Crossbench senator John Madigan has criticised the Turnbull Government for denying anti-abortion speaker Troy Newman a visa while an application from controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders was approved.
The anti-Islam politician was granted a visa last week and intends to travel to Australia to speak at the launch of a new political party, the Australian Liberty Alliance.
It came just days after Mr Newman was deported to the US, having travelled to Australia after being denied a visa by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.
Senator Madigan told media today that the Government was setting a dangerous precedent in denying visas.
“We have a system now in this country that it seems where if you don’t have an opinion which is the prevailing opinion, you’re not entitled to have it,” he said.
“We’re supposed to be a democracy. We’re supposed to be a tolerant country.
“We’re supposed to be a place where people can express an idea or an opinion, but only now if some people allow you to have it.
Balancing freedom of expression with the need to protect the community is difficult, but it might be better to let Chris Brown and Troy Newman enter Australia and then have a mature debate about their actions, writes Monica Attard.
“That’s a very dangerous precedent to be set.”
Fellow crossbench senator David Leyonhjelm also supported the rights of Mr Wilders and Mr Newman to travel to Australia.
There have been concerns that the Dutch politician’s presence could incite increased anti-Islam sentiment in the wake of the fatal Parramatta shooting, but Senator Leyonhjelm said Mr Wilders would not be responsible for any action prompted by his appearance.
“Free speech includes hearing views we don’t want to hear,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.
“It’s a very important principle … it cannot be limited just to things we think we might want to hear.
“Whatever you think about Geert Wilders — and sometimes he makes a valid point and sometimes he goes way too far — he has a right to be heard. We don’t have to listen to him.”