Australia

Scott Morrison says he wanted to 'address fears on Islam, not exploit them', in tense interview

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The prime minister says is it his responsibility to ensure Australia remains the world's most successful multicultural society and he will do just that.

Scott Morrison says he is determined to ensure Australia remains the world's "best immigration nation", by promoting understanding and calling out people who go against that spirit.

"That's my form. I'm happy to call out people," the prime minister told Ten's The Project on Thursday.

"I'm not shy about doing these sorts of things."

The leader also shed further light on a 2010 shadow cabinet meeting in which he has been accused of encouraging colleagues to use community concerns about Muslim migration for political gain.

Morrison
The Prime Minister spoke to Waleed Aly in a one-to-one interview on The Project on Thursday.
Channel 10

Mr Morrison has consistently denied the allegation by unnamed sources who spoke Fairfax Media in 2011.

He said he was actually seeking to improve such attitudes.

"It never happened. I've always been deeply concerned about attitudes towards people of Muslim faith in our community," he said.

"I was acknowledging that there were these fears in the community and that we had to address them, not exploit them."

Reports of the 2011 meeting resurfaced online in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre, in which a lone gunman opened fire at two mosques during Friday prayers, killing 50 people.

The Project host Waleed Aly referred to the reports in a widely-shared monologue on the show after the shootings last week.

In a one-on-one interview with Aly on Thursday, the prime minister said he did not agree with what he put forward, saying whoever spoke to a journalist to "smear" him in that way eight years ago was lying.

"You implied that Muslims couldn't feel safe because they had a prime minister who somehow had been prejudiced against them," Mr Morrison said.

"And I don't believe that's true."

Asked whether Australia has a problem with Islamophobia, Mr Morrison acknowledged the nation may not understand the faith as well as it could.

"I don't know if Australians understand Islam very well, and that can often lead to the fear of things that you don't understand, so by definition that's what it leads to," he said.

But he said he will be doing his bit to ensure people love "all Australians", whatever their background, ethnicity or religion may be.

"We are the most successful multicultural country in the earth, the best immigration nation of any country in the earth.

"That's my responsibility to make sure it stays that way and that's my absolute commitment."

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