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Thursday, 4 April 2019
Page: 15000


Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (11:30): Last week the Prime Minister made the right decision in directing all Liberal Party branches to place One Nation on the very bottom of their how-to-vote cards in the forthcoming election. I congratulate him for making the decision. I will overlook the fact that he exhausted every possible alternative to that decision before reaching the right thing to do.

The xenophobic, racist and bigoted comments, and the stunts and the vaulting hypocrisy, of the One Nation party deserve no place in our democracy. That last straw was drawn when it was revealed on ABC television last week that they had somehow sought to bring the poisoned, toxic and corrupt politics of the National Rifle Association into our democracy. There can be no place for this toxic, poisoned politics in Australian democracy. It corrupts our public debate, it is dangerous and we reject it utterly.

What could have been a unifying moment for the entire nation, for every respectable political party in this country, unfortunately, did not come to pass. We've expected the member for Warringah to take every possible opportunity he can to be a perverse and ridiculous figure in Australian politics. But, frankly, I would have expected more from the National Party. The member for Warringah; and the member for Stirling, who is on his way out the door, said that One Nation, frankly, should be above Labor and many other parties on the how-to-vote card. But the National Party, a party which is hoping to win seats in the next election, has not taken that approach.

This is a time for leadership. It is incumbent upon every mainstream party that seeks to get elected and every serious candidate getting elected in seats to show leadership on this issue. There can be no place for racism and bigotry in the forthcoming election. It is the obligation of the National Party—and I don't care whether it's in Queensland, where they're on razor-thin margins and think that they are reliant on One Nation preferences, or throughout New South Wales, Victoria or Tasmania—to do the right thing by Australian democracy and to do the right thing by their electorates.

They should put One Nation last. But that's only the first thing they should do. They should then turn to their electors, to their citizens, and explain why. If I were the member for Dawson, for example, I would be explaining to my electors that we cannot say to the rest of the world: 'We want you to buy our wheat, we want you to buy our beef, we want you to buy our sugar and we want you to buy our coal and our iron ore, but we don't like you. We don't like you, we don't like the look of you and we don't like your religion. We don't want you to come and visit, and if you do come and visit we don't want you to stay.' This is unsustainable. It's morally wrong and it's not in the interest of those electorates. It's certainly not in the interest of any of those northern and Central Queensland electorates which rely on commodities from and trade with the rest of the world for their economic wellbeing.

It is a very simple argument to make, and the challenge for all those LNP candidates in the forthcoming election is to do what I have just said: take the argument up to the bigots and take the argument up to the racists. If you can't do it on the basis that they're wrong, then do it on the basis that it is poor economic policy. The challenge is there for you.

To all of those clowns in the right-wing media who have attempted to create some sort of moral equivalence between One Nation and the Greens and other parties on the Left, let me make this point. There has to be a price for entry to mainstream politics in this country. We can argue about economic policy, we can argue about environmental policy, we can argue about law and justice and all of the other issues that we are faced with in this august parliament, but there are some things which are above argument, and they are bigotry and racism. There can be no place for bigotry and racism in this parliament or in our politics. It's the price of entry to Australian politics.

So once again I put the challenge out to all of the coalition parties: do the right thing. Follow the lead of Tim Fischer and all of those other old-school conservatives. Do the right thing. Put the bigots and racists last.