must now explain to the people of Australia why, despite repeated warnings from the opposition, they decided to issue a visa to Taji Mustafa, the UK leader of the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, who has on occasions in the recent past called for the military destruction of Israel and, further, condoned the killing of Australian troops in Afghanistan.

The government needs to explain to the Australian people why, despite this evidence, it knowingly gave a visa to the leader of this extremist group so that he could come to Australia and address Australian Muslims. In the address that he gave yesterday, which was at the annual conference of Hizb ut-Tahrir at Bankstown in Sydney's south-west, Mr Mustafa urged his brothers and sisters to go forward and offer Islamic solutions to a world that is struggling in the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings. He also said that Muslims needed a louder voice, especially in the Western world. I also note that an eight-year-old girl fronted the congress of Islamic fundamentalists yesterday, and she herself urged the crowd and Muslim youth to fight for the restoration of the Islamic caliphate, a single global government for all Muslims established under strict Sharia law.

It should also be noted in relation to Mr Mustafa's particular group that, unlike other Muslim groups who have loudly and properly gone on the record and condemned the actions of those involved in Saturday's riots, Mr Mustafa's group has failed to do this. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, I do not believe that the people on the streets of Sydney yesterday were truly representative of Islam. I do not believe that the ugliness we saw on the streets of Sydney yesterday fairly reflects the Islamic people of our country, and that is why their actions should be condemned.

There are very clear public interest criteria for the granting of visas in this country.

Ministers have the full authority to refuse visas to people such as Mr Mustafa who hold extremist views such as belief in the use of violence as a legitimate means of political expression. It cannot be disputed that Hizb ut-Tahrir believes in and promotes violence. As I have stated, they have openly called for the destruction of Israel, and last year at one of their conferences in Sydney their leaders condoned the killing of Australian troops in Afghanistan.

The coalition has long had concerns about this extremist group. We said prior to the last election that we would examine the legal options available to us for closing this group down in Australia. The government, in being aware of the coalition's concerns, had all the more reason to not grant Mr Mustafa a visa to come into this country.

As the Leader of the Opposition has stated, the Australian government should be saying clearly and unambiguously that we do not need preachers of hate in this country and we certainly should not be giving visas to people who are preachers of hate. It is the position of the coalition that the government should not have given a visa to Mr Mustafa and that the visa should be immediately withdrawn. It is wrong that in the tolerant country of Australia we should have people like this preaching this kind of bile. Again, we call on the government to revoke this visa and to get this man out of the country. Newcomers to this country are not expected to surrender their heritage but they are expected to surrender their hatreds. Those hatreds have no place in Australia society. (Time expired)