House debates

Monday, 11 September 2023

Private Members' Business


11:51 am

Photo of Jerome LaxaleJerome Laxale (Bennelong, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I disagree with the motion. Every Saturday night thousands of locals head to Eastwood for a night out with their friends and family. Just before last year's election, a so-called activist stepped into the middle of Eastwood town centre, holding a sign that bore an offensive message directed at Chinese Australians. He sought to provoke not just any crowd but particularly Bennelong's Chinese Australian community. This environment, where Chinese Australians were targeted and attacked, was an environment fuelled by the anti-China rhetoric of the Morrison government. Research by Per Capita and the Australian Asian Alliance in 2020 revealed that Chinese Australians experienced increased levels of racial attacks, with one person interviewed naming the Morrison government's megaphone diplomacy as a reason for this increase.

With this motion today, we see the Liberals once again happy to use Australia's migrant communities to make a cheap political point. Again, they do not care what consequences their words and ideology have for multicultural Australia. This was a situation that the Morrison government was happy to create, but clearly the Liberals didn't learn anything from the message that multicultural communities sent to them at the last election. Yet again we see them happy to use words which will impact our local Chinese Australian communities, in a ham-fisted attempt to slow down progress on our much-needed transition to renewable energy. This motion is so offensive and so absurd. Nearly every connected device in our homes and workplaces is either wholly or partially made in China, yet the Liberals would have us believe that it is only solar panels and inverters that pose a threat to our national security. They just so happen to be the same types of technology that they are ideologically opposed to as well.

Their opposition to renewable energy is not only flawed in its logic but also deeply damaging to our collective vision for a clean energy future right here in Australia. Renewable energy solutions are vital in combating climate change and securing cleaner, cheaper energy for generations to come. Instead of working with the government to aid this transition, those opposite are choosing to target these products, in a misguided attempt to derail what Australians voted for at the last election. To make matters worse, the Liberals, on their antirenewables escapade, again are choosing words that will impact Chinese Australians. It is unjust and it is dangerous.

Make no mistake: this government believes that we should be making solar panels and inverters here. That's logical. That will grow our economy and secure our energy future. And that's why we're investing record amounts in local manufacturing—something, of course, that the Liberal Party voted against.

The Liberals have resurrected their nuclear fantasy in opposition, in another attempt to oppose renewable energy. They made no progress on nuclear power in their nearly decade in government, but their radioactive opposition to clean energy knows no bounds. Now, with this motion, they're happy, again, to throw local Chinese Australians under the bus, in another attempt to demonise a perfectly viable, affordable and safe energy source. When former Prime Minister Morrison wanted to score cheap votes, he attacked China in a way that impacted Chinese Australians, and, just last week, we heard the reports of the member for Cook telling the Liberal party room to 'hold the line', as he spoke out against this government's attempts to restore our relationship with our largest trading partner. Then, last year, when the Liberals realised they'd left Australia with a national housing crisis, instead of proposing solutions or even voting for the government's solutions, the Leader of the Opposition stood up in this place and decided to blame migrants for the problems that the Liberals had created. This motion is just another attempt to slow down our transition to green energy production, and it again uses our migrant communities to do so.

This motion shows that the modern Liberal Party is out of touch with modern multicultural Australia. This motion is an absolute disgrace. The politics of the Liberal Party are an absolute disgrace. And my message to the Liberal Party is this: stop using migrant communities to score political points. Stop making Chinese Australians a target as you give oxygen to your conspiracy theories.

Both my parents were born overseas, and I've seen them live a life of being mocked because of their accent and their surname. For as long as I'm in this place, I'll stand up and defend migrant communities, not only in Bennelong but across Australia, from the same happening to them.


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