IMPACT: Andrew Bolt is a leading Australian journalist, columnist, commentator, and political blogger. Bolt writes for the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, and the Advertiser. In his pieces, Bolt has promoted anti-immigrant, anti-Aboriginal, and anti-Muslim views. He has often linked Islam with terrorism and called on Muslim leaders to reform Islam in order to ease Islamophobia in the wider Australian community. Bolt has also vilified the Burqa, halal food licensing, the National Mosque Open Day, and Australia’s immigration policy.
Andrew Bolt is a “conservative provocateur” who has been critiqued for promoting anti-immigrant, anti-Aboriginal, and Islamophobic views. In September 2011, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported that Bolt was found guilty of violating the Racial Discrimination Act over two 2009 articles. Nine Aboriginal people sued Bolt in the Federal Court alleging racial discrimination in his articles’ implications that, “light-skinned people who identified as Aboriginal did so for personal gain.” Despite this, Bolt has continued to express his racial prejudice, particularly against Muslims.
In 2012, Muslims took to Sydney’s central business district to protest an inflammatory movie portraying the Prophet Mohammad as a womanizer. In a September 2012 blog post for the Herald Sun, Bolt portrayed the protest as a sign of malfunctioning multiculturalism. He wrote, “I don’t think multiculturalism is working out as promised. I’m not sure admitting many more Muslims to Australia is smart until we are sure we’ve assimilated those already here.”
In an October 2014 blog post for the Herald Sun, Bolt vilified the burqa and the niqab stating, “[They] are not just poor fashion choices. They are mobile prisons or walls….So many Australians find the garb so confronting, having grown up in a society that prizes informality, gregariousness, equality and the easy mingling of the sexes.”
In an October 2014 opinion piece for the Herald Sun, Bolt stated that the National Mosque Open Day “…implicitly suggests if Australians reached out to Muslims we’d have less trouble. True, but is Australian ignorance of Islam the key problem?…No one feels obliged to visit the temples of Buddhists, of whom we have as many as we do Muslims. That’s because of the 21 people jailed here for terrorist crimes, none is Buddhist. All are Muslim.” He suggested that instead of opening mosque-doors to non-Muslims, “Muslim clerics should open a debate on reforming Islam so fewer followers believe it preaches that nonbelievers should submit—or risk death”.
In April 2015, PA Pundits International published an opinion piece by Bolt in which he criticized the Halal food certification for incurring “a de facto tax” on non-Muslim consumers, which he claimed was being used “to subsidize mosques and Muslim missionaries.” He advised the Federal Government Department of Agriculture to do the “certification on a costs-only basis with all revenue going to the Government and not to mosques”.
Bolt has accused the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) of promoting hijab-wearing Muslim women, particularly two high-profile Muslim women, Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Susan Carland. He questioned Carland’s ability to represent the modern Muslim experience due to her conversion to Islam from Christianity. In the same piece, he opined that the ABC and SBS were rewarding Abdel-Magied “for being Muslim—and recognisably Muslim in her trademark colourful head scarfs. Her career prospects would dive if she renounced her faith or the symbol of her submission to it.” In a 2018 blog post for the Daily Telegraph, Bolt again questioned why the ABC spent Australian taxpayer money on Abdel-Magied, who he alleged was using it to “promote her conservative form of Islam.” He went on to ask, “Why is the ABC so in love with Islam—and a version of it that demands women cover up?”
Bolt has repeatedly claimed that terrorism is an essential part of Islam. In a June 2015 blog post for the Herald Sun, Bolt stated that, “Muslim apologists here and abroad like to explain each outrage as a reflection of some crime by the West—oppression, imperialism, marginalisation, demonisation. Whatever the excuse, each fresh massacre- so many and now so florid with cruelty—gives the world reason to associate Islam with hatred and violence”.
In a November 2016 blog post for the Herald Sun, Bolt condemned Australian scholar and writer Randa Abdel-Fattah for “commenting and pontificating on everything except the terrorist attack” (a reference to the Bourke Street attack). He went on to write that, “This is exactly the kind of piece that leads many to fear that not enough Muslims do condemn terrorism, and that many share the terrorists’ loathing for us and our society, even while rejecting the terrorists’ actions.”
In July 2016, in the wake of terrorist attacks in France and Belgium, Bolt called for curtailing Muslim immigration intake in Australia. In November 2016 on his show “Bolt Report” for Sky News Australia, Bolt critiqued former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser’s decision to accept Muslim refugees, particularly from Lebanon. He pointed out that gun crimes and violence committed by people from Lebanese families exemplified the negative outcomes of Muslim refugee admission into Australia. Similarly, during a November 2018 radio interview on 2GB, Bolt indicated that refugees were to blame for the Bourke Street terror attack. He said, “For me that goes to that false hope, false assurance we’ve been given, that we can take risks elsewhere like with our refugee intake, with our immigration intake… and expect that ASIO will guard us should there be anyone of concern that slips through…Now we know that’s not possible.”
During a March 2017 interview with 9 NEWS, One Nation party leader Pauline Hanson claimed “Islam is a disease.” Following this in an April 2017 blog post for the Herald Sun, Bolt stated, “Islam wouldn’t be half the danger the One Nation leader believes if our elites hadn’t trashed our culture and driven us into tribes.’’
For an April 2017 episode of his “Bolt Report,” Bolt invited anti-Muslim activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In the show, Ali urges Australia to “elevate” Sheikh Tawhidi, the self-annointed “Imam of Peace,” with a history of racist, sexist, and Islamophobic rhetoric, not Waleed Aly, if Australians want to send a clear “message to the Islamists.” A group of prominent Australian Muslim women from playwrights to human rights campaigners voiced their disappointment in Ali’s invitation to visit, stating her views serve to “increase hostility and hatred towards Muslims.” In an April 2017 blog post for the the Daily Telegraph, Bolt labeled the protest against Ali a “foul campaign.”
In a December 2019 episode of the “Bolt Report,” following the London Bridge attack, Bolt stated: “Blindness to the threat of Islamic terrorism can be dangerous.” Bolt accused the ABC of “refusing to mention a key fact about this man … the fact that he was a Muslim, a jihadist.” He claimed that, “there was not one mention of the ideology that apparently motivated this terrorist,” and asserted that this was an example of the West’s blindness to “Islamist terrorists.” He also claimed that, “there’s a significant difference, a telling difference, between what the Qur’an preaches and what the bible preaches, and that difference may influence how some misguided people act.”
Following the March 2019, white supremacist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, an article in the Guardian noted that while Bolt condemned the discriminatory statement by Senator Fraser Anning, who blamed the Muslim victims, Bolt’s main criticism was that, “some people are making of this tragedy to make even more division, to silence their ideological opponents, to spread even more hatred and fear.”
Bolt’s racial prejudice is not limited to Muslims. In an August 2018 piece for the Herald Sun, Bolt remarked, “Immigration is becoming colonization, turning this country from a home into a hotel. We are clustering into tribes that live apart from each other and often do not even speak the same language in the street.” He put forth examples of Sydney suburbs with majority overseas-born Chinese and Muslim residents to prove that, “Such colonising will increasingly be our future as we gain a critical mass of born-overseas migrants … This would already be a huge challenge to our sense of a common identity—an ‘us’ to which we owe our loyalty and mutual support.”
In a June 2020 blog post for the Herald Sun following the murder of George Floyd in the United States and the ensuing global reckoning of racial injustice, Bolt claimed that, “ABC presenters are pouring petrol on Australia by peddling wildly exaggerated claims on Aboriginal deaths in custody, and falsely hailing ‘our own’ George Floyd.” Police brutality and maltreatment of Abroginal peoples, along with wider issues of systemic racism, have been widely documented. A June 2020 article in the Guardian noted that between 2016 and 2018 in cases involving strip searches, “Indigenous Australians represented 12% of such searches in two years despite being 3% of population.” A February 2020 piece in the BBC stated that, “Consistent government reports have found that indigenous people are disadvantaged across the board, from child mortality rates and life expectancy, to literacy, academic success and employment rates.”
In another June 2020 blog post for the Herald Sun Bolt argued, “Victoria’s coronavirus outbreak exposes the stupidity of that multicultural slogan “diversity makes us stronger,’” claiming that people of color were responsible for the spread of COVID-19. He stated it is “diversity—taken to extremes—that’s helped to create this fear of a “second wave”.
In addition to making discriminatory comments against ethnic minorities in Australia, Bolt lent his support to the proposed repeal of section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act. In March 2014, Bolt criticized a labour senator and Member of parliament who opposed this amendment. He stated, “The division in this debate isn’t between bigots and anti-bigots. The real division is between those who trust Australians and those who don’t.”
This factsheet is published in collaboration between the Bridge Initiative and researchers at the Challenging Racism Project at Western Sydney University. More information about this project can be found here.
Updated February 23, 2021