Senate debates

Thursday, 19 October 2017



5:27 pm

Photo of Sam DastyariSam Dastyari (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Senator Hanson just got up in this chamber and said, 'In this debate, there is no respect any longer for being Australian.' In doing so, she implied that those of us who oppose extreme proposals by the Minister for Immigration to change citizenship fail to understand Australian identity. I say it is those like Senator Hanson who don't understand what it means to be Australian. What makes this country great, part of the great Australian story, has been our ability to embrace wave after wave of migrants, not our ability to reject migration. Our ability to take people with skills and talents from around the world and incorporate them into our society makes them great Australians and part of the great Australian story.

I'm proud to be in this chamber. Sitting in front of me is Senator Dodson, who can trace his history back to the First Australians up in Indigenous country in Western Australia. The success of this nation has been our ability to look at these generations that have come, to grow from those generations and to use migration as a tool to make this country great. Migration creates jobs, it creates culture, it creates identity and it makes being part of the Australian story so much greater. Frankly, we can all throw the economic statistics at one other and we can all throw around the facts and figures and show how powerful migration has been. But it's more than just the figures themselves: it's part of what it means to be Australian. And there's something very unique about the Australian story when it comes to migration.

But you have those, like Senator Hanson, who like to attack it. It's cheap politics and it's easy politics. Senator Hanson herself says that she's been banging on about this for 21 years, since she was first elected. And she has. But 21 years ago she was banging on about Asian migration. Now, 21 years later, it's about Muslims and it's about those from the Middle East. And 20 years from now it'll be about blaming another group, a third group—whichever group ends up coming next. It's the politics of fear, it's the politics of hate, it's the politics of division and, unfortunately, it's the politics that Senator Hanson is very, very effective at.

And the irony of all this is that sitting behind Senator Hanson today was Senator Roberts, someone who his own lawyer refers to as a natural-born Indian. That is a matter of fact—he is part of the great Australian migration story. I think it was really telling when it was his lawyers in a recent High Court matter who were talking about how it would be 'un-Australian' for him to be treated differently from anyone else simply because of where he was born—that that would be something un-Australian. But they went on to say of him:

I'm trying to get myself in the same boat as Mr Joyce and Senator Nash, and then I want to demonstrate that I'm actually in a better boat.

Now, I welcome Senator Roberts and wish him all the best in his boat journey. I know a lot of Australians—migrants, people who weren't born in this country—who made a boat journey of their own to be part of the Australian story. I think it's going to be telling if Senator Roberts is fortunate enough in his own legal matter and determined to be able to stay in the Australian Senate—we can say at the end of it that the only path for Senator Roberts to remain in the Australian Senate was to become a boat person while being a senator for One Nation. It's something that certainly will not be lost on any of us.

I know you'll listen to everything I say now, Senator Roberts. Senator Malcolm Roberts from One Nation, your own lawyer said that you're trying to get yourself in the same boat as Mr Joyce and Senator Nash, and that you want to demonstrate that you're in a better boat. So I wish you, as the first senator in this nation aspiring to be a boat person, the best on your boat journey. If you're fortunate enough, it will be great to have another migrant in this Australian Senate, be they Indian—as you clearly are.

The migrant story in this country is a powerful one. The migrant story is one that we should be proud of. I'm very conscious of time and I'm very conscious that there are other matters pressing in the Australian Senate, but I do want to stress the sheer economic benefits that come from immigration. The fact is that we have had 7.5 million people arrive since World War II who've helped to build Australia into a vibrant society. When it comes to the issues that this motion purports to address, like communications and NBN, these failures have nothing to do with migration and have everything to do with poor government planning. Certainly, we will demonstrate in estimates next week the failure of this government. When it comes to infrastructure, energy and housing, in fact, the story of migration is a strong and powerful one.

I also want to take this very brief opportunity to mention that when we're talking about migration, we're talking about the best of our society at times and those who really contribute to our society. I want to note that two of my very close friends, Mustafa and Zhalla, recently had a baby: Shershan Khattak Sayed. I note that, being the terrible, terrible friend that I am, I did not send a gift. But let me just say this: toys get broken and clothes get grown out of, but forever your son's name will be recorded in the Hansard of the Australian Senate! And, yes, that may demonstrate just what a cheap individual I am, but I still think it's a fantastic gift!


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