I seek leave to make a three-minute statement on chamber procedure.
Leave not granted.
Pursuant to contingent notice standing in my name, I move:
That so much of standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Waters from making a three-minute statement on chamber procedure.
The reason that this is an urgent matter that needs to be debated is that on Monday evening in this chamber, in the course of debate on the counterterrorism bill, Senator Hanson's contribution was awash with racist language, including some despicable race based personal remarks about Senator Faruqi that should be withdrawn and that Senator Hanson should apologise for. Senator Hanson said:
Senator Faruqi, I will tell you again: if you don't see yourself as loving this country and abiding by the laws of the country, I have no problem. I will actually take you to the airport and put you on a plane and wave you away …
Not only are these remarks in breach of standing ordering 193, to not personally reflect—
Senator Waters, please resume your seat. Senator Hanson?
Point of order: I've been called obscene names at the back here and I want it retracted, please—withdrawn.
In the interests of the chamber, Senator Waters, if you've made such remarks—
Senators Steele-John—I'm sorry—and possibly Shoebridge. Those comments have been made from the back of the chamber to me—
Thank you, Senator Hanson. I have Senator Shoebridge on his feet. Senator Shoebridge.
Yes, I withdraw.
Thank you very much.
Thank you. Senator Waters, you've just started your contribution, but I remind you that you need to address the requirement that this is an urgent matter.
Thank you. As I was saying, the reason that this debate is urgent is that these remarks are not only in breach of standing order 193, to not personally reflect on another senator, but also clearly in breach of the behavioural code for Australian parliamentarians, which this chamber adopted on 8 February this year. Clause 11 of that code states, 'It is a prohibited behaviour for senators to discriminate in any form, including on the grounds of race or religion.' That code, which this chamber has endorsed, describes such behaviour as unacceptable, and it says that it 'will not be tolerated, condoned or ignored'. That is why it is urgent that we debate this matter today and why I sought to make a statement but instead am suspending standing orders to address this matter.
Senators are meant to be complying with this behaviour code even before the enforcement body, the independent parliamentary standards commission, is eventually established—and I urge the government to hurry up on that front. I am calling on Senator Hanson to withdraw her comments—comments that, I might add, she has made on a number of previous occasions as well—that she will drive Senator Faruqi to the airport and wave her away. It is tantamount to saying, 'Go back to where you came from,' as if Senator Faruqi is not an Australian, as if Senator Faruqi is not a citizen of this country, as if she is not an elected representative for the people of New South Wales. Senator Hanson needs to withdraw these remarks and apologise unconditionally.
The whole point of having codes of conduct, as recommended by the Set the standard report, as endorsed by this chamber, is to set the standard for other workplaces. It's to make this a safe workplace, it's to act with dignity and it's to not actively discriminate against others on the basis of their race, their gender, their sexuality, their religion. People of colour deserve to feel safe and welcome in this country and not have the likes of Senator Hanson say foul and racially discriminatory things which amount to 'Go back to where you came from.' There is no place for this kind of hateful language here or anywhere in this country.
If Senator Hanson will not voluntarily withdraw her repugnant remarks against Senator Faruqi and apologise for them, I ask you, President, to ask Senator Hanson to uphold the standing orders and the behaviour code and withdraw and apologise.
The government will be supporting the suspension. We think this is an important matter and the conduct of senators is important in this chamber, especially in relation to racially discriminatory language, which allegedly has been used. This could have all been dealt with by now if leave had been granted, but, given it wasn't, we support the suspension.
Those comments that were made were in relation to a speech, and actually what I said was:
We heard Mehreen Faruqi's disgust of Israel and what they have done to protect themselves. Through their retaliation they said: 'We've had enough. We've have had a gutful of this,' and now they are defending themselves. Good on them; I don't blame them. But the fact is that it's a pity that Mehreen Faruqi didn't—
Senator Hanson, please refer—
I'm reading from what I said.
I will say—
Senator Hanson, please resume your seat. I was not in the chamber when you made that contribution. I am in the chamber now, and I am directing you to refer to the senator by her correct name.
This is in Hansard but anyway all right. We'll go to Senator Faruqi:
… didn't look at what Pakistan did to two million Afghan people there. They just went in, bulldozed their homes, said, 'Go back to Afghanistan.' What about those people?
Senator Hanson, please resume your seat. Senator Waters.
Point of order: Senator Hanson is merely repeating what is already on the Hansard and that we have all had the displeasure of reading, which is why we are currently complaining about a breach of standing orders and the Code of Conduct, and simply repeating those comments takes us no further to a solution.
Senator Waters, Senator Hanson is entitled to make those remarks. I was not in the chamber at the time when these remarks were made. But, senators in this place, we all know this is a chamber that allows broad-ranging debate that some of us might agree with and some of us may not agree with. Senator Hanson, as long as she remains within the standing orders and, like all senators, does not make personal reflections on other senators is within the standing orders. Senator Hanson.
Where is the fear for them? Oh no, that's right: Pakistan is the country that she came from, so we can't criticise the Pakistanis, can we? No, not at all.
I then said—
Senator Hanson, in the same way I reminded Senator Waters, this matter is about why this matter is urgent, so I would ask you to address your comments to the urgency motion. Thank you.
My comments refer back to what Senator Waters was saying. I said:
Senator Faruqi, I will tell you again: if you don't see yourself as loving this country and abiding by the laws of the country, I have no problem. I will actually take you to the airport—
Senator Hanson, that was a personal reflection. I'm going to ask you to withdraw that.
Well, that's a serious matter. Let me think about it.
Honourable senators interjecting—
Senator Faruqi, there's a tissue here for you if you'd like.
Honourable senators interjecting—
Order! Senator Hanson, please resume your seat. I understand there are a number of points of order. I am going to deal with the matter in the first instance. Senator Hanson, as I said to you, I was not in the chamber when this matter first came up. I am in the chamber now. I am the President. You made a personal reflection. It's not up for debate. I have asked you to withdraw that, and I remind you again you need to withdraw.
I used to make those same statements at immigration ceremonies to people, and they accepted—
Senator Hanson, please resume your seat. You are not debating with me. You have made a personal reflection. It is not in accordance with the standing orders. I have asked you or I have directed you to withdraw that statement. I simply ask you to withdraw without making any further comment.
I believe I'm speaking on behalf of millions of Australians, and, no, I won't—
Senator Hanson! That is a very serious matter. You have breached the standing orders. I'm asking you to take a few moments and reflect on what I have directed you to do, and that is to withdraw that personal reflection. It doesn't matter what you may have said outside of the chamber. We all have to abide by the standing orders in here, including me. You have made a personal reflection on a senator, and I ask that you withdraw those remarks.
I expect senators in this place to respect the Australian people and our laws and our views. I will—
Senator Hanson! Senator Hanson, I'm withdrawing the call from you, and I'm moving to the next speaker. Are you seeking to make a point of order, Senator Hanson-Young?
Yes, I am, President. Senator Hanson is wilfully and continually ignoring your direction. That is a reflection on you as President. It's a serious breach of the standing orders. She should be named, and she should be held to account for that.
Thank you, Senator Hanson-Young. I'm well aware of the standing orders and what has just occurred. I have asked the senator to withdraw the remarks. I've now withdrawn the call from her. I'll see if there are any other speakers. Senator Farrell.
I would ask that, when senators speak in this place, we speak with respect and understanding for difference; that we reject those in this country, politicians included, who seek to create division when we should be striving for unity; and that we reject hate and condemn prejudice and discrimination in all of its forms. We must maintain mutual respect for each other here and at home, and we must preserve our uniquely harmonious, multicultural character. That is why people come to this country. It's who we are as a country.
President, I would draw the Senate's attention to the motion moved through this parliament according to wording supported by Senator Wong and me on Tuesday 27 September 2022. This motion made clear that this Senate condemns racism and discrimination in all its forms. It assures all migrants to Australia that they are valued, welcome members of society. It affirms that, if parliament is to be a safe place for all who work and visit here, there can be no tolerance for racism or discrimination in the course of parliamentarians' public debate, and it calls on all senators to engage in debates and commentary respectfully and to refrain from inflammatory and divisive comments, both inside and outside the chamber, at all times. Those words stand as true today as they did on that occasion, and that is the approach that all senators should apply.
In speaking to that debate at that time, President, I made a plea to all senators—particularly those at that end of the chamber—to stay out of the gutter, to rise above the Twitterverse, and to play the ball, not the person. I said that, in the conduct of debates in this place, the interjections and swipes made across the chamber, the insinuations and the other comments just don't have a place and that everybody around here should live up to a higher standard. Frankly, we see it coming from far too many directions too often, motivated in a whole range of different ways.
This debate is about suspension of standing orders. If leave had been granted, we would have had a three-minute statement from Senator Waters, which she has now made, essentially, in the statement that she made, raising all of the issues she expected to. The coalition did not deny leave. We would have welcomed and allowed that statement and facilitated it, just as we would have facilitated a response to that statement, because that would have been the proper course of events. But right now, around Australia, Australian households are doing it tough. There are plenty of issues for this Senate to be focusing on, rather than the petulant, petty arguments between different senators. So we won't be supporting any more time being given to these types of debates. We think we should get on with the issues facing Australians. I've made clear our position and the principles. I urge senators to live up to a higher standard, but I most particularly urge you all to get on with debating issues that are impacting every Australian right now.
There is no basis for this urgency motion, none at all. Not one word of Senator Waters referred to anything about Senator Hanson's comments as being racist. It is a concoction. Senator Watt reaffirmed it.
Senator Roberts, please resume your seat. Senator Roberts has the right to be heard in silence, and I would ask all senators in this place to reflect on the words of senators Farrell and Birmingham. Senator Roberts.
Long debate text truncated.
Date and time: 2:18 PM on 2023-11-08
Senator Pocock's vote: Aye
Total number of "aye" votes: 34
Total number of "no" votes: 28
Total number of abstentions: 14
Adapted from information made available by theyvoteforyou.org.au