Malcolm Turnbull has defended Australia’s Muslims as Pauline Hanson stepped up her rhetoric about the danger they pose to the country.
Senator Hanson, who re-entered parliament last year campaigning on a Muslim immigration ban, told the Nine Network in an interview it was hard to spot a good Muslim.
“I believe there are some that want to live a good life and a quiet life. But you tell me — you line up a number of Muslims, who’s the good one?” she said.
Mr Turnbull, who is in Jakarta attending the Indian Ocean Rim Association summit where counter-terrorism is being discussed, said Muslims were Australia’s best allies in the war against extremism.
“I reject those sentiments entirely,” Mr Turnbull said on Tuesday.
“The vast majority of Muslims in Australia are utterly appalled by extremism, by violent extremism, by terrorism. We have to remember that the vast majority of the victims of ISIL or Daesh are Muslims.
“The vast majority of Australian Muslims are patriotic, hardworking, seeking to get ahead, committed to peacefully living in Australia and abiding by our laws.”
Mr Turnbull, whose Liberal Party has entered into a preference deal with One Nation before the West Australian state election this weekend, said such deals were not an endorsement of Senator Hanson’s policies but a practicality.
“Those preference arrangements are an inevitable consequence of having preferential voting and they are always taken in the interest of the Liberal Party,” he said.
Labor has declared One Nation will be preferenced last.
Meanwhile, Iraq’s ambassador to Australia Hussain Al-Ameri told The Australian newspaper there were concerns within the local Iraqi community that young people were being “brainwashed” by extremists who could be part of a “sleeping colony”.
Asked about the comments, the prime minister said the government took counter-terrorism seriously.
“It is a military war, if you like, in the Middle East,” Mr Turnbull said.
“It is a policing and intelligence and security war at home and around the world.
“But it is also a psychological war and that is why it is very important to support leaders, whether it is in the community at home or whether it is leaders internationally like Joko Widodo, who emphasise that Islam, democracy and moderation are compatible.”
He said over the past four years, there had been 62 terrorism arrests and 12 plots disrupted in Australia.