He’s not shy when it comes to voicing his opinions on the multiculturalism of Australia, but former Opposition Leader Mark Latham has sparked a debate with his controversial new plans.
The politician wants Centrelink to cancel all welfare payments for immigrants who don’t know how to speak English.
Nine News reports that the 56-year old told A Current Affair that all payments should be stopped if an immigrant can’t speak English within their first year of entering Australia.
“If after 12 months people aren’t speaking English and don’t pass a basic English test, well, take them off the welfare,” he said.
“I think that would be a major incentive to get people off their backside to learn English.”
He added that he didn’t think welfare was just there to give to people and that recipients had a responsibility to do something for themselves in return for the payments.
In the confronting clip, Latham can be seen asking people from Asian and Middle-Eastern backgrounds if they can speak English.
He was in Fairfield in Sydney, arguably one of the country’s most diverse and multicultural suburbs.
Of his visit, Latham suggested that 90 per cent of the people he tried to speak with struggled to understand basic English – a number that he thinks is simply too high.
His solution to get more immigrants speaking Australia’s national language is to stop their payments if they can’t after a year.
The controversial politician denied that he was being racist, telling A Current Affair that that was far from the truth: “I think I am being the exact opposite of racist.
“If people aren’t speaking the national language, which is English, we end up just segregating, living in ethnic enclaves.”
While Latham is convinced his plans would make Australia a better place, Fairfield MP Guy Zangari believed it was doing more harm for the community.
“It’s just unfair, it’s divisive,” he said.
It does not bring the community together. I’m not going to stand for people who just come in try to verbally bully people and harass people on the side of the street.”
Still, plenty of people praised Latham online for his efforts.
One person wrote: “We need a politician like you to take over Australia. Someone with common sense that we so desperately need.”
Another comment read: “They should be made to learn English or go home.”
A third added: “If I moved to Japan or Russia, I can’t imagine living there for a length of time and not learning the language.”