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Wednesday, 29 March 2017
Page: 2561

Senator HANSON (Queensland) (12:30): Listening to the comments today on the Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2017, I, like a lot of Australians, thought to myself: why are we taking up so much precious time in this parliament debating this issue? It is because political correctness over the years has shut us down from having an opinion or a say. The thought police have intervened. The lefties are out there shutting us down from having an opinion on most things, and this is where section 18C has come into play.

All I hear in this chamber are the words 'racist comments'. Let us define what 'racist' means. It means that you believe your race to be superior to another. Making a comment on an issue does not necessarily mean you are racist. They use that word because it is supposed to shut down debate. They have used it against me so many times over the years that it has become boring, and they do it without really debating the issue or what I am trying to say.

A lot of people think that because you are a white Australian you do not have racist comments directed at you. You might be surprised, but I have had racist comments said to me. But I let it go over the top of my head; it is water off a duck's back. It happened in 1996, when I went out to have a meeting with some Aboriginal elders. The media turned up, even though I had said the media were not to be there. I wanted to sit down and talk with these Aboriginal people. But it was set up and the media turned up. When I approached the elders, they called me 'white trash' and 'a pig in mud'. I was abused. I just turned and walked away. But next day The Courier Mail wrote up the story with 'white trash' and the 7.30 Report reported the story. It was filmed. I approached them and said, 'What do you think about this?'—not at the time, because I did not worry about it, but in a conversation later. They said 'So what?' There was no issue about it and they could not care less.

I think what has happened over time is that there is reverse racism in Australia. Australians are feeling the brunt of this and are fed up. That is why they are talking on talkback radio and amongst themselves. They are fed up with where the lefties have this debate going. Yes, there have been issues from the new migrants that came to Australia, especially after the Second World War. I have heard the terms that the Italians were called, such as eyeties or wogs. Those references were made. I actually mixed with Greeks and Italians at the fish markets. They were great mates of mine. We had talks and discussions. The older generation just chuckled and laughed it off. They got on and worked in with the Australians. Now it has gotten to the point in this country where you cannot even look sideways at anyone. We are all from different cultural backgrounds and races, but this is pushing us into segregation. That is how I see it. We have to start working together and stop being so precious that we cannot say anything to anyone.

Section 18C has the words 'offend', 'insult' and 'humiliate'. The other side says, 'What do you want to say that you can't say now?' But that is missing the whole point. It is not about what you want to say; it is about the right to have an opinion. I can look at someone of another culture and say, 'I don't particularly like your cultural dance,' or, 'I don't particularly like your cultural dress.' That might be a personal opinion that I have and they may be offended by it. Am I therefore, because of my personal opinion, supposed to be dragged before the Human Rights Commission under the Racial Discrimination Act? We have to get real here and stop putting these ideas into people's heads.

I go back to the students from the University of Queensland. Three students turned up to use a room which had a sign saying 'Aboriginals only'. That is racial discrimination in the first place. Why didn't those students go and report the head of the university, or whoever put that sign up, for racial discrimination in the first place? They did not. But they were accused. That is segregation. That is division. That is what is happening in our country. Australians have had at gutful and are sick and tired of it. This needs to change. Treat everyone on an individual basis, not on the basis of their race or the colour of their skin, and we will have a much more harmonious country.

A case was laid against me in the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission by the Aboriginals. I will fill you in on why this happened. I stood for election in 1996. I was elected after being thrown out of the Liberal Party. Next day The Australianrang me up to for an interview. I did the interview and called for equality for all Australians. I made reference to the Greeks, the Italians and everyone. The Australian printed a headline the next day saying that Hanson refused to represent the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For 18 months I was accused of this. It was a headline on the front page. It came up many times in interviews.

That was not the case. I was taken before the court and Sir Ronald Wilson, after listening to the full tape, came down with the finding that I never said anything racist whatsoever and that I was calling for equality for all Australians. A lot of people would not even think this to be the case, but I have worked with Aboriginal people over the years. I have had many come to my office asking for assistance. I work with these groups. I will work for, fight for and defend anyone, regardless of their cultural background. That is my job as a member of this parliament and a representative of the people of Queensland, and I have always been of that opinion. In light of that, I am also a very proud Australian. I am proud of my culture and my heritage. I welcome people who come to this country. I always have done. That is the way my parents brought me up. I respect people based not on their race or who they are but on how I find them and how they treat me.

I go back to these university students. The claim was that the woman or the teacher wanted $250,000. After the stressful time that the students went through and the cost to them of legal representation, she asked for $250,000. What was that going to do? How was that going to appease it? I see this as a process of monetary gain. That is what it is and that is what a lot of people using this are all about. It is for monetary gain, no other reason.

I had Gillian Triggs, the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, in my office. She said to me: 'Section 18C needs to change. It needs to go.' She deals with this. She admits it. I think about section 18C. Sheikh Shady has said that AIDS is divine punishment and that women would be hung by their breasts in hell. What about those comments? Do I hear people from the Left screaming about these comments? I remember hearing one time that, with the way women dress in this country, it is nothing but a meat market and they deserve to be raped. Where is the Left, where are the greenies and where are the others screaming that this should not be said?

What about signs of people speaking out against us the Australian people? Those on the other side of this house and on the crossbench are screaming for the rights of migrants and everyone else who comes to this country but they do not stand up for the Australian people. I do not want to see division in this country. I want to see everyone treated equally, on the same basis, and on a needs basis. That is what a lot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders want as well. The laws that have been brought in here over the years are causing segregation and separatism. That is what we do not want. They do not want it. They do not want to be treated any differently. If we continue to make laws with that division, it is not going to be right or good for us. We are all Australians together.

I will go back to the wording in the bill. The wording is 'offend, insult, humiliate'. As I said earlier, anyone can take offence. Everyone has a different opinion on what may offend them. A lot of people get offended very easily, so then they are going to make their complaints. It says 'insult' and 'humiliate'. I support changing the words to 'harass' and 'intimidate'. We do not want that happening in our country. Some people do need that protection. I think the words 'offend, insult, humiliate' are too broad and it is up to the individual about how they feel about it.

This all comes down to the pub test: how does the average Aussie feel about this? That is what it is all about. I may raise issues that many Australians talk about in their kitchens and around their barbecues. They talk about them but do not come out openly and say anything. These are the people who voted for One Nation in the last election. That is why there are now four One Nation senators on the crossbench. If I were saying things that were offensive to the Australian people, we would not be here. They would not have voted for us. I represent a good majority of the Australian people. To have gotten three seats in the upper house in Western Australia just a couple of weeks ago is a clear indication that people want representation from One Nation.

We are here with an open mind, not to shut down the people but to give everyone from whatever race the right to have a say and an opinion and be part of this country, to join in, to be Australians. That is what we stand for. Shutting us down is not the answer. You call us racists and bigots. As I said, the word 'racist' means to believe your race to be superior to another. I have never, ever said that. I challenge anyone to show me anything I have said that has been racist. You use the word 'bigot'. There are many people—and I am sure everyone in this chamber—who are a bigot in their own way, because you can be intolerant of another person's culture or religious beliefs. That is the human race. That is who we are because we are proud of our cultural background. It is about having respect.

Debate interrupted.