MasterChef Australia judge Melissa Leong. Picture: Christian Gilles
MasterChef Australia judge Melissa Leong. Picture: Christian Gilles

MP's bizarre racism comments about popular MasterChef judge

Immigration Minister Alan Tudge has named Australian-born MasterChef judge Melissa Leong as his best example of why Australia is not racist because she's "Chinese" and "hugely popular".

Despite the fact that the star of the new MasterChef program was born in Sydney nearly 40 years ago, Mr Tudge has insisted she's an example of why 99.9 per cent of Australians abhor racism.

Ms Leong, 38, was born to Singaporean parents with a Chinese background and has spoken out repeatedly about "casual racism" and racist trolls that attacked her after she first joined the program.

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Leong with her fellow MasterChef judges Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
Leong with her fellow MasterChef judges Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

Hailing the groundbreaking program for showcasing Australians from diverse backgrounds, Mr Tudge said it was another reason why recent warnings from China about tourists and students travelling to Australia were overblown.

"We live in the most successful multicultural country in the world, here in Australia,'' he said.

"Even when you look at pop culture, some of the most successful and popular people have got a diverse background, such as on MasterChef at the moment, which is the most popular TV show.

"One of the judges is Chinese, er, has ethnic Chinese background, and many of the contestants who are hugely popular. This is an indication to me of what Australia is, where we treat people as individuals, we accept them for who they are. That's the way I hope that Australia will always be."

Alan Tudge was responding to accusations Australia was racist towards Chinese tourists and students. Picture: AAP Image/James Ross
Alan Tudge was responding to accusations Australia was racist towards Chinese tourists and students. Picture: AAP Image/James Ross

Labor Senator Penny Wong challenged Mr Tudge's comments.

"We all love MasterChef but I hope Alan can appreciate Asian Australians for more than our cooking."

Ms Leong herself has spoken out about the racism she has experienced in Australia.

"I grew up in an Australia that didn't look like me - in many ways, Australia didn't look like me. Growing up, I watched Lee Lin Chin and Elizabeth Chong on TV - and they continue to be heroes for me - because I remember seeing them as a kid and thinking, 'I look like that, maybe I could be on TV if that's what I want to do for work,'" she said.

Originally published as Minister's bizarre MasterChef comments



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