MEMBER OF FEDERAL PARLIAMENT PAULINE HANSON
Mr STEWART (Lakemba) [10.14]: I stand in this Parliament today in strong and proud support of the 121 ethnic nationalities that form the core of the Lakemba electorate, which is arguably the most diverse multicultural area in Australia. During the past 20 years the Lakemba electorate has by its very nature become a microcosm of what Australian multiculturalism has come to mean, setting a forward and positive example of multiculturalism for the rest of Australia to follow. It is both disappointing and disturbing to witness recent events instigated through the bigoted actions, as I see them, of the Federal member for Oxley, Ms Pauline Hanson, who for several months has used her privileged platform as a member of Parliament to attack and denigrate ethnic Australians. The antics and attitudes of Pauline Hanson would be best utilised in the infamous services of the Ku Klux Klan, rather than in pushing the cheap, vindictive and simplistic barrow that she does in Australia at the moment.
Pauline Hanson's continued denigrating comments about immigrants in Australia and the Aboriginal community have significantly damaged Australia's community and its overseas image. In ridiculous apocalyptic mode Pauline Hanson has recently declared, amongst other things, that time is running out for Australia. She would have us think that we may have only 10 or 15 years left - perhaps before the great Asian invasion. These ridiculous comments do not stop here. Last weekend Pauline Hanson was quoted in the Sydney Sun-Herald warning all Australians about the possibility of civil war if the present immigration programs and social policies on Aborigines continue. Clearly, in the context of Australian multiculturalism and Australian society in general, Pauline Hanson's comments are irresponsible and have no substance or foundation. In this context it is shameful and greatly alarming that the Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, has to date failed to denounce publicly Ms Hanson's comments and bigoted stand on immigrants and Aborigines. The Sydney Morning Herald declared recently:
In this light, it is shameful that Pauline Hanson was congratulated at the conclusion of her recent inaugural speech by dozens of Liberals and Nationals, including the Federal Government whip, Mr Alan Cadman. Clearly, given the negative and denigrating impact of Pauline Hanson's continued bigoted statements the Prime Minister should now stand up and be counted, instead of continuing to hide in Pauline Hanson's shadow. Healthy and constructive debate about issues, including immigration and Aboriginal policy, is a positive thing. But Pauline Hanson's approach could never be described as positive or constructive. This is not a debate aimed at furthering Australia and properly examining the substance of these issues. Ms Hanson has simply set about launching an emotive argument from a privileged position, aimed at polarising Australian opinion.
Unfortunately a number of Australians may follow Ms Hanson's prejudices about race, immigration and economic nationalism. But put to the real test, how far-reaching and deep is this feeling? I put it to the House that, contrary to supposed opinion polls, the brunt of it is perceptional rather than real. These days, few Australians can claim third or fourth generation Australian heritage. During the postwar years our Australian ethos and demographic sustentation have clearly been intrinsically tied to the wide settlement of millions of immigrants from all corners of the world. We are proud of our multicultural community, and the multicultural benefits that we have seen during the postwar years are significant.
We are now celebrating the Snowy River hydroelectric scheme and there is to be a reunion of immigrants in the area. The project is a significant result of the success of multiculturalism in this country. The arrival of immigrants in the Snowy River area was the beginning of multiculturalism, and we are now reaping the benefits. I know that Pauline Hanson has visited some Aboriginal communities. I invite her to visit Lakemba to see what multiculturalism is really about. She should have the guts to visit a real multicultural area, rather than hiding in the shadows at Oxley. She should visit Lakemba and make the comments that she has been making about Asians and immigration in general. If she did that I am sure she would get a different perspective. I am proud of the multicultural community at Lakemba. We are all Australians, we are all equal, and we should never lose sight of that. I am disappointed that Pauline Hanson's comments about immigration policy and Aboriginal policy have had an impact on the Australian ethos. I put it to the House that her reputation will come back to haunt her.
Pauline Hanson is a product of the Liberal Party's Queensland division. Consequently, as Liberal Federal Leader, Mr Howard has some responsibility for her comments and activities.