Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 9 May 1994
Page: 403

Senator KNOWLES —I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: why is the Labor Party working against the principles of multiculturalism—as evidenced in Victoria by the actions of people such as Senators Ray and Carr and many Labor state members of parliament; and, of course, leading to articles such as `Stacking on a right turn', `Divide and rule' and `How to win over the world'—by setting one ethnic community against another in its efforts to branch-stack the ALP to dole out seats for members of parliament? Why is the party just absolutely ignoring those principles of multiculturalism? How does the minister sanction such actions, which can only serve to increase tensions between ethnic communities? Will he condemn such actions?

Senator GARETH EVANS —If the essence of multiculturalism is full and free participation in the rich tapestry of life that makes up this community of ours, the extent to which different ethnic groups appear to have been participating fully and freely in the rich tapestry of the affairs of the Victorian ALP ought to be regarded not as a downside to the multicultural aspiration but, indeed, as a reflection of it. Beyond that, I have no comment on what is essentially and quite obviously a squalid little partisan question bearing no relationship whatsoever to my or the government's responsibility.

Senator KNOWLES —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. On Monday, 18 April more than 80 Turks were signed up en masse; on Tuesday, 26 April, 170 new members—Greeks, Filipinos, Italians and Lebanese—were signed up; there were 200 people stacking in another branch with the Turks; and 26 new Greeks and Latin Americans were signed up. And one of the state members said that their membership had obviously been paid by other people. If the minister honestly considers that that is not dividing the community on multicultural issues and that that is in fact—what did he say?—`full and free participation', I will go he. How can he sanction that and say that it is not against the interests of multiculturalism?

Senator GARETH EVANS —If there is one thing that is absolutely clear, it is that no Turks, Greeks, Cambodians, Vietnamese, Latin Americans, or any others are going anywhere near Liberal Party branches. That is for the very good reason that Senator Knowles's party has absolutely nothing to offer them in terms of the legitimate aspirations they have for themselves, for their children, and for their future in this country. They know that the Labor Party is a party of compassion and social justice. They know that the Labor Party is the party that is capable of creating jobs and creating a future for their kids in a way that those opposite cannot. It is absolutely unsurprising, under those circumstances, that there should be this rush of effusive enthusiasm to join the ALP, and we have seen no more than that in recent months.