By Ashok Kumar
While emphasising Australia’s history, diversity and unity, Prime Minister Tony Abbott hailed the positive decision made by the people to leave their homeland and come to Australia. He underlined the fact that, “you have left the country of your birth, your ancestors, your culture and heritage.” You have to preserve that culture, that heritage here in Australia. “We welcome everyone who has made Australia, the land of freedom and opportunities, their home and we do not want you to leave your rich cultural heritage and traditions behind, he said.
The Prime Minister was addressing the multicultural media on earlier this week at the Strathfield Town Hall. Soon, the question of terrorism came up. He made it clear that any Australian who goes to US and joins US Army it’s not illegal, any Australian who joins Pakistan Army is not illegal but if he joins or works with a terrorist group and comes back to Australia, that is illegal and he will be arrested immediately. Australia has never had a terrorist attack except in World War I. There was a terrorist plot unearthed recently. They were seeking telecommunication data and they have been taken care of and Australia has the information and keeping a tab on the fundamentalists. Australia has nothing to fear.
Related to this question, he answered a concern by a reporter, “A decade ago we knew there were 30 Australians who went to work for the Taliban and when they came back two third of them had links with terrorist organisations. Now we have information on 150 Australians who are involved in ISIS activities. It is every member of community who should report any such activity as we don’t want anyone to damage the social fabric of the country.
Referring to Gaza, he said there are two sides of this conflict. There has been large scale destruction there. Israel has been targeted and Palestinians have also been attacked. Israel has the right to self-defence and we also support Palestinian nation. But they should resolve the dispute peacefully.
There was a question on MH 17 plane being shot down and what made Mr. Abbott to change the earlier statement of blaming Russian-backed rebels, the Prime Minister said there is no doubt in our assessment and we said that on the basis of that and I understand there were some statements by Russia after which he has had a conversation with Russian President Putin and he has been courteous and conveyed condolences to the bereaved families.
In reference to the issue of refugee intake, the PM said, “We are reassessing refugee intake and soon Scott Morrison will announce to increase the refugee intake by 4,400, taking in refugees from Iraq and Syria.”
Another reporter expressed apprehension if the Government was promoting a politics of fear. Mr Abbott said, “We must protect Australia from radicals who wish to damage us. It’s the duty of every single person to expose any home grown terrorism who can threaten to destroy the rich and strong fabric of our nation and it is not good to be complacent about it.”
Prime Minister made a commitment to meet the multicultural media more frequently may be every three or six months.