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A Sudanese refugee chosen by NSW Premier Mike Baird to deliver this year’s Australia Day address says he has always voted Liberal since arriving in Australia but has withdrawn his support for the party in response to Peter Dutton’s comments on job-stealing asylum seekers.

Child soldier turned western Sydney defence lawyer, Deng Thiak Adut, said he would not vote for the Liberal Party because it has tried to “deter the public from empathising with refugees”.

“I have voted Liberal ever since I could vote, but this election they won’t be getting my support,” Mr Adut told Fairfax Media from South Sudan where he is visiting his former homeland.

“It’s not about the numbers or statistics, or how many visas they are willing to grant. The Liberals have lost my vote because they are actively trying to deter the public from empathising with refugees.”

Mr Adut, who was drafted into the army at the age of six and arrived in Sydney via a UN refugee camp in Kenya when he was 15, rejected the Immigration Minister’s view that “illiterate” refugees take Australian jobs or else “languish on the dole”, saying they contribute to Australia.

“Most newcomers Australians will pay back their debts to Australia quickly if they are given opportunity. It may be a few years, like in my case – I am now a practicing lawyer, giving back to the community,” he said.

Mr Baird invited Mr Adut to deliver the 20th Australia Day address in NSW after seeing a viral video clip of the young lawyer’s life story produced by the University of Western Sydney.

He played the video during his Premier’s Australia Day speech and said he was “proud but fearful” of what would happen to Australia if it shut its door on people like Mr Adut.

On Wednesday, Goulburn Valley fruit farmer and former illiterate refugee, Nabi Baqiri, also defended the work ethic of refugees.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was again asked about the refugee issue on Friday as he toured the Tasmanian winery of Josef Chromy who fled his war-torn Czech village in 1950 as a penniless 19-year-old to emigrate to Australia.

“Josef’s story, like so many other migrant stories, have made us what we are. We’re inspired by Josef and we’re inspired by thousands of other Australians with the same migrant tale, the same tale of fleeing persecution and creating us, our nation,” he said.

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