Address to the House of Representatives, Parliament House, Canberra - 15 August 2018

August 15, 2018
Speeches
Transcripts

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

E&OE…

PRIME MINISTER:

Mr Speaker, I condemned the racist remarks of Senator Anning last night as soon as I heard of them. I've condemned them already today and I condemn them again here in this House.

Let me say Mr Speaker, we live in the most successful multicultural society in the world and our success is built on a foundation of mutual respect. We have one of the most successful immigration programs in the world. We are a migration nation. Who could claim to have a better one? And we manage it on a thoroughly nondiscriminatory basis. It too is built on a foundation of strong leadership and the control of our borders, so that Australians know that people who come here, come here because the government has agreed to them doing so. The people's representatives agree to them doing so.

We've managed that program in a world where there is so much disharmony. Where, in many places in the world, where people of different faiths and different races have lived side-by-side reasonably harmoniously for hundreds of years and now seem unable to do so.

Despite all of that, here in Australia, in the midst of our diversity, we live in great harmony.

So we have so much to be proud of, but we can never take it for granted.

We must always stand up for our commitment to an Australia that defines itself by reference to shared political values; freedom, democracy, the rule of law, a fair go. Those are our values and they are accessible to people of every race, of any religion, or none, of any cultural background. So that is how we define our nation.

Now, just a little while ago, the Leader of the Opposition and I launched together, a book by Emma Campbell called The Last Post. It tells 30 of the stories of Australian servicemen and women that have been honoured in the Last Post ceremonies at the War Memorial that all of us have attended from time to time.

It reminds us that when you fling open all the doors in this Parliament, from my office, the Prime Minister's office at the back, through the Cabinet room where the great decisions of government are made, through the Members Hall, uniting the House and Senate, through the Great Hall, looking across the like, what do we see? The Australian War Memorial. It reminds us there, in its splendid simplicity, in its serenity, that every freedom we exercise here was hard-won and today is hard-held by the men and women of the Australian Defence Force. Over 102,000 fallen Australians honoured there. They have come from every race, from every culture, from every religion and of none. Our First Australians to the most recent migrants, all of them united in their commitment to defending our values.

Now the Leader of the Opposition acknowledges it was not always so. It's true, it was in 1965, the Labor Party abandoned, removed the White Australia policy from its charter. In 1966, Harold Holt, a Liberal Prime Minister, abandoned, repealed any legislation that enabled a White Australia Policy, or discrimination against migrants on the basis of their race or religion.

So that was a great Liberal achievement and of course, in 1967, we had the great referendum. Long overdue, but an enormously uniting statement of commitment to equality.

So we have always stood against racism, ever since those days. The days of the White Australia policy are long, long ago and our success is founded on our commitment to a shared national identity committed to those political values which unite us all.

Now, I want to refer to the remarks that have been made about terrorism. Let me say this; the vast majority of the victims of Islamist terrorism are Muslims. The Islamist terrorists are, in the words of my friend President Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia, they are blasphemers. He says they are not Muslims. They are denounced and abhorred by the vast majority of Muslims around the world and particularly here in Australia.

Let's be quite clear; those who seek to demonise all Muslims on the basis of the crimes of a tiny minority, are helping the terrorists. Let’s be very clear about this. I say this as Prime Minister, whose most solemn responsibility is to keep Australians safe. I want to say this very carefully, solemnly, seriously.

The terrorists' argument, the Islamist terrorists' argument to other Muslims is; “Your country, Australia, is not your country. They don't want you. They hate you. You're not ever going to be really Australian. Join the war on our side.” So those who try to demonise Muslims because of the crimes of a tiny minority, are only helping the terrorists.

The reference in Senator Anning's speech to the ‘final solution’ is a shocking, shocking insult to the memory of over 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust. Can I say here in Australia and particularly in my city of Sydney and the honorable member opposite in his city of Melbourne, we have the largest number of Holocaust survivors outside of Israel.

The reference to the ‘final solution’ in that speech was appalling. We condemn that and the insult it offered to the memory of those Jewish martyrs, just as we condemn the racism, a shocking rejection of the Australian values that have made us the successful multicultural nation that we are today.

Mr Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition said perhaps we should not say too much about the Senator's remarks, at the risk that we give “oxygen to stupidity”, I think was the Leader of the Opposition's words. I believe it's important always, to call out racism. It is. We need to call it out.

We need to stand up for what we are; a free society, the most successful multicultural society in the world, united by democratic values that do not distinguish between race, religion, colour, cultural background.

A nation that is united in its commitment to respect, mutual respect for people of every religion, of every race, of every background.

We should be so proud of our achievement in today's world. It is remarkable, it is the envy of the world.

We should all here be proud of this and condemn - as we have - racism and discrimination of the kind so regrettably expressed, so shamefully expressed, by Senator Anning.

[Applause]

[ENDS]

Press Office of the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister, Canberra

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