01 March 2011 

Andrew condemns the racism that eats at the Liberal Party

Mr WILKIE (4:04 PM) —I stand today to condemn the racism that eats at the Liberal Party and I call on the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, to show strong leadership and to stamp it out once and for all. Australia’s history is littered with politicians peddling hate. Whether it was Pauline Hanson claiming that the country was in danger of being swamped by Asians or John Howard tapping into the same mother lode for his own political gain, spiteful politicians understand the rich rewards to be had in going there and they have mined it for all it is worth.

Of course, nothing has changed. As the families of the victims of the Christmas Island disaster buried their dead last month, we listened in disbelief as shadow minister for immigration and citizenship, Scott Morrison, took politics to a new low by whining over the cost of flying mourners to Sydney, including the orphaned boy who probably watched his parents drown. Moreover, still on the website of shadow parliamentary secretary assisting the Leader of the Opposition, Cory Bernardi, are rants whipping up fear of Islam, including this comment on halal food:

I, for one, don’t want to eat meat butchered in the name of an ideology that is mired in sixth century brutality and is an anathema to my own values.

I say to Mr Morrison and Senator Bernardi: you are a disgrace—a disgrace to the high office you hold and to the people you represent. And I say to Mr Abbott: you must lance this boil once and for all. It is not good enough to dismiss the hate inhabiting the dark corners of the Liberal Party and the widespread community concern it engenders by just noting that your most senior operatives merely go ‘a little too far’.

What you should have done was sacked such people immediately from the shadow ministry and read the riot act. At least get Senator Bernardi to remove the bile from his website. You must also look afresh at your party’s policies and determine to address the way hate corrupts your party’s approach to public policy. For instance, asylum seekers are not illegals or terrorists, and heartfelt protection is not afforded by temporary protection visas. Trying to deny asylum seekers the use of surplus defence housing is nothing short of an act of bastardry, and threatening to slash foreign aid is abominable.

The Parliament of Australia should be a place for leaders, people who refuse to exploit the fault lines in our community and who instead seek to guide our society. Anyone who sits in this place and does not understand that responsibility has no right to be here. What we say matters, as evidenced by a letter TV personality Andrew Denton challenged Pauline Hanson with in 2004. It was written to an Asian woman by someone inspired by Ms Hanson, and it said:

You are nothing but an ungrateful, treacherous, yellow, slanty-eyed little Vietnamese whore. We have had enough of your lot, with their drug peddling and crime, so piss off now.

In other words, some politicians are as much to blame as the thugs themselves for episodes such as the Cronulla riots and the hate crimes which continue on our streets.

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