Parliamentary speeches

Challenging racism

February 05, 2020

In recent days, I have attended many events marking Chinese new year and I take this opportunity in this place to wish everyone all the prosperity, wisdom and good health that the Year of the Rat should bring. But, of course, this has been a very, very difficult time for the Chinese-Australian community. The coronavirus is an issue that we all have to confront and respond to, but its impact is particularly felt by Chinese Australians, and I extend my sympathies to everyone who is concerned for family and friends here or abroad. This is, of course, an issue of public health, and our response requires an evidence based public health response. I'm pleased to see this being undertaken, but it is being undermined. We are hearing constant and challenging stories of racism being directed at Chinese Australians and, indeed, Asian Australians more generally. This is not happening in a vacuum; it's happening against the background of increasing racism in our society. That is why Labor has called for the re-funding of a national antiracism campaign, which would counter this and the insidious campaigns, raised by politicians in this place on Facebook, that undermine our social cohesion. Words matter. This is not a Chinese disease. Actions matter too. Racism stops with all of us.