- Attending the Budapest Demographics Summit by invitation of the Hungarian government, Tony Abbott has celebrated Hungary’s tough stance on immigration and claimed there are similarities with Australia’s own policy against “uncontrolled migration”.
- While Australia is girt by sea, Hungary led by far-right prime minister Viktor Orban has had to resort to building hundreds of kilometres of barbed wire fences along its borders to stop immigrants from war-torn nations entering the country.
- “The problem with the people who have been swarming across the borders in Europe in very recent times is that you don’t get any impression that they come to join. You get the impression they come to change,” Abbott told the conference.
Since slumping popularity in the Liberal safe seat of Warringah ended his 25-year political career, Tony Abbott has had to look outside Sydney’s gilded north shore elsewhere to find support. He now appears to have found it in landlocked Hungary, of all places.
The former boxer and triathlete has found favour amongst Hungary’s very own strongman, far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose government invited Abbott to speak in Budapest this week, in an event titled ‘Immigration: What Europe can learn from Australia’.
“Tony Abbott’s government showed it was possible to stop the people-smugglers and organised illegal immigration,” the official event webpage said in a preview of what was to come.
Never failing to rise to an occasion, Abbott appeared to have reveled in the spotlight, telling Hungary he was happy to see similarities between Australia and Hungary’s policies “against uncontrolled immigration”.
Despite serving as prime minister between 2013 and 2015, Abbott seemed to especially celebrate a different era defined by the White Australia Policy — a policy that prevented non-Europeans from immigrating to Australia. The controversial policy was already being dismantled before he himself immigrated to Australia from England at the age of two.
“The vast majority of migrants did not come to Australia to change us but to join us,” Abbott told the Budapest Demographic Summit. “There were the British or the Irish coming in our first 100 years. They changed us but for the better, in –- for instance –- the artistic sense.”
“The problem with the people who have been swarming across the borders in Europe in very recent times is that you don’t get any impression that they come to join. You get the impression they come to change…you get a million angry military-age males swarming into a single country in a year.”
While no country in Europe has actually experienced that exact scenario, Germany has previously committed to welcoming one million migrants a year.
“They are not there to be grateful, they are there with a grievance. And people who come with a grievance are very different to people who come with gratitude in their hearts.”
Infamous for his repetition of the three-word slogan “stop the boats“, even Abbott would have to admit Hungary is missing one thing Australia has — thousands of kilometers of treacherous sea bordering it.
Orban’s government has had to instead try to compensate for its inconvenient lack of saltwater with barbed wire. It has built a 170 kilometre stretch on its border with Serbia with the express purpose to keep migrants out.
He’s been called a “racist” by the UN human rights chief after he said he tightened the country’s immigration policies further saying he did not want Hugnary to be “multi-coloured” country.
With no immigrants coming in, a negative birth rate and Hungarians leaving for better wages in neighbouring countries, the nation’s population is shrinking.
That gives Orban, a man playing to Hungary’s nationalist streak, a huge problem, and one for which Abbott doesn’t have a three-word solution.
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