Senate debates

Wednesday, 3 April 2019


Anning, Senator Fraser; Censure

10:53 am

Photo of Patrick DodsonPatrick Dodson (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Senate)) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak in support of the motion put by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. Our First Nations peoples have carried the consequences of murderous prejudice throughout our entwined history. First Nations peoples in Australia know what it's like to be powerless in the face of hateful prejudice, fanned by the illusion of superiority and the false courage created by a weapon in the hand of the oppressors—to be victims against superior weaponry. We know the impact of murder wilfully carried out and morally justified by hatred of minorities, misplaced power and bullying superiority, justified by a determined and arrogant rejection of the shared equality of human beings, where people of another culture, another religion, another social expression of our common humanity are viewed by cowards with power and guns as less worthy of humanity.

In the Gurindji country, in the Northern Territory, people still talk of the killing times. Mounted Constable Willshire was stationed at Victoria River Downs in the 1890s. He was a mass murderer in uniform, who took it upon himself to protect the interests of cattlemen and to disperse the traditional owners of the lands at gunpoint. He took to print, justifying his actions with boastful pride, emboldened by the rightness of whiteness, and condemned the First Nations people to death. He wrote about one day of killings on Wave Hill, saying:

It's no use mincing matters, the Martini-Henry carbines at the critical moment were talking English in the silent majesty of these eternal rocks.

The carbines were talking English.

I have walked through some of these sites of massacres, of mass murders, in Australia with the descendants of the victims and sometimes too with the descendants of murderers. In South Australia, Senator Gallacher and I visited a monument erected by both sides of the small community of Elliston to commemorate the mass murder of men, women and children pushed over the steep sea wall by charging horsemen and barking dogs. I have visited the sites of massacres, of mass murders, in Balgo, in Forrest River and at Coniston. At Coniston, near Alice Springs, those mass murders took place in living memory. I have sat down with old Warlpiri men and women who luckily survived those murderous attacks as young babies, hidden from the attacks. And 1928 was not so long ago. My mother was just seven years old. But we are in 2019 now, and a mass murderer—rejecting the richness of difference, driven by religious hatred and xenophobia, empowered by military-style weapons—has waged his atrocities in Christchurch on innocent, defenceless people.

In this Senate we stand for common humanity, respect of religion and tolerance of life in all its diversity. We reject the scourges of racism, of bigotry and of the kind of hateful, violent, murderous prejudice we saw at Christchurch. The murder of 50 innocent people does not just happen. It arises from the fuelling of hatred, irresponsible language and the demonising of people of colour and difference. It is neither fair nor honourable for that senator from Queensland to shift the responsibility of that crime to the community who were the targets. The senator said in his tweet:

The real cause of the bloodshed on New Zealand streets is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.

We know the victims were not Muslim fanatics. They were innocent men, women and children at Friday prayers, finding peace and communion with God and their fellow believers. We know that Senator Anning knows the real cause of the bloodshed in Christchurch. The real cause was prejudice, hate and a passion for violent action, aided and abetted by the availability of a military-style weapon. It's also entirely amoral for other senators from Queensland, seeking political leverage, to solicit donations from the purveyors and promoters of these designer weapons in the United States and to collude with them to overturn Australian laws that protect all our lives.

The senator from Queensland Senator Anning warrants our censure. Through his words and his actions he has aligned himself with the most vicious form of ethnic and racial hatred. He is exonerating the murderous actions of a deranged and hate-filled killer. We cannot let his words and actions define this chamber. We cannot allow his hateful values to go unchallenged. We cannot let the stench of racism and hate linger in this chamber. We call on all parties, including the One Nation party, to stand with us today to censure Senator Anning. We shall stand with Senator Cormann and Senator Wong in their joint effort to ensure that this Senate is clear and steadfast on our shared values and on what we affirm and what we reject.

We must be of one voice and one heart on this issue. We turn our back against xenophobia, against hate crimes and against any gunmen who hold innocent people in their sights. We call out those who exploit fear and ignorance for political gain, who mock the traditional dress of women of another culture, who seek donations from the manufacturer of weapons of war to override our own laws and who argue that it's all right to be white. Their actions and exhortations would plunge this country back into the killing times.

You've got to remember that this history is well known to First Nations peoples. Your language does matter. If this remains unchecked then we will go back to that awful period. We should instead turn our faces to the light of a new future—a peaceful, non-violent, tolerant country of hope, respect and unity, a country where no innocent man, woman or child is ever again the victim of mass murder.

I say to those faithful mourning for their families in Christchurch: Allah yer'ham hom. Rest in peace. I say to the people of New Zealand: pouri mo to mate ka kaha. We are sorry for your loss. Stay strong.

I support the motion.


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