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Labor MPs slam Foley for ‘white flight’ comment on Sydney suburbs

The New South Wales opposition leader has been forced to apologise for comments he made in regards to the current debate surrounding immigration. 

Luke Foley, the NSW opposition leader and parliamentary leader for the NSW branch of the Labor party, was savagely reprimanded by fellow Labor MPs for ‘injecting race’ into the debate over immigration The Daily Telegraph reported. 

Some within the NSW government went so far as to label Mr Foley a racist for his comments where he used the phrase ‘white flight’ in reference to a declining number of Anglo families in parts of Western Sydney. 

The New South Wales opposition Luke Foley (pictured) leader has been forced to apologise for comments he made in regards to the current debate surrounding immigration

The Daily Telegraph understands Mr Foley was deeply apologetic and distressed that his comments caused offence when it was not his intention, Mr Foley admitted it was a poor choice of words. 

MPs who approached Mr Foley after Wednesday’s comments accepted his apology and also accepted his stance on a resourcing issue he was trying to highlight. 

Federal shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said Mr Foley was right to bring up the resourcing issues in the Fairfield area. 

One of Mr Foley’s former staffers, Sabina­ Husic, took to social media to chastise her former boss. 

‘Okay if stopping white flight is the #1 issue for NSW Labor in 2019 I’m extremely ready to move back to Tito’s Yugoslavia circa 1965,’ she wrote.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian told parliament that Mr Foley's comments were 'deeply divisive, dangerous and nasty' while a number of Western Sydney Labor MP's jumped to his defence

Premier Gladys Berejiklian told parliament that Mr Foley’s comments were ‘deeply divisive, dangerous and nasty’ while a number of Western Sydney Labor MP’s jumped to his defence

After Mr Foley’s apology former politician and outspoken political commentator Mark Latham said it was ‘weak’ and ‘disappointing’. 

Premier Gladys Berejiklian told parliament that Mr Foley’s comments were ‘deeply divisive,  dangerous and nasty’ while a number of Western Sydney Labor MP’s jumped to his defence. 

They said he had put an important issue, how the state will reinforce resources in suburbs where thousands of refugees were relocated.  

Labor frontbencher and Member for Bankstown Tania Mihailuk defended Mr Foley against claims he was a racist. 

‘Luke Foley has been brave enough to call this for what it is. Our suburbs are a welcome refugee zone but we need support to match those realities,’ she said. 

Some Labor MP's said Mr Foley had put an important issue, how the state will reinforce resources in suburbs where thousands of refugees were relocated

Some Labor MP’s said Mr Foley had put an important issue, how the state will reinforce resources in suburbs where thousands of refugees were relocated

After question time concluded in parliament Mr Foley conducted an extensive interview where he made the apology for his comments. 

‘In the course of a 30-minute interview … I used the phrase white flight. That phrase is offensive to many. I apologise and I will not use that phrase again,’ he said. 

Residents from Fairfield have also had their say on the issues of reinforcing resources in the area.

An Iraqi shop assistant, who didn’t want to be named for fear of losing his job, agreed the area was becoming a hot-bed for Middle Eastern refugees.

‘You can’t get a job in here unless you speak Arabic – because 90 percent of our customers only speak Arabic – it is getting too much,’ he said.

The man has been in Australia for four years after leaving his own war-torn country.

‘It honestly isn’t right – most people here now are from Iraq or Syria,’ he said.

Neville Stephenson, an 83-year-old from the Fairfield council area said he avoids going into the city's main street and shopping district

Neville Stephenson, an 83-year-old from the Fairfield council area said he avoids going into the city’s main street and shopping district

Another man, Neville Stephenson, an 83-year-old from the Fairfield council area said he avoids going into the city’s main street and shopping district.

‘It is too crowded – and I am really worried the area will be the slums of tomorrow,’ he said.

‘It is turning into a Middle-Eastern enclave and it feels like we have been targeted by them – so now they all want to come here.’

An Australia-born woman, known as Olga, doesn’t mind the growing numbers of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in her suburb.

‘They have to go somewhere – and I don’t think it is just happening here – it is happening right across Australia,’ she said.



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