Australian PM’s ‘enemies of freedom’ comments slammed as ‘offensive to Scots’


  By a Newsnet reporter
Comments from the Australian Prime Minister who has said that Scots who back independence are enemies of freedom and justice, have been condemned today.
First Minister Alex Salmond and Scottish Green co-convenor Patrick Harvie have both publicly criticised Tony Abbott after he made the claims in an interview.

Asked about the Scottish independence referendum, Mr Abbott said: “I think that the people who would like to see the break-up of the United Kingdom are not the friends of justice, the friends of freedom, and the countries that would cheer at the prospect … are not the countries whose company one would like to keep.”

Mr Abbott’s description of Yes supporters as ‘enemies of freedom’ have caused outrage with many people questioning the appropriateness of the language used.  There has also been criticism of Mr Abbott’s interview in his home country.

First Minister Alex Salmond called the comments from Mr Abbott, “foolish, hypocritical and offensive to Scottish people”,

Mr Salmond said: “Mr Abbott’s comments are hypocritical because independence does not seem to have done Australia any harm.

“They are foolish, actually, because of the way he said it.  To say the people of Scotland who supported independence weren’t friends of freedom or justice, I mean, the independence process is about freedom and justice.”

He added: “If it does anything it will persuade people to vote Yes because the natural reaction to this sort of nonsense is ‘Who is Mr Abbott to lecture Scots on freedom and justice?'”

Mr Abbot’s interview coincided with a statement of support for independence from one of the Australian Prime Minister’s political opponents.

Speaking in a special video, Senator Christine Milne, who leads the Australian Greens, voiced support for a Yes vote in September and said she looked forward to working with a newly independent Scotland to tackle climate change and Green issues.

Responding to both interventions, Scottish Green co-convenor Patrick Harvie said: “Christine Milne’s comments are a welcome addition to the referendum debate. She understands that tackling global issues requires cooperation between all nations and that an independent Scotland can play an important role in that.

“Whether it’s on economic justice or climate change, an independent Scotland can lead where the UK has not. We look forward to working with Senator Milne and others across the world after a Yes vote next month.

“In contrast, Tony Abbot’s ludicrous comments indicate that he think the Yes campaign are a collection of comic book super villains. Australia has prospered as an independent country, able to make decisions for itself.

“I wonder how many Australians would like to see that reversed. After a Yes vote Scotland will take our place as a valued and respected member of the international community, just as Australia and almost two hundred other independent states do already.”

Despite the highly offensive nature of Mr Abbot’s comments, there has – as yet – been no condemnation of the Australian PM from members of the Better Together campaign.