SPEECH ADJOURNMENT DEBATE - HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA
'Do I give them what they want?' That's the question you always ask yourself when you hear an appalling speech. They want to incite a debate, and when you hit back, the debate is exactly what they hoped for. But there has to be a point when this parliament says enough. If we haven't reached that point tonight then for some of us there is apparently no limit at all. In the other place Senator Anning has just delivered his first speech and, in delivering the sort of bile that we get from time to time against Muslim Australians, decided to invoke the term 'final solution'—another speech belittling Australians, dividing the nation and inciting debate. To those who thought that the best thing may not be to give them what they want, I say, 'If we continue to hold back, they have exactly what they wanted.' Muslim Australians, African Australians, Chinese Australians and, when you invoke the 'final solution', Jewish Australians are now, in the same way as Greek Australians and Italian Australians were in years gone by, subject to prejudice. The bigotry of today is no different to the bigotry of yesterday, and right now we don't have the bipartisanship against it that we had in years gone by—and it must return. The words spoken in the other place are not the words of a proud Australian; they are the words of people who hate modern Australia and hate who we are as Australians.
Overseas voices have been encouraged and welcomed into this country. Lauren Southern turned up in my local area with a camera crew from North America, looked around and said, 'It's all monoculture'—just like when the so-called 'person in charge of multicultural affairs' claimed that we have all these monocultural areas throughout Australia. The film crew and the journo who was there were good enough to ask, 'Which monoculture? Is it the Arabic culture represented by this shop or the Vietnamese culture represented by that shop? The Pakistani or the Pacific islander? Which monoculture are you talking about?' to which Lauren Southern said, 'There isn't even an English pub.' And they replied, 'Actually there's one immediately behind you.'
Our diversity is nothing to be afraid of, but the silence from those opposite is everything to fear, because when modern Australia is under attack in this way, the fight is going to be won only when we get to the point of bipartisanship again, and be in no doubt: we are not there right now. For anyone who was wondering whether we were, a lot changed at the last election, at which members of One Nation were returned to the parliament. At that time, instead of adopting the sort of language that John Howard had adopted, the government members started to refer to One Nation today as being more sophisticated than they used to be. Bigotry is not sophisticated.
In the Longman by-election the government allocated preferences to One Nation, rather than follow John Howard's lead in putting One Nation last. The 18C legislation, not referred to during the election campaign, was suddenly brought on in parliament to give extra licence for racist hate speech. The immigration minister stood right there and referred to Australians not as second- and third-generation Australians but as second- and third-generation Lebanese Muslims, and then described them as a mistake. The government introduced university-level English tests which you didn't have to take if you were emigrating from the five English-speaking nations that are predominantly white: Canada, the United States, Ireland, the UK or New Zealand. They didn't have to do the test; only people from non-white countries had to do it, even if they had grown up with English. In his book 'Weatherboard and Iro'n the member for New England constantly referred to the poor, white, regional fringe. Why is the white reference there all the time? I say to those opposite that it's not good enough to turn up to community fundraisers and events, say all the right things there and think people won't notice what's been happening in the parliament. Don't apologise for racism, don't imitate it and don't preference it.