Australian senator Fraser Anning, who called for a reduction in the number of student visas and “job stealing” 457 visas, is facing criticism after making several controversial and factually incorrect comments during his maiden speech in the Senate on Aug. 14.
Anning’s speech received condemnation from politicians and people for his anti-immigration remarks and racist phrases such as “final solution,” while several media reports revealed that he cited wrong information about immigration issues at many places.
Immigration to Australia “should be a privilege, not an obligation-free right provided to anyone from the Third World who demands it,” Anning said.
“First, 457 visas, which simply steal jobs from Australians, should be abolished unless expressly approved by the immigration minister. This will create more jobs for Australians and end the massive rorting of these for backdoor permanent immigration,” the Katter’s Australian Party member added.
The 457 visa, which the Queensland senator urged to abolish, was, however, ended in 2017 by the Malcolm Turnbull government. It was the most common visa for Australian or overseas employers to sponsor skilled overseas workers to work temporarily in the country for up to four years. The 457 visa was replaced by the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa, which is restricted to areas with critical skill shortages, and requires mandatory labor market testing before the visa application.
Anning also claimed that a majority of Australians want to reduce the number of Muslim immigrants entering the country, which turned out to another incorrect statement, the Sunday Morning Herald reported, citing the conclusion of a Monash University survey related to the attitudes to migration. “About 80 percent of Australians support a non-discriminatory immigration program. In 2017, just 15.8 percent of respondents said it should be possible to reject migrants based on their race or ethnicity. Although the survey found negative sentiment toward Muslims was ‘relatively high,’ the figure did not exceed 25 percent,” the survey found.
Trying to make his case strong against Muslim immigration, Anning called them responsible for committing a large number of crimes in the country.
“Muslims in New South Wales and Victoria are three times more likely than other groups to be convicted of crimes. We have black African Muslim gangs terrorizing Melbourne,” he said in his speech.
However, the SMH report said that both the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research and Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency told Fairfax Media that “they did not possess or publish reliable data on the religious affiliation of criminals.”
Anning also called for a drastic reduction in the number of student visas in Australia, and said that international students should be sent back to their countries after the completion of their studies. Indian students form the second largest group of international students studying in Australia, after Chinese students.
Anning received widespread condemnation for calling for a “final solution” to the immigration issue, a phrase used in Nazi Germany for the extermination of Jewish people throughout Europe.
Prime Minister Turnbull called the speech “appalling” while Opposition leader Bill Shorten labelled it as “repugnant and disgraceful.”
Anning’s adviser Richard Mcgilvray resigned in protest shortly after the speech, saying he has no prior knowledge of the senator’s plan to refer to the “final solution.”
Later, when asked on the Today television show if he wanted to apologize for the comments, Anning said that his comments were taken out of context. He, however, stood firm on his statements that called for a cut on Muslim immigration.