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Fact check: Anti-immigration remarks wrongly attributed to former Australian PM Julia Gillard

Tens of thousands of people have been sharing posts falsely attributing anti-immigration remarks to former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Examples can be seen (here), (here).

Some of these false claims have been in circulation for several years, since the time Gillard was prime minister from 2010 to 2013, but many of the posts have been published in the past few weeks, still wrongly referring to her as the country’s leader.

The statements in the post are incorrectly attributed to the former prime minister, and appear to have been lifted from several sources, at times with modifications to suit the context.

The posts claim that Gillard asked Muslims to leave the country if they wanted to live under Islamic sharia law, that she supported the monitoring of mosques by spy agencies, and that she said it was up to immigrants, not Australians, to adapt.

A majority of the text attributed to Gillard has been reworked from this piece (tinyurl.com/m3g2lnb) written by a U.S. air force veteran, with changes to make it relevant to the Australian context. For example, a reference to the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 has been changed to the Bali attacks of the following year, in which 202 people including 88 Australians were killed.

According to fact-checking website Snopes, the original piece by veteran Barry Loudermilk was first published in a local paper (here) and posted again by VietNow National Magazine.

Reuters could not find any reference to remarks by Gillard about sharia law. The subject had been debated in the country years before she came to power (here).

Comments about monitoring mosques also preceded Gillard’s tenure. In 2005, then Prime Minister John Howard was reported to have approved the surveillance of mosques and Islamic schools (here) and (here).

Some of Gillard’s comments on immigration and multiculturalism made in 2012 can be seen here (here). In a lecture, Gillard called for a balance between the “the right to maintain one's customs, language and religion” and “an equal responsibility to learn English, find work, respect our culture and heritage, and accept women as full equals”. The speech makes no reference to any religion or group.

VERDICT

False. The comments attributed to Julia Gillard were mainly lifted from an article by a U.S. veteran.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here  .

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