Pauline Hanson addresses the racial Discrimination Act
Senator HANSON (Queensland) (10:48): I have listened to some comments in this chamber today and all I hear about is racism. Let me make my point very clear. When I first came into parliament I stood on the ground of equality for all Australians—equality regardless of race, colour or creed. Also, what I have tried to make quite clear is that, yes, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people were the first peoples of this land here. Yes, Australia was colonised and people came here. Since then, many migrants from around the world have sought to make Australia their home. They have come here to join us and to be one of us, and I welcome that. My first husband was actually Polish. He was a migrant after the Second World War who came to Australia for a new life with his mother.
I have had involvement with people of all different cultural backgrounds. The manager of my shop—my fish and chip shop—was also a refugee from Laos. I had the highest regard for her and we worked very well together. I had properties that I actually rented out to an Aboriginal lady and her child. My children grew up in the same street with Aboriginal children. My association will all different cultures has been one that I have cherished. My parents were people that welcomed anyone into their homes, and that is how I was taught. I have respect for so many different cultures and the people. Respect is earned by the person, not purely based on who they are or their race. It must be earned.
People say, ‘Why are we standing up here and speaking out against the words “to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate”?’ Today times have changed greatly. People have come to our country. I remember most, years ago when they came, there were the Greeks, the Italians and different ones. They were called wogs. They keep telling me, ‘My god, we actually had everything thrown at us. We were abused, but we said no. We got on with it.’ Because when the Aussies had a go at them in that Aussie way they became part of the community—they assimilated. I remember all the guys at the fish markets—the Greeks and the Italians. We all had jokes together and it was taken in a good sense of humour. I think we have lost that in Australia. I think people have become so precious that you cannot say or do anything anymore. Otherwise, you will be dragged off to the law courts.
You talk about racism. Let’s define the word ‘racism’. A racist is a person who believes their race to be superior to another. Understand the meaning. When you criticise or you have a point of difference, do not counteract that by saying it is a racist comment. I am fed up with people in this parliament and even outside this place calling me a racist, yet they cannot define one word that I have ever said in policy or anything that is racist.
I remember years ago, when I was first elected, I went to have a meeting with the Aboriginal elders. It was set up with the media. I remember they came out and called me a pig in mud and white trash. The media actually printed it. Then, when I actually spoke to them about it, they said, ‘Well, what’s wrong with that?’ I can well imagine if I had reversed the words, but I never did. What I am hearing now is all one way—it is one-sided. Let’s have a debate on this.
Senator McKim says here, ‘If we change it and get rid of 18C, what do you want to say that you can’t say now?’ I will say, through you, Madam Deputy President, a case in point is those students. What did they say on the Facebook page? They said it is ‘segregation with segregation’. So they were shut down. What is that? That is not an insult. It was pure fact. They actually went to the university and they wanted to go into a room and use computers that were purely marked for Aboriginals only. That is racist in itself. Why didn’t they go and complain about 18C? Why wasn’t something done about it? It is not; they are protected because we have laws in this country now that protect anyone who is not of a colour or anyone from another race criticising the Australians. It has become now, in Australia, reverse racism. That is why Australians are fed up with it. That is why they are saying they want change. It has gotten to a point where you cannot have a say anymore. I am okay; I am in this chamber. I am protected. I can say what I want to say here, but not if I go outside this chamber and say it outside, like many Australians. We cannot have an opinion. We cannot say anything anymore.
Senator Dodson made a comment. He said up until 1967 he was not included in the census, and that was true, but the Aboriginal people did have the vote prior to that. I believe it was Western Australia; please correct me if I am wrong. The whole fact is that Australians believed at the time of the referendum in treating Aboriginal people equally. That is why the majority of Australians—around 97 or 98 per cent—voted for that: they wanted equality and they did not want the separation anymore. Senator Dodson says that Aboriginal people were not included in the Constitution. Actually, section 51(xxvi) of the Australian Constitution, in the time before the referendum, said that the Commonwealth shall make specific laws for any race other than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The framers of that Constitution, our leaders who drew up the Constitution in the 1890s, put in that ability to make specific laws for any race other than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and that was because of the Chinese and Afghanis in this country—mainly the Chinese—because of opium and the immigration. That is why it was put in. It was not put in for any reason to do with Aboriginal people at all. It was to do with that.
Senator Dodson talks about words—they can be hurtful and words are what are happening in Syria and the fighting around the world. I do not believe it is just about words. I think it is about hatred of a religion that is casting their hate and their political ideology onto the rest of the world. That is what is behind this. I do believe that we will have the same problem in Australia if we do not address it and have the right to debate it to find the answers so that each and every one of us can live in peace and harmony on our streets and not live in fear of being dragged before the courts. I am pleased to hear that Senator McKim is following my Facebook page. He made a mention of it. Maybe he will learn a lot more from how the Australian people really feel.
What I am saying here today is: is it really going too far to have an opinion that we offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate someone? Maybe the people in Australia should start looking at others of a different religious background to us, so that they may start to think twice before they make their comments on the streets towards our young ladies who wish to not cover themselves up or dress in the fashion of a short skirt and who are then told they are nothing but the meat market. There are women on our beaches who cannot go swimming, because others are offensive towards them. There is a lot of this going on this country, yet there are people in this chamber who will not acknowledge it, and I am sick and tired of seeing them stand up for one race or other people in this country, who do not see themselves as Australians and who have no intentions of ever assimilating. We are told constantly, time and time again, that we must be tolerant. Well, I have had it up to here with my tolerance. I believe that we have a right to have an opinion, have a say and debate it. I will go back to the point: I welcome anyone who has come to this country to join us, to assimilate and to respect our culture and way of life. I stand by that. It is a shame that we have come to the point where we need to debate this issue, but that is where our country is headed. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.