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Indigenous leader Warren Mundine denies ABC star Laura Tingle’s claim that Australia’s racist

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Remy Varga
The Nightly
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Indigenous leader Warren Mundine branded claims Australia was a racist country as “total nonsense”.
Indigenous leader Warren Mundine branded claims Australia was a racist country as “total nonsense”. Credit: Mick Tsikas/AAPImage

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine has branded as “total nonsense” claims by one of the national broadcaster’s most influential political commentators that Australia is a racist country.

Mr Mundine told The Nightly that there was “no shred of evidence” backing the remarks made by the 7.30 chief political correspondent Laura Tingle at the Sydney Writers Festival on Sunday.

A leader for the No campaign during the referendum for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, Mr Mundine said the resounding No vote result last year was proof Australia was not a racist country.

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“It’s totally nonsense,” he said.

“It’s typical of this group of people who tend to think that everyday Australians are just ignorant bigots when in actual fact they’re not.

“We saw that in the evidence of the referendum where migrants were massive supporters of the No campaign.”

Mr Mundine said he didn’t know why people who believed Australia was a racist country chose to stay as residents of the nation.

“Why don’t they just get back on a boat and go back to where they came from.”

Mr Mundine said the writers’ festival was more of a honeymoon than a love-in and said millions of migrants had chosen to make Australia their home.

“What could be more Australian than having a night on the turps and getting a kebab,” he said.

“It’s just insanity. They live in this little bubble of all these white people sitting in a circle. It’s just totally bizarre.”

Laura Tingle branded Australia racist at a writers festival.
Laura Tingle branded Australia racist at a writers festival. Credit: Supplied.

Tingle, a veteran journalist who was last year promoted to the ABC board as its staff-elected director, made the comments before crowds at Carriageworks in the inner Sydney suburb of Eveleigh.

“We are a racist country, let’s face it,” Tingle reportedly told the panel, which was moderated by former ABC Insiders host and Labor staffer Barrie Cassidy.

“We always have been and it’s very depressing.”

Tingle also accused Opposition Leader Peter Dutton of encouraging racism towards migrants and said she couldn’t remember a political leader saying that “everything that is going wrong in this country is because of migrants”.

The opposition leader has proposed slashing the permanent migration rate by 25 per cent, banning foreign investors and temporary residents from buying existing homes and reducing the number of international students in a bid to ease pressure on the housing market.

Tingle told the crowd on Sunday that when she heard Mr Dutton’s budget reply speech, she had a “flash” that the proposed policies could encourage the racist treatment of people who “look a bit different” at property inspections.

“Basically he (Dutton) has given them license to be abused, and in any circumstance where people feel like they’re missing out,” she said.

As the chief political correspondent for the ABC’s flagship current affairs program 7.30, Tingle has one of the most influential voices in Australian politics.

According to ABC editorial policy, impartiality is a fundamental standard that is “central to its (ABC) public service purpose and to its reputation as a credible and trustworthy broadcaster.”

The ABC declined to comment when approached by The Nightly.

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