Senate debates

Thursday, 18 October 2018



12:04 pm

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

Does any senator wish to have the question put on any proposal?

12:05 pm

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—On behalf of the government, I indicate that we will not be supporting the postponement of notice of motion No. 1166 in the name of Senator Anning in relation to a bill proposing to introduce a plebiscite restricting non-European migration. The government strongly oppose this bill. We do not want to see it proceed in any way.

Australia has a very proud track record over many, many decades now of welcoming people to Australia from all corners of the world, from a whole range and broad variety of backgrounds. That has made Australia a richer, a better and a stronger country. We pride ourselves on being a country where every migrant who chooses Australia to become there home, who works hard and who makes a contribution, is warmly welcomed. We don't believe that we in Australia should go back to what is reflected in this bill. It is important for the Senate to express that very firmly today, and that is why the government will be opposing this proposed postponement.

12:06 pm

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

by leave—I indicate that the opposition will be opposing this postponement. It is an unusual step to be opposing a postponement, but in this case the opposition is of the view that it is warranted. The short title of the bill, for senators' information, is the Introduction of Plebiscite (Restricting Non-European Migration) Bill 2018. That is all the Senate needs to know about this bill. The difficulty with allowing the postponement is that it would then sit on the papers of the Senate until we return on 12 November. This is our concern with allowing the postponement. We shouldn't allow a matter of this character to sit on the papers and for people looking at the business of the Senate to misunderstand the view of the Senate.

As Senator Cormann indicated, the government and, most certainly, the opposition do not support the sentiments reflected in this bill. Australia left behind the White Australia policy 50 years ago, and it should remain well in the past. Labor will always support a non-discriminatory immigration policy and recognise the rich contribution migrants from all nations have made to our multicultural country. We welcome other parties taking this same approach.

12:08 pm

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

by leave—I just want to ascertain whether the government and the opposition are going to oppose the postponement, with the intention of opposing the introduction of the bill. All I'm seeking is whether that's their intention to pursue.

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | | Hansard source

We're not opposing the introduction. We want this dealt with today, and the government's intention and, I believe, the opposition's intention and the intention of others around the chamber is to vote against the first reading of the bill.

12:04 pm

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

That was my concern. It would be almost unprecedented not to allow the introduction of a bill.

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

by leave—The Greens will not be supporting this postponement. We reiterate the comments of the government and the Labor Party. The quicker this bill is dealt with and consigned to the dustbin of history the better. There is no place to debate such racist, xenophobic, hate-filled bills in this parliament. In his short time in this parliament, we've seen Senator Anning treat it as though it is some sort of opportunity to sprout hatred, racism and, indeed, white supremacy. He has caused harm and offence to the Muslim community, to the Jewish community, and today seeks to extend that harm to anyone who doesn't come from an Anglo-European background. I look at my team and I think of the message that you have just sent to the members of my team and the contempt and disrespect that you have shown them and indeed many millions of Australians right around the country. We rarely come together as a parliament to condemn the actions of a senator but we abhor this race to the bottom that we seem to be engaged in. We simply reiterate the views of the government and the Labor Party, and the Greens now, who stand as one to make a very clear statement—that legislation of this nature has no place in a modern, multicultural nation like Australia.

12:10 pm

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

As a relative newcomer here, I know that it is against the so-called rules to oppose the introduction of a bill and anybody at all should be able to introduce a bill. I will certainly support Labor, the government and the Greens on opposing the postponement of this bill, but I also want to say that on this occasion I oppose the introduction of this bill, because we are reaching a stage here now, as alluded to by the leader of the Greens, that you could put anything offensive in the title of your bill—I'm introducing a bill that says 'Da-de-dah; ban so-and-so'; all that sort of stuff. Having it sitting there on the Notice Paper, as Senator Collins said, for weeks and weeks is a foul thing, is wrong and is a hint back to the White Australia policy. For one, I'll oppose the introduction of the bill, let alone the postponement of it.

Question negatived.