Smiles and selfies galore as Fortitude is put aside

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It’s tea with multicultural media for PM Abbott as government hoses down Fortitude farce

On Friday 28 August, the Australian public was up in arms wanting to know how the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s Operation Fortitude would not be racial profiling. It involved public questioning of people on the streets over issues such as visa fraud.
As the government retreated hastily on the idea, touring international comic and political commentator John Oliver went to town on the program, describing it as “Australia’s attempt to dip its toes in the Nazi pond to see what it feels like”.
The weekend following, Prime Minister Abbott and his team were in full damage control, hosing down any perceived fears in the community.
Come the last day of winter on 31 August, the Prime Minister was in full flow at a multicultural media afternoon tea at Kirribilli House in Sydney. With his wife Margie beside him, he greeted members of the media warmly at the threshold of the historic home.
The official photographer close at hand, it was an opportunity for the smiling Prime Minister to make it to the social media sites of the state’s multicultural media within 72 hours of the disaster that was Operation Fortitude.
The reach of multicultural media is being increasingly recognised by the political forces in Australia. Within our own Indian-Australian community, the recent celebrations of India’s Independence Day had politicos from all levels of government in attendance. Even at an Indian government celebration in Sydney, NSW Senator Sam Dastyari snuck in dressed in a traditional Indian achkan, joining his colleagues from both sides of the divide who can boast the best of Indian couture in their wardrobes. The Indian community holds an important swathe of votes in marginal seats and it was hardly surprising to note the strong presence of local Indian media at the PM’s afternoon tea. No doubt the PM’s media minders are already keen to start the engagement process with multicultural media.
The PM himself acknowledged the contributions of the multicultural press in engaging with their constituents and also linking their communities to their country of origin. There were no Namastes, Shaloms or Nihaos in the PM’s address, but it was clear he was warm and accepting of the diverse bunch that hovered around him who now call Australia home.
“Australia is a country with an Indigenous heritage, a British foundation and a multicultural character,” he said as he addressed his guests. “It is this character of modern Australia that I want to celebrate today.”
The main focus, it seemed, of the media was to get as many selfies and photos with the PM, but it was also a good opportunity for the Coalition government to warm towards the multicultural media. Some of the actions of the government do not follow through to their words, but it is good to know that there is a willingness and desire to engage with the multicultural communities.

Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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