Senator Thanks ‘young Brown Men’ for Delivering His Pizza, Driving His Uber, Serving Him in Shops

An Australian senator is in hot water after delivering a speech praising the work of “young brown men and women,” which has been branded condescending towards migrants.

Liberal Democrat lawmaker David Leyonhjelm was apparently trying to promote the value of migration and multiculturalism, but his tone-deaf address was received poorly by many of his colleagues, SBS News reported.

Leyonhjelm praised migrants from the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent for “turning up their sleeves” in jobs “many other Aussies would turn up their noses at, or would not turn up at all.” For this, Leyonhjelm told fellow lawmakers, “Let me say thank you to Australia's young brown men.”

“They drive me in their Ubers and taxis. They deliver my online purchases, my groceries and my pizza. And they serve me at my local 7-Eleven, at my local service station, and my local restaurants,” Leyonhjelm continued.

“Many of these young brown men have only been in Australia for a decade or so, and they are giving it go, just like previous generations of young migrants.”

Leyonhjelm argued that Australia was not taking full advantage of these “young brown men,” 40 percent of whom are over-qualified for the jobs they do. He noted that the “brown pay gap” and racial discrimination in the workforce are strong oppressive factors for these workers, but noted they continue to strive “without whinging.”

Warning that “Australia may be squandering the talent pool of its young brown men and women,” he praised the work of young migrants for “changing the complexion of Australia for the better.”

Leyonhjelm—who recently faced criticism for telling a female senator to “stop shagging men”—may have had good intentions, but his words were not well received by all his fellow lawmakers.

Greens party Senator Mehreen Faruqi, who migrated to Australia from Pakistan in 1992, told SBS that she “would like to give Senator Leyonhjelm the benefit of the doubt in being sincere about his concern about migrants but condescending speeches don't help.”

“Migrants aren't sitting here plugging away passively waiting for the world to change, we are actively challenging racism and demanding our rights,” she added.

If indeed well-intentioned, Leyonhjelm’s purportedly kind words run in contrast to his previous comments on migration. For example, the senator previously called for Australia to enforce an “entry fee” for migrants as they have not contributed to existing national infrastructure.

A spokesman for the anti-racism campaign group Democracy in Colour said migrants are active in driving change in Australia. “A third of Australia's temporary migrant workers are paid less than half the minimum wage,” Tim Lo Surdo said. “It is a crisis. But those same workers, they are fighting back.”

“To suggest that that work's not been happening, or that they need some sort of white saviour like Senator Leyonhjelm to swoop in and save the day, is not true,” he continued. “And it's very condescending, it's very patronising, and it makes invisible all of that work that is being done right now.”

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