Wednesday, 2 December 2015
Statements by Members
As members of parliament, what we say matters. It carries consequences. This was brought home to me when I read an article in The Age today entitled 'Abuse a fact of life for many Muslims'. It highlights the pervasive impact of Islamophobia in recent months on members of the Islamic community and confirms what members of the Islamic community in Scullin have been saying to me: they feel under pressure, they feel under siege and they feel that comments made about the Australian way of life belittle them and exclude them from full participation.
It is in that light that I reflect on the contributions in recent days of many government members. I think of the member for Bass, the member for Canning, the member for Paterson and the member for Kooyong—the Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia. I ask them to reflect on their responsibilities—on all of our responsibilities—to all Australians.
I am so proud of the multiculturalism of Melbourne's north, but I do not take it for granted. We cannot. We must stand against Islamophobia. We must respect the Islamic faith and indeed all faiths. We have a choice in this place at this critical time—to foster division or to build cohesion and unity. For Labor, it is an easy choice. We stand for respect and we stand for inclusion. The onus is now on the Prime Minister to do the same—to show leadership for all Australians, to stand up for unity, to stand against division and to condemn these comments.