An Australian newspaper editor who believes migration is a ‘privilege’ and new arrivals ‘should learn English’ has been attacked by members of the left wing Labor Party.
The editor of the Sunday Mail in the state of Queensland, Peter Gleeson, said on Sky News TV that average Australians look at people who don’t speak English at home as “failing to integrate properly.”
His comments come as Australia is being urged to debate its generous immigration policies that draw almost 200,00 people per year to the land Down Under. Mr. Gleeson said:
I think that a lot of people, the average Australians, are sitting at home thinking ‘well OK, I want to buy a house in Sydney, but because of the immigration policies of the previous Federal government’s, because the way they have allowed a lot of people into this country with plenty of dough, I can’t afford a house in Sydney’.
They are also sitting back and looking at some of these people thinking ‘well you don’t speak English at home, you’re failing to integrate properly into mainstream Australia’, we just want these people to be Aussies.
The response to his comments was driven by Australia’s left wing Labor Party.
Labor MP Stirling Hinchliffe accused Mr. Gleeson of ignorance for failing to “understand what being an ‘Aussie’ is.”
“Peter Gleeson is nice guy who I hope regrets this. Considering that 21 per cent of Australian families speak a language other than English at home, I think he doesn’t understand what being an “Aussie” is,” Hinchliffe wrote on Twitter.
Peter Gleeson is nice guy who I hope regrets this. Considering that 21% of Australian families speak a language other than English at home, I think he doesn’t understand what being an “Aussie” is. #AussieAs https://t.co/C0DO9F8CUW
— Stirling Hinchliffe (@StirlHinchliffe) February 20, 2018
Fellow Labor MP Martin Pakula stepped up and also condemned Mr Gleeson. In a tweet, Mr Pakula said both his parents spoke no English at a young age in Australia, but went on to be integral members of society.
My mum arrived here as a 6 year old. No English. Ended up being a school teacher for decades. Dad was born here but spoke no English at home. Became a lawyer. I’m the Attorney General of Victoria, and you – mate – can get stuffed. Australian enough for you? https://t.co/9EbACWqZrB
— Martin Pakula (@MartinPakulaMP) February 20, 2018
Mr. Gleeson backed up his comments when approached by state broadcaster SBS, saying there are “enclaves of migrants in this country who haven’t tried to adopt the Australian way of life and learn English. It’s a privilege to come to this country and be in our country and that privilege goes with speaking our language.”
“The Grand Mufti in Sydney doesn’t speak English – I don’t get that,” Mr Gleeson continued. He then drew the comparison of what he would do if he moved to another country.
“If I went and lived in France, I would be very keen to learn French. And I would embrace learning French.”
“I believe that anyone who comes to this country and is a migrant … Part of the process of coming to this country should be that they learn English.”
Mr Gleeson said he had “no problem” with people speaking multiple languages as long as they “attempt to speak English, because English is the native tongue of Australia”.
“If you speak Chinese and you’re attempting to speak English, you’re an Aussie.”
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