Parliamentary speeches

Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs

March 05, 2020

Racism is on the rise in Australia at the moment. It is having a particular effect on Chinese Australians and, indeed, the wider Asian Australian community in the context of the coronavirus. Now is the time for solidarity. Now is the time for reaching out and helping out, particularly from those on the side opposite who have the opportunity to make a difference. But the member for La Trobe, the Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, has been doing the opposite. He has been fear-mongering on Facebook. His conduct has been described as leaving his position untenable by a number of multicultural groups. His conduct and position is untenable. Let's remember that the member for La Trobe has form with his hateful and divisive rhetoric targeted at African Australians. He has to recognise the offence and the damage he has caused, and he has to correct the record. People are feeling fear and anxiety. They deserve a multicultural affairs spokesperson to be standing up for them, not pulling them down.

What is also untenable is the position of the Prime Minister. He can't pretend this away. He can't pretend that this isn't happening. He has a duty to act. He has a duty to govern for all Australians and, right now, to stand against racism and to stand with Chinese Australians who are under siege, including by the assistant minister for multicultural affairs.