The Final Straw: Australians Unite to Reject Racism
Hate speech has no place in Australia’s multicultural society.
Political leaders from every side of Australian politics have united to condemn a “racist” speech by Australian crossbench Senator Fraser Anning, in which he called for a plebiscite to terminate immigration by Muslims and non-English speaking migrants “from the third world”.
Anning, a member of Bob Katter’s Australian Party, used his maiden speech to the Senate on Tuesday evening to call for a “final solution” to immigration and a shift back to “European Christian” values via a reinstatement of the White Australia Policy.
His comments were extensively condemned on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Anning’s comments were “appalling” and not at all an indication of Australian values.
"The remarks by Senator Anning are justly condemned and rejected by us all. There is no place in Australia for racism,” he stated. “We are a nation that does not define its nationality, its identity, by reference to race or religion or cultural background or ethnic background. People from every corner of the earth, from every religion — or of none — and every race can connect, be inspired by, and be part of our values. That is Australia.”
Echoing the comments of the Prime Minister was Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who labelled Anning’s speech as “repugnant and disgraceful”.
“The tiny number of violent extremists does not represent the Islamic communities of Australia. It is grossly unfair to blame Muslims, who see themselves as a committed component of Australian multicultural society,” Shorten stated. “But here is the truth about Australia. We are a nation made great by immigration. We are strong because we are diverse. We are a richer, smarter, more interesting, and a more prosperous destination because of people who have built a new life here.”
“Fraser Anning should not only retract his comments last night but he should also immediately go and visit a Holocaust museum and hear firsthand from survivors how raw the pain is, and hear about and see the destruction and devastation caused by the Nazi killing machine,” he told Channel Nine.
“I think it’s totally unacceptable for an Australian member of parliament let alone any Australian to utter those words and he should retract them.” @JoshFrydenberg on @fraser_anning's comments about Muslim migration. #9Todaypic.twitter.com/nt8MBE2Ym1— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) August 14, 2018
Josh Frydenberg crosses the chamber to embrace Ed Husic as the House of Representatives condemns Senator Fraser Anning's first speech pic.twitter.com/KtVOVbCbOr— Alex Ellinghausen (@ellinghausen) August 15, 2018
Despite following general protocol, Victorian Senator Derryn Hinch announced he regretted shaking Anning’s hand, before claiming Anning’s speech made him feel like he was “trapped in a Ku Klux Klan rally".
“His speech was one of the most disgraceful, racist, homophobic, divisive, misogynist, spiteful, hateful speeches I've ever heard," he stated. "I want to apologise to the Senate and the Australian people that ... I dutifully lined up and shook this unworthy man's hand. I then went home and I washed my own."
"After [Fraser Anning's] vomitous, poison last night, I then... followed Senate protocol and I dutifully lined up here and shook this unworthy man's hand. And I just want to go on record and say, I then went home and I washed my own." @HumanHeadlinepic.twitter.com/eMG0O3iPVE— Alice Workman (@workmanalice) August 15, 2018
Labor’s Penny Wong and Anne Aly both delivered powerful responses to the speech, with Aly stating she was “tired of having to stand up against hate and vilification” and Wong calling for “bipartisan support for the Australian values of inclusion, acceptance and respect”.
Muslim Labor MP Anne Aly tears up, saying she's sad that she's had to do this for 30 years.— Alice Workman (@workmanalice) August 15, 2018
"I'm tired of fighting. I'm tired of having to stand up against hate, against vilification, time and time and time again." pic.twitter.com/Y0gI9cvdQp
A motion recognising the Holt government's success in eradicating the White Australia Policy was passed in the Senate following Wong’s comments. The motion acknowledged Australia’s “unambiguous and unqualified commitment” to ensure ethnic origin, race, and faith are never used as requirements when assessing who is allowed into the nation.
Anning has adamantly refused to apologise for his comments.
Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane claimed “race politics is back” and labelled Anning’s speech as “disturbing”.
“As I warned previously, we are now unfortunately seeing a triple threat to our race relations: the return of race politics, the fuelling of racism by some sections of the media, and sustained attempts to weaken our institutional stance against racial discrimination," he stated. "Last night’s speech by Fraser Anning in the Senate, praising the White Australia policy and calling for a ‘final solution’ to Muslim immigration, just underlines the dangers.”
In a speech last week, Soutphommasane stated the last five years of Australian race relations had been “turbulent”, but claimed community support for racial equality and multiculturalism “remained strong.”
Good to see so many rejecting the White Australia racism and the “final solution” rhetoric of Fraser Anning. An especially strong speech from @Tony_Burke on the Reps floor last night. Time for some political leadership on race. And time for all fair-minded citizens to speak out— Tim Soutphommasane (@timsout) August 14, 2018
Following the rallying cries of politicians, Australian citizens have taken to Twitter to add their voice to the discourse.
It’s great to see political leaders denouncing & condemning Fraser Anning. But the actions of some of these leaders over the last few months have emboldened hardcore racists. We’ve been called n****, dogs, filthy people & denigrated in all ways, that was the road to Anning.— Maker Mayek (@MakMayek) August 14, 2018
“There has to be a point where this parliament says ‘enough’. And if we haven’t reached that point tonight, then for some of us, there is apparently no limit at all.”— Susan Carland (@SusanCarland) August 14, 2018
@Tony_Burke in response to Fraser Anning. https://t.co/63cLtraLP7
My family is gathering around my Nanna today who is dying.— Natasha Robinson (@NC_Robinson) August 14, 2018
She lived through World War II and the London Blitz. Her husband fought the Nazis directly. She is a passionate activist and loathed the White Australia policy. Fraser Anning is not fit to tie her bootlaces.
As a nice counterpoint to Fraser Anning's racism, on Monday @MehreenFaruqi, a Pakistani-born Muslim and generally lovely person, will be sworn into the Senate. One step back, two steps forward.— Rob Stott (@Rob_Stott) August 14, 2018
The biggest example of “failure to assimilate” that I’ve seen in our modern society is of men like Fraser Anning who seem completely unable to adapt to our multicultural country and its way of life. There’s no “immigrant problem”, Fraser. The problem is YOU.— Tegan (@sausageeyeroll) August 14, 2018
I am sickened by Fraser Anning’s speech. Even a censure motion won’t be enough to overcome this. His response to the outrage he caused is even worse. If he didn’t mean to invoke The Holocaust, he should have apologised promptly. His failure to apologise is a sign of his intent.— Marcia Langton (@marcialangton) August 14, 2018
Wonder how the large Jewish community in Malcolm Turnbull’s Wentworth electorate feel about members of his party in the Senate congratulating Fraser Anning on his ‘final solution’ call.— Mr Denmore (@MrDenmore) August 14, 2018
Can someone ask this Fraser Anning muppet, apparently of the Katter Party, whether the Katter family, descending from Maronites from Lebanon, would be allowed into Australia under the Anning ‘solution’?— Gʀᴀʏ Cᴏɴɴᴏʟʟʏ (@GrayConnolly) August 14, 2018
“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities," activist and leader Nelson Mandela famously said. "It is an ideal which I hope to live for and achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Against the backdrop of Anning’s speech, these words by Mandela continue to be vital. The challenges our generation faces in Australia and abroad prove that we must do our part to change the world. We all want to live in a world that reflects our generation’s shared values — a world where people of all genders, race, religion, and ethnicity are treated equally.