Open Letter to Niki Savva

This letter is a response to journalist Niki Savva’s demand that I be sacked from the frontbench for questioning the compatibility of Islam with Western values. It arose after media reports of my meeting with Dutch MP Geert Wilders. I have never received a reply from Niki Savva.

Dear Ms Savva,

We have never met but I have generally enjoyed your take on politics in the pages of The Australian. I also note you have shared your opinion in the media on several occasions in regard to my political career.

Most recently, you called for my sacking from the frontbench (on both Insiders and in The Australian) for ‘serial transgressions on Islamic issues’ and infuriating my colleagues by crossing some arbitrary line.

While you are entitled to your opinion, I do find your judgment on this occasion to be rather incongruous with mainstream opinion and question the consistency of the application of your standards of public accountability.

It is hardly a secret that I extended an informal invitation to visit Australia to Geert Wilders. I wrote about it months ago and the disclosure caused no reaction whatsoever. That is because such an invitation is a courtesy extended at almost every international meeting by almost every visiting politician.

You may not like Mr Wilders’ political stance but he commands a larger vote in an open and tolerant democracy than the Greens party in Australia and provides vital political support for the Dutch government. Mr Wilders’ electoral appeal is in response to a range of successive policy failures that have many in the Netherlands (and Western Europe generally) concerned about the direction of their country.

I wonder if you would be calling for my sacking if I invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali – a former Dutch politician who is under constant protection because of her criticism of Islam – to Australia. On her most recent visit she was featured on the ABC, hosted at various functions and was even sponsored by a state government to attend an event.

Given the similar concerns voiced by Wilders and Hirsi Ali, I would be horrified if the difference in their treatment by politicians and sections of the media was related to gender or ethnicity.

You might also recall there was another outspoken critic of Islam who was hauled before a hate speech tribunal in Canada – Mark Steyn. Over 200 people attended a dinner with Mr Steyn in Old Parliament House when he was invited and funded by the Howard Government on a visit to Australia. By your reckoning this would count as another ‘transgression on Islamic issues’ that would apply to many of my colleagues.

But why stop there in exposing the egregious sin of meeting with opinionated people?

Personally I don’t care much for the politics of Hugo Chavez and his anti-semitic, anti-American tirades but that didn’t stop a coalition of Greens and Labor Party figures from inviting him to Australia. Perhaps they should all be sacked too.

What about Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, Bob Carter or Christopher Monckton? All opinionated, all criticised by some for having a strong opinion. Are they all to be eschewed by politicians for fear of some pundit calling for their sacking?

You might not care for my political stance, my actions or my concerns but the issues I raise are very important.

It was less than a year ago that I was criticised for highlighting the issue of creeping sharia law in this country by journalists and some colleagues.

Despite the personal criticism, opposition to sharia law is now the policy of both the Labor and Coalition parties. From condemnation to bi-partisan policy in less than 12 months.

Along a similar vein, I was also criticised for my early and strident opposition to Labor’s ETS – a position that even the Labor Party shared at the last election.

I mention these things in the hope that you will reconsider the bar you have set for political accountability in your judgment of me. While you may believe that someone else can do my job better or more effectively, the justification you have used to call for my replacement is rather spurious to say the least.

Yours sincerely

Cory Bernardi

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