Fraser Anning row: Politics of hate has no place in 2019
AUSTRALIA has far more pressing issues to tackle than spending so much time on the politics of hate and division in 2019.
Queensland Senator Fraser Anning has rightly been criticised for attending an extreme right-wing protest in Melbourne on the weekend, at taxpayers' expense.
Mr Anning says he was representing his Queensland constituents - those impacted by crimes associated with African gangs who should never have been allowed in the country.
He claims the rally, organised by the United Patriots Front, was 'no racists rally'.
Mr Anning advocates that Australia should stop migration by all Muslims and those from Sudan.
That view may be shared some Australians but most would be horrified by the views of some of those attending the Melbourne protest.
Mr Anning stood side-by-side with United Patriots Front founder Blair Cottrell, who has said a picture of Adolf Hitler should be in every classroom.
The barely elected Queensland representative said it was the first time he had met Mr Cottrell, who helped organise the rally, and "obviously I don't support any views like that".
Clearly the Senator needs to choose those he associates with more wisely.
The bigger question is what did the rally actually achieve - apart from wasting police resources - resources that could have been used in tackling gang violence of all descriptions.
Australians, of course, have a right to protest about things that concern them.
And there are people who are genuinely concerned by the impacts of immigration.
But in 2019, most Australians believe we are better for being a multicultural society - one that celebrates differences - and tolerance.
That tolerance, of course, never extends to people who want to set up their own enclaves and create their own set of rules.
In the past, multiculturalism has meant that people coming to this country assimilate, learn our language and respect our culture and way of life.
What is never acceptable, however, is to see people from one religious or cultural group targeted by people fuelling hate.
To see protesters giving a Nazi salute at a rally in Australia is appalling.
Mr Anning, as an Australian who says he supports the Jewish community and the state of Israel, did distance himself from such people.
"There was a group about 100m down the road and I could hear all the yelling and screaming … I can absolutely guarantee you no one in the group that I was with was doing anything like that," he said.
"Who was there at that meeting was irrelevant."
For a politician, that's a pretty naïve view.