Saturday, September 02, 2006

Truth-telling from a rising Australian leader

Watch Australian Treasurer Peter Costello, heir apparent to Prime Minister John Howard. Here's what he said about Muslim immigrants in a November, 2005 interview. The comments are from Costello's official Website:

On tension in society

". . . when you see people that are being picked up in raids in our major capital cities, being charged with terrorist offences you realise that these are dangerous times, that there are threats that are facing innocent Australians and you realise that we as a community have to be on our guard. It is something that we will have to live with, we may have to live with for a while. But it is much better to take preventative action than to have to deal with the consequences afterwards."

On immigrants who promote Sharia law

". . . there are some things Australia stands for, has always stood for, always will stand for which will never change. We will never be an Islamic State. We will never observe Sharia Law. We have a Constitution. The Constitution means that Australia has a civil state, that the laws are made by elected representatives. We will always be a democracy and to people who say, well we have come to this country and we would like to turn it into something that it isn’t, I say, you must understand, that will never occur."

On civic principles

"There are certain core Constitutional things that Australia stands for, always will and expects all of its citizens to accept. And that is a civil government with parliamentary democracy, with democratic law making, with equality between men and women and if you’re someone that doesn’t like those principles then Australia may not be the best place for you. . . ."

On immigrants seeking to impose Islamic ways

". . . if you want to live in an Islamic republic there are countries around the world that are Islamic republics, you might be happier in those countries than you will be in Australia."

On immigrants' loyalty to their new country

". . . And the point I make also is people who come to Australia as immigrants and become Australian citizens, they take an oath to this country and that means something. That means your loyalty is to this country, its democratic values, you pledge an oath to observe those democratic values and I think it is incumbent upon us in Government to say to those people we mean it and we expect them to mean it as well."

On delivering the message

"I don’t think we ought to mix our messages, I think we ought to be very clear and very direct. There are things that Australia stands for and if you want to be an Australian you are expected to believe in those things as well."

On dual citizenship

". . . people who are dual citizens, who are an Australian citizen and an a citizen of another country as well, if they are not happy with Australia it might be better for them to live in the country where they are also a citizen. See, it is a funny thing, isn’t it, to say well I want to live in this country but I am just opposed to everything that happens or I am opposed to its system of government. If you really are opposed to everything that happens or its system of government then why not go to the country where you also hold citizenship? You might be happier there, that is my point. Rather than say I would like to change everything about Australia, everything that it stands for, maybe the problem doesn’t lie with the country; maybe it lies with the individual."

On Muslim immigrants seeking to force change

". . . I think it is time for the Australian Government to speak clearly and to make this point and to make it to any person who has the view that somehow they can change Australia into something which it will never be, and it won’t happen. And they ought to understand that and would-be migrants ought to understand that as well and I think the time has come for plain speaking. That is what I am engaging in."

On extremist immigrants ruining the majority

". . . of course most Muslim Australians are here because they actually respect civil state, they respect parliamentary democracies, that is why they came here. And anyone who respects those things is very welcome to come here. It is the people who come here and want to take advantage of that and then change it or abolish it that I am speaking to. It won’t be abolished, we have a Constitution, it won’t change, if you don’t like the way Australia is run, if you don’t like a civil state then you are not going to like Australia. That is my point. But if you do and you do want to take advantage of it, of course you are welcome here, very welcome here, like millions of other migrants that have come to Australia."

On need for 'moderate' Muslims to speak out

". . . moderate Muslim leaders have a very big role to play here as well. I think when they speak unambiguously and clearly renouncing terrorism, warning that those people who are engaging in terrorism are not true followers of Islam, that they are following a perverted ideology. When they speak like that they are a very, very big part of the solution of the security for Australia. And I would warmly welcome moderate Muslim leaders speaking out in an unambiguous and uncompromising way."

On tolerance

"There is plenty of room in Australia for different fashion and plenty of room for different ways of standard of living. But there is no room for people who don’t accept what Australia stands for. Parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, equality of people, civil state, that is where there is no room for compromise. How you look, what you eat, various ways bloom here but let’s be very clear about the most important things about Australia and what it stands for."