MP blasted for ‘white flight’ comments
NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley is facing a heavy backlash after suggesting migration was leading to a "white flight" in Sydney.
"I'm particularly concerned about suburbs around Fairfield because they're carrying just a huge burden when it comes to the refugee intake from Syria and Iraq," he told The Daily Telegraph.
"Something like three-quarters of the Syrian and Iraqi refugees are settling around Fairfield. It's all right to come up with a grand gesture of we'll take 10,000 Syrian or Iraqi refugees but where's the practical assistance?"
Social media users were quick to slam his remarks.
"White flight"? Are you kidding me? I'd vote for a really old dish sponge before I support Luke Foley. How disappointing. https://t.co/HBZrlWr6aQ— Shannon Molloy (@sleemol) May 23, 2018
how does luke foley manage to always emerge from the woodwork only to invent the wrong stance on every issue— Alex Bruce-Smith (@alexbrucesmith) May 23, 2018
The thing about Luke Foley’s ‘white flight’ statement this morning is that he could have talked about Western Sydney’s issues due to population changes, but he is the one who used ‘white flight’ he’s the one who spoke about Anglo families. He made it about race. @wendy_harmer— Gentleman of Leisure (@Herr_Benjamin) May 23, 2018
Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone has also dismissed the suggestion multiculturalism was to blame for the city's struggles.
"I think it's poor to suggest it's a racial issue," he told news.com.au. "I don't think Anglo families are fleeing our cities."
But he did agree with the Opposition Leader that it was a mistake to push thousands of refugees into regions without providing job opportunities and infrastructure resources to handle it.
"Sydney took 60 per cent of the total refugee intake. When you talk about putting 7000 extra people in the one location, that's like building a new suburb, and there's a responsibility to put more money into infrastructure, roads, schools and creating job opportunities to do so," he said.
He noted Fairfield had "always opened its doors" to refugees and multiculturalism, but said there weren't enough resources or job opportunities to make the city liveable for the number of people who live there.
"Fairfield has one of the largest industrial precincts in Australia. The challenge is that those blue collar jobs are no longer there. Refugees could have taken those jobs, once upon a time, but they're no longer there. That's the challenge for us."
He also said he's a strong advocate for taking in refugees and dispersing them to regions where there are more job opportunities.
Mr Carbone stressed the government needed to find new ways to provide opportunities to refugees.
"This country has given opportunities to more than four million migrants, and we need to continue to be able to provide those opportunities," he said. "If these people were going to a place like Manly, for example, there'd be more opportunities for employment."
Mr Foley later defended the controversial "white flight" term.
"It's an academic term, it's an identifiable phenomenon in many Western cities that reflects the changing cultural mix of many suburbs," he told ABC radio this morning. "This is a class issue more than a race issue."
Speaking on the Today Show this morning, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson commended Mr Foley for his remarks.
"Twenty years ago, I said there would be places we won't even recognise in Australia. They are forming ghettos.
"People are forced out of the homes they grew up in. Kids don't want to live in these suburbs anymore because they are not assimilating.
"We don't put restrictions on them that they must speak English, they must assimilate into our society and respect our laws and our cultures ... this is why we have problems."
But Mr Foley rejected her endorsement, saying: "I won't have a bar of her divisive race-based politics."
"There are many regions in Australia that are now facing skilled labour shortages and we are working with regional leaders and businesses to find solutions," Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge told news.com.au last week.
"Many migrants are sponsored for permanent residence on the basis of an intent to live and work in regional Australia but don't stay long in the region once they have their permanent visa. This is obviously not ideal and contributes to the labour shortages."
The Minister said he was actively working with his colleagues on solutions to help regional areas to meet labour demands.