Source: The Sydney Morning Herald/AAP
On February 27, 2006 the Australian Associated Press reported, "Prime Minister John Howard's comments about Islamic extremism have come under fire at the first meeting of his hand-picked Muslim advisory committee. Committee members warned parliamentary secretary Andrew Robb that politicians, including Mr Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello, had to watch the language they used when talking about the Muslim community. Mr Costello has accused some elements of the Muslim community of wanting to live in a sharia state and has flagged stripping them of their Australian citizenship. And Mr Howard says most Australians find the full traditional garb worn by Muslim women 'confronting'. Mr Robb, the parliamentary secretary to Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone, denied that the meeting was tense. But he conceded that concerns were raised about recent comments by politicians from both sides of the debate. 'I think there was some frank talking,' Mr Robb told reporters. 'I think their message really to me was that language is important and they have felt that some of the things said on both sides of the parliament - they made that point very clearly - they felt could have been better put.' Mr Robb said specific employment programs for young, jobless Muslims were needed to ensure religious extremism did not take hold in Australia."