When our government officially sends Australian abroad to represent and “sell” our country abroad, would it be nice if the Australians we send actually liked their country?
Far be it for me to “question the patriotism” of my fellow immigrant, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, but the more I listen to her opinions the more I wonder: is that the wisdom about her adopted home that she has shared on her taxpayer-funded tour of the Middle East to promote her autobiography, or is the “woe me” narrative reserved for the more receptive domestic Fairfax and ABC audiences?
Here’s the latest, from last night’s leadership forum at the Australian National University:
She also had a heated exchange with ANU Chancellor and former Labor foreign minister Gareth Evans, over the future of parliamentary democracy. “If you just play the GetUp! game or the social media game and don’t do the serious parliamentary game as well, if you don’t do that as well you’re missing a very important vehicle for actually getting decent policy,” Professor Evans said.
Ms Abdel-Magied said change was inevitable. “The traditional parliamentary system, I mean look at the photo of the House of Representatives,” she said. “It does not represent anyone.”
When Evans challenged her to run for office, Ms Abdel-Magied replied sarcastically: “You know how to get to office, I have to go to preselection, which works really well, and I have to go through all these other systems which for women and for people of colour are actually biased.”
Forget for a moment about the bizarre assertion that unless a group of people, parliamentarians in this instance, mirrors or “represents” the national Census, it doesn’t actually represents the interests of the people who elected them, or their constituencies, or the country as a whole. In my own federal electorate of Brisbane I have been at various types represented by the Labor Party, a woman, and a gay male – but according to Abdel-Magied’s logic, unless my local member is a straight white (Liberal) male I’m not really being represented – and neither is Abdel-Magied, unless her local member is a young Muslim woman of colour. Or at least until there is a young Muslim woman of colour in parliament, even if from Western Australia. But that’s not how representative democracy works.
The statement is also insulting to all those members of parliament – federal in this case, but think also of the states and territories – who are women, or of different ethnicities, or different religions, or of different sexualities (though Abdel-Magied doesn’t mention that point; maybe her mates at Hizb ut-Tahrir wouldn’t approve). Abdel-Magied clearly thinks that the Liberal Party and the Labor Party preselection processes are biased against women and non-Caucasians. Why not run as a Green then? I’m sure Senator Di Natale would love to have you to add some colour to his otherwise 100 per cent white team (the Greens bumped an Aboriginal, Democrat Aden Young out of the Senate, remember).
Yassmin Abdel-Magied thinks we live on a “stolen land”, are mean to refugees, don’t care about others, our democracy is a sham, we are a racist and sexist society that picks on and discriminates against people like her, and, of course, Islam is the most feminist religion (if only the laws of Australia were based on Sharia instead, Abdel-Magied no doubt would have no problems with her preselection and would be sitting in the federal parliament right now). She is absolutely entitled to hold these opinions, and to borrow the famous formulation, I would defend to death her right to say these things (even if I disagree with them), as I hope she would do in my case.
But you have to wonder – is this the picture of her country that this privately educated, tertiary qualified, professional young woman in her late 20s, who sits on government bodies, goes on official overseas junkets, sits at the Prime Minister’s table, and is a media personality paints to her listeners in Sudan and Saudi Arabia? No wonder they hate us.
Arthur Chrenkoff blogs at The Daily Chrenk where this piece also appears.
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