Non discriminatory migration - speech on senate motion

Wednesday 15 August 2018

This morning I joined hundreds of Canberrans as we braved the cold in Canberra at the Indian High Commission to recognise today as India's Independence Day. They were Canberrans of Indian origin and they have made Australia their home. As I stood there with them, I was thinking of what was going through their minds as they opened the papers, as they reflected on the speech that was given in this place last night. What did it mean for them, as new Australians now building their lives here, raising their children here, sending their children to school, ensuring they have decent education, a career for themselves, an income for themselves to build their lives here but at the same time recognising where they came from? That small group of, say, 100 people this morning here in Canberra is a small sample of the some 700,000 Australians, people of Indian origin in this country who have chosen to make Australia their home and build the multicultural fabric that we know is the great country that we are, the country of the fair go. But I know that it would hurt them very much to hear the words that Senator Anning shared in this place last night.

I say, on behalf of all of those who have spoken today and are supporting the motion, that Senator Anning does not speak for us, that we stand with them. We stand with all people of various backgrounds that make Australia such a great country. We are an inclusive country.

When I was born in this place, in 1972, it was the end, thank God, of the White Australia policy. Some 46 years later, I am happy to say that this is a very successful multicultural nation, where we do welcome people from various backgrounds. No matter what your background, your race, your ethnicity, your religion, you can indeed be just as successful as the next person. You can have very much as decent and fulfilling a life as the next person. That is because of the policies that have passed this parliament—the multicultural policies, the policies of inclusiveness and the policies that deal with racial discrimination.

Unfortunately, though, there is someone in this place who is giving licence to hate speech, and we must call it out. That is what this is about today. It is about calling it out, ending it, putting a stop to this awful, divisive, hateful type of language that one would have thought went out of this nation 50 or more years ago. On this very sober morning in our Senate, after the incredible contributions that have shown how bipartisan we can become when we talk about our Australian identity, inclusiveness and the importance of what it is that makes Australia so successful—our multiculturalism—let's hope that this is the end of that sort of language. Let us hope that, through our actions in coming together in this place today, we ensure that we simply do not hear again the type of language that we heard last night from Senator Anning, because we simply do not tolerate it.