IAN MACPHEE. Peter Dutton has it wrong on Malcolm Fraser.

The attack by Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, on Malcolm Fraser’s refugee policies is outrageous. We have had a succession of inadequate immigration ministers in recent years but Dutton is setting the standards even lower. Yet, Turnbull recently declared him to be “an outstanding immigration minister”. The Liberal Party has long ceased to be liberal.

Dutton’s attack on Fraser’s refugee policies grabbed headlines he had hoped for. The SMH headline was “Peter Dutton attacks Malcolm Fraser’s refugee legacy”. The Australian’s was: “Peter Dutton says Malcolm Fraser’s immigration policy to blame for crime gangs.” These were the headlines that Dutton must have wished for after his interview with the extremist Andrew Bolt on Sky News.

Yet it outraged many community organisations led by former refugees and their children with whom I have remained in contact. Their anger is justified. For Dutton’s words offended them, especially as they attacked Malcolm Fraser for whom they have profound respect and whose policies enabled them to integrate with and expand the understanding of other Australians of the rich, diversified culture that Australia has due to the contribution of migrants and refugees.

When Dutton’s remarks were reported I was at a conference on refugee law and policy at the Kaldor Centre at the University of New South Wales. All present were experts on aspects of refugee settlement and were astonished by Dutton’s ignorance.

A Parliamentary enquiry has been established to consider resettlement outcomes for migrants to Australia. I hope that some of the experts at the conference will be allowed to participate and defuse ignorant, alarmist voices such as those of Dutton, Bolt and Hanson.

Ian Macphee, Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs in the Fraser Government, 1979-82.


Ian MacPhee was Minister for Productivity, Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Employment and Industrial Relations in the Fraser Government.

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1 Response to IAN MACPHEE. Peter Dutton has it wrong on Malcolm Fraser.

  1. Avatar Dr John CARMODY says:

    As Ian McPhee (a great Australian) says, all migration programs have problems. After all: consider the problems which the Europeans’ arrival created for the indigenous people. And, in the middle of the C19, the Protestants wouldn’t have seen any offence in their racist and sectarian comments about the (mostly Irish) Catholics. The racists and the bigots rarely do.

    Criminals came with the First Fleet, and some have some in ever since (many still come by aircraft). What is required is proper education (in history and social culture, in particular) and the importance of compliance with the needs of the Civil Society to which the vast majority of us aspire. People need to feel that they are respected and have a share in the cultural capital of the nation. Dutton — a punitive man with a sad Queensland police background — and those who want to change the Racial Vilification Act, seem not to appreciate that truth; or perhaps they simply don’t want to cede any of THEIR cultural capital (and power) to others, especially those whom they consider (for racial, cultural, religious or intellectual reasons) to be undeserving.

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