Thank you, Madam Speaker. I rise today to respond to a disturbing speech that was given in the Federal Parliament yesterday by Senator Anning. The senator spoke fondly of a time in Australia’s past when our immigration program, quote, ‘actively discriminated in favour of Europeans’. To point out the obvious, Madam Speaker, neither I nor my Liberal colleague Ms Lee would be here now under such a program. Many of the very best Australians that I know likewise wouldn’t be here under such a program. Senator Anning may think that Australia would be better without us, but he’s wrong, and I have no shyness about saying that!
I am grateful, Madam Speaker, that the policies that Senator Anning would like to see come back are long gone. And I am honoured to stand in this place today as a migrant, as a woman, as one whose first language is not English, and as a proud member of the party that, under the leadership of Liberal prime ministers Sir Robert Menzies and Harold Holt, dismantled the ‘white Australia policy’ that was inflicted upon this nation by the Australian Labor Party and its union backers upon Federation. Madam Speaker, the migration that has occurred in the wake of these changes has been a boon to the modern nation of Australia, enriching our society in so many ways.
Senator Anning made specific and ugly references during his speech to Muslim Australians, Madam Speaker. I wish to take this opportunity to speak in support of my Muslim friends and neighbours. The senator from Queensland called these people’s faith the most ‘retrograde force that exists in the world’ before making an appeal for the complete end to all further immigration of Muslims.
The senator’s remarks are offensive, manipulative and – using his own words – retrograde. Though he has a right to express his own opinion, I strongly believe his words are an attempt to fuel hatred and contention amongst our citizens. I and the Canberra Liberals condemn his remarks. This is not how a member of the Australian Senate should behave.
This is not, Madam Speaker, how we ‘make this Commonwealth of ours renowned of all the lands’. To quote again from our national anthem:
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share.
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
We must rise above divisive ideology with courage and embrace others with different cultures and religions. This is how we advance Australia fair.
The Senator needs to put forth some effort to actually come to know the good-hearted, peace-loving Muslims whom I know and whom I hold dear as cherished friends.