Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds is facing considerable criticism for damning independent senator Fraser Anning’s contemptible statements after the Christchurch terror attack, while also appearing to link refugees seeking asylum in Australia to the Bali bombings.
During last night’s Q&A, the first edition of the panel show after an Australian was alleged to have shot 50 worshippers dead in New Zealand, Reynolds said she supported a proposed censure motion against Anning in the Senate.
“What he said and what he physically did have absolutely no place in our country,” Reynolds said.
But later in the evening, when conversation turned to resurfaced allegations that Prime Minister Scott Morrison once proposed stoking anti-Muslim sentiment as an election strategy while in opposition, Reynolds said she believes tough measures are necessary to kerb radical Islamic violence – measures like Australia’s famously brutal offshore detention system, and by association, our nation’s historic refusal to treat seriously ill asylum seekers on Australian soil.
“This is a very personal issue for me, and the circumstances [of terrorism]… are things that I’ve lived through,” Reynolds said, referencing her time working for former Minister for Justice and Customs Chris Ellison in Indonesia following the Bali bombings.
“Last month I gave probably the hardest and most personal speech I’ve ever given in the Senate, and it was in response to Labor‘s amendments to the Medevac bill.”
(Those amendments mandated that medical professionals will have a greater say on which patients will be transported from offshore detention to Australian medical facilities for treatment. At this point, it’s worth nothing the amendments only apply to asylum seekers currently on Nauru and Manus Island, not anyone sent there for detention in the future.)
“And I was literally almost physically ill when I saw some of my Senate and House Of Reps colleagues in the chamber cheering and high-fiving the passage of these amendments.
“Because I was one of the few in that chamber who has lived through terrorism and the impact, up in the Bali bombings.”
When pushed by host Tony Jones on whether she was drawing a direct link between asylum seekers from majority Muslim nations attaining medical treatment Australian soil and the potential for radical Islamist terrorist attacks against Australians, Reynolds pivoted – sort of, at least.
“There are people out there who commoditise other human beings, whether they exploit them for some perversion of religion, or some left or right ideology, or whether they just simply commoditise them and send them off to drown, they are not people who deserve our respect or our compassion,” she said.
Here's Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds invoking the spectre of terrorism in order to make us afraid of bringing sick asylum seekers to Australia for treatment.— Tom Clift (@tom_clift) March 18, 2019
How is this different to Fraser Anning, exactly? pic.twitter.com/5ODR1DFkMl
The insinuation that people will die as a result of the amendment is one Reynolds has made before. In the very Senate speech she mentioned on Q&A, Reynolds said the decision to give doctors more power to send asylum seekers to Australia for treatment is one “that I know from personal experience will come at the lives of others.”
Those who voted for the passage of Labor’s amendments this week did not consider the implication on our men and women in the @AusBorderForce and #ourADF.— Linda Reynolds (@lindareynoldswa) February 15, 2019
There is nothing compassionate or moral about this Bill.
Full speech here: https://t.co/BhPwF4ddfq pic.twitter.com/3Ny0p1fDFJ
Reynold’s Q&A comments were pretty roundly savaged by an audience, which may have been primed to latch onto gross anti-Muslim sentiment after Anning’s cruel and stupid statements.
Utterly bizarre, bordering on obscene answer from Lib senator @lindareynoldswa. #qanda pic.twitter.com/iJk3sazXrr— Neil McMahon (@NeilMcMahon) March 18, 2019
Linda Reynolds seriously tried to draw a link between medivac and the Bali bombings while talking about Christchurch. Have we learned nothing? #QandA #auspol— Ruby Wallace (@_rubywallace) March 18, 2019
Linda Reynolds is responding to a question about not fear-mongering with fear-mongering.#QandA #AusPol— Oliver Pocock ???? (@Aussie_Oliver) March 18, 2019
Linda Reynolds is disgusted by others politicising this tragedy … then spends 5 minutes politicising this tragedy to justify her islamaphobia… linking the Bali bombing to refugees! Disgusting #qanda— Dar Ren Robe (@ozisobe) March 18, 2019
Why did Linda Reynolds on qanda just say she was disgusted to see people celebrating in parliament at the passing of the asylum seeker medivac bill – because she was present in the aftermath of the Bali bombings? She then had to backtrack and say it was about drownings.— Phil (@MrPhilQ) March 18, 2019
It was a lot to take in, and probably not the best showing from a senator battling to distance her party’s policy positions from Anning. You can watch the whole baffling episode HERE.
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