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Thursday, 24 May 2018
Page: 4604

Australia Day

Mr GOODENOUGH (Moore) (15:07): My question is to the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs. Will the minister update the House on the importance of celebrating Australia Day on 26 January, and is the minister aware of any dissimilar suggestions?

Mr TUDGE (AstonMinister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs) (15:07): I want to thank the member for Moore for his question. I'm disappointed to inform the House that, at their formal conference this weekend in Melbourne, the Labor Party will be voting to abolish Australia Day.

This motion of urgency is not being moved by some rank-and-file member of the Labor Party, but rather being moved by a staff member who works for the Shorten team. This conference is also not just any old conference around Australia but it is a conference which the Leader of the Opposition belongs to; it is his party, it is his city, it is his state and it is the division which elected him. It will be a test for the Leader of the Opposition this weekend, because the Leader of the Opposition will be speaking at this conference and it is now a test for him to shut down this debate and back mainstream Australia, which wants to keep Australia Day on 26 January.

But we know that he's not going to live up to this test, because this is a weak Leader of the Opposition. We know he gets pushed around by John Setka and the CFMEU. And now he gets pushed around by the extreme elements, the extreme Left, of his party, who want to abolish Australia Day. It seems that ever since the Greens kicked off this campaign to abolish Australia Day at the beginning of this year, the Labor Party has been snapping at their heels trying to keep up. But they're not going to keep up with the Greens.

On this side of the House, we firmly believe in Australia Day, and we firmly believe in it being held on 26 January. It is a day which unites Australia around everything which is great about this country. It is a day when we celebrate our freedoms. We celebrate our prosperity. It is a day when we acknowledge the Indigenous heritage, we acknowledge the British foundations and we celebrate our multicultural character. It is also a day that is the most important and popular day for new migrants to become citizens of this great nation. Just this year, over 12,000 people became citizens on Australia Day, from 140 different countries. This is a day which is important for mainstream Australia. We celebrate it, we enjoy it, we are proud of it, we fly the Australian flag and we rejoice in our freedoms. It is time for the Leader of the Opposition to back this important day. This is a test for him this weekend at the state conference which he belongs to: stand up against the extreme left in your party, stand up against the Greens, back mainstream Australia and back Australia Day.

Mr Turnbull: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.