Monday, 4 December 2017
Yiannopoulos, Mr Milo
That the Senate—
(ii) that Mr Yiannopoulos' behaviour is so offensive that he has been permanently banned by Twitter for "inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others";
(b) confirms that Australia's Federal Parliament is a place that celebrates and encourages a diversity of opinions, as long as those views are expressed respectfully;
(c) condemns any senator who seeks to use Australia's Parliament to provide a platform to any person who preaches hate and incites abuse and harassment of women, Jews, and members of the LBGTIQ and multicultural communities; and
(d) calls on the President of the Senate to revoke permission for Mr Yiannopoulos to speak at Parliament House.
The government does not support this motion. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to say things which others may find offensive. It is by protecting the speech of those with whom we disagree, even those with whom our disagreement is fundamental, that we secure and protect Australia's democratic values. The government recognises that free speech is not absolute but carries with it the responsibility to promote civil discourse as well as to reject hate speech or speech that incites violence and bullying of others.
Mr Yiannopoulos is Jewish and does not attack those of his own faith because of their faith. Mr Yiannopoulos is gay and does not attack those of a similar sexual preference because of that sexual preference. Mr Yiannopoulos does not attack women because they are women. Senator Di Natale is welcome to disagree with me and Mr Yiannopoulos, and even to attack him, but he's not at liberty to seek to censor him because he disagrees where him.
I ask that the question be divided on general business notice of motion No. 630 so that the opposition can vote differently on paragraphs (a) to (c) and on paragraph (d), and I seek leave to make a short statement.
The opposition opposes paragraph (d) of this motion. While the presiding officers can exercise their discretion to approve or deny applications made directly by organisations and individuals seeking to use Parliament House as a venue, advice provided to the opposition indicates that there are believed to be no examples where that power has been used to exclude entry to someone who has been invited by a senator or member, except where someone has been excluded on law enforcement or security advice. The opposition does not endorse the views of Milo Yiannopoulos and will be supporting paragraphs (a) to (c) of this motion. The opposition believes senators should demonstrate their repudiation of these views by not attending the event in question.
Let's be clear about who Mr Yiannopoulos is. This is a man who is a racist and a bigot. He's a man who regularly solicits ideas from Neo-Nazis. He's a man who thinks that consensual relationships can exist between 13-year-old children and adults. He thrives on harassing and inflicting pain on people. He was banned from Twitter for inciting hundreds of thousands of people to bombard actor Leslie Jones with racist and demeaning tweets. He's been involved in organising public attacks against feminist writer and activist Lindy West. No-one is suggesting that Mr Yiannopoulos shouldn't have a platform with Senator Leyonhjelm should he wish—perhaps in some dark corner of Sydney. He's able to do that, but we're talking about granting the privilege here in the Australian parliament to a bigot, to a bully, to somebody who has incited abuse against so many people across the country. Parliament should be a place where we respect each other's views rather than incite hatred. (Time expired)
Senator Di Natale, we've had bullies and bigots elected to this parliament. I agree with a lot of what you've said about this man. I don't want to make him a martyr. I go back to the case of David Irving, when he was banned from coming to Australia and was turned into a bit of a martyr by all of the people who were holocaust deniers. It was in my days as a journalist, so I interviewed him on television, by satellite, from overseas, argued with him and tried to tear him apart. That's what should be done with this man here. He should not be made into a martyr.
As previously advised to whips and the crossbench, I am tabling a letter written by me and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to Senator Di Natale in response to his letter of last week regarding this matter.
I now put the first part of the motion, paragraphs (a) to (c), of notice of motion No. 630.
Question agreed to.
I now put paragraph (d).