Senate debates

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Motions

Marginalisation of Ethnically Diverse Communities

4:52 pm

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

Before moving general business notice of motion No. 562, I inform the chamber that Senator Griff will also co-sponsor the motion. I, and also on behalf of Senators Faruqi and Griff, move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes with serious concern the further marginalisation of ethnically diverse communities in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic;

(b) recognises that:

  (i) anti-Asian racism has spiked during COVID-19, and there has been a sharp increase in reported cases of racist incidents in the public and racial discrimination complaints made to the Australian Human Rights Commission, and

  (ii) the Asian Australian Alliance's COVID-19 Incident Report Survey found that 81% of the respondents said recent racist incidents they experienced were a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic;

(c) celebrates Australia's cultural diversity as essential to who we are as a nation; and

(d) calls on the Government to:

  (i) fund an ongoing national anti-racism campaign through the Human Rights Commission,

  (ii) establish a charter of rights that ensures everyone in Australia is treated equally with guaranteed access to essential services, and that the Government cannot discriminate against anyone based on the colour of their skin or their visa status,

  (iii) take a stand against racism by adding hate speech to the Criminal Code Act; and

  (iv) ensure that ethnically diverse communities are not left behind in the nation's recovery from COVID-19.

Photo of Anne UrquhartAnne Urquhart (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I request that the question be put separately on paragraph (d)(ii) and (iii).

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Families and Social Services) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to make a short statement.

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

Leave is granted for one minute.

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Families and Social Services) Share this | | Hansard source

The government condemns racism in the strongest possible terms, particularly in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, paragraph (d)(ii) of this motion calls for a charter of rights. This is a proposal that has been publicly debated, and for good reasons, including diminishing democratic decision-making and politicising the judiciary, after full public debate it was roundly rejected. It is not supported by the government, because it is not the best way to protect rights in Australia. The provision further equates racism and visa status, which is an entirely false equivalence. The government also considers paragraph (d)(iii) is incorrect. The paragraph calls for adding hate speech to the Criminal Code. It fails to recognise that sections 80.2A and 80.2B already criminalise the urging of violence against groups and against members of groups. For those reasons, this motion cannot be endorsed.

4:53 pm

Photo of Katy GallagherKaty Gallagher (ACT, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Finance) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to make a short statement about Labor's voting intention.

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

Leave is granted for one minute.

Photo of Katy GallagherKaty Gallagher (ACT, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Finance) Share this | | Hansard source

As outlined by Senator Urquhart, we have asked that this question be voted on separately. We don't support subsection (d). We don't believe that expanding the Criminal Code, which already criminalises incitement to violence, or establishing a charter for access to government services provide effective means to combat racism. What we need is for every member of this parliament to lead by example in rejecting racism and encouraging mutual respect.

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

The question is that all of the motion except clauses (d)(ii) and (d)(iii) be agreed to.

Question negatived.

On that basis, I don't think I can put the next vote, because it would stand alone and not make sense without the covering clause.

4:55 pm

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

I just want to record, to save another division, that obviously the Greens support all aspects of that motion.

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

Does anyone else wish to have a position recorded?

Photo of Katy GallagherKaty Gallagher (ACT, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Finance) Share this | | Hansard source

We would like our position recorded on the sections of the motion that we supported.

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

Which is the first vote we just had?

Photo of Katy GallagherKaty Gallagher (ACT, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Finance) Share this | | Hansard source

That's right.

Photo of Stirling GriffStirling Griff (SA, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

Centre Alliance supports the original motion.

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

One Nation opposes the full motion.

Photo of Jacqui LambieJacqui Lambie (Tasmania, Jacqui Lambie Network) Share this | | Hansard source

The Jacqui Lambie Network opposes the full motion.