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

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 21 February 2011
Page: 637


Ms PARKE (2:55 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister outline to the House the importance of national leadership and shared values in debates surrounding Australia’s migration program and multicultural society?


Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for Fremantle for her very important question, raising as it does an important issue that confronts this House and this nation as it sits this week. We have proudly created a multicultural society with record levels of postwar migration. Indeed, I stand here as one example of that migration. Overwhelmingly, across those years, that multiculturalism, that unity, that non-discriminatory immigration policy has had bipartisan support. I am prepared to pay tribute to Prime Minister Menzies who supported postwar migration. I am prepared to pay tribute to Prime Minister Menzies for creating the Colombo Plan. I am prepared to pay tribute to Prime Minister Holt for ending the White Australia policy and to Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser for admitting Vietnamese boat people to this country and for creating SBS as one expression of our diversity and unity—bipartisanship all of the way.

For those of us who represent growth communities in this country—and I do—know that in those growth communities there is often pressure on people when they see inwards migration. People easily fear change; people easily fear difference. When they see increased pressure on public services sometimes that fear can turn to resentment. It is the job of national leadership to reassure in the face of that fear and to explain to people that there is ultimately nothing to be afraid of. Just as we have incorporated migrants in this country in the past we will incorporate migrants in this country in the future. As well as reassuring it is the job of national leadership to make sure that we plan services and communities properly so that fear does not turn to resentment.

There is another path and that is seeking to channel that fear and that resentment into political gain. We have seen that other path used in national politics. We saw it used by One Nation. I am so glad that this nation defeated that spectre of One Nation by coming together as political parties across the divide of this aisle and putting One Nation last on how-to-vote cards. I am really proud our nation did that. But I would have to say that spectre of those ugly politics, that grubby path, is before us again. The principal task of this parliament this week is to banish that spectre again.


Mr Pyne interjecting


Ms GILLARD —It will require the Leader of the Opposition to do some difficult things. It will require the Leader of the Opposition to replace his shadow minister for immigration.


Mr Pyne interjecting


Ms GILLARD —It will require the Leader of the Opposition to replace his shadow parliamentary secretary but, in the interests of banishing that ugly spectre from national politics, that is what the Leader of the Opposition must do this week.


Mr Pyne interjecting


Ms GILLARD —We have a clear path forward which we should be on together—bipartisanship about multiculturalism, bipartisanship about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and bipartisanship about a non-discriminatory immigration policy. Let’s hope that is how we end the week. I fear that is not how it started.


The SPEAKER —Without outlining them, I direct the Manager of Opposition Business, the member for Sturt, to withdraw three interjections that were beyond the pale.


Mr Pyne —In deference to you, I withdraw, Mr Speaker.


The SPEAKER —I thank the Manager of Opposition Business, and I suggest to him that given my warnings earlier today he desist from interjecting. I simply say to others glaring and getting awfully upset about the proceedings of this House that there are some occasions when it is better to allow a course of action for an answer to be done in its completeness without interruption, and I believe that that was the course of action that was appropriate on this occasion.