Tuesday, 14 August 2018
That the Senate:
(a) pays tribute to the outgoing Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane;
(b) recognises Dr Soutphommasane's advocacy for multicultural Australia and his defence of the human rights of all Australians during his tenure as the Race Discrimination Commissioner;
(c) notes with deep concern the:
(i) resurgence of far-right politics within the Australian political and media landscape, such as comments made by leading politicians including both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Home Affairs, and
(ii) commentary on so-called 'African gangs', attacks on Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 , as well as the inflammatory, xenophobic language often used when referring to Australia's migration patterns; and
(d) calls on the Australian Government to:
(i) rule out any changes to the current anti-discrimination Act, noting that if we cannot name racial discrimination then we are unable to address it,
(ii) cease politicising Australia's multicultural community for pure, unabashed, political gain, and
(iii) affirm its commitment to multicultural Australia by recognising the need for a federal multicultural Act.
Australia is the most successful multicultural country in the world, in part because we are a country that values honest but respectful conversations about the issues confronting our communities. More people from more countries have come here to start a new life than almost any other nation, and we have generally been able to maintain strong social cohesion.
Last year the Prime Minister launched Australia's multicultural statement, 'Multicultural Australia: United, Strong, Successful', which renews and strongly reaffirms the government's commitment to a multicultural Australia. It focuses specifically on our shared values, our shared rights and responsibilities, a safe and secure Australia, encouraging economic and social participation of migrants and building harmonious and socially cohesive communities.
Labor supports a modern multicultural Australia. We thank the outgoing Race Discrimination Commissioner for his tireless work and advocacy. Labor believes a modern Australia and a multicultural Australia are the same thing. We value and celebrate the 25 million stories in Australia and the richness that diversity brings to our society. Labor is working on multicultural policy over coming months, and this includes consideration of the issues raised in this motion.
The question is that the motion moved by Senator Di Natale be agreed to. Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no. The noes have it. Division required. Ring the bells for four minutes.
A division having been called and the bells being rung—
I understand from my Senate management team that the majority of this motion is supported by the Labor Party. So we would be asking—and I apologise to the chamber that this is belated—that paragraph (d) be put separately, which would then enable us to vote in accordance with the wishes of most of the caucus in relation to (a), (b) and (c).
Senators, because the division has commenced, I need leave of the chamber to cease the division and put the motion in the manner requested by Senator Wong. Is leave granted?
The question is that clauses (a), (b) and (c) of motion No. 952, standing in the name of Senator Di Natale, be agreed to.
I can indicate—and this may have been indicated by Senator Chisolm previously—that, in fact, the only issue the Labor Party has concerns about is the commitment to a federal multicultural act. We invited the Greens to amend the motion to reflect that; we understand that was not agreed to. I invite Senator Di Natale to do so. If he does so, the Labor Party can vote in favour of this paragraph. We have previously stood against changes to the antidiscrimination legislation, and obviously we support the Australian multicultural community, so we would certainly invite Senator Di Natale to remove the single part that the Labor Party cannot support. I understand from—
You're interjecting on your own leader! The rebellion has begun from the manager! I understand that the Clerk's advice is that we cannot seek to have it divided at that level. In other words, I can't seek to divide separately on the placita.