Senate debates

Wednesday, 15 August 2018


White Australia Policy

9:31 am

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to move a motion relating to the dismantling of the White Australia Policy.

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

Is leave granted?

Photo of Derryn HinchDerryn Hinch (Victoria, Derryn Hinch's Justice Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr President, a point of order: I understand what Senator Wong is going to do. I seek leave to make a very brief personal statement before she does that—I support what she's doing.

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

I need to put the question about whether Senator Wong is granted leave to move the motion first. Is leave granted?

Leave granted.

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the Senate for the courtesy. I move the following motion:

That the Senate—

1. acknowledges the historic action of the Holt government, with bipartisan support from the Australian Labor Party, in initiating the dismantling of the White Australia Policy;

2. recognises that since 1973, successive Labor and Liberal/National Party Governments have, with bipartisan support, pursued a racially non-discriminatory immigration policy to the overwhelming national, and international, benefit of Australia; and

3. gives its unambiguous and unqualified commitment to the principle that, whatever criteria are applied by Australian Governments in exercising their sovereign right to determine the composition of the immigration intake, race, faith or ethnic origin shall never, explicitly or implicitly, be among them.

Yesterday in this chamber we saw a speech that was not worthy of this parliament. We saw a speech that did not reflect the heart of this country. We saw a speech that did not reflect the strong, independent, multicultural, tolerant, accepting nation that we are. We saw a speech that did not reflect a nation which has been built by people from every country, every part of this world—a strong independent multicultural nation. Instead, we saw a speech that sought to divide us. We saw a speech that sought to fan prejudice. We saw a speech that sought to fan racism. I say again—and I know this is a statement that so many in this country support—that a nation that is divided is never safer. A nation that is divided is never stronger. Making others lesser, fanning prejudice and discrimination, has never made a nation safer.

It is so important that we in this chamber express our view, our positive view, about what values matter to us. We have built this country, a country that is the most multicultural nation on the face of the earth, not because we have allowed prejudice to persist, not because we have allowed discrimination to exist, not because we have accepted division but because we have stood against it. We have built this country because we have stood for unity, for a collective, for community and for values of acceptance and respect, values that are intrinsic to who we are. What we must do as a parliament, and that is what this motion does, is assert those values again.

There are many times in this chamber—and we saw them in question time yesterday and no doubt we'll see them again—when we have a bit of a barney, when the partisan system is at its finest or perhaps at its least fine. But the times in our history that have been of most importance on these issues have been when our parties have worked together, when our parties have stood for the values that have built modern Australia, when our parties have stood for the values of acceptance and respect and have stood against discrimination and prejudice. That is the history of Australia, and it is your history as much as it is ours. Today let us demonstrate that again. Let us demonstrate again that bipartisan support for those Australian values of inclusion, acceptance and respect; a belief in equality; the rejection of racism; the rejection of prejudice; and the rejection of division. Let us support tolerance, acceptance, respect and equality. Let us stand for that because that is the best of this country.

I want to say something on a human level. Think of what might be happening in some of the schoolyards in Australia today. Those of us who've been on the receiving end of racism know what it feels like and know that what leaders say matters. To be prejudiced against a group the first thing you have to do is diminish them, to say that they are somehow lesser and not deserving of the empathy that you would want for yourself and your family. That is the worst thing about the speech that we saw last night—because it sought to make one part of Australia less worthy of empathy. That is the first step in prejudice.

So I ask this chamber to support this motion and I ask us to reflect on what is the best of who we are and why it is so important that we do not allow any of our fellow Australians to be as diminished as they were in yesterday's speech and, more importantly, why we must go forward, particularly the parties of government, adhering to the central values that are at the heart of the Australian nation: tolerance, respect, acceptance and equality.

9:37 am

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Minister for Finance) Share this | | Hansard source

The government will be supporting the motion moved by Senator Wong. Australia is a great migrant nation. Australia is a country which has welcomed people from all corners of the world. Australia is a country where, whatever your background, you will have the opportunity to contribute, to reach your full potential and to build a life for yourself and your family. Ours is a nation where all Australians, whatever their background, should be judged by the content of their character and their actions and not by the colour of their skin, their religious faith or any other consideration. It is in that spirit that, on behalf of the government, I'm speaking in support of this motion.

This chamber in many ways is a true reflection of what a great migrant nation we are. We have in this chamber representatives of our Indigenous community. We have in this chamber representatives of Australians whose families have been here for generations. They are the descendants of migrants who came to Australia more than 100 years ago. We have in this chamber first-generation migrants from Kenya, Malaysia, Belgium, Germany and Scotland. What a great country we are where first-generation Australians can join First Australians and those Australians whose families have lived here for more than 100 years and all work together to make our great country an even better country.

I very much support the sentiment in the motion that says that, since the Holt government, with the support of the Labor Party at the time, initiated the dismantling of the White Australia policy, Australia has become a better country. It has served us well as a country domestically and it has served us well as a country internationally. Let's continue to build on what makes us strong. Let's not go back to something that we made the right decision to dismantle some decades ago.

9:39 am

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

The Greens will absolutely be supporting this motion. We are a proud nation of immigrants. The things that bring us together are far more important and far more significant than the things that divide us. We should be very proud of the multicultural story here in Australia. Multiculturalism is often framed in language around people from multicultural communities needing to accept Australian values, but there's something much deeper going on. What it means is that people who come here from right around the world actually enrich our values. They make us better. They make us think more deeply about our national character. They help us to reflect on those things which we can learn from those communities that come here, make a contribution and make Australia a better place.

Of course, we know that, despite the fact that multiculturalism is embraced by the wider community, it's something we never have to stop fighting for. If recent events have shown as anything it's that we as a parliament have to redouble our efforts to continue fighting for that great multicultural experiment that began several decades ago and has made us the most successful multicultural nation on earth. That's why that speech yesterday was just so disappointing. It meant that Australia was forced to confront the fact that there are individuals who will seek to exploit questions of race, ethnicity and religion for base political motives. We are very pleased that we are coming in here today and recommitting to the notion of a multicultural Australia. It has never been more important.

9:41 am

Photo of Derryn HinchDerryn Hinch (Victoria, Derryn Hinch's Justice Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Justice Party totally supports all the comments by Senator Wong, Senator Cormann and Senator Di Natale. I just want to place on record an action I took last night in this august chamber that I sincerely regret. Out of respect for this establishment I sat through the whole 30-minute diatribe, categorised as a first speech, from Senator Fraser Anning. I did not walk out, as one senator did during my first speech. At the time, I criticised the Greens for ostentatiously walking out on camera during Senator Hanson's first speech. I believe in free speech, especially in these houses of parliament, but there are limits. That is why I voted in favour of the censure motion yesterday of Senate Leyonhjelm, who made disgusting personal comments about Senator Hanson-Young.

I listened to Senator Anning's speech in full. It was one of the most disgraceful, racist, homophobic, divisive, misogynistic, spiteful and hateful speeches I have ever heard anywhere in 50 years in journalism. It was Pauline Hanson on steroids. As I said on the ABC today, I felt like I was trapped at a Ku Klux Klan rally. I want to apologise to the Senate and the Australian people that, after that vomitus poison last night, I then stupidly, recklessly and unthinkingly—no, I did think about it—followed Senate protocol and dutifully lined up here and shook this unworthy man's hand. I want to go on record and say I then went home and I washed my own.

9:43 am

Photo of Doug CameronDoug Cameron (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Human Services) Share this | | Hansard source

As a migrant who came to this country in 1973, I had the opportunity to emigrate from Scotland to a number of countries. I chose Australia because Australia was a multicultural country and Australia was a country that had decent rights for working people and treated people fairly. I took the view that for my family it was better to come to Australia. I have been so fortunate in this country as a migrant. But my fortune has not been matched, certainly in recent times, by new migrants coming to this country who don't have a command of the English language and who come here to make things better for their families. I don't think running an argument about free speech, as in what we saw yesterday, was an appropriate response to what I witnessed in here last night.

I have sat through most of the first speeches since I have been in this place—for nearly 11 years now. Some of them I have completely disagreed with in the context of what has been said, but I have shown the respect that people deserve when they stand up to do their first speech. Yesterday was the first time that I have walked out of a first speech. I walked out on Senator Anning's speech because I thought it was absolutely despicable. I thought it was race baiting. I thought it was the worst racist thing I have witnessed in here. I've witnessed some terrible things in here, with some of the nonsense we hear from One Nation, but this took it to another level. My concern is that, as long as we sit in this place and say nothing about that type of race baiting, then we weaken democracy in this country.

I have taken the view that free speech is important. But I did follow one senator on the doors this morning who was arguing that this was free speech in action. This was not free speech. It was race hate. It was racism of the worst kind. A reporter asked that senator, 'What would you do if that was put against you?' I just don't accept his argument that people would argue back and stand up for themselves. It's okay for a highly educated, Australian-born person with a command of the English language, with all the power and privilege you get from being a senator, to say that you would stand up for yourself. But that's not what most people in this country have. They don't have that education. They don't have that power. They don't have that privilege. To stand up and excuse what Senator Anning did here yesterday as simply being free speech, and to say that someone who is offended by that should stand up for themselves, shows how far backwards we have gone in this country since I took the view that Australia was the best place for me to emigrate to as a skilled tradesperson and to bring my family.

We have gone backwards. We have gone backwards a long way. When Senator Hanson stands up and does her race baiting, we think that's a normal part of debate in this country. It's not a normal part of debate, it's racism. And it's not a normal part of debate in this place when Senator Anning stands up and uses his first speech to divide this community. I don't feel the least bit intimidated by anyone in here. I left school at 15. I'm a working-class guy. I can stand up for myself. I've got a great deal of power. I've got a great deal of privilege by being a senator in this place. But even I, because of my accent, have been told that I've been unintelligible in this place by those opposite. I've been told to 'speak Australian' by those opposite. We must get away from that. We must treat this place with the respect it deserves. We are leaders in this place, and everyone who comes to this country should be judged by the contribution they make—not their race, not their religion. It's about the contribution they make to this country.

Many, many migrants make a contribution—a contribution that is harder for them to make than it is for white, highly educated Australians. They come here with no money, but they come here with lots of hope. I had $80 when I came here, the equivalent of a week's wages. I've come a long way from that. But, for many in this country, they'll be the ones that are cleaning Woolies, they'll be the ones that are pushing the trolleys at Woolies, they'll be the ones that are digging the holes to keep this country going and they will be getting ripped off. And yet we've got a senator that would come in here and denigrate their contribution to this country. I'll tell you: if I were on an operating table and I had a Muslim surgeon fixing my problems, I wouldn't be worrying about what religion they were or where they came from. It's the contribution that people make that is important in this country. I thank Senator Cormann for the contribution he made. He is a first-generation migrant himself. But I would say to Senator Cormann: make sure the rest of your senators, the rest of your MPs, understand how difficult it is for migrants when they come to this country. They are faced with huge challenges, and they don't need Senator Anning or Pauline Hanson trying to rip them down. It's just unacceptable.

We are a better country than this, and we need to stand up for the issues that are important to this country—treating everyone fairly, treating everyone equitably. I support this motion. I support it because it's the right thing to do. If we allow racism to run unchallenged in this place, if we can't deal with it at the apex of our constitutional operation, then what happens out in the streets will become even worse. We all have an obligation to treat people fairly and equitably and to treat them on the basis of their contribution to the country, not where they come from, not what their religion is, not what the colour of their skin is. We need to change that now, and we need to stand up for every Australian, for our fellow Australians, because that's what's important in this place.

9:52 am

Photo of Tim StorerTim Storer (SA, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I would like to formally add my support to this motion. I'm a strong supporter of the bipartisan immigration policies backed by successive parliaments in the years since Liberal Prime Minister Harold Holt, at the head of a government in coalition with the then Country Party, started to end the White Australia policy, not Gough Whitlam, as stated by Senator Anning. I found much of what Senator Anning said yesterday to be incendiary, offensive and factually incorrect. It is Senate practice to shake the hand of senators after they have delivered their first speech. As I see myself as a courteous and polite individual, that is what I did, but I want to make sure that this act was not an endorsement of the contents of Senator Anning's speech, just a common courtesy and in line with Senate protocol. I want to make very clear that I strongly believe that we are a better multicultural country as a result of the ending of the White Australia policy, as noted before. I will always stand up for generous, non-discriminatory immigration policy in Australia. The Senate here today reflects this and indicates strongly the strong contribution that migrants have made to our nation. We should always defend that to the hilt.

9:54 am

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

( I entered the chamber last night and was immediately assaulted by a phrase which will live in my memory forever: a 'final solution to the immigration problem'. I sat transfixed. My blood ran cold, as hate poured forth into this place and brought it low. I felt myself sullied, and I sit here this morning dismayed. It is right that we now move to condemn Senator Anning for his disgraceful words, but it is also critical that we here recognise and reflect upon the fact that Senator Anning's words were not an aberration but were, in fact, a culmination. They were the final opening of a door that has been gradually prised ajar by every single person in this place who made the decision to play on people's fears for their personal gain. It is an indictment of every single one of us who has given credence to the language of assimilation, who has spoken of the dangers of our cities and our towns being swamped by immigrants and who has given any semblance of credit to the idea that those who come across the sea do so with anything other than the intent to build a life, to love and to experience the freedom that we here have so enjoyed and so prospered under.

It is our responsibility to show leadership in our roles, to move the debate in this nation to a higher plane, and last night I was reminded not only of this individual's profound failure but of our collective failure and of the urgent need for us to do better in the future. I thank the chamber for its time.

9:57 am

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Let me make it quite clear that I was not in the chamber yesterday for Fraser Anning's maiden speech and also the fact that I did watch it from my office and I was appalled at his comments and his remarks. To actually hear people say now, as Senator Hinch said, that it is like hearing Pauline Hanson on steroids, I take offence to that, because why relate it back to me? I think that's questionable. I have raised issues in this parliament, but I'll get into that.

Fraser Anning, I can assure you, did not write that speech. But he delivered it and he is responsible for it. The speech was written by Richard Howard, straight from Goebbels's handbook from Nazi Germany. Richard Howard worked for a military propaganda specialist. He was one of the staffers—Richard Howard actually did work in Senator Malcolm Roberts's office and was sacked out of that office. He did ask me for a position in my office, after Senator Roberts lost his position in this parliament, and I refused to take him on. He got a job with Senator Anning when he was elected to the parliament under the banner of Pauline Hanson's One Nation, yes, but at no time has he ever held a seat in this parliament under Pauline Hanson's One Nation. From day one when he was sworn in, he was an Independent. Richard was one of the staffers that I warned Fraser Anning not to take on; he disregarded my warning and took him on. So that was his decision.

As I said, I'm appalled by Fraser Anning's speech. I have always spoken up on issues with regard to our country and I will stand by those views that I have. We are a multiracial society, and I've always advocated you do not have to be white to be Australian. We have called for people coming here to give their loyalty, their undivided loyalty, to this country, that you be Australian and proud of this country and abide by the laws. I suggest that you actually go and have a look at the immigration policy of One Nation and read it thoroughly.

Might I also bring to your attention that our candidates standing under One Nation come from all different ethnic backgrounds. Our member for Mirani, Stephen Andrew, is the first South Sea Islander to hold a position in parliament as an MP in Queensland, or, as a matter of fact, in Australia. So I think you need to direct your criticisms elsewhere.

You say that you sat here through the speech and you are now appalled at the fact that you actually went up and shook Fraser Anning's hand—especially in light of the speech. You sat here and you listened to it. Well, how gutless are members in this parliament? If you were so appalled then you should have got up and walked out of the place. And the thing is: now that it has turned and the public are having a say about this, you're here on the floor of parliament—well, congratulations!

I do support the censure. The words said should not have been said, because it is not what we want in this country, and I don't agree with them either.

When Senator Cameron makes comments about my racist comments in this parliament, what are the racist comments? There were no racist comments. Criticism is not racism. To make comments about our immigration—that we have a right to a say on where our country's headed and the numbers that we have in Australia—is very important to our future and the wellbeing of this country. And I will continue to stand by it.

So what I would say to the people of this parliament is: while you may have your grievances on what Fraser Anning has said, don't direct them at me because it's got nothing to do with me. Go and talk to Bob Katter. Last I knew, Fraser Anning had joined the Katter party. I haven't heard one of you mention Katter's party. I would like to ask the Labor Party: do you intend to put Bob Katter's party last on your how-to-vote cards now?

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

Senator Hanson, please refer to Mr Katter by his title.

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Sorry, President.

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

He is 'Mr Katter' or 'the member for Kennedy'.

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Sorry—Mr Katter. So you want to go and ask: where are you going to put your preferences now? Is the Labor Party going to put the Katter party last on their how-to-vote cards? This is going to be quite interesting, to see how they're going to put out their how-to-vote cards. Let's just see.

As I said to you, I have always advocated for equality, right across the board, for everyone in this country. I have my views about different things, and I've made them quite clear on the floor of parliament. A lot of Australians support my views. But I do believe that Fraser Anning, Senator Anning, went too far in his speech yesterday, and it's unacceptable. It is not One Nation policy. We do not stand by this. I do not stand by it. I was the one who was not in the chamber. I was the one who never shook his hand. And I support the censure motion.

10:03 am

Photo of Rex PatrickRex Patrick (SA, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

I will make it very clear that the Centre Alliance wholeheartedly supports Senator Wong's motion. We're fully supportive of multiculturalism. Those comments made yesterday don't reflect how Australians think or feel. Senator Griff and I did sit in the chamber, out of politeness. We were offended by what we heard. Australia is a much, much better place because of our multiculturalism.

10:04 am

Photo of Bridget McKenzieBridget McKenzie (Victoria, National Party, Minister for Regional Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

On behalf of the National Party: we'll be supporting this motion, and we'd like to recognise the contribution of successive waves of immigrants and their families—the contribution they have made to building a very strong and resilient regional Australia and to building our industries. Think of the Italian community along the Murray, and its involvement in horticulture and wine making; there are the Yazidis, the Sikhs, the Karen in Nhill—I could go on and on, on the strong contribution that a diverse immigrant population has made by coming here, coming to the regions and working incredibly hard, shoulder to shoulder with our communities in regional Australia, to build a strong, diverse and open community.

I think it's a great privilege to be here today to see Senator Wong and Senator Cormann, both from migrant backgrounds, together, standing as one and championing not just what is great about our nation, at this point in our history, but also what is great about this place. This is the Senate working at its best and it is senators working at their best in the contributions they've made today, and I really look forward to voting for the motion.

10:05 am

Photo of Janet RiceJanet Rice (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to acknowledge that we're here today on the lands of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people and that sovereignty was never ceded and that all of us, other than the First Australians, are migrants to this country.

Over the 200 years of settlement of this country there's been a lot of hatred, there's been a lot of prejudice, there's been a lot of hurt and there's been a lot of harm. But we have been building a country, we have been striving for a country, that acknowledges and celebrates people regardless of who they are, regardless of their background. It celebrates people for what they contribute. It celebrates our common humanity. We have been building that country.

I grew up in Altona, a highly multicultural suburb with many postwar migrants from all over the world. I live in Footscray, where almost half the population were born outside Australia or have parents born outside Australia. It is a country, a suburb and a community that is thriving. We have been building this sense of 'We are all together as Australians.' We are all together as citizens of the world but we are all together as Australians building a peaceful, harmonious society. That's what we have been working towards. We have been striving towards that.

In supporting this motion today, I want us to recognise how precious that is, this striving towards a country that does recognise and celebrate people—regardless of their background, their race, their religion, their sex, their sexuality or their abilities—that does recognise we are all humans, that we can all contribute and that we are all working together to be furthering a better, more tolerant and more celebratory society for all of us. That's what we've been striving for. But I also want to acknowledge that over the last decade, and certainly in the four years that I have been in this Senate, we have been moving away from that.

Up until about a decade ago, there was the sense that we were still making progress, that we were still making progress towards a more equal society, where everybody is celebrated regardless of their background. But over the last decade we have been moving away from that. There has been this rising racism in our society, this rising intolerance of people and division and hatred because of the differences between people. So I am hoping that debating this motion today, and the reaction to the awful hatred in Senator Anning's speech last night, can be a pivotal moment for us to recognise that we have something precious here in Australia—our multicultural society—to show that we can exist harmoniously. But we've got to work at it and we've got to totally reject the hateful racism that was on show last night and is on the rise in our society today.

We have got to work together. We have got to redouble our efforts to work together to overcome that racism so that we can continue to strive for the society that we know is what we really want to have: a society that really, truly, respects everybody, regardless of their background.

10:08 am

Photo of Lucy GichuhiLucy Gichuhi (SA, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Today—and, precisely, last night—is a very sad day for me. For me, I'm evidence that this is multiculturalism at work. But I keep wondering: how on earth do we have a public leader, with the status of senator, in Australia, in the First World not the Third World, use those kinds of words in a public forum? What do we think is happening in kindy, in primary schools and at work today? And yet we are the house that makes the law.

I have been in this country for nearly 20 years—20 years in February. I've gone through a lot of questions like, 'Where do you come from originally?' and that's okay. I take it. But it is in this Senate that my appearance provoked 'Where do you come from?' We all went through the citizenship issues, culminating with 15 or however many of us in the elections that we finished last weekend, so at what point are we going to say: 'You are Australian. You are Australian, full stop, period, finished.' I don't have to be born here; all I have to do is hold that citizenship certificate. Mine has been questioned so many times. I happen to be Briton. I happen to be Kenyan. I happen to be Australian. That's my history and, because Australia is Australia, because of the multicultural system it is, I find myself in the Senate.

Nobody put me here in the Senate except the High Court. Why? Because Australian systems work and they support multiculturalism. What I'm asking the Senate, whether I'm here for a day, two days or longer, is to deal with this hard right, hard left. What do you mean by hard right, hard left? I heard those words in this place. I grew up in a civilised society. Call it that or Third World, but it was civil enough to prepare me enough to serve Australia in this Senate.

I appeal to all our leaders—by all our leaders I mean Liberal, Labor, and everything. In that bipartisan state of affairs, can we deal with our own prejudices? I don't have to be asked where I came from. I know we are first generation or third generation. And guess what. We still have issues to deal with First Australian generations. Something has to rise up and do this and deal with it. We are the leaders. Senator Anning is a leader. What happened to diversity training? What am I going to say to my daughter, trying to apply for a job, coming to me to saying, 'Mum, I don't think I can get this.' I'm tired of that. It's not going to work for Australia 2018. Take it or leave it. It doesn't matter who gets into power next; somebody has to deal with it. I'm Liberal Party by choice. I'm here and I have to tiptoe about being a woman, about being black, because the hard right doesn't like it. Hey; this is Australia. This is the First World. It's not the Third World. Can we do leadership for the First World? Thank you.

10:12 am

Photo of Lisa SinghLisa Singh (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

This morning I joined hundreds of Canberrans as we braved the cold in Canberra at the Indian High Commission to recognise today as India's Independence Day. They were Canberrans of Indian origin and they have made Australia their home. As I stood there with them, I was thinking of what was going through their minds as they opened the papers, as they reflected on the speech that was given in this place last night. What did it mean for them, as new Australians now building their lives here, raising their children here, sending their children to school, ensuring they have decent education, a career for themselves, an income for themselves to build their lives here but at the same time recognising where they came from? That small group of, say, 100 people this morning here in Canberra is a small sample of the some 700,000 Australians, people of Indian origin in this country who have chosen to make Australia their home and build the multicultural fabric that we know is the great country that we are, the country of the fair go. But I know that it would hurt them very much to hear the words that Senator Anning shared in this place last night.

I say, on behalf of all of those who have spoken today and are supporting the motion, that Senator Anning does not speak for us, that we stand with them. We stand with all people of various backgrounds that make Australia such a great country. We are an inclusive country.

When I was born in this place, in 1972, it was the end, thank God, of the White Australia policy. Some 46 years later, I am happy to say that this is a very successful multicultural nation, where we do welcome people from various backgrounds. No matter what your background, your race, your ethnicity, your religion, you can indeed be just as successful as the next person. You can have very much as decent and fulfilling a life as the next person. That is because of the policies that have passed this parliament—the multicultural policies, the policies of inclusiveness and the policies that deal with racial discrimination.

Unfortunately, though, there is someone in this place who is giving licence to hate speech, and we must call it out. That is what this is about today. It is about calling it out, ending it, putting a stop to this awful, divisive, hateful type of language that one would have thought went out of this nation 50 or more years ago. On this very sober morning in our Senate, after the incredible contributions that have shown how bipartisan we can become when we talk about our Australian identity, inclusiveness and the importance of what it is that makes Australia so successful—our multiculturalism—let's hope that this is the end of that sort of language. Let us hope that, through our actions in coming together in this place today, we ensure that we simply do not hear again the type of language that we heard last night from Senator Anning, because we simply do not tolerate it.

10:17 am

Photo of Sarah Hanson-YoungSarah Hanson-Young (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I just want to add my support to this motion. The contributions from across the chamber today have been incredibly sobering but also incredibly heartening, because a line must be drawn. Enough is enough in relation to the hate speech, as Senator Singh has called it out and named it. Enough is enough when it comes to the race baiting that has been called out. It is time for us in this place, as leaders in our communities, to call it out, stand up and say: the line must be drawn.

We will all have debates about what are the best policies to support a multicultural nation, to protect and embrace the fabulous community we have. They are debates that are not going to go away. We cannot be complacent when it comes to multiculturalism and protecting tolerance, understanding and acceptance in our community. We must always fight against racism and bigotry. The job is never going to be done, but it will never be done if we sit back and say that it's too hard to name it and call it out. So I think it's incredibly sobering today to see so many people from across the chamber standing up and speaking out, including those members of this place who feel it very deeply, who've experienced racism firsthand in this place and outside this place.

My daughter goes to a small primary school in Adelaide. It's a new arrivals school. New migrant children, when they come to Australia, spend the first six to 12 months at this school. When I go into the playground in the afternoons, when the school bell rings, to pick her up, it's a fabulous demonstration of multicultural Australia. There are kids from all parts of the world, and children are so good at tolerance and respect. I have great faith that this country is in very good hands with the next generation. Children, when it comes to understanding, embracing difference and having compassion and tolerance, are often much better than adults. We have a responsibility in this place as political leaders to match that—to promote and protect what a fabulous multicultural society we are, and to condemn and call out racism and hatred whether we see it on the streets, in our media or in our chambers of parliament. If our children can be tolerant, understanding and blind to difference, then we too must match that.

Often when we're in this place, there are children from various schools around the country sitting up here and watching. I hope any of the kids who were here yesterday watching Senator Anning's speech walked away knowing that it was wrong. We must set a better standard. When a member of this chamber or the other place denigrates an entire group in our community—our history, our values as a nation—they must be called out and they must be condemned. I support this motion, and I also support us strongly condemning Senator Anning for his words. I don't believe he deserves to be in this place.

10:21 am

Photo of Patrick DodsonPatrick Dodson (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Senate)) Share this | | Hansard source

I wasn't intending to say anything, and I won't say anything that will be better than what my leader has said on this side of the house, but I am impressed by the fact that Australians can come together when we see things not up to the standard that we expect and that we try to inculcate into our society, and we ask others who carry the banners forward on our sporting fields and other places to stand up against ignorance, racism, bias and bigotry. It's a gratifying moment to see the parliament, and particularly this chamber, come as one, as it were. My recollection of this was previously when Senator Brandis was in here and spoke very strongly against an action taken by one of the senators.

We are a democracy. It is important that people say what they want to say in this place. But they've got to have responsibility. They are leaders; we are leaders. What we say is critical. It can hurt other people or influence the behaviour of others towards others. Our focus should definitely be on the respect for diversity and difference, and we should work to reconcile our differences with the First Nations. I believe that will help us as a nation go forward. It will resolve some of the residual remnants of racism and bigotry and hatred and misperception.

As you all know, I co-chair a joint select committee that is trying to find a way through that challenge. I would hope that our parliament, in fact, rises to the same tenor and calibre that we are exhibiting today when we come to those debates. Let's put ourselves beyond fundamental prejudices, and send a message to the world that we are a mature, modern democracy, capable of diversity and difference, welcoming diversity and difference, and using that to build our futures.

Let's not think of us not having achieved. We have achieved a great deal in this country—a great deal. We have yet more to achieve, and we will build on that achievement by reconciling with the First Nations. I support the motion and I congratulate those who have spoken before me.

10:24 am

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr President, there have been a lot of speakers from the Greens Party, and I understand there's a subsequent motion. If we—

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

You don't make that decision!

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

Will you be very brief? If we could close it—frankly, it would have been nice to close on Senator Dodson's contribution, I would have thought.

Honourable senators interjecting

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

Senators! Senator Wong has graciously ceded the call to you, Senator Whish-Wilson.

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

I will be quick. While this chamber and people in this parliament are calling out the speech by Senator Anning yesterday, I want to make the point that there's one person especially in this parliament who needs to call this out, and that is Bob Katter. Bob, expel Senator Anning from your party. That would be a message that all Australia wants to see.

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

Please address a member of the chamber appropriately.

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

Mr Katter, expel Senator Anning from your party. If you want to send the strongest possible message that racism and divisiveness won't be tolerated in this national parliament and you don't support his sentiments, you need to do that now. You need to do that today. It might surprise some people that I have actually worked very closely with Bob Katter in recent years around trying to get a banks' royal commission, on marine plastics and on issues that I care about—and we violently disagree on many other things. I was quite shocked yesterday that someone like Mr Katter would associate himself and his party and his family's reputation—whatever it may be—with the likes of Senator Anning. That's all I have to say.

10:26 am

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank all senators for their contribution to this debate. I restate the importance of making a positive statement in response to the comments that we've been discussing of Senator Anning. I thank senators for and acknowledge and reflect to all Australians the overwhelming support across the chamber for this motion.

We have no intention of making Senator Anning a victim. We have the absolute intention of both condemning his remarks and taking on his arguments because they are wrong. Today, the Senate has shown that the best way to deal with division is to come together; that best way to deal with prejudice is to assert acceptance and tolerance; and the best way to deal with people going low is to go high. And, today, I think this is a chamber in the parliament of which Australians can be proud.

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

The question is that the motion moved by Senator Wong be agreed to.

Question agreed to.