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Thursday, 25 June 1998
Page: 5482


Ms JEANES (9:43 AM) —Sometimes it just seems that the world has gone mad. The recent success of the One Nation Party has rocked mainstream politics, and the question we need to ask is why. The main themes that One Nation has been famous for are its stands against Asian immigration and spending on Aboriginal people. Its leader has warned that Australia is in danger of being swamped by Asians, but why didn't she warn of the danger of being swamped by the British? The 1996 census figures show that 27.4 per cent of Australians were born in Great Britain, but 1998 figures show that only 4.8 per cent of Australians were born in Asia.

Asian immigrants have brought with them their culture, skills and fabulous foods, and they have brought some truly tragic stories about escaping from trauma and torture. People have come from all over the world in need of counselling from organisations like STARRS in South Australia, including Cambodian refugees whose daily reality was to experience brutality at the hands of Pol Pot's regime.

British immigrants also brought their culture, skills, food and stories. Great Britain sent my grandmother, without whom I would not be here. As we have seen this week, many British immigrants also have tragic stories about their abandonment and treatment as children in Australia. Their pain is finally being acknowledged and must be dealt with also.

My good friend Dr Bernice Pfitzner is a great Chinese Australian who has made a tremendous contribution to this country as a doctor and as a former member of the South Australian parliament. My late grandmother also made a great contribution to Australia as a mother, a grandmother and as a daughter who cared for her dying parents. What's the difference? Is it that my grandmother did not look as though she came from somewhere else but that Dr Pfitzner does?

One Nation has also made its name by criticising spending on Aboriginal people. It wants everybody to be treated equally. Does One Nation understand that, to the extent that it is possible to achieve equality amongst its citizens, governments have to spend more on some than on others because everyone starts life from a different place? If you are Aboriginal, that place is not always somewhere that most Australians want to be. Aboriginal babies are still three times more likely to die than non-Aboriginal babies. Aboriginal men live 20 years less than their non-Aboriginal brothers, and Aboriginal women 18 years less than their non-Aboriginal sisters. The unemployment rate amongst Aboriginal people is 38 per cent. If we did not spend $380 million each year on CDEP, the rate would be 59 per cent.

A responsible government cannot ignore these shameful facts, and addressing them costs money. One Nation's success is a reaction against the fact that Australians do not believe the major parties listen to them or care about them, and that presents us with a major challenge. Who can blame them for being cynical when the adversarial nature of our two-party system sends them polarised messages every day? I refuse to believe that most of the people who are flirting with One Nation are anti-Asian and anti-Aboriginal. The world cannot be that mad, can it, Mr Deputy Speaker?

Surely my grandmother's story, Dr Pfitzner's story and the stories of Aboriginal people are all important, as are their contributions, regardless of how they look. Their stories are all about joy, about pain and, most importantly, they are about family. (Time expired)