Melbourne, Jan.25 (ANI): Opposition leader Tony Abbott has said Australians must debate immigration issue to avoid the racist tag.
Abbott was criticized for saying last week that he believed some Australians were anxious about citizenship being granted too easily.
"What I said was that there was an anxiety among some people that this might be the case. I think that when people see a questioning of what might be described as core Australian values, I think when people see boat people being let in, in ways which look like the Government has backed down, I think this whole population issue feeds into an immigration debate," news.com.au quoted Abbot, as saying.
He added: "We've always had our anxieties about immigration but I have to say that by and large we've managed a really successful immigration program despite those anxieties."
He said: "The important thing is to be able to have a mature and intelligent debate about immigration without ... the instant (that) issues are raised, people rushing around with accusations of racism." (ANI)