Geert Wilders is going to be allowed into the country, according to Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, who does not disguise his hostility to the Dutch MP in this column in the Australian today.
The way to deal with extremist commentators such as Wilders is to defeat his ideas with the force of our arguments and experiences, not the blunt instrument of denying him entry into Australia.
All’s well that ends well, perhaps: Wilders can make his case and be condemned or supported its strengths. No doubt most people who have expressed a view on this short little controversy will be happy for it to rest here.
But it’s bizarre that this was up for debate, and even more bizarre that the initial decision about what views the Australian public sphere could handle is vested with the Immigration Department.
It’s clearly time to revisit whether we want people to be on the Movement Alert List merely for their opinions. (This holds true as much for Wilders as radical Islamic preachers and, yes, even Holocaust-deniers. As the IPA Review said when David Irving was denied a visa to Australia in 1993, “It is doubtful whether Irving’s visit would have given rise to as much controversy and division as the banning of Irving’s visit”.)
There should have never been any question about whether Wilders was allowed in the country. Now would be a good opportunity to ask why there was.