Parliament House, Canberra.
THE HON. MARK DREYFUS QC MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDERS – PHON MOTION
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA
TUESDAY 16 OCTOBER 2018
*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***
It is an extraordinary thing that in this House, that the Liberal government, the government members are wanting to deny this House the opportunity to reject, in no uncertain terms, the extraordinary racism that was on display in the Senate of Australia last night. The Attorney-General of Australia must explain to this House why he supported a white supremacist battle cry being endorsed by the Senate last night.
No-one should be in any doubt about what this motion that passed in the Senate with the support of 27 coalition senators and 10 ministers. Think about that: 10 ministers in this government supported that white supremacist battle cry, which, as the Manager of Opposition Business has pointed out, is supported by the KKK in the United States. That's what happened in the Senate last night.
The motion was on the Notice Paper for 25 days. 25 days the government had to think about it. 25 days the minister who's got responsibility for matters to do with racism in the government, that’s the Attorney-General of Australia, who's responsible for administering the Racial Discrimination Act, 25 days on which to reflect and work out that this was, in fact, a battle cry of the white supremacist grubs in our country—that this was a battle cry, a slogan, a catchcry that they like to use.
If he is the Attorney-General responsible for anti-discrimination, for fighting discrimination in our country, then it's his job to work it out.
There might have been a little bit of warning to him, because this was a motion about racism coming from, of all people, Pauline Hanson. Now he's asking the people of Australia to believe that this was some kind of administrative error. How pathetic. He's pointing to administrative error.
Think about what happened in the Senate last night. Government Senator after Senator filed in to cast their votes for a racist motion moved by Pauline Hanson, and the Attorney-General and Senator Cormann are now asking the people of Australia to believe that those 27 government senators are just dumb automatons, doing what they were told by the Attorney-General.
Maybe they are dumb automatons, as that's what he's saying, but, in fact, this is meant to be the party—the Liberal Party—that boasts all the time about conscience votes. That boasts all the time about how they think about the way they vote in this place and how they wouldn't dream of voting against their conscience. Well, they didn't think very much last night. I think what’s actually happened is that the true values of the Liberal Party have been put on display. And I hope that the voters of Wentworth take a close look at what the Liberal Party did last night in voting for white supremacist slogans. This is a motion from Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party. That should have been a little bit of an alert for the government to think a little bit and now they want to deny this House the opportunity to vote to reject the Senate’s motion last night.
This in fact is the current Attorney-General’s ‘People have a right to be bigots’ moment. The last Attorney-General said that ridiculous thing. This Attorney-General tweeted support last night at quarter to eight, hours after the vote in the Senate, this Attorney-General tweeted support for the motion that he had instructed the dumb automaton Senators to vote for in the Senate, because apparently that’s what he’s expected the people of Australia to believe.
Because of an “administrative error”, the wrong instruction went out to the 27 Coalition Senators and they filed in one after the other to vote in favour of this white supremacist motion.
What happened, we’re entitled to ask, to support for multiculturalism in this country? What happened to the rejection of racism? Not so long ago, under Prime Minister Turnbull, this House was prepared to unite to reject the disgraceful things said by Senator Anning in his first speech. What happened to that? What indeed has happened to the Liberal Party of Australia, that used to turn its face on racism. That used to say ‘we are a party that supports multiculturalism’. We’ve had silence from this government. We have a government that has twice tried to repeal Section 18C. They should be ashamed of themselves for that and they should ashamed of themselves for their performance in the Senate last night.