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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 380


Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (10:11): There was a time a while ago when Donald Trump seemed like a bad joke, but that time is over. Last Sunday, together with Greens state MP Ellen Sandell and community leaders, I hosted an emergency meeting to talk about what Donald Trump's immigration ban on seven Muslim-majority countries means. People in my community are directly affected by this. Melburnians with family in the US or affected countries or Australian permanent residents who are not able to travel on Australian passports face uncertainty about when and whether they will be able to see loved ones overseas.

What is happening in the United States is horrifying, as is the silence of our government when they should be standing up to Donald Trump. But you do not have to look just to the United States to see the impacts of the rise of the racist right. People like Senator Pauline Hanson are picking on a group of people and seeking to sow fear and then take political advantage. Twenty years ago she said it was Asians that were the problem, and now she says it is Muslims. Pauline Hanson and Donald Trump do not care which group of people they pick on and whose lives they put at threat, but the impacts of this cynical politics are real. It is making a difference to people's lives here in Australia right now.

I have never felt more welcome than I do when spending time with Muslim communities in Melbourne, but right now many people in Muslim communities are feeling under attack. I have heard from Muslim constituents who say that life is getting more difficult now and that men and particularly women, because they wear a hijab and are visible, in the Muslim community are experiencing more racism. One woman at Sunday's public meeting told us that a few days ago she had a tomato thrown at her while she was in the supermarket doing her shopping because she was identifiable wearing a headscarf. I heard from schoolchildren—schoolchildren!—in my electorate, who were born here and who have grown up here, who have personally experienced racism or been called names by strangers simply because they are Muslim. One schoolgirl wrote to me and said she could not finish the 800-metre race because while she was wearing a headscarf someone called out to her: 'You're a terrorist! Go home!' She could not finish her race at school. That should not be happening here in Australia.

I have heard from constituents that many people in our community are facing hatred and attacks but are hearing only silence from our leaders of government. They are now questioning their safety or even being forced to reconsider their long-term future and security in Australia. To those people in Melbourne and in Australia who are right now feeling under attack, I say: we will stand with you. And to my colleagues here in parliament I say: we all have a responsibility to stand up to racism and attacks on our communities, especially the Prime Minister, who has the biggest megaphone in the country. He should be standing up to Donald Trump and saying that this is unacceptable and standing up on behalf of people here in Australia.

I have been overwhelmed by the number of Melburnians who have come together to say, 'Racism is unacceptable.' We have to say it loudly from the highest level of governments as well.