Costello tells firebrand clerics to get out of Australia
August 23, 2005
PETER Costello is urging radical Muslim clerics to leave Australia if they do not share the nation's values ahead of today's national terrorism summit organised by the Prime Minister.
As Muslim leaders gather in Canberra to discuss the spread of Islamic fundamentalism, the Treasurer has warned Australia cannot afford to be ambivalent about the teachings of extremists.
John Howard has urged Islamic leaders to take a greater role inrejecting violence but he has been more restrained than the Treasurer.
"If you don't like those values, then don't come here. Australia is not for you," Mr Costello said yesterday. "This is the way I look at it: Australia is a secular society, with parliamentary law, part of the Western tradition of individual rights."
In an interview with The Australian, Mr Costello said migrants needed to understand and respect the "core values" of democracy, a secular society and the equality of women.
And he warned that Australia needed to be clear that the nation's core values would not change.
"If you are looking for a country that practises theocracy, sharia law -- which is anti-Western -- there are those countries in the world ... you will be happy there. But you won't be happy in Australia."
But he stopped short of supporting the deportation of radical Muslim leaders, in the wake of similar debates in Britain and France.
Mr Howard said in Sydney that he would be reminding the Islamic leaders at the summit that "our common values as Australians transcend any other allegiances or commitments".
He said Muslim leaders had a "particular responsibility" to make clear that Islam totally rejected violence and terrorism and that he wanted them to take ownership of the process of dealing with extremists' views.
"The purpose of this meeting is to underline to the leadership of the Muslim community that it has responsibilities," Mr Howard said.
He refused to budge on suggestions he should include extremists in the summit and said they would flood the media with extreme remarks.
"It would undermine the good work of the leaders of 99 per cent of the Muslim community in Australia who are trying to do the right thing, are trying to work with their fellow Australians and don't want prominence given to extremists," he said.
Kim Beazley and Labor foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said it was important to speak as widely as possible but said the Government would be receiving sensible advice on who should be included.
"I want to see the determination that we're going to uphold respect for Australian values -- Australian values of tolerance, Australian values of ensuring that we respect another person's rights, both in religious terms and their own dignity -- and to make sure that this notion of respect is included in the curriculum of all schools," Mr Beazley said.
Mr Costello also threw his support behind Australia maintaining a strong skilled migration policy. "Immigration overall helps our country in a security sense and an economic sense. I think there is an acceptance of immigration, more so than 10 years ago. I would like to see a strong immigration policy. I am not putting numbers on it."
Earlier this month, the Treasurer said the notion that terrorists secured a reward in the afterlife for waging jihad against Westerners was "repulsive".
Yesterday he said: "I have seen people that say they believe in sharia law and theocracy. If that's their view, don't come to this country. This one is not for you. I don't think we can afford to be ambivalent about this point to young people or anyone else."
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer also compared fundamentalist Muslims to Nazis as he defended the decision not to invite radical clerics to today's summit. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,16352370%255E2702,00.html