Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Nearly half a billion dollars may have been spent on the national plan to help assimilate Muslims into Australian society

Michael Madigan:

Queensland Labor senator Joe Ludwig questioned Immigration officials this week about the National Action Plan established after the July bombings in Britain in 2005.

Immigration Department boss Andrew Metcalfe told a Senate estimates committee hearing the plan was sparked by concerns about how young people born in Britain to Muslim parents had become so detached from their own society as to murder fellow citizens.

Senator Ludwig said there had been recent speculation that as much as $461 million had been spent on programs including those helping Australian Muslims assimilate.

Prime Minister John Howard was asked in a radio interview this month whether $461 million had been spent on Muslim assimilation, and replied: "I'm sure there are some programs; I don't think they amount to that."

But Mr Howard added: "Well, there's every reason to try and assimilate – and I unapologetically use that word – assimilate a section of the community, a tiny minority of whose members have caused concern."

Senator Ludwig said he wanted to know exactly what programs worked towards assimilation, but told the hearing he could not get an answer. "I am still trying to get an answer, because it's part of financial accountability," he said.

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