Thursday, 19 July 2012 00:43
- Christian Kerr
- Published in The Australian 19 July 2012
- Read more in Mark Aarron’s definitive article about Rhiannon’s transition from the Stalinist Party of Australia to the NSW Greens
VETERAN Labor MP Michael Danby has confronted Greens senator Lee Rhiannon over her past support for the Soviet Union, linking her extremism then with her party's current dogmatism on asylum-seekers.
"I'm very uncomfortable appearing with Lee Rhiannon, who for 20 years was a member of the Stalinist Party of Australia and then transited to the Greens," Mr Danby said in an at times heated clash between the pair on ABC's Capital Hill.
Senator Rhiannon is a scion of one of Australia's most prominent communist dynasties and edited the pro-Soviet magazine Survey even after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Mr Danby's gibe was at Senator Rhiannon's involvement with the Socialist Party of Australia, the faction of the Australian communist movement that stayed loyal to Moscow after the brutal 1968 suppression of the Prague Spring.
"I think that's indicative of why the Greens have such a purist and extreme policy with regards to asylum-seekers," he said. "I stood up in the parliament and said I was wrong, I was wrong not to consider offshore processing."
Mr Danby accused the Greens of "political purism" and "ideological zealotry".
|Senator Lee Rhiannon
Danby has accused NSW Senator of having the same politics as Elena Ceausescu
"We have to do something practical to help these people who are seeking desperately to save their own lives." he said.
"We've got to look after people in the refugee camps in Malaysia as well and frankly I've had enough of the Greens and the Liberals working together on this."
Senator Rhiannon dismissed the attack, saying: "Michael is still this cold war warrior. The Greens have been in there negotiating with Labor."
Mr Danby hit back, saying the passage of asylum-seeker legislation that had won the support of House of Representatives independents had been blocked by Green "purism and extremism" in the Senate.
"It just devalues genuine humanitarianism and concerns for the refugees that are coming to Australia," he insisted.
Senator Rhiannon said the level of the humanitarian refugee intake was now lower than during the Keating and Howard governments. "We have a responsibility under international law to assist and allow people to come to our country to seek asylum," she said.
"If Mr Danby was concerned about people and having their rights recognised and being allowed safe journey to Australia he would be putting pressure on his government to change their policy."
To see our entire collection of headlines, browse our media archives. All headlines are ordered chronologically, to make it as easy as possible for users. If you can’t find the information you need, feel free to contact us directly.View All Published Articles Contact Us