Why we walked out

Pauline Hanson’s racist speech has no place in the parliament or in our community. Together, we can stand up and create the kind of nation we want Australia to be: welcoming, compassionate and strong.

By Richard Di Natale, Leader, Australian Greens
Thursday, September 15, 2016

Last night, we walked out of the chamber during Pauline Hanson's first speech to this Parliament because we stand with the millions of Australians who choose to walk away from negativity and racism.

We stand with all those Australians who are feeling the sting of Senator Hanson’s words. You shouldn’t be made to feel like that. We want you to know that you have an ally in Parliament and millions of allies in the Australian community.

But the Greens will not stand by while community groups are singled-out and vilified. Casual or overt racism should be called out wherever it occurs, including in the Australian Parliament.

As elected members of Parliament, we are in a position to choose whether we want to unite or want to divide this nation. And right now, we need unity more than ever.

We know that this country has been watching the first speeches of members of Parliament very closely and we are sending a very strong message that we stand with the majority of Australians who value cultural diversity, respect and tolerance.

Multiculturalism is one of Australia’s enduring successes, and it should be protected and celebrated. In a culturally and linguistically diverse society, we have to make sure our Government serves the needs of all Australians. Together we can ensure that Australia prospers.

With more than 85 per cent of Australians agreeing that multiculturalism is good for our country and a quarter of our citizens hailing from overseas, it’s something we should work hard to promote and protect. Our multiculturalism is something to be proud of, and to celebrate. But we also need to make sure that our Government, our schools, workplaces and services are well placed to empower and support our migrant communities.

We need to continue working to strengthen multiculturalism in our nation, and to ensure all people, regardless of their race are protected.

Protecting the Racial Discrimination Act is a key part of this work. We will continue to stand steadfast with the community to protect Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, in the face of threats from the right wing of Malcolm Turnbull’s party room.

The Liberals and a few Senate crossbenchers tried and failed to change 18C under Tony Abbott, and if they're determined to try again with Malcolm Turnbull, the Greens will make sure history repeats itself.

Stand with us.

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