Sunday Mail Editor Peter Gleeson thinks you are not an Australian if you do not speak English at home.
The Queensland editor stirred controversy when he commented “Australians who do not speak English at home are failing to fit into mainstream Australia,” during an interview on Sky News.
"I think so many reasons why so many people have deserted the Liberal National Party in the last few years and gone to parties like the Pauline Hanson's and Clive Palmer's is that they have been very vocal on migration and vocal on immigration," said on the show "Credlin."
"They are also sitting back and looking at some of these people thinking 'well you don't speak English at home, you're failing to integrate properly into mainstream Australia', we just want these people to be Aussies," he continued.
Gleeson also blamed increased housing costs on the rising number of well-settled immigrants in the country during the interview.
Considering that English is not the native language of more than 21% percent population of the country, the remark was, understandably, not received well.
Gleeson's comments followed former Prime Minister Tony Abbot's call for lesser number of immigrants in Australia, just as the world celebrated “World Mother Language Day.”
While the remarks, reeking of xenophobia, prompted outrage, the editor still stands by them, according to his statement to SBS News.
In fact, far from being apologetic, he got even more offensive as he claimed immigration is a “privilege” and should not be granted to “enclaves of migrants in this country who haven't tried to adopt the Australian way of life and learn English.”
Gleeson’s comments received criticism from a number of high-profile Australian politicians.
Labor MP Stirling Hinchliffe sent out a tweet to “nice guy” Gleeson and he “hoped that he will regret” his words.
Peter Gleeson is nice guy who I hope regrets this. Considering that 21% of Australian families speak a language other than English at home, I think he doesn’t understand what being an “Aussie” is. #AussieAs https://t.co/C0DO9F8CUW— Stirling Hinchliffe (@StirlHinchliffe) February 20, 2018
Another Labor MP Martin Pakula, whose mother is an immigrant, did not take kindly to Gleeson’s words. “My dad was born here but spoke no English at home, became a lawyer. I’m the Attorney General of Victoria, and you - mate - can get stuffed. Australian enough for you?” questioned the upset MP.
My mum arrived here as a 6 year old. No English. Ended up being a school teacher for decades. Dad was born here but spoke no English at home. Became a lawyer. I’m the Attorney General of Victoria, and you - mate - can get stuffed. Australian enough for you? https://t.co/9EbACWqZrB— Martin Pakula (@MartinPakulaMP) February 20, 2018
According to the 2016 national consensus, 21% of Australians speak languages other English at home and Gleeson may have successfully offended all of them.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters