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Monday, 17 September 2012
Page: 7041

Senator MARSHALL (Victoria) (15:19): I do not disagree with much of what Senator Cash said in terms of condemning the violence. I think everyone in this chamber would and should condemn that sort of behaviour. There is no excuse for violent protests—none at all—in our country. We do not support it and I know no-one on the opposition side supports it. As far as the comments of Senator Cash were linked to that issue, she gets no objection from me.

I do not personally have any information about Mr Mustafa. I do not know what he stands for. But there is no place for hate speeches in this country, either, and we certainly do not support that. What I do know is that we have a very strong security and intelligence community in this country. For some time I was actually on the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security, and I am very much aware of the very thorough process that our security and intelligence agencies go through to keep our country safe and to also screen people who have agendas that do not fit with the expectations of the Australian community. Whether or not they have gone to the step of saying that this person should not have a visa is not something I am aware of. But what I am aware of is that there are proper processes for the granting of visas. It is not something that the government should get themselves involved in every time there is the potential for some issue. It is something the government should take very serious advice on. We have professionals who are skilled in giving this advice to government—and, as someone who has been on the security and intelligence committee, let me tell you that they do not waste any time in giving that advice to government if they think there is a problem.

As Minister Carr pointed out, this individual has been to Australia before. He was granted a visa at that time under what I understand are the same conditions that are in place now, but that visa was granted under the previous government. So it was somewhat disappointing—and I certainly disagree with some of the things Senator Bernardi said—to hear a hint in his speech that, while we abhor any violence and do not support any violence, somehow the government should take some responsibility for that violence. If that was what was being suggested, we absolutely reject that. We have condemned the violence, as people should.

I do want to take exception with one of the things that Senator Bernardi said. He talked about Muslim leaders being genuine and saying that they would be more genuine if some of their actions reflected that and they called on everyone to actually condemn the violence. The Muslim leaders in this country did condemn the violence. It is not appropriate for Senator Bernardi to come in and question the sincerity of that condemnation. They publicly went out and did so. They did so very quickly. They did not have to do so, and I think it was inappropriate for Senator Bernardi to question the sincerity of that condemnation.

I saw some of the condemnation on TV. I certainly thought it was sincere. I thought they spoke very eloquently on behalf of their community, of which we know the vast majority, like all communities in this country, are honest, law-abiding citizens who want to get on with making a prosperous and viable life here in Australia.

I know many Muslims who are active contributors to society and who would be—not that I have spoken to them since this violence—appalled by this and the signs that children were asked to hold. I know these are not actions that are supported by the mainstream Muslim community. We know that there were about 100 people at that protest, whether they were all there in order to do what was ultimately done in the first place is something I do not know. We know that, even if they all were, it is still a tiny number and we ought not condemn a whole community simply because of the actions of a few. It is something that we would not tolerate anywhere else. We would not tolerate it with other communities. We do not condemn whole countries or nationalities on the basis of the actions of a few. If they acted unlawfully, the law will and should deal with those people.

Taking note on this issue, it is fine to condemn the violence but to suggest that people are insincere in their condemnation is not an appropriate thing to do. (Time expired)