CANBERRA -- The Immigration Minister has gone all out against criticism of his controversial comments singling out the descendants of Muslim refugees from Lebanon, saying he has "spoken the truth" and has accused Labor Leader Bill Shorten of being "tricky" and acting in a "dishonourable way" over the issue.
Peter Dutton insists he won't step back from remarks that have hurt and angered the Australian-Lebanese community and let him being called "racist", instead he's continued link terrorism to second and third generation Australians, although he's now stressing the "vast majority of Lebanese Australians are law-abiding, hard-working, good decent people".
Last week, the Minister declared former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser made a mistake in the 1970's letting people of Lebanese-Muslim background into Australia from war-torn Lebanon. This week, he referred to security advice that 22 of 33 terrorism offenders were second and third-generation Lebanese-Muslim Australians.
Dutton insists he's he is "not going to be dishonest in this discussion" and he has "spoken the truth".
— Stephanie Anderson (@stephanieando) November 23, 2016
"The point that I was making is that we should call out the small number within the community – within the Lebanese community – who are doing the wrong thing," he told Sydney radio station 2GB.
"If we do that, we can hold up the vast majority of people within the Lebanese community who work as hard as you and I do, who have contributed to society, who are captains of industry, people that have worked hard, provided their kids with an education."
— Claire Bickers (@claire_bickers) November 24, 2016
Dutton insists he's "not going to be dishonest in this discussion" and he has "spoken the truth".
"The point that I was making is that we should call out the small number within the community – within the Lebanese community -- who are doing the wrong thing," he told Sydney radio station 2GB.
"You can go through any transcript you like in terms of what I have said. I have been factual in what I have said."
The Greens have called Dutton racist and a bigot, while Shorten used his annual National Security statement to parliament to say he was "fearful" the Minister's comments will be used by extremists to harm Australians.
Instead, Dutton has accused Shorten of misrepresenting his words and whipping up political hysteria.
The Immigration Minister condemned the death threats directed at Labor MP Anne Aly and her family after she took issue with the Minister's comments, but used the moment to double down on the Labor Leader.
"The question she should be asking is of Bill Shorten. Why did he seek to whip this up into an issue of political advantage for himself? Why did he seek to misrepresent my words?" Dutton posed.
"He now has a track record of this"
"He might think this is tricky and maybe he thinks there is political advantage in it, but this man wants to be the alternative Prime Minister of this country and he is out conducting himself in a dishonourable way".
Dutton also had scorn for people of "the left," who "hate him" as they oppose the Turnbull Government's immigration policies.
"I won't cower to these people," he told 2GB host Ray Hadley.
"Bill Shorten can carry on being part of the tricky elite in this country. He can talk double code to people, he can be tricky in his language. I'm not going to be intimidated by it".