On Monday morning it looked like a bad joke from a Fairfax columnist who hadn’t made a useful contribution to any debate since well before the turn of the century.
But sure enough, today Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the government will give preference to Christian refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria, where the chemical weapons reportedly in use, and the slaughter meted out by Islamic State and the agents of Bashar al-Assad, are apparently discerning of their victim’s religion.
Speaking of which, perpetual harbinger of the impending Australian caliphate George Christensen, aka the Nationals MP for the Federal seat of Dawson, was plying his trade on Lateline last night.
Christensen has not only been calling for Australia to prioritise Christian refugees, he’s also attacked Labor for raising concerns about the free trade agreements while (eventually) calling for an increase in Australia’s refugee intake from Syria.
Never mind that the Australian Bureau of Statistics recently showed that, over time, those who come on humanitarian visas end up starting more of their own businesses (and therefore creating, not taking jobs) than other migrants.
With Pauline Hanson no longer able to hold the media’s attention for more than 13 seconds, someone had to do the right thing and put the fear of God into Australian workers that their jobs/hospital beds/place on the bus were at risk.
Labor might have been a bit confused about where it stood in terms of increasing Australia’s refugee intake in recent days, but MPs were quick to give Christensen a thoroughly deserved shellacking.
It was another Queenslander, Labor MP Graham Perrett, who undoubtedly gets the award for the hottest burn in response.
Michelle Rowland, Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism and Citizenship, called on Tony Abbott to pull Christensen into line.
— Michelle Rowland (@MRowlandMP) September 8, 2015
“Christensen’s incessant rantings are divisive, offensive and discriminatory,” Rowland said in a press release. She accused the MP of using language that would make Pauline Hanson proud. “At a time when the global community is responding to a humanitarian crisis, this kind of mindless bile would be offensive if it came from an anonymous troll – from a member of the Australian Government it is simply despicable.”
Hey George Christensen, refugees don’t “take a job an Australian can do or they go on the dole” – they create jobs.. pic.twitter.com/X6CnJzrcBC
— Tim Watts (@TimWattsMP) September 8, 2015
Others, outside of the Labor caucus, weren’t as diplomatic.
@GChristensenMP So economics not your strong point George? Best be quiet when ignorant of issues.
— Stephen Koukoulas (@TheKouk) September 8, 2015
On his own blog, Christensen took a slightly softer tone.
“I am sympathetic to the plight of Syrian refugees, and believe we should be accepting refugees from Syria,” the MP wrote.
“Christian minorities who would be beheaded in the streets by Islamic State are those most directly at threat, and they should be our top priority.
“We should provide refuge to these people as part of a re-allocation of our existing intake, or a very modest increase in numbers.”