Wednesday, 15 August 2018
Statements by Members
Anning, Senator Fraser
I, like most of us in this House, hope that this morning's response to the bloke in the Senate's comments last night is a watershed moment. I hope this from the bottom of my heart. As a resident on my social media said this morning, the vision of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition shaking hands brought tears to her eyes in the hope for a better future. I say this because my community is at the forefront of what has been happening with the criticisms around race. I want to know that, in this chamber, we'll do more than make speeches today. I want to know that we will take action going forward to ensure that we put the race genie, the hate genie, back in the bottle for the sake of my community.
Those who use racism and fear for craven political gain do so because they lack the ideas and the policies to address the economic inequality that is hurting people and their families in my community. I call on this chamber to respond together. I call on my community to say that the way to beat this division, the way to push down your fear when it is raised, is to have an open, warm smile and say 'hello' to your neighbours and to the people you meet in the street. There is one way past this, and that is to join together and agree with this parliament that racism has no place in Australia.
I couldn't sleep last night as I was so disturbed after reading the comments made in the other place, so rightly condemned. In view of the speeches I heard in the House today, I have never been a more proud Australian than I am today. My father fled postwar poverty in Greece, without his parents, and built a life with my mum, also of Greek heritage, with optimism, faith and love in their hearts for this country. Albeit Melburnian born and bred, I have often—like all Australians of non-Anglo background who look different, sound different or have a different-sounding name—experienced the sentiment which we saw in the other place last night in that speech, which could be summed up by, 'Go back to your home country where you came from.' I'm so proud to be the voice for one of the most multicultural and diverse electorates in the country, including a significant number of people with Chinese, Indian, Greek and Italian heritage, to name a few. They all have good hearts, because in their hearts they live by Australian values of love and respect, regardless of their ethnicity or heritage.
To the wonderful diverse and multicultural people of Chisholm, particularly to the young people and the students in my electorate, if you ever come across racist prejudice, cultural bias or attacks, remember: no-one can take what's in your heart. We saw here in the heart of our country, in the Australian parliament today, the unifying love and commitment that makes all of us proud— (Time expired)
Like many of my colleagues, I rise to address the shameful words that were uttered in the other place last night. There can be no excuse, no weasel words and no reason such as free speech to accept the divisive, hurtful and ignorant speech made by a Queensland senator, who, I might add, was elected on 19 votes. We heard similar views in this House 20 years ago, when a former member for Oxley used the same scare tactics in her first speech. Those racially motivated comments were rejected then, and I know that our community will reject them now.
My community in the electorate of Oxley is one of the most diverse and multicultural electorates in Australia, with almost 60,000 people who were born overseas now calling our community home. That is more than one-third of the residents in Oxley. Oxley is also home to one of the largest Vietnamese communities, with over 12,000 people of Vietnamese heritage. It is statistics like these which prove Australia is the best multicultural nation on earth. We celebrate our differences and rejoice in our similarities. We're a place where every group of migrants from all over the world has contributed to this country and made it a better place. We are a stronger country because we are a diverse nation. We are a richer nation because we have a multicultural nation where no-one is limited by their faith, their race or the circumstances of their birth. Like many Australians, I condemn the speech given by Senator Anning and call on him and the Katter party to retract those comments.