After a resurgence in the number of reports of racially motivated incidents in the state, the Victorian equal opportunity and human rights commissioner, Kristen Hilton, warned against “racially divisive statements” citing Dutton’s comments as an example.
Back in January, Peter Dutton, the home affairs minister said that “Victorians are “scared to go out to restaurants” because of “African gang violence”. This was in response to an interview regarding the lack of deterrent measures against crime in Victoria.
Despite warnings from the human rights commissioner, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull defended Dutton’s view on “African gangs”.
He stated on Tuesday that “There is real concern about Sudanese gangs” in Melbourne and added that “Dutton was simply seeking to do the best job.” He doesn’t believe that the home affairs minister incited racial hatred with his views.
His comment comes at the height of campaigns for super Saturday by-elections on July 28 and Victorian state election late 2018. As the by-elections enter the homestretch, Labor and Coalition turned immigration into a political issue.
In an interview on 3AW radio on Tuesday, Turnbull noted that permanent migration of 163,000 people in the past financial year was “the lowest it’s been in a decade”. He also suggested it was “good that it’s down, on the basis we’re not taking any more than we need”.
This was strongly countered by the Infrastructure Australia chief, Philip Davies, who said “The country lacks national-level, long-term planning” about population growth and had been “lazy” in planning for its infrastructure needs.
Turnbull said in response that it is “not right” to claim there was no planning done with regard to population levels and added that the “level of skilled migration responds to the demands of the economy”.
He stressed that his government is focused on encouraging people who come to Australia to work and remain in regional areas by adding conditions to their visas.