Senate debates

Wednesday, 3 April 2019


Anning, Senator Fraser; Censure

11:02 am

Photo of Mehreen FaruqiMehreen Faruqi (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak in support of the censure motion. Yesterday I tabled a petition signed by 1.4 million people, the biggest online petition in Australia's history, calling on this Senate to remove Senator Anning from parliament because of his despicable comments seeking to further demonise Muslims in the wake of the Christchurch massacre and blaming the targets of this horrific terrorist attack for their own deaths. I received this petition on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and it was, indeed, a fitting day to receive it. If there is one politician that trades in hate, fear and division, it is Senator Anning—and, believe me, there is some competition in here.

Some have stood up and used deflection tactics, or they are being apologists for hate speech. We've just seen that from Senator Bernardi. Senator Bernardi does not seem to have any understanding of the difference between hate speech and disagreement. He doesn't have any understanding of the difference between freedom of speech and hate speech. It seems he definitely does not have any understanding of the impact of hate speech on people in the community. Others have stood by and remained silent in the face of hatred. They have failed to call it out. I hope that they can all reflect and change.

People feel so strongly about what has been said in parliament and outside of parliament that, in their petition, they say:

Senator Fraser Anning's views have no place in the government of our democratic and multicultural country. Within the bounds of Australian law, we request that he be pushed to resign from his position as Senator, and if appropriate, be investigated by law enforcement agencies for supporting right wing terrorism.

This is the strength of community views. I know that there is no mechanism to force a senator to resign, but the sheer number of people who signed this petition shows how strongly the community feels about those who seek to divide us and create an atmosphere of hate and division to further their xenophobic agendas. We have seen that this has real consequences. Hate speech leads to political violence. The community stands against hatred. So the parliament must listen to those we represent and take action to make sure that people are held accountable for what they say and do. Senator Anning has well and truly crossed the line in here and out there. There is no question about that. He does not deserve to be in parliament. I have no doubt that the community will make sure that he's not re-elected in May, and I will be doing everything in my power to consign such awful, ugly views to the history books, where they are so clearly from and where they truly belong. There is no room for racism in Australia.

Sadly, what Senator Anning said after the Christchurch massacre, however shocking it is, isn't out of character. Just a week before I joined this place, he gave a speech calling for a ban on people like me coming to this country and for a white Australia policy. He even invoked the despicable 'final solution' in his speech. He has flown business class on taxpayer dollars, I might add, to St Kilda, to rally alongside Neo-Nazi sympathisers. So, yes, he should be condemned. Yes, he should be censured. And yes, he should be suspended from parliament. It is terrifying that right-wing extremist groups have found a mouthpiece in federal parliament. I have often referred to these groups and the politicians who support them as 'merchants of hate'. They prey on the anxieties of Australians with a rhetoric that is empty, hateful and divisive. They whip up hysteria against minorities, against women, against Aboriginal people and against Muslims. They thrive on problems, conflict and suffering, and this is creating a very dangerous environment for all of us in Australia and across the world.

How devoid of compassion and humanity is this senator to, in effect, blame the targets of this terrorist attack for their own deaths? How low can you go? What did three-year-old Mucad Ibrahim do to deserve this? What about Hamza Mustafa, who had just celebrated his 16th birthday? Senator Anning, you are an absolute disgrace. You should be ashamed of yourself and you should resign.


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