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Piers Akerman in The Daily Telegraph has labelled Lebanese-Australians whinging about the claimed slackness of the Australian Government’s effort to remove them from the war zone in Lebanon as ‘super-snivellers’.

THE latest Middle East conflagration has flushed out a new class of dual nationality super-snivellers who believe mere possession of an Australian passport guarantees them security in their ‘other’ homeland…

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, up to 25,000 Australians – who also hold Lebanese passports – live permanently or semi-permanently in Lebanon.

This is an overly harsh judgement as people trapped in a war zone will be understandably fearful. However there are valid issues here. Much of the whinging is coming from Lebanese in Australia. Moreover, as Piers points out, an estimated 400 of those seeking to return to Australia now live in southern Lebanon in Hezbollah strongholds. How many of them, as Lebanese-Australians, voted for Hezbollah candidates – a group listed by the Australian Government as a terrorist organisation?

Is it reasonable for Lebanese to take Australian citizenship but to then live semi-permanently in another part of the world and demand impossible levels of support from the Australian Government when things go wrong? Australia’s Lebanese have proven problematic immigrant citizens – there are distinctive Lebanese connections with crime and with high social welfare dependency. Complaints about poor treatment from this group wear thin.

The situation in Lebanon is difficult and families there deserve support but Lebanese critics of hard-working Australian consular officials go too far. Moreover, claims that the Australian Government has been slack are unjustified – as pointed out at Crikey it will be difficult to extract ‘Australian’ nationals until Israel declares a cease fire.

18 comments to Super-snivellers?

  • Anonymous

    I am not sure if I heard correctly, but this (Th)morning on AM, Minister Downer made sure he slipped in that there were travel warnings/risky for Southern Lebanon before the conflict. I have a lot of sympathy for the govt. on this – what if a bus of Australians being evacuated was blown up?

  • Christine

    I don’t think it’s a terribly good idea to create two classes of citizens – dual and non-dual. People are either Australian citizens or they are not. And I’m guessing that there are non-dual Australian citizens who are whinging about this stuff too. I agree this is probably an unfair thing to complain about, given how hard it is to evacuate so many people from a place where the transport infrastructure has been shot to peices, but what does citizenship status really have to do with the substantive point? Why not just write “critics of hard-working Australian consular officials go too far”, rather than adding ‘Lebanese’? And so what if some people voted for Hezbollah (which you don’t of course have information on) – does that mean others who didn’t vote for Hezbollah should be penalised?

    That said, it is pretty well known that if you are a dual citizen, then the Australian government’s ability to help you out in your other country of citizenship is often limited, and evacuation of permanent residents of an area who hold Australian citizenship might perhaps be considered a lower priority than evacuation of those who just happened to be in Beirut …

  • Jason Soon

    umm, lots of Italian Australians voted in the last Italian elections. Are we going to hear that fat twit go on about them too? And is he psychic or something? How does he know who they voted for? How does he know how many are living there semi-permanently? They might be on holiday visiting relatives. So they’re not allowed to do that anymore without their citizenship being questioned?

    Piers Akerman is a low grade waste of cranium space whose writings carry as much gravitas as a frat boy’s moonings.

  • Bring Back EP at LP

    Can I support Jason but without the pejorative language.

    Can someone tell me why we pay government payments to people who choose to live overseas?

  • Jason Soon

    how do we know if they’re getting paid, Homer?

    I don’t believe in retrospective withdrawal of citizenship.

    1) we chose to give these people citizenship.

    2) Aussies have a god-given right to whinge about their government.

    3) therefore they have the god given right to whinge!

    4) Akerman Pier is still an arse-clown

  • conrad

    I agree with Jason on this. I don’t see any reason to insult people sitting in the middle of war-zone. Of course they are annoyed, whether rightly or wrongly.

    In addition, I very much doubt those that happen to live in South Lebanon did it so they could be in a Hezbollah stronghold — have you any evidence of this ?.

    On the flip side, are you going to start blaming those that live in the dangerous areas of Israel if they need to be evactuated too ? (some of whom live in disputed ares because they are extremists — and some presumably because they are poor).

  • Bring Back EP at LP

    No my other point was why do we give government payments to people living overseas.

    I see no reason for this. If they wish to live overseas then gos on them but I see no reason for people to receive anything in financial assistance if they make that choice.

  • hc

    Jason, Generally I am not a fan of Piers but I wouldn’t categorically dismiss him in the way you do. The issues he raises are serious ones and, for example, are addressed in the Australian this morning,20867,19859377-2702,00.html

    The counterclaim in this article is that most Lebanese are holidaying and not living there – although 800 are living in Lebanon and receiving Australian pensions. 7,600 are registered with the Australian consulate and presumably want to leave.

    BTW I think there was a travel warning prior to the recent events that these travellers ignored. I think this group demand too much.

  • patrick

    A) I agree wholeheartedly with Jason

    B) Harry, you are being so racist it’s a little scary that you work in a university.

    “there are distinctive Lebanese connections with crime and with high social welfare dependency.”

    You could take out Lebanese in that statement, and put in Aboriginal Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Greek in fact, virtually any ethnicity you care to mention nad it would look superficially – and in some cases be – right, not that any fancy hyperlinks seem required for that one, except another one linking to a post of your own about the Cronulla riots – which I hate to remind were in fact an _overwhelmingly_ white phenomenon…(I don’t remember 5000 Lebanese people on the streets, or maybe I don’t pay enough attention to the colour of someone’s skin).

    Moreover many of Melbourne’s “crime lords” – as you should well know – are as Caucasian as your or I.

    Not very nice sentiments Harry.

    If you want to read up on crime and ethnicity, I suggest you read this by Jock Collins, or this one by the Australian Criminology Institute. I quote:

    “There is no way of knowing the background, including the country of birth, of every one who commits a crime in Australia.

    A comparatively large number of offences, as research and surveys over the last 25 years have revealed, is never reported to the authorities and as such generate no records of their occurrence.

    This number is close to 60 per cent of all offences that occur in a community.

    Even those that are reported to the police not all are recorded. Investigations of offences are only able to solve by apprehension a relatively small proportion of recorded offences.”

  • hc

    I’ll let those remarks (B) stand Conrad but find them offensive and inaccurate.

    The connections with crime and social welfare dependency have been well identified and documented – the hyperlink I provide indicates sources. To recognise them is not to make one a ‘racist’.

    Where did I ever suggest that Caucasians are not involved in serious crime. This is an incredible distortion.

  • patrick

    Harry, don’t be coy. By saying, “there are distinctive Lebanese connections with crime and with high social welfare dependency” You specifically implied that Lebanese people are engaged with crime at a higher level than the (white) mean.

    You did not say, “Lebanese people are involved with crime, but so is everyone”. A far more accurate statement.

    Furthermore, the only study (in the comments section) of your linked post is ten years old for a start, and furthmore, as the report states itself, the methodology is hardly concrete, results being skewed by only looking at arrests, and the fact that median age is younger for immigrant groups, and young people commit more crime.

    When you put up a post complaining about negative caucasian impacts on Australian society, I might stop calling you a racist.

  • conrad

    Maybe I’m ignorant Harry, but I fail to see what was offensive about my comments (they certainly were not intended to be). All I pointed out was that:

    1) People under high stress are often irrational. Insulting them serves no decent purpose.

    2) I doubt most people living in Southern Lebanon live there because they want to live with fundamentalists and in a dangerous environment (no doubt a few crazies do); and

    3) There are also people who deliberately live in highly disputed areas of Israel (that even the government of Israel has problems with every now and then). Some of these people do it because they fundamentalists (no doubt not dissimilar to why some people live in areas of Southern Lebanon), and some people do it simply because they don’t have the money to live in the safer areas.

    In case the latter group also need to be evacuated due to an escalation of the current hostilities (including ones with Australian passports) I wouldn’t see any reason to insult them either.

    What is offensive about these remarks?

  • hc

    Very sorry Conrad I was referring to Patrick’s remarks not yours. There was nothing in your remarks I found offensive at all.

    Indeed they show your usual good sense.

  • Anonymous

    Harry has you mixed up with Patrick, Conrad. (See Patrick’s earlier comments, particularly point “B”)


    Why stop there, Jason. Civic engagement is one of the responsibilities of citizenship, therefore surely it is every citizen’s obligation to whinge at the government from time to time.

    But seriously, Harry – why does the fact that some Lebanese in Australia are involved in crime mean that no Lebanese holidaying or living in Australia are allowed to complain? Isn’t this like saying some men rape women, so all men are rapists and shouldn’t complain if we treat them as such?

    BBEP: there are usually tax and social security agreements between countries that mean, eg, Australia pays pensions of elderly Australians living in the UK and the UK pays pensions of elderly Brits living in Australia. No idea what the story is with Lebanon, though.

  • Bring Back EP at LP

    It has none, merely something I brought up.

    It hapens sometimes

  • Anonymous

    “there are distinctive Lebanese connections with crime and with high social welfare dependency.”

    Considering that Australia was a penal colony peopled almost entirely by criminals to start with this is a rather ironic comment in a series of pretty vile arguments as to there being better and worse Australian citizens.

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