Racial Discrimination should not be OK

20 October 2015

Dr CHALMERS (Rankin) (13:32):  On the Saturday just gone, as I drove from the opening of a new Australian Unity Centre at the Slacks Creek mosque in my electorate to the Cambodian temple around the corner at Marsden, I reflected on how fortunate I am to represent one of the most diverse electorates in the entire country. From growing up in that area, I know and I have this belief that the great communities, the great countries, the great societies are the ones that admit people and who are inclusive and united and give everyone a stake in the national success.

The Prime Minister wants us to believe that he thinks that as well. He wants us to believe that he is more inclusive than the man he replaced. He wants us to believe that the extremists and the crackpots in his party are back in their box, that the days of ministers defending bigotry are long gone. But the reality is very different. We should judge them on their deeds and not on their words. The reality is that there is a serious split in their party when it comes to watering down section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, the effect of which would be to make it easier to offend people on the basis of their race. That is not acceptable to this side of the House. It is not acceptable in Greenway or Blair or Isaacs or Lalor or Bendigo or Newcastle and nor should it be acceptable to that side of the House. We have an opportunity be a beacon for inclusion and diversity in the world; instead, we have a Prime Minister who is just as unwilling or just as unable to match words with deeds and put the extremists in his party back in their box.