Today in Crikey‘s ongoing series on population growth, we’ve reproduced an extract from former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser’s new political memoirs on making the tough decisions on immigration and refugee numbers.

In the memoirs, Margaret Simons writes that Fraser was well aware that the decision to take in large numbers of Asian refugees and their families was a “fundamental one, changing the face of Australia and with the potential for vicious electoral backlash”:

“Every word I said on the issue in public was to try to say that we could do it, that we were strong enough, that we should be proud of our record as a migrant nation, and that we would be made stronger by diversity.”

Politicians, Fraser told Simons, have a superior duty to speak with “discretion and respect” on issues of race and religion.

All of which puts today’s Essential Research figures in stark relief. Essential reports that when asked this question:

Q. Do you think the Federal Labor Government is too tough or too soft on asylum seekers or is it taking the right approach?

65% answered “too soft.”

Which leads us to our current Prime Minister’s answer, standing outside his local church on Easter Sunday, when asked if Australia should throw its doors open to refugees:

“I think this is a very great celebration for all Australians, and I wish everyone a happy Easter, and as I said I hope all the kids scored lots and lots of eggs,” he replied.

Feel the leadership.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey