Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is facing increased pressure to “fix the mess” he created when he made what’s been described as “brazen” and “offensive” comments about Hinduism.
My Frydenberg made repeated references to Hinduism and other Indian religions in Question Time last week while criticising Labor’s idea of potentially pursuing a “wellbeing budget”.
“They (Labor) are inspired by their spiritual leader, the member for Rankin (Opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers),” Mr Frydenberg said.
“I was thinking yesterday, as the member for Rankin was coming into the chamber fresh from his Ashram deep in the mountains of the Himalayas barefoot in the chamber, robes flowing, incense burning, beads in one hand, wellbeing budget in the other, I thought to myself: ‘What yoga position the member for Rankin would assume … to deliver the first wellbeing budget?”
The Hindu Council of Australia on Saturday night described the treasurer’s comments as “brazen, racist and Hindu-phobic”.
“The comments made by Mr Frydenberg are derisive and very offensive to the Hindu community,” the council said in a statement posted on Facebook.
The council called on Mr Frydenberg to re-think the statements he made and urged the Liberal Party to consider where it stands on the comments.
The Universal Society of Hinduism urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to censure the Treasurer.
President Rajan Zed said in a statement it was “heartbreaking” for the hardworking and peaceful Australian Hindu community to watch the religion be “belittled and laughed at” in the parliament.
Labor frontbencher Kristina Keneally said she doesn’t think Mr Frydenberg is a racist or a bad person, but that he “exhibited bad judgment”.
“What I would encourage from Mr Frydenberg today is to read and reflect on he call from the Hindu Council of Australia to consider his actions and fix this mess he has created,” she told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.
“I would expect Mr Frydenberg to do the right thing.”