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Hanson's rise shows importance of defending migrants and migration.

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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Andrew Bartlett Deputy Parliamentary Leader and Democrats Senator for Queensland Australian Democrats spokesperson for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

Dated: 19 October 2007 Portfolio: Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

Hanson's rise shows importance of defending migrants and migration

Australian Democrats Immigration spokesperson, Senator Andrew Bartlett, says the latest poll showing a further rise in support for Pauline Hanson in the Queensland Senate contest is a reminder of how important it is for politicians and others in the community to defend our migration program, and to support migrants and refugees against public attacks.

Addressing the National Conference of the Migration Institute of Australia on the Gold Coast today, Senator Bartlett said there was a new political correctness which had produced an unwillingness to criticise blatant racism.

"Singling out groups in the community for attack and blame - whether it be Asians, Muslims, Africans or anybody - might make great headlines and talkback radio fodder, but it is immensely damaging to our society," Senator Bartlett said.

"Migration has been, and continues to be, immensely beneficial to our society, but we risk losing that if politicians and others in the community pander to prejudice and ignorance rather than stand up against it."

Senator Bartlett, whose Senate seat is under direct threat from Pauline Hanson, also told the conference our migration laws need major reform.

"Our migration laws are too open to political interference and abuse, are too complex and still unfairly discriminate far too often against people on the basis of disability, nationality, sexuality, age and marital status."

"There are now over 150 visa sub-classes, and the rules for many of them are constantly changing."

"At a time when we are in need of migrants in so many areas, we still put too many arbitrary and discriminatory barriers in their way."

"Of course we must invest more in training and skilling Australians, be we will also have an ongoing need for migrants in both the skilled and family categories. Yet at the moment, even people with the highest skills are being prevented from settling here if they have a child with a disability or a medical condition like autism."

"It is also appropriate that the Migration Institute is holding its conference on the Gold Coast, as it was here that Dr Mohamed Haneef was one of the many migrants on temporary skilled visas who provided a|display=1 (1 of 2)6/12/2007 11:51:10 AM

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valuable and much-needed service to the community, only to have his reputation and future trashed because of politically motivated attacks."

"Millions of people living in and contributing to Australia prosperity and diversity remain at risk of the same fate unless we restore basic fairness and justice to our migration laws," Senator Bartlett concluded.