Q&A: Germaine Greer says the fear of a “caricature of Islam’ behind citizenship changes

The debate on the government’s citizenship test, and 457 visa changes dominated Monday night’s Q&A program on the ABC, the Australian feminist and writer Germaine Greer saying the changes were motivated by the fear of “caricature of Islam”.

However, the vice-minister for immigration, Alex Hawke, who has denied the changes were designed to increase the Coalition’s prospects in the polls. He has also denied the new citizenship test, which will reportedly include questions on female genital mutilation, early marriage and domestic violence, was targeted at a particular religion.

“This is not about a particular religion or race,” Hawke said. “It is people to realize they come from all over the world, with different cultures and different environments. This is not to say that the Australian culture does not accept these things, and if you want to become Australian you need to assimilate and integrate into Australian society.”

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Values is something that the world cares, says @chygovera. @Tony_Burke, @HumanHeadline & Greer raise the targeting Islam in the test #QandA pic.twitter.com/ReMfZ4gdba

April 24, 2017

This Government, blaming immigrants for the economy tank? Germaine Greer & @chygovera answer #QandA pic.twitter.com/ayRqudC5pG— ABC Q&A (@QandA) April 24, 2017″>

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This is the yeast between Abbott & Turnbull going to cost the government? @AlexHawkeMP & #QandA panel responds pic.twitter.com/TLVaw7XvY4

April 24, 2017

The manager of opposition business, Tony Burke, has said that the current government rhetoric appeared designed to malign the poor and the immigrants. He has repeatedly criticized the government of a connection of a new citizenship test with national security, questioning how it would protect Australia, when those who are would already be permanent residents.

“This could still be sensitive, and there might still be aspects that are sensitive, but the rhetoric, claiming, in any way, the people who are permanent residents and have made their security controls, and we decided that we are fine living here, but if we make them citizens, they are suddenly dangerous, it is absurd,” Burke said.

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Hawke has also tried to deflect questions about the applicant the Abbott-Turnbull leadership speculation. He said a bit of friction may always be expected between a leader and the former leader, and prompted laughter when he encouraged the host, Tony Jones, the “go to expert” for comment, referring to Burke.

Burke compared unseating a first-term prime minister of a “whole tragedy”.

“People say ‘your worst day in government is better than your best day in opposition”,,” Burke said. “It is not true. Your worst days is when your side is in the fight. Is terrible”.

Greer still made disparaging comments about the fashion choices of a female political leader, this time to criticize “damn leopard shoes” of the British prime minister, Theresa May.

Jones, was forced to gently bring the conversation away from the British leader’s fashion choices, alluding to the controversy Greer has caused in 2012, when he criticised Julia Gillard’s jackets and referred to his “big ass”.

Greer was responding to a question about whether the leadership ” between Abbott and Turnbull seemed distant from her, now that she was a dual British citizenship preparing for the early parliamentary elections.

A bit unexpectedly, Greer responded: “And with Teresa Can still wear those bloody leopard skin shoes. I think that must be his lucky shoes. Do you remember the first time I was in parliament made a big confusion about her shoes?”

Jill Stark
(@jillastark)
Time to stop having Germaine Greer. What has helped? White savior bullshit and commentary on female MP fashion #qanda

April 24, 2017

Helen Razer
(@HelenRazer)
Oh, thanks to Coco Chanel. Germaine ihas become bored quite ridiculous the clothing of elite women. Go. #qanda

April 24, 2017

Jones reminded Greer of the previous controversy caused by similar comments on the show and she said, “But this is the point with the political and curiosity. This is for anyone who is interested in sniping between Tony Abbott, prime minister?

“We can hope is that Malcolm somehow has its act together. He is irritating because he is probably more intelligent than Abbott, but not because she is afraid to say anything.”

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Greer went on to compare Turnbull, a former president of the UNITED states Barack Obama, who said that she could not speak, unless he was reading from a teleprompter.

Greer’s critique of the speaking ability of Obama – widely regarded as one of America’s strongest speakers – drew responses of “no, no” from the panel.

“Yes, yes. He was incapable, an inept president,” Greer insisted.

Zimbabwe activist and social entrepreneur Chido Govera talked about his inspirational story that led her to help hundreds of poor communities grow mushrooms using coffee waste.

Govera became an orphan at the age of 7 years, after losing her mother to Aids. She turned to begging, while helping to raise her brother and care for his grandmother. He has experienced abuse from extended family members at the age of eight years old and was married off at the age of 10 years.

“I learned how to farm mushrooms when I was 11 years old. That is, after I escaped being married off,” he said. “There was a moment when I realized by using what is available … local, I can start to change things. So I learned to simplify the art of growing mushrooms so that you can share with all the people who need it.”

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As foreign aid go to provide long-term solutions to poverty? @chygovera and our #QandA panel responds pic.twitter.com/UJqyL9GBOl

April 24, 2017

She spoke of the need for foreign aid to be targeted to local, basic programs, and to avoid money flowing ineffective, foreign governments or organizations.

Burke, the former minister of agriculture, warned against the assumption that all Australian aid money was wasted. He spoke of the “extraordinary” work of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, which he said has helped to build the capacity of local communities abroad, rather than simply handing out money.