Senate debates

Thursday, 18 February 2021



5:56 pm

Photo of Lidia ThorpeLidia Thorpe (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak against the motion from the senator for Queensland, as part of my adjournment speech contribution. You know how they say that a broken clock is right at least twice a day? Well, I thank the senator for Queensland for wanting to talk about racism today.

Let's talk about race in this country, because we need to heal—all of us. We need to heal from our history to create a better future. The past still haunts us, and we need to heal from it. The White Australia policy was one of the first laws that this Senate passed. There are still racist clauses in our Constitution. Racism is the reason why we were blocked from voting in this country until 1965. Racism is the reason our people were blocked from being counted as being part of this country until 1967, despite having been here since time began. However, despite the very racist foundation of this country, from terra nullius to today, there is somehow not a racist to be found.

Let's talk about it. Let's talk about racism. What is racism? Racism is ugly. It divides people into us and them based on things they cannot change, like who they are, where they come from or the colour of their skin. Racism happens when people feel that it is okay to treat other people badly as they are minding their own business, just getting through their life. Racism happens in a lot of different ways. It's when people make jokes or bad comments about a group of people because of where they're from or the colour of their skin; or when people abuse others by calling them racist names or by abusing them verbally or physically; or when people bully, hassle or intimidate others because of their race or the language that they speak. Racism is always about power, either enforcing a power over others or treating other people badly because you think they might get some of the power you have. Racism is always, without exception, prejudice combined with power. Minor acts of prejudice won't necessarily impact on someone's everyday life, but, when racial prejudice is combined, that is when racism happens.

Racism isn't always visible. It doesn't always look like the absolutely horrific abuse that I get on social media or the physical letters that are sent to my office calling me all sorts of hurtful and racist names. Some of the worst racism is the invisible type, the kind of racism where an employer doesn't even read the resume of someone with a non-English name, or when some of our young mob are followed around by security guards in shops just because they're black and they assume they might steal something. This kind of racism is harder to address and pinpoint, because it involves prejudice.

In terms of the Aboriginal money, the black money or the white money and all of that, it is all money that's been stolen from us and all wealth that's been stolen from us. But can I just quickly say Woolworths received black money out of the IAS. They received $24 million of funding that was meant to go to Aboriginal organisations. Fortescue Metals got a chunk of the money that was meant to be for Aboriginal advancement. Another company, Sodexo—they're worth almost $19 billion, and they got our money as well.

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

The time for the debate has expired.

Senate adjourned at 18:00