Racism



About this Item
SpeakersArena The Hon Franca; Sham-Ho The Hon Helen; Kaldis The Hon James
BusinessBusiness of the House

RACISM

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA [2.50]: I move:
      That this House:
          (a) views with concern the increased votes at the last Federal election of candidates who made racist comments;
          (b) deplores such racist comments and urges all members of the Australian community to unite to fight all types of racism wherever and whenever they find it; and
          (c) believes that the very fabric of a multicultural society is a fragile one which needs to be supported and nurtured and that it is the duty not only of governments but of all individual citizens to ensure harmonious relationships amongst all people.

I shall start my speech by giving figures regarding the Australian population to put into perspective the composition of our multicultural society. The figures come from the latest publication by the Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research, Australian National Trends and Prospects 1995. It states that the Australian population passed 18 million people in March 1995. I commend the publication to honourable members. In 1994 the estimated number of people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin was 303,300, which represents 1.7 per cent of the total Australian population. In 1993 and 1994 there was little change in the proportion of the population born overseas - 23 per cent. The largest birthplace group in 1994 was people born in the United Kingdom, who make up about 7 per cent of the total population, or 30 per cent of the overseas-born population. In 1991 six birthplace groups had more than 100,000 people each. Two groups were from English speaking countries, the United Kingdom and New Zealand; three were from European countries, Italy, Greece and Germany; and one was from Asia, Vietnam.

Immigrants from these countries, with the exception of Vietnam, have been settling in Australia in considerable numbers from the nineteenth century. With the exception of Canada
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and Israel, Australia has the most multicultural and diverse population in the world. Over four million people have come to Australia since World War II, representing between 120 and 140 different ethnic groups, depending on how they are classified. I was amazed when I received information from the Parliamentary Library showing that people of 107 different religions live in Australia. There are Christians from denominations such as Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Orthodox, and others; Muslims - the Shiites, Sunni, and Druse; Jews; Farsi; and Buddhists, just to name a few. They speak 90 different languages, 68 of which are broadcast every week on Special Broadcasting Service radio.

This wonderful diversity could also be a recipe for disaster if we do not nurture, cherish and respect each other's diversity. Australian society has been diverse since time immemorial as the Aboriginal people were divided in different tribes, spoke different languages, and had different customs and cultures. So we can honestly say that Australia was multicultural since its very beginning. Together with multiculturalism, there has been racism from the very beginning. I believe that even amongst Aboriginal tribes there were divisions and fighting, especially over women. The history of Australia has always been strongly connected with racism. One group of people often feels superior to others. It is not only the history of Australia; it is the history of the world. But we are Australians and we are concerned about our own country and the development of our society. Therefore we must be absolutely vigilant about what happens here.

As I said, racism is part of our history: consider the prejudices of the dominant English class against the Irish and other minority groups. Italians, Greeks and Lebanese did not arrive in Australia in great numbers until after the Second World War; they arrived in small numbers from the beginning. In most small country towns, not just the cities, there was an Italian fruit shop, a Greek cafe and a Lebanese men's store. But it was the arrival of the Kanakas and the Chinese in the last century which brought to the forefront of Australian society the strong racist attitude which has been bubbling under the surface for so many years. The discovery of gold in Victoria and New South Wales resulted in a large number of Chinese coming to Australia to prospect. At one stage they outnumbered white people by a ratio of 6:1 on the goldfields. This caused a terrible backlash against them.

It was our fathers - I say fathers because there were no mothers involved - who drafted the Constitution and who reached agreement on the formation of the Federation. Many issues divided them but most of them were united on one issue, and that was keeping Australia for the white man and woman. It is interesting that the very first Act of the Australian Parliament in 1901 was the Australian Immigration Restriction Act, which set the white Australia policy and initiated the dictation test. That Act was followed by the Repatriation Act, in 1901 and 1902, which sent home the overwhelming majority of Chinese and Kanakas. The racism was not directed only at Chinese and Kanakas; it extended to Aborigines, who at the time were not even considered Australian citizens. They had to wait until the referendum of 1967 for that. The Bulletin magazine had this quote in its edition of 2 July 1887:
      No nigger, no Chinaman, no Lascar, no Kanaka, no purveyor of cheap coloured labour, is an Australian.

Another example of sordid racism is the following quote which I hope members will listen to intently:
      The doctrine of the equality of man was never intended to apply to the equality of the Englishman and Chinaman. There is a deep-set difference, and we see no prospect and no promise of its ever being effaced. Nothing in this world can put these two races upon an equality. Nothing we can do by cultivation, by refinement, or by anything else will make some races equal to others.

Those incredible words, the epitome of racism, I would say, were delivered by none other than Edmund Barton, the Australian Prime Minister in Parliament in 1901 speaking in defence of the immigration restriction legislation. I am grateful to Professor Mary Kalantzis, who brought this to my attention and allowed me to quote it from one of her speeches. If that is what the Prime Minister was saying, we can imagine what the ordinary citizen of this country was saying at the time. It is interesting to reflect on the speech because in this Parliament members sometimes put on record statements of which they are later ashamed. For instance, I will never forget the opposition of the Hon. Virginia Chadwick to the Aboriginal land rights legislation in this Chamber. I had been a member for only a short time. The Leader of this House at the time was the Hon. Paul Landa. As a member of the Jewish community and therefore a member of a minority group, he was defending in a very moving way the legislation for land rights for Aboriginal people. The Hon. Virginia Chadwick opposed the legislation in no uncertain terms. I am sure that if she looks at her speech back in those days she must feel deeply ashamed, just as Mr Howard must be ashamed of what he said about "a day of shame", referring to the day when the Mabo legislation went through the Federal Parliament. I do not know who should feel the shame.

Racism is as old as humanity and we in Australia have displayed it in many ways throughout our history. But let us look at the racism which is of great concern to us in modern times. During the last Federal election campaign some members of Parliament and candidates accused ethnic groups and Aboriginal communities of not being true Australians but being groups who were only bludging on the Australian community. They used these words hoping to gain votes and public support.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. Here are some of the gems of statements made during the last Federal campaign. First of all, let
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us look at those of Bob Katter, who won the North Queensland seat of Kennedy for the National Party in 1993. In the 1980s this person was a member of the Queensland Bjelke-Petersen Government. Mr Katter was trying to defend a colleague of his, another leading member of the National Party, a Mr Burgess, of whom nobody had ever heard before. Mr Katter spoke about the critics of his colleague the candidate for Leichhardt, Bob Burgess, as "little, slanty-eyed ideologues who persecute ordinary, average Australians".

Mr Katter was hit with a feather duster by Mr Howard and Mr Fischer about such comments despite the fact that the chairperson of the Ethnic Communities Council, Angela Chan, said that Mr Katter's comments were offensive and hurtful and could harm the chances of the Opposition leader Mr Howard to become Prime Minister at the next election. This was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 15 February 1996. Ms Chan continued by saying that Mr Howard had just taken five steps forward and 10 steps back with the ethnic groups and called on Mr Howard to take immediate action to disendorse Mr Katter, following the example set by the Federal Government in disendorsing the Federal member for Kalgoorlie, Mr Graeme Campbell.

Ms Chan is further quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald of 15 February 1996 as saying that those outbursts had caused widespread dismay and offence in the community at all levels and that political parties need to take strong and effective action to remove any stain of racism which would poison not only the parties themselves but also the community. The same article quotes various people, including the president of the Chinese-Australian Forum, Dr Thiam Ang, who said that Mr Katter's comments should be treated with the utmost contempt and could do great harm to the coalition image. Mr Stepan Kerkyasharian, chairperson of the Ethnic Affairs Commission, said that politicians such as Mr Katter were not acceptable in the Australian Parliament if he continued to express such racist views, and that very decisive action by the National and Liberal parties was needed immediately.

Those were some of the gems from Mr Katter. The saddest part of it all is that Mr Katter is of ethnic background. I believe he has a Lebanese father. Other gems came from Mr Bob Burgess, who was talking about naturalisation ceremonies on Australia Day in 1996. He said that naturalisation ceremonies were dewogging ceremonies. I must remind the House that Mr Burgess himself, a councillor of the Cairns City Council, migrated from England and attacked the previous Labor Government, saying that too many immigrants were arriving in Australia. I wonder whether he meant too many immigrants from other parts of the world or too many immigrants from England. It would be interesting to know what he meant. He is quoted also as saying that the ethnic lobby had too great an influence in Australia and that such ethnic lobbies would not receive favourable treatment under a coalition Government. It will be interesting to see what happens under a new coalition Government.

This obsession that people have with the ethnic lobby is interesting. After all, it is legitimate to have lobbies in our community. We have the gun lobby; the doctors have the Australian Medical Association; and the lawyers have the Law Society. There are all sorts of other lobby groups in our community. I do not know why people are so resentful and upset about the lobbies of ethnic groups. They are a part of our society. They organise themselves and have their voices heard. I cannot understand why there is such strong antagonism towards them.

The Hon. C. J. S. Lynn: Are you talking about the coalition Government that got rid of the white Australia policy?

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: The white Australia policy dictation test was abolished in 1958. Under the Holt Government there was a relaxation of the restrictions on Asian immigrants, but only for students.

The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: What about Arthur Calwell's policy?

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: Arthur Calwell's policy was just as racist. He is on record as saying that two wongs don't make a white. It was a policy at the time, and maybe that is how we can look at it. But I am not here to defend his policy. The Labor Party only changed its policy to put it on a completely non-discriminatory basis in 1972. That was done by the Whitlam Government. To his credit, Fraser continued and improved on that policy. History speaks for itself.

The Hon. C. J. S. Lynn: And Howard will continue to improve it.

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: I am sure he will. I hope so. Of course, the real heroine of the Liberal Party, the candidate for the seat of Oxley, who fortunately was disendorsed by her party, was Pauline Hanson. She made some very offensive remarks. This one was recorded in the Sydney Morning Herald of Saturday, 30 March:
      Black deaths in custody seem to be Robert Tickner's latest outcry. Pity that as much media coverage of political grandstanding is not shown for white deaths in custody. How can we expect this race to help themselves when governments shower them with money, facilities and opportunities that only these people can obtain, no matter how minute the indigenous blood is that flows through their veins, and this is causing racism.

There was another gem on 3 March, when Pauline Hanson said:
      Why can some people get something because of the colour of their skin and other people can't?

On 4 March, following the election, Mrs Hanson said she would be fighting for "the white community, the immigrants, Italians, Greeks,
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whoever, it really doesn't matter - anyone, apart from the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders". Pauline Hanson should be ashamed of herself. She should be ashamed of making such statements. I will speak later about her lies on what the Aborigines are getting. She suggests that other people cannot get what the Aborigines are getting. As if the Aborigines are so well off! I have not seen many Aborigines driving Mercedes. In my area there are Greeks, Italians, Chinese and people from other ethnic backgrounds, but not an Aborigine. I live in a rather wealthy area and I have never seen an Aborigine from there driving a Mercedes, or heard about them sunning themselves in the expensive resorts of Queensland, or taking overseas trips and flying first class with Qantas. I must be living in another world.

The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: She should be judged on what she said.

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: Exactly. I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is an honest man.

The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: The Federal election was about Keating, not about what Mrs Hanson said. There was no endorsement of what she said.

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: No. I bring this motion because there is a danger that she brings to the surface a lot of these racist attitudes and tries to legitimise them.

The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: She probably will not be there after the next elections.

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: I hope you are right. On 8 March Mrs Hanson said:
      Why do they think they should be entitled to cheaper housing loans at such a cheaper interest rate? You know, why should they be entitled to get a hepatitis B shot because of the colour of their skin and other people out in the community can't get it? And why should there be a difference between Abstudy and Austudy? You know different benefits are there. And I don't think that all Aboriginals appreciate what is being done for them.

I feel ashamed that I share my nationality with someone like Pauline Hanson, and I want to congratulate the Liberal Party for having sacked her as their candidate. However, she got a 23 per cent swing in Oxley. That should have all thinking Australians worrying. I bring to the attention of honourable members a very good article written by Adele Horin and published in the Sydney Morning Herald of 9 March 1996 on why Pauline Hanson is wrong:
      Let's look at this claim about special benefits for Aborigines. Take education. What do Aborigines get that non-Aborigines don't get? Non-Aboriginal students get Austudy once they turn 16 if their family has a very low income. Aboriginal students get Abstudy once they turn 16 if their family has a very low income. There are minor differences to do with cut-offs and tapers but essentially they are similar programs. So the vast majority of Aboriginal students from poor families are no better off than the vast majority of whites from poor families.

Adele Horin makes the following very good point:
      Indeed, many white kids have been able to get Austudy who shouldn't. Their families run small businesses and farms - still rare pursuits among Aborigines - and have been able to minimise their taxable income below the $21,600 threshold, which makes their child eligible for Austudy. In January the Department of Employment, Education and Training carried out a crackdown on Austudy rorts which hardly endeared it to some country folk who were asked a lot of tricky questions about their assets and investments. Many lost Austudy as a result.

I am not surprised. I remember when my own sons were at university a lot of students from wealthy middle-class families living in Mosman or other good suburbs gave false addresses and practised every kind of rort in order to receive Austudy, even though they were not entitled to it. One never hears about them but always hears about Aborigines rorting the system and so on. Pauline Hanson's comments reflect an attempt to make people believe that Aboriginal privilege is rife and that mainstream Australians have lost out, while people in the margins have prospered, thanks to special benefits and affirmative action. In effect, this is not true. Education is a good example. Aborigines do not receive anything that non-Aboriginals receive. Non-Aboriginal students get Austudy, Aboriginal students get Abstudy. It was brought to my attention that in the Daily Telegraph of Wednesday, 29 May, Pauline Hanson made another "intelligent" remark: that Aborigines must feel guilty about cannibalism. It pains me to give publicity to these kinds of people but unfortunately it must be done in order to put on the record what honourable members think of statements like these. I repudiate and abhor them. The Daily Telegraph article stated:
      Independent MP Pauline Hanson, whose stark racial views helped her to a shock victory in the federal election, said yesterday Aborigines should feel guilty over cannibalism by their ancestors.
      Ms Hanson, a former Liberal Party candidate for the election, was immediately condemned by the Government.

Thank God for that! The article continued:
      She said Aborigines should feel the same guilt white Australians were made to cope with for atrocities over the past 200 years.
      She said reconciliation was a failed concept and should be abandoned.

She said reconciliation was designed to make white Australians feel guilty for things that happened generations ago. I know that the Hon. Helen Sham-Ho is a member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and I hope she will have something to say about wasting time preparing another report on Aboriginal reconciliation. These types of racist comments are absolutely appalling. Mr Burgess, Mr Katter, Ms Hanson and, of course, I cannot forget the person I mentioned before, Graeme Campbell - the person with whom I have had a private quarrel for the past 10 years. I have opposed Mr Campbell in the public forum for many years now. I find his racist comments about Aborigines and ethnic groups truly offensive. On
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several occasions I have written to the President of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Barry Jones, to the secretary of the party and also to the former Prime Minister asking them to take action against Mr Campbell. I was happy that finally they did so. I was happy to read the following comments by Mr Keating reported in the Australian on 8 February:
      We won't abide people in our party running around . . . putting racist slurs, trafficking in racism.
      In our party, racism doesn't travel, and we weren't going to cop it.

I am glad that finally some action was taken prior to the last election against Mr Campbell. I very much regret that he was re-elected. Even the mention of Mr Campbell's name sets off an allergic reaction in me. But, with regret, I must admit he was not only able to retain his Western Australian seat of Kalgoorlie, but was able to capture more than 35 per cent of the first preferences, despite running as an Independent. Sometimes one is disillusioned and disappointed in life. It is a warning sign that the candidates who gave voice to racist attitudes won such strong support at the last Federal election. While it certainly does not mean that Australia's drive to build a tolerant, multicultural society has failed, it stands as a warning that an even bigger effort has to be made to overcome deep-seated racial prejudice, which obviously exists in many parts of Australia.

Honourable members must remember that the victories of people I have mentioned, Hanson, Burgess, Katter and Campbell, are victories which are confined to rural and semi-rural Queensland and Western Australia. Unfortunately, some of these areas are well known for their conservative and racist attitudes. I point that out so that the Howard Government and its immigration Minister, Mr Philip Ruddock - a man I have always admired and respected - will look at this area to see what kind of program can be put in place in dealing with the multicultural challenge they represent. It is important that they take steps to set in place programs which address the misinformation that is put around to incite hatred against Aboriginal people and ethnic groups. It is a major responsibility of the Howard Government to build social cohesion in our multicultural society. That duty applies not only to the Howard Government but also to the State and Territory governments, and other people. I turn now to comments made by Mr Neville Bonner in the Sydney Morning Herald on 4 March.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: A great Liberal Aboriginal senator; the only one ever!

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: Indeed, to the credit of the Liberal Party he was a senator. I hope that the Australian Labor Party, which has a very good record as far as ethnic groups are concerned, will take the further step of ensuring that Aboriginal representation happens in this House. I would like to see Aboriginal representation in the ALP. I know that the Hon. Ann Symonds is leading an inquiry into the feasibility of reserving seats for Aborigines in this Parliament and I look forward to the deliberation of her committee. Mr Neville Bonner, a former Liberal senator and an Aboriginal elder, lives in the Oxley electorate. He said that indigenous Australians were greatly disappointed but not surprised by the results. He believed they reflected deep ingrained and widespread racist sentiments in the general community. Mr Bonner said:
      We know there is a great deal of racism out there because we come up against it every day of our lives. There are a lot of people who quietly applaud racist attitudes without having to declare themselves. What else can we do but grin and bear it?

I give him my deepest solidarity and sympathy. The comments to which I have referred were made during the last election by candidates and former candidates of the Labor, Liberal, and National parties. Let us not forget that the leader of the National Party in this Parliament, Mr Ian Armstrong, during the same period made a racist joke regarding Aborigines. Mr Armstrong was condemned for cracking a joke to a key Olympic investment conference in London about a Korean dressing up as an Aborigine, as reported in the Daily Telegraph of 17 February. Mr Armstrong made the joke at a conference of 150 leading British business figures. He broke from his prepared speech about Olympic opportunities to cite the example of a cruise operator whose business attracted some 100,000 Korean tourists each year. He said that the man had originally hired an Aboriginal didgeridoo player.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: On a point of order. The standing orders of this House state that members should not attack other members except by a substantive motion. The Hon. Franca Arena should be aware of that and should not participate in such an attack.

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: On the point of order. I was reporting what was published in a newspaper. I was not myself attacking Mr Armstrong. I was reporting what Mr Armstrong said at a very public conference which was widely reported in the Australian newspapers.

The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: On the point of order. The member was clearly attacking the integrity of a member in another place, whether she was quoting from a newspaper or whether she was making up these words herself. The standing orders of the House are quite clear on this.

The Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann: On a point of order. The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti did not take a point of order this morning when the Hon. J. H. Jobling made a very fearsome attack on my integrity. For the sake of consistency he should remain silent.

The Hon. J. W. Shaw: On the point of order. I heard what the honourable member said. She was not launching an attack on the integrity of any member in the other place; she was referring to what had apparently been said and commenting as to the appropriateness or otherwise of that. That is not an attack on integrity or character and it is perfectly
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allowable in debate. It happens all the time.

The Hon. Helen Sham-Ho: On the point of order. Standing Order 80 states:
      No member shall use offensive words -

and I submit the honourable member used offensive words -
      against either House of the Legislature, or any Member thereof; nor against any Statute, unless when moving for its repeal.

I put that the honourable member was using offensive words in respect of a member in another place.

The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Ann Symonds): Order! No point of order is involved. From time to time members make ill-considered responses in this House. On this occasion the honourable member was quoting from a newspaper article. Argument in this House would be barren indeed if a strict interpretation of the standing orders allowed debate to be stifled.

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: The article stated that the "tour operator then chose a Korean, who dressed up as an Aboriginal didgeridoo player, because he was more reliable". It was reported that many in the audience looked surprised and uncomfortable and that an Aboriginal footballer, Ricky Walford, who was present, said that he was disgusted by the remarks, and there was some suggestion that he would discourage Aboriginal sportspeople from taking part in the 2000 Olympic Games. I am very upset about the joke Mr Armstrong made and I want to put it on record that I have not forgotten it. Honourable members are wrong if they think it was a one-off remark. I believe that Mr Armstrong was asked at the time to apologise but chose not to, and that he actually thought the joke was funny. I leave it for people to make up their own minds about this matter.

After I finished writing this speech I had brought to my attention an item in the Sydney Morning Herald of Tuesday, 28 May, about the National Party and those waiting in the wings to assume the leadership of the party. The article appeared under the headline "National Party star defects to Liberals". The Hon. Richard Bull, Peter Cochran, Wendy Machin, George Souris and John Turner were referred to in the article. Their good points and bad points were detailed. With regard to Mr George Souris, alongside the word "pro" were the words, "Seniority, articulate, energetic, likeable". However, among the words alongside the word "con" was the word "Greek". The Hon. J. Kaldis very kindly brought this article to my attention.

The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: I should have thought that would be an asset.

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, it should have been an asset. The article was under the by-line "Bernard Lagan". Even the Sydney Morning Herald thinks that people of Greek origin are a joke. The Hon. George Souris, whom I know and respect, is an Australian of Greek origin.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Are you calling Bernard Lagan a racist?

The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT: Order! The honourable member will refrain from interjecting.

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: One of the things that counted against George Souris was his Greek origin. That is an indication of the racism that still exists in our society, at all levels. Whether it be on the staff of the Sydney Morning Herald, in the Labor Party or in the Liberal Party, racism is evident and it will not go away. I would have written a letter to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald about the article, but I know that letters to the editor are handled by a strange woman who, for some reason, does not publish letters from parliamentarians - except those she is on good terms with. I have written many letters to the editor of that publication but I know that until Geraldine Walsh no longer has that responsibility I am wasting my time. I thought it would be better to refer to the matter in the House.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Is Bernard Lagan a racist?

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti keeps asking if Bernard Lagan is a racist. I will leave it to the honourable member to decide. The article suggests that one of Mr Souris's bad points is his Greek origin. As to whether Bernard Lagan is a racist or not, I suggest the Hon. B. P. V. Pezzutti discuss the matter with him. Jewish people in our community also feel the brunt of racism. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, which keeps a database on anti-Semitic incidents in Australia, received a record number of reports of anti-Jewish threats, harassment and vandalism in 1995, according to the president of that council, Diane Shteinman. The council apparently received a report of 239 individual incidents, an increase of 5 per cent on the previous year. Among the incidents were vandalism of cemeteries and synagogues, graffiti on Jewish shops and homes, and harassment of Jewish Australians walking to and from synagogues.

Of course, other victims of racism are often Australians who are visibly different, especially women who wear Muslim attire. While I condemn such attacks, I also condemn attacks against Christians by Muslims who come to Australia to sow the seed of religious hatred. In this regard I refer to Islamic evangelist Sheik Ahmed Deedat, a South African who, on Good Friday, spoke about Easter, indulged in bible-bashing and incited racial hatred. I am all for freedom of speech, but our leaders should show some understanding and, above all, respect for the views and beliefs of others. Australia can do without people like Sheik Deedat. I do not know why he came to Australia or why he adopted such a confrontationist approach on Good Friday at a big public meeting at Sydney Town Hall when he disparaged the Christian faith. I certainly do not support such an approach.

Recently there has been considerable discussion about funding to Aborigines and alleged misappropriations by some members of that community, especially members of the Aboriginal Legal Service. It is alleged that Mr Paul Coe received payments well beyond his entitlement. I hope this matter will be thoroughly investigated and, if the allegation is proved, that Mr Coe is penalised. Community leaders must understand that their behaviour is extremely important, whether they be Aboriginal, Anglo-Celtic or of ethnic origin. At this stage of our history, such misdemeanour by our leaders reflects on the whole community. It is unfortunate but that is the way it is. I was saddened to read in the Australian on 18 April that the President of the Anti-Discrimination Board, Mr Chris Puplick, said that complaints to the board had increased from several a month to several a day, and he blamed the current debate about funding of Aboriginal organisations and comments by candidates during the recent Federal election campaign.

I moved this motion because of my great concern for the social fabric of Australian society. I could speak for hours about racism in Australia and throughout the world. And it is not only directed by one particular section of the community at another group. I was informed by a colleague, Paul Zammit, who stood for and indeed won the Federal seat of Lowe, of an incident in which he was involved during his campaign. He told that while door-knocking he knocked on the door of a house occupied by a man of Italian origin. The door was opened by the occupier, who asked Mr Zammit who he was. Mr Zammit said, "My name is Zammit and I am the Liberal Party candidate. I wonder if you will vote for me?" The occupier said, "Yes, I will vote for you. Are you Mr Howard's party?" Mr Zammit said, "Yes." He said, "I always vote for Labor but this time I will vote for you." Mr Zammit said, "Can I ask you why?" The man replied, "I hate Chinese and so does Mr Howard." That is absolutely dreadful. However, I relate it to illustrate the point that racism exists not only between Anglo-Saxons and Aborigines; it exists across all sections of society. It is an illness that affects all groups. Unfortunately it is everywhere. I witnessed racism recently when I last travelled to France. Le Pen wrote and article on an "Anti-migrant wave." There are many articles published about the persecution of generations of French citizens with Algerian backgrounds.

Even in my country of birth, Italy, racist sentiments are expressed about immigrants from North Africa. It is absolutely disgraceful. They have been pilloried, killed and stoned. They are disliked because the colour of their skin is different from that of the locals. Racism is so strong is some regions that the northern part of Italy has expressed the desire to dissociate itself from the southern part of Italy. Racism is everywhere and we cannot ignore it. I will never forget what a member of this very Chamber once said to me. He said, "You come from a lawless land." That member is not present at the moment, but when he is he occupies the chair now occupied by Deputy-President the Hon. Ann Symonds. Even though he did apologise, I will never forget what he said. I had better not say any more because I am afraid that anything further I do say will be unparliamentary.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Name him!

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: I have named him, in effect. I said he generally sits in the President's chair. What more do you want me to say? I cannot be more subtle.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: On a point of order. The Hon. Franca Arena has just named the person who usually sits in the President's chair seeking to impute something which is not proper. I ask her to withdraw the comment because it is an offence to the House.

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: On the point of order. Hansard will show that the Hon. Max Willis, before he was elected as President of this Chamber, said to me in debate, "You come from a lawless land", and I asked him to apologise. It is on the parliamentary record.

The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Ann Symonds): Order! There is no point of order. I would suggest that the member who raised the point of order is being rather too sensitive seeking to defend a member who, although is not in the Chamber to speak for himself, was well satisfied with the outcome of the matter referred to by the Hon. Franca Arena.

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: Prejudice and racism exist in all communities, whether Asian, European or Aboriginal. However, as leaders of our communities, as parliamentarians and legislators, we have an enormous duty to our constituents to ensure social cohesion for the future. I shall conclude my remarks to allow other honourable members to speak to this important motion. I look forward to their contributions. I have not endeavoured to politicise this debate; I have not made my speech party political. My purpose is to show that unless we, as members of this community, work together to eradicate racism, many problems will arise in the future.

I heard the Hon. Helen Sham-Ho snigger when I said that I had not endeavoured to politicise this debate. Has the stage been reached in this Chamber that members cannot even relate the facts? I have not accused anyone of stealing, of committing murder or of improper acts. I have only related the facts. We should not hide the fact that racist attitudes exist in our own parties, if that be the fact. Why do honourable members think I am still a backbench member of my party? And why is the Hon. Helen Sham-Ho also a backbench member of her party? Does she think that her colleagues really like her? She has told me that she has been told by other members to speak English - and I have been told that many times as well. Racism does exist in our parties, but I am not going to ignore it to please the Hon. Helen Sham-Ho or anyone else. There is racism in the Liberal Party, and I can assure honourable members there is racism in the Labor Party.

The Hon. Helen Sham-Ho: On a point of order. I have already submitted that Standing Order 80 states that one must not use offensive words against another member of the House. I would like the honourable member to withdraw her remarks against me.

The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT: Order! To what remark is the honourable member referring?

The Hon. Helen Sham-Ho: That I cannot speak English. I feel that remark is offensive.

The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT: Order! The honourable member was reporting on past events and not asserting anything about the nature or contribution of the member in the House. There is no point of order.

The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: Racism is validated and legitimised when it is expressed by our community leaders. It is a matter of great concern when such leaders make racist statements. We must remember that education is a strong enemy of racism and prejudice. We must continue to invest in education programs and support multicultural and Aboriginal education, about which I have grave fears because of the cuts proposed by the Federal Government. I conclude by reminding honourable members that if racism does not affect them now, it might well affect them in the future. I wish to quote Martin Niemöller, who was born in 1892 and died in 1984. He is reported in the records of the United States Congress of 14 October 1968 in the following terms:
      When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a Jew, therefore, I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists, I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned. Then, Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church - and there was nobody left to be concerned.

I rest my case.

The Hon. HELEN SHAM-HO [3.37]: I support this motion. It is a wonderful motion and I commend the Hon. Franca Arena for moving it. It states:
      That this House:
          (a) views with great concern the increased votes at the last Federal election of candidates who made racist comments;
          (b) deplores such racist comments and urges all members of the Australian community to unite to fight all types of racism wherever and whenever they find it; and
          (c) believes that the very fabric of a multicultural society is a fragile one which needs to be supported and nurtured and that it is the duty not only of governments but of all individual citizens to ensure harmonious relationships amongst all people.

I commend the Hon. Franca Arena for her research. However, she said at the end of her contribution that her speech was not party political. If her speech was not party political, then I do not know what could be. I support her motion, but I distance myself from her speech because many of her comments were partisan. I feel a sense of disgust that in relation to issues such as racism and intolerance members on both sides of politics cannot put aside political differences and come together with a united voice to speak against such attitudes. We should not set out to attack the party because of these comments. They are made by individuals who are in the minority. I was disappointed that the Hon. Franca Arena sought to attack my colleague the Hon. Virginia Chadwick, whom I respect greatly for her work in ethnic affairs. As was the Hon. Franca Arena, the Hon. Virginia Chadwick was among those who gave recognition to the concept of cultural diversity in the late 1970s. At a time when there was no multiculturalism policy the Hon. Virginia Chadwick was already involved in ethnic affairs - and I believe she worked in cooperation with the Hon. Franca Arena in that regard. I am disappointed that the Hon. Franca Arena has not acknowledged the contribution of the Hon. Virginia Chadwick in those early days.

I remind honourable members that the very first land rights legislation was implemented by a Liberal government under the leadership of Malcolm Fraser. The first Aboriginal affairs Minister was Ian Viner, who is now the Vice-Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. He was a great Minister, a great representative of the Liberal Party and a champion activist for anti-racism. Both men were leaders and worked tirelessly for the cause of uniting the community. Many of the remarks of the Hon. Franca Arena were unnecessarily provocative. I concede that there are many racists in politics - and not just in the Labor Party, the Liberal Party or the National Party. Minor parties have their racists. I draw attention to the extremist political party Australians Against Further Immigration. During the recent Federal election campaign a representative of Australians Against Further Immigration was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 19 February as having said:
      Migrants are causing racial, ethnic and cultural swamping.

That was indeed a racist comment, which was endorsed by Graeme Campbell, a former Labor Party member. The leader of Australians Against Further Immigration, Mr McCormack, was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald as having said:
      Multiculturalism and the Asianalisation of Australia

That too is a deplorable statement. Although I do not recall saying the words that were attributed to me in that same article, I do not mind claiming ownership of them. The article stated further:
      The party [Australians Against Further Immigration] has hit back at NSW Liberal MLC Ms Helen Sham-Ho, who described it as racist. "Australians Against Further Immigration is not racist . . . apparently Helen Sham-Ho believes Australia could well do with a few million more of her Asian confreres. We do not", the party said.

Any statements by the Australians Against Further Immigration Party certainly are in racial tones. I reiterate, I am extremely disappointed at the lack of bipartisanship to keeping racial issues off the mainstream political agenda during the recent Federal elections. At that time the Australian Labor Party was so committed to keeping the Liberal Party out of power that it was prepared to give its preferences to a right-wing fundamentalist fringe party - the AAFI. The Labor Party lacks principles. In the 19 Federal seats across New South Wales, the AAFI challenged both Liberal and Labor candidates, and in 13 of those seats Labor allocated preferences to the AAFI over and above preferences to Liberal candidates. That I do not understand. The Labor Party was content to an extremist, almost racist, party above the Liberal Party. Even in former Prime Minister Keating's seat of Blaxland, the AAFI candidate received Labor preferences before the Liberal Party. In the seat of Bennelong the ALP actually give its first preferences to the AAFI candidate, Mr P. Kemp. That is a disgusting state of affairs. The honourable member's motion refers to racist comments and the need to fight all types of racism, yet the Australian Labor Party will not put aside political differences on this ugly topic - racism.

We should all be united against racist groups like AAFI, which is opposed to migrants and multiculturalism. Such groups are an insult to migrants and to Australians who pride themselves on Australia's achievement of an ethnically diverse and harmonious society. Policy that seeks the cessation of further immigration denies and ignores the contribution of our early immigrants. The very name of the party Australians Against Further Immigration is an affront to the migrant community. The Hon. J. Kaldis is nodding his head in agreement. The Hon. Franca Arena did not nod her head but I am sure that her heart agrees with me. A frightening feature to come out of that election is the fact that AAFI received more primary votes for seats in both Federal houses than it did at the previous election. In fact, in the Senate, Australians Against Further Immigration actually polled higher in New South Wales than the Greens did. If the trend continues, it will not be long before that party wins a seat in the Federal Parliament, and to me that will be disastrous.

I feel a little better now that I have defended my colleagues and have put on the record some of the differences between political parties. I hope that honourable members take a bipartisan approach on the motion, because this issue is too important for us to be divided amongst ourselves. The House may be interested to hear that an Australian Labor Party Senator and friend of mine, Senator Margaret Reynolds, on 9 May gave notice of a similar motion in the Federal Parliament: that the Senate condemn the use of any racial material to manipulate public opinion during election campaigns, remind parliamentarians that they are elected to represent all of their constituents and that it is totally reprehensible for any parliamentarians to announce that they will refuse to represent a particular group, and consider developing a code of race ethics to be observed by all members of the National Parliament in the interests of community harmony.

The Hon. Franca Arena: I gave notice of my motion on 16 April.

The Hon. HELEN SHAM-HO: That is right. The two motions are similar. The increased number of racist comments made by candidates and those candidates' subsequent success in the recent Federal election struck a sore point in the community. Many people were offended by the low levels to which debate stooped during the election campaign. The fact that such attitudes prevail in itself disgusted me, but knowing there are people who built an election campaign on those attitudes, giving them legitimacy, frightens me. As was alluded to by the Hon. Franca Arena, I have suffered from discrimination and racism. I have no qualm in putting that on the record. Thank goodness, such discrimination has not been frequent.

Although I am a strong supporter of democracy and free speech, I am deeply disturbed by the prevalence of racist attitudes and the resounding success of two particular candidates who ran their Federal election campaigns primarily based on those attitudes. While a certain section of the community may hold such views, it is very much in the minority - I hope so, anyway. Because of the severity of the views of that minority, it unfortunately received a disproportionate amount of media attention. That is the problem. In that way the views of a small minority were brought to the attention of the mainstream community. I am sure that honourable members know of whom I am speaking when I refer to two particular Federal members of Parliament. First, I speak of the former Liberal Party candidate, Pauline Hanson, who is now the Federal member for Oxley. I am so pleased that the Liberal Party chucked her out.

The frightening thing is that Pauline Hanson, in gaining 48.61 per cent of the vote, achieved a swing of 22.86 per cent against the ALP- - a large swing in any election. The former ALP member for Oxley, James Scott, was swept out. Pauline Hanson is a prime example of a person who centred her campaign on discriminatory and divisive comments. As I have said, I am glad that the Liberal Party did the right thing and disendorsed her candidacy immediately her views became apparent. Pauline Hanson's outspoken racist views against Aborigines helped her to achieve a shock victory in the Federal election as an Independent member. Her refusal to represent Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders was not only offensive but, in my view, was also unconstitutional. As representatives of the people we must represent all of our constituents, not just a select few. Once members of Parliament are elected it is not our right to pick and choose whom we represent. Moreover, if any one of our constituents has a grievance it is our duty to represent him or her, regardless of their race, religion or country of birth.

The views held by the likes of Pauline Hanson are divisive and reactionary and contribute nothing to our efforts to create a harmonious, understanding and tolerant society. Unfortunately, Pauline Hanson is not alone in her views. The House will know of the other Federal member of Parliament to whom I refer. The views of Pauline Hanson are shared by Graeme Campbell, the Federal member for Kalgoorlie. Mr Campbell is well known for his outright racism. I have met Mr Campbell on one occasion in New South Wales. On that occasion we agreed to disagree, because I see no point in arguing with him that I support multiculturalism when he says that multiculturalism is divisive and should not be supported. Graeme Campbell is, I think, a member of the right-wing fundamentalist fringe group the League of Rights. Certainly he regularly addresses meetings of the league, expressing his xenophobic fears for Australia. I am glad that the Labor Party finally disendorsed him, after being aware of his views for several years. That did not prevent his electoral success, however, and that is what is so frightening.

Graeme Campbell's campaign was run on racist overtones and he is expressly aligned with Australians Against Further Immigration, a party the policies of which are an overt attack on migrants, first-generation Australians and our indigenous people, the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. I take this opportunity to say that I am very proud of the coalition parties in seeing fit to endorse me as the first Asian member of this Parliament. There are another two coalition Asian members of Parliament. The Hon. Dr Bernice Pfitzner, also of the Liberal Party, is a member of the South Australian upper House. Dr Richard Lim is a Liberal-Country Party member in the Northern Territory.

The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: What about Bill O'Chee?

The Hon. HELEN SHAM-HO: I am coming to him. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is correct: Senator Bill O'Chee from Queensland, is a member of the National Party.

The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: What about the Labor Party?

The Hon. HELEN SHAM-HO: There is no Asian Labor Party member of Parliament. I would defend the Labor Party on one point, though, that the Hon. Franca Arena was the first member of Parliament of non-English speaking background. I hope that one of these days the Labor Party sees fit to endorse an Asian-born person as a State or Federal member. From a democratic view alone, that is important. The 1991 census, to which the Hon. Franca Arena has referred, shows that there are many Asians in Australia. As the Hon. Franca Arena said in her contribution to the debate, racist legislation, the Immigration Restriction Act of the turn of the century, was especially designed to restrict Chinese immigration. The Chinese have been here for a long time and have suffered from racism for a long time.

The Hon. Franca Arena: Worse than anybody else except the Aborigines.

The Hon. HELEN SHAM-HO: Yes, Aboriginal people suffered even worse racism than the Chinese. I am proud to be a member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. I have a motion before the Chamber for discussion regarding the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation but I shall not say much about the council because my remarks would overlap in the two debates. I empathise, sympathise and identify with the suffering of Aboriginal people. Justice has not been done. I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak about Aborigines in this, the first National Reconciliation Week in Australia. Last week and last night I told the House of the success of this week. The dates 27 May and 3 June are significant. Until the referendum on 27 May 1967 Aboriginal people were so discriminated against that they were not treated even as human beings and citizens of Australia. It was passed with a vote of 92 per cent, allowing them to vote and to be citizens of Australia.

But I do not believe they have equal rights yet. The Attorney General is sitting at the table. The high level of Aboriginal deaths in custody and convictions recorded against members of the Aboriginal community are injustices we have to look at. On 3 June 1992 the High Court of Australia delivered the Mabo decision rejecting the concept of terra nullius and accepting that Aborigines were the original owners of this land. All of us are migrants. The ancestors of people who were born here were migrants. The right of Aborigines to the land should be recognised. As I said, I am pleased that it was a Liberal Government that passed the first land rights legislation. I acknowledge that the Labor Government two years ago responded to the Mabo decision by passing legislation. I believe the Federal Government is again looking at native title, because the current legislation is not very workable.

The Hon. J. W. Shaw: It was the High Court that gave the lead on this issue.

The Hon. HELEN SHAM-HO: Absolutely. The judiciary took the lead. Maybe the community should have. Now that the decision has been made, the community should support it. Racism against Aborigines is enormous. Members take for granted things such as houses, running water and toilets but Aborigines do not have those things. They are living in Third World conditions, an appalling situation. We have a lot of reparation to make. During National Reconciliation Week I have been calling on the community to participate, to make some kind of restitution or reparation. On Monday the week was launched in Canberra by the Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, Patrick Dodson, the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader Kim Beasley, and Democrats leader Cheryl Kernot. I also attended. The function was very successful, as the Attorney General agrees. As I told the House last night, the function at the Power House Museum on Tuesday was addressed by a very inspiring speaker, Professor Colin Tatz. The Australian yesterday reported his views on our attitudes towards Aborigines. On Tuesday I went to a women's reconciliation celebration at the State Library. It was powerful, stimulating and exciting. It was held in a small room full of people - over 200 - and emotions were very high. I had not seen so many women in tears. They were so moved by everything that was happening.

A press conference was held today by the Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Senator John Herron, Dr Andrew Refshauge, Patrick Dodson and Professor John Young in relation to provision of a small grant to assist medical students in learning to be more culturally sensitive about Aboriginal people. At 5.30 this afternoon I will have the honour of hosting a reception for the ethnic and migrant communities, which the Hon. Franca Arena will also attend. It will be attended by all ethnic community leaders, who will be coming here to support Aboriginal reconciliation. By promoting understanding we will eliminate discrimination, prejudice and racism.

I am happy to support the motion. I agree also with many of the statements and points made by the Hon. Franca Arena. I hope that the ugly head of racism will not rise again, as it did in the Federal election campaign. If there is one thing we learn from the success of candidates who premised their campaign on racism it is that we cannot afford to take multiculturalism for granted; we cannot take for granted that our society is secure, harmonious and tolerant. Multiculturalism is based on the dual responsibilities of preserving ethnic diversity and appreciating one another's cultures. It is not an easy task and requires much effort from governments and individuals.

I conclude by saying that I am pleased that today honourable members have had an opportunity to debate this very important issue. Perhaps people will say that I have vested interests because I am Asian and I must encounter a lot of racism. I would say that honourable members of this House are on the whole fair minded, humane and tolerant. I have not experienced overt racism in my ranks, which is a comfort to me. We in this Chamber do have differences of opinion on party political issues, but I hope that on issues like racism and tolerance we can be bipartisan.

The Hon. J. KALDIS [4.12]: I had not intended to speak in this debate because the Hon. Franca Arena is quite capable of moving a motion of such importance and speaking to it, particularly at this time. However, I decided to say a few words in support of her remarks and to put my position on record. I view with concern the increased votes won in the Federal election by candidates who made racist comments. I too deplore their racist remarks. All thinking members of the Australian community must unite to fight racism whenever and wherever it occurs.

I also congratulate the Hon. Helen Sham-Ho on the contribution that she made to this debate. Two matters result from the Federal election of 2 March: a change of government, and a revision of the attitude of a small but vital section of our community. The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon. Philip Ruddock, said that only pockets of the community hold some racist views and that we should not be worried. Mr Howard did the right thing in expelling Pauline Hanson from the Liberal Party, I believe for about 10 years, and the Labor Party did the right thing in disendorsing Graeme Campbell as the candidate for Kalgoorlie. Both candidates had been elected with increased majorities. That should be a worry to all of us, notwithstanding to which party we belong. We must adopt a bipartisan attitude on this matter. It is interesting that Queensland is leading the revival of racism. Recently I was approached by leading scientists, professors of universities and professionals who were born in Queensland. They told me that they had experienced racism when they were going to school and that their experiences had left them traumatised.

Pursuant to sessional orders business interrupted.