Senate debates

Wednesday, 15 August 2018


Anning, Senator Fraser; Censure

10:27 am

Photo of Richard Di NataleRichard Di Natale (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to move a motion proposing the censure of Senator Anning.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Leave is not granted.

Photo of Richard Di NataleRichard Di Natale (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Pursuant to contingent notice, I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Australian Greens moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter; namely, a motion to give precedence to a motion relating to the censure of Senator Anning.

Senator Anning's racist hate speech has no place in a decent society, let alone in the Australian parliament. These are comments that not only offend Jewish people, Muslims and immigrants but also attack the very essence of who we are. Just look at the language which was used here. Senator Anning chose to attack Muslim immigrants, using the language that the Nazis used to justify the extermination of Jews in Europe. That was unthinkable only a few short years ago, and yet here we are in the nation's parliament with those deeply offensive anti-Semitic views expressed and with the support of members of the crossbench. If it's hate speech outside the parliament, it's hate speech inside the parliament.

Mr President, I just want you to put yourself in the shoes of a young Muslim woman on her way to work this morning, being told that as a Muslim Australian she is not welcome here. Put yourself in the shoes of a holocaust survivor, where the actions of the Nazis were used to justify an attack on Australian immigration. Put yourself in the shoes of anyone who has directly experienced racism. I take this really personally. As a 12-year-old kid, when a schoolmate comes up to you and spits at you and calls you a wog and tells you to go back to where you come from, that's a memory that is burnt into your consciousness and never leaves you. We, as a party, are about to welcome a Muslim woman to this chamber. When we meet again, we will be welcoming Mehreen Faruqi, a proud Muslim Australian who has made an enormous contribution to this country, and yet she'll be entering into an environment where a member of this place has expressed those hateful views.

We're at a dangerous place in Australian history right now. We agree absolutely with the sentiments of the Race Discrimination Commissioner. Race politics is on the rise and it's being exploited for base political gain. Race baiting is alive and well right now in the Australian parliament. Let's ask ourselves some hard questions about why it's happening. When a nationally syndicated television outlet gives a platform to neo-Nazis, it makes it easier for the speech we heard yesterday. When the Prime Minister of this country starts flaming tensions around so-called African gangs, he makes it easier for the speech we heard yesterday. When the immigration minister says that refugees are dole bludgers or that Lebanese Muslims shouldn't have been settled here in Australia, he makes it easier for the speech that we heard yesterday. He gives it permission.

The question for us is: what are we going to do about it? We heard some heartfelt speeches about why those comments have no place in a decent society. We heard broad condemnation about those comments—about the race hate, as it was named by many speakers—from Senator Anning. The Greens will be moving for a code of conduct. We think it is long overdue that, in this chamber, we set a standard for what we believe is acceptable when it comes to racism, sexism and other discriminatory behaviour. We've seen too much of it over recent days and weeks. It's about time we came together and worked as a Senate to codify a set of behaviours that we think are acceptable and a set of unacceptable behaviours that deserve some sort of sanction. That is why we believe that it is absolutely critical that we now come together as a parliament and censure the speech that was made yesterday and censure Senator Anning for that behaviour.

We are at a very critical point in our history. We saw the power of people coming together and condemning the views that we heard yesterday. But speeches and hand-wringing are not enough; we need to do more. I call on all members of this place to make it very clear that the speech that we heard yesterday is condemned in the strongest possible terms. While we don't do this lightly, we believe a censure motion is the most appropriate tool for us to do that. We call on the Labor Party, the Liberal Party, the National Party and the crossbench to support it.

10:33 am

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Education and Training) Share this | | Hansard source

There are times and days in this place when we must be our better selves. There are times and days in this place when we must put the positive ahead of the negative and when we must speak clearly as one, and that is precisely what this chamber just did. It is with some disappointment that, having made such an unqualified and unambiguous statement of support that was unanimously carried without a single dissenting voice in this chamber, we now find ourselves moving from such a positive declaration of the principles that have built the successful country that Australia is straight back to the negative.

I condemn the speech that was given by Senator Anning yesterday. I condemn the hate that was within aspects of that speech. I condemn the language that was used within that speech. I know that it is hurtful to Australians.

But what is most important to Australians is to know what this Senate just did. What this Senate just did was to speak very clearly for the respect and regard that we should all have for each and every Australian whatever their background. It said that in this place—from Senator Dodson and Senator McCarthy, who are First Australians, through to Senator Gichuhi, one of our most recent Australians—we respect the contribution of all. We acknowledge that, throughout Australian society, that diversity of Australians has built a country that we should all be incredibly proud of.

We should be proud of the fact that we continue to run an immigration program and policy that continue to welcome people from all corners of the globe. We as a country should be proud of the fact that the major parties and indeed all of the minor parties, it seems, bar one, acknowledge the fact that we should continue to have an immigration policy that is non-discriminatory and is based firmly on the principle of merit.

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


Photo of Cory BernardiCory Bernardi (SA, Australian Conservatives) Share this | | Hansard source


Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Education and Training) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm not sure why those in the Greens would say that it's rubbish that we should have and should continue to have an immigration policy that is non-discriminatory, based on the principle of merit and based on the principles of ensuring that we continue to build the successful country that we are.

Senator Wong and others have spoken about their schooling experience. I reflect back on my years at high school, and the high school I attended was very much a melting-pot high school on the northern fringes of Adelaide, with second-generation Italian and Greek migrants and first-generation Vietnamese migrants working hard in the market gardens that exist to the north of Adelaide. They were ensuring that they were building better futures for their children, for their families. Today, those people I went to school with are in a whole range of occupations and professions. They are migrants who came to this country, were welcomed to this country and were given the opportunities of the education available in this country. They secured the opportunities of employment available in this country and are now in third- and fourth- and fifth-generation families that some are supporting—or second and third in the case of others.

I also reflect on the fact that, at the time that I was finishing school, I know that some of the debates at that stage, particularly around Asian migration, were wrongly reflected and played out in this place and elsewhere around the country. But the positive of that was that governments have ensured that they have continued, to this day, to apply non-discriminatory policies and that we now have such very successful, bigger communities from different Asian nations who've helped us to be stronger, 20-plus years later, than we were then. They have helped us to be better connected to our region and to be able to enjoy the opportunities that that stronger connectedness makes.

That's why we so strongly supported the statement of principles that was made, the clear statement that ensures that Australia continues to give unanimous, unqualified, unambiguous commitment to immigration intakes regardless of race, faith or ethnic origin and that we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder across this parliament in support of those principles.

10:38 am

Photo of Jacinta CollinsJacinta Collins (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Cabinet Secretary) Share this | | Hansard source

Labor will be opposing this suspension motion for the reasons outlined eloquently by Senator Wong in the earlier debate. I too stress that we reflect on what this Senate just did at the conclusion of that debate.

Photo of Nick McKimNick McKim (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise proudly to support this motion. Senator Anning's despicable comments were a new low in what has been a terrible term of this parliament for race-based hate speech. His speech has rightly been condemned across the political spectrum. But anyone following politics closely could hardly be surprised that we have reached this point. Senator Anning's speech last night was the inevitable result of toxic elements in politics and the Australian media that have fed each other in a downward spiral of hatred, xenophobia and pure and blatant racism.

This coalition government has embraced race politics at its core. It continues to push policies that are designed to exclude and ostracise migrants and people of different race and culture from Australian society. You've got a Prime Minister and Minister Tudge who very gently rebuked Senator Anning last night, but those gentle rebukes belie the fact that they have deliberately and systematically embraced the hatred of One Nation's world view and are now pursuing it with great vigour. The truth is that, in 2018, the only way that the Liberal and National parties differ from Senator Anning is in presentation. The pretence that Mr Turnbull and Mr Tudge are critical is an attempt to con Australia, because, remember, they are trying to introduce mandatory dictation tests for Australian citizenship, and they are trying to introduce the White Australia policy version two. Mr Turnbull supported amending section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 to make it easier to be a racist in Australia. And Mr Dutton and many of his colleagues want to give preferential treatment to white South African farmers.

Victorian opposition leader, Matthew Guy, has made the racial vilification of African migrants the cornerstone of his election campaign. He's been aided and abetted by Mr Jason Wood MP, whose Facebook page is chock-a-block full of racist scaremongering about foreign criminals. He chortles in glee about potentially deporting people. In days gone past, Mr Wood would have been kicked out of the Liberal Party, but Mr Turnbull has made him chair of the parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Migration.

We've got the con—the bipartisan pretence—that Australia has a non-discriminatory migration policy. That is untrue. That is categorically untrue, because we have a policy of immigration that does discriminate based on mode of arrival, which has the effect of discriminating on the basis of country of origin, which has the effect of discriminating on the basis of race and culture. There are no white people locked up on Manus Island or Nauru. We have a bipartisan policy of banishing people of different races and cultures who arrive by boat to island prison camps where they are tortured and deprived of basic liberties.

It's not just the Liberal Party and the Labor Party who should be examining their consciences today. Sunrise resurrected the career of now Senator Pauline Hanson and indirectly helped Senator Anning get his Senate seat. It's just days since Sky News hosted a violent neo-Nazi for a friendly chat. It's worth pointing out that that same neo-Nazi was given a friendly platform on Triple J, the ABC and Channel 7 in the past. Racist rantings in News Corp pamphlets are now so common they're too numerous to mention. Yes, we should be angry about Senator Anning's comments. In fact, we should be bloody furious about them, but we certainly should not be surprised.

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the motion to suspend standing orders be agreed to.