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David Leyonhjelm sparks controversy by thanking young brown men in low-paid jobs in Senate speech

A right-wing senator’s speech thanking ‘young brown men’ for delivering his groceries, pizzas and online purchases has been slammed as ‘condescending’.  

The Liberal Democrats David Leyonhjelm took to the Senate on Tuesday night where he praised the men for ‘not whinging about a brown pay gap’.     

He said he wanted to use the speech to give thanks to ‘a group of Australians who may be ignored or worse but who make a great contribution’ to the nation.   

‘Let me say thank you to Australia’s young brown men,’ Senator Leyonhjelm, from New South Wales, told parliament. 

Senator David Leyonhjelm (pictured) thanked ‘Australia’s young brown men’ in a speech to parliament on Tuesday 

‘The young brown men I come across in my day-to-day life are often in low-paid jobs. They drive me in their Ubers and taxis. They deliver my online purchases, my groceries and my pizza. 

‘They serve me at my local 7-Eleven, at my local service station and at my local restaurants.’

Senator Leyonhjelm said the migrants had only been been in Australia for about a decade but were ‘giving it a go, just like previous generations of young migrants’.     

‘Australia’s young brown men are typically the ones who turn up their sleeves in the face of jobs that many other Aussies would turn up their noses at or would not turn up at all for,’ he said. 

‘They do all this without whinging about a brown pay gap, even though, if there were any data, it would show a gap that is absolutely huge. 

‘Immigrants from greater Asia and the Middle East, both male and female, are disproportionately overrepresented in low-paying jobs in this country.’ 

Senator Leyonhjelm added ‘young brown men and women’ were changing the face of Australia and that was a good thing.   

‘Roughly half of our immigrant community is brown, so I have no qualms in repeating my thanks to the young brown men and women of Australia. Thank you,’ he said.  

Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi (pictured) took to her Facebook page to slam Senator Leyonhjelm's speech, calling it  'condescending'

Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi (pictured) took to her Facebook page to slam Senator Leyonhjelm’s speech, calling it  ‘condescending’

Senator Faruqi said in her Facebook post she would 'like to give Senator Leyonhjelm the benefit of the doubt in being sincere' 

Senator Faruqi said in her Facebook post she would ‘like to give Senator Leyonhjelm the benefit of the doubt in being sincere’ 

Senator Leyonhjelm (pictured) said he wanted to use the speech to give thanks to 'a group of Australians who may be ignored or worse but who make a great contribution to Australia'

Senator Leyonhjelm (pictured) said he wanted to use the speech to give thanks to ‘a group of Australians who may be ignored or worse but who make a great contribution to Australia’

‘Through your hard work, you are doing what Australians have always done and, in the process, changing the complexion of Australia for the better.’ 

But Greens’ Senator Mehreen Faruqi took to her Facebook page to label the speech ‘condescending’. 

‘I’d like to give Senator Leyonhjelm the benefit of the doubt in being sincere about his concern for migrants, but condescending speeches don’t help,’ she wrote. 

‘Migrants aren’t sitting here plugging away passively waiting for the world to change, we are actively challenging racism and demanding our rights.’ 

The speech also sparked a backlash on Twitter.

Senator Leyonhjelm's speech on Tuesday was heavily criticised on social media 

Senator Leyonhjelm’s speech on Tuesday was heavily criticised on social media 

‘I just rolled my eyes so hard they nearly fell out of their sockets,’ one person wrote.  

Senator Leyonhjelm was last week embroiled in controversy when Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young delivered a stinging speech to parliament.   

He was one of four senators named by Senator Hanson-Young in a blistering attack on male politicians over ‘slut shaming and bullying’.

She said Senator Leyonhjelm, along with Barry O’Sullivan, Fraser Anning and Cory Bernardi, were ‘not fit to call yourselves men’. 

In late June, Senator Hanson-Young became involved in a confrontation with Senator Leyonhjelm during a debate in parliament about whether women should be allowed to carry pepper spray or tasers to defend themselves.

DAVID LEYONHJELM’S SPEECH 

I have previously given a speech saying thank you to smokers. Today I want to thank another group of Australians who may be ignored or worse, but who make a great contribution to Australia. Let me say thank you to Australia’s young brown men.

The young brown men I come across in my day-to-day life are often in low-paid jobs. They drive me in their Ubers and taxis. They deliver my online purchases, my groceries and my pizza. They serve me at my local 7-Eleven, at my local service station and at my local restaurants. Many of these young brown men have only been in Australia for a decade or so, and they are giving it a go, just like previous generations of young migrants. The countries of origin have changed, with previous generations coming from Vietnam and, before that, Europe, while our latest wave of young migrants are more often from the subcontinent and the Middle East, but the willingness to give it a go is the same.

Australia’s young brown men are typically the ones who turn up their sleeves in the face of jobs that many other Aussies would turn up their noses at or would not turn up at all for. They do all this without whinging about a brown pay gap, even though, if there were any data, it would show a gap that is absolutely huge. Immigrants from greater Asia and the Middle East, both male and female, are disproportionately overrepresented in low-paying jobs in this country. Some are doing English courses, although some have better English than many graduates from the school system. Some are studying in new fields or are trying to get their existing qualifications recognised.

Up to 40 per cent of recent immigrants are overqualified for the work they are doing. Overeducation is greatest for immigrants from non-English-speaking backgrounds. According to the latest census, just 24 per cent of young educated migrants from non-English-speaking backgrounds were able to find professional-level jobs within five years of arriving here, compared to 50 per cent of those from mainly-English-speaking countries. Australia may be squandering the talent pool of its young brown men and women.

A contributing factor is likely to be racial discrimination in employment. A Curtin University study last year found that skilled migrants experience an unwillingness by Australian employers to hire them, and many often end up working in lower-skilled jobs than the jobs they had before migrating to Australia. Some of the examples in the report were: an engineer working as a technician; a vocational school teacher working as a cleaner and packer; a geologist working in aged care; and a mechanical engineer employed as a security officer. Anyone who is a regular user of Uber and has a habit of chatting to their driver will hear similar tales. Of the 508 skilled migrants interviewed in the study, more than 53 per cent were working in a job that was of lower skill than the job they had prior to migrating, but they are working nonetheless.

Racial discrimination in employment is against the law but, in practice, such discrimination will only recede in time. In the meantime, our young brown men and women are patiently plugging away to make a living, and I thank them for this. Roughly half of our immigrant community is brown, so I have no qualms in repeating my thanks to the young brown men and women of Australia. Thank you. Through your hard work, you are doing what Australians have always done and, in the process, changing the complexion of Australia for the better. 

Senator Leyonhjelm believed he heard Senator Hanson-Young say words to the effect of ‘all men are rapists’ in parliament – which she denies.

Senator Leyonhjelm told her to ‘stop shagging men’ in response.

Senator Hanson-Young later accused him of ‘slut shaming’ her and using ‘sexist slurs’ in parliament. She has launched legal action against Senator Leyonhjelm.

He also sparked outage in July for refusing to apologise to television host Angela Bishop after calling her a ‘bitch’.

Senator Leyonhjelm had appeared on Studio 10 where he called the veteran journalist a ‘bigot’ and refused to apologise several times when prompted by co-host Sarah Harris.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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