Controversial British right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopolous is set to visit Australia again, with Immigration Minister David Coleman preparing to override Department of Home Affairs advice he should be banned.
The speaking tour will proceed despite Mr Yiannopolous owing Victoria Police $50,000 to cover policing at a Melbourne event in December, 2017, during which up to 500 left-wing protesters clashed with about 50 right-wing activists.
The change in tack by the government follows pressure on Mr Coleman by conservative MPs, including One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and former human rights commissioner Tim Wilson, arguing that banning the alt-right speaker would be a blow to freedom of speech.
‘Milo is a boring, unimaginative, self-absorbed attention-seeker of questionable character,’ Mr Wilson told The Australian.
‘But free speech is for everyone, hence I was surprised by the news and have raised it with the minister.’
Mr Yiannopoulos plans to tour before the May federal election.
The Department of Home Affairs had drawn up a list of reasons to deny Mr Yiannopoulos a visa, including the riots sparked by his 2017 tour, and the unpaid $50,000 bill. Several police officers were injured in the Melbourne clash.
The Migration Act allows the government to refuse a visa in the event a person would ‘incite discord in the Australian community or in a segment of that community’.
The department listed ‘controversial statements’ by Mr Yiannopoulos about Muslims, indigenous Australians, African Americans and the LGBTIQ community. He’s also accused of anti-Semitism.
Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong told reporters on Saturday that the government had changed its mind on Mr Yiannopoulos after being pressured by right-wing commentators.
‘I think we can decide who we want to come to Australia.
‘This is the bloke who has condoned relationships between younger boys and older men. He’s a bloke who has described feminism as a cancer and Islam as AIDS. Do we really want these ideas given this sort of coverage in Australia?’
Senator Wong said allowing Mr Yiannopolous in was not good for national cohesion.
‘Let’s be clear about what has happened. Some right wing commentators have got angry about it so the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party decided to change their mind.’