Senate debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021



10:30 am

Photo of Jordon Steele-JohnJordon Steele-John (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

[by video link] Leadership is about setting expectations and setting boundaries. It's about bringing people with you in a process of change. It's about clearly articulating beliefs and the importance of working together to achieve change. In a political context it is fundamentally about representing and championing those expectations and boundaries on behalf of community in critical decision-making spaces and bringing community along in a process of change all the while being incredibly conscious of the cultural implications of actions. If you are in a decision-making space that is empowered by the community to shape lives and outcomes for people and planet, the way that you act in that space has a cultural impact beyond that space.

In the last eight years of this government's time in office, we have seen again and again the Liberal Party, when given the opportunity to show leadership, to exercise power and when given the choice to exercise that power in the effort, in the project, of calling out racism, of calling out violence, of calling out political methods and political discourses in the community, either remain silent or indeed give conscious or unconscious permission to those discourses and actions which are causing harm to people. So many times in the life of this government—particularly in relation to the comments of far-right individuals that have ended up in this place or have been contributing either in the national decision-making spaces or in state based decision-making spaces—when the opportunity has been given to them to demonstrate that they are willing to reflect community expectation that these actions, this racism, this absolutely repulsive, violent rhetoric be rejected, they've either kept their mouths shut or given permission to it.

We have seen in relation to this latest wave—and this is not the first: during their time in government, there has been, from Fraser Anning onwards, time and time again where racism of the vilest nature, often directed towards my colleagues, often directed towards Senators Thorpe, Senator Faruqi and Senator Cox, goes uncalled out by this government. I know all too well from my conversations with my colleagues the absolute and abhorrent violence that they are subjected to every single day. When the Prime Minister or members of this government speak in this place or, indeed, fail to speak in this place, the result is that members of our community are put in harm's way.

Over the last few weeks, we have seen the result of months of build-up in organising by the far Right in the community—it has been well reported on by those investigating it—as individuals have sought to exploit members of the community to justify and build their political ends which are, ultimately, racist in nature.

The Prime Minister was given an opportunity over the last few weeks to finally break that pattern of permission and to clearly call it out, and he has failed to do that. The result of that failure is that nurses—the people on the front line of this pandemic—and people in the decision-making spaces of this nation are now being subjected to abuse. (Time expired)


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