Speech: A modern and secular parliament


This country is changing, our community is changing and our parliament is changing. More than half of us were born overseas or have a parent born overseas and a quarter of us have a non-European background. Only 44 per cent now identify as Christian, and that number is falling. Other religions are growing, as is the number of Australians who don't have any religion, which is now almost 40 per cent. This parliament is more diverse than ever: more First Nations people, more people of colour and more women. Australia is changing.

I'm glad to see Senator Hanson get absolutely slammed for storming out of here last week during the acknowledgement of country. It was frankly a pathetic stunt from a senator who is struggling with relevance deprivation. If we are genuine about saying to the community that parliament is a place that welcomes people from every race, faith and culture, then its systems and norms, which purport to represent the community, must change. How can we continue to open our daily business with the Lord's Prayer? How can we continue to swear allegiance to a monarch of an outdated and terrible institution that has wreaked havoc around the world? How can we allow racism to harm so many?

The truth is First Nations peoples are the sovereign owners of this land, and our society is now highly culturally diverse. Our parliament should be modern and secular, so let's stop pretending that we are a white Christian monocultural society. We are not. We never were. We must shed the shackles of colonialism. Racism, the oath to the British monarch and the reading of the Lord's Prayer to start our day have no place in here.