Speech: Stopping the spread of far-right extremism
I rise to speak on the matter of urgency before the chamber. As senators would know, this is an issue that is front of my mind as the Greens spokesperson for antiracism and as the only Muslim senator in this place.
First, I think the most critical aspect of this urgency motion, which I thank Senator Lines for bringing on, relates to the Prime Minister and Mr Dutton taking action to combat far Right extremism within their own party. In my first speech to the Senate, back in August 2018, I said:
The existence of racism, sexism and other discrimination is not new, but what has changed is its legitimisation, normalisation and encouragement in the media and in politics. Political leaders, in addition to their old habit of racist dog-whistling, are now comfortable outright fanning the flames of racial conflict.
Reflecting on those words 2½ years later, it deeply disturbs me how this process of normalisation I spoke about has not reversed or corrected itself but has in fact worsened. Far Right politics are more mainstream than ever. The government has shown zero interest in dealing with this existential threat to our diverse community. It was good to see significant pressure placed on the Prime Minister over the last couple of days to condemn and distance himself from the dangerous COVID conspiracy theorising of the member for Hughes, Craig Kelly, but similar pressure should also be put on him to condemn the numerous government MPs who have made a habit of peddling far Right hate politics. There is no excuse for the toxic hate that is being spread. It is dangerous. It kills people. It harms communities.
Just before parliament rose last year, I asked questions and spoke in this chamber about the Christchurch mosque attacks royal commission report, which had just been released in Aotearoa New Zealand. During my contributions, in which I spoke specifically about how the terrorist who killed 51 Muslims was found to have held an extreme right-wing Islamophobic ideology, I said, 'Any denial or obfuscation of this simple fact is an insult to the targets.' During my remarks, multiple government senators shouted back at me, including—I remember this very distinctly—'He was a Communist,' someone said. This really rattled me. If your response to the devastating murder of 51 innocent people is to default to a conspiratorial deflection about the terrorist being anything but a fascist, then we may as well pack up, give up and head home. This isn't theoretical for us. This isn't a meaningless political game. These are our lives. When you don't take this seriously, when you dismiss it with nonsensical, offensive deflections, the message it sends to me and other Muslims is this: 'We don't care about you. We don't care about your community. We choose to either stay in twisted denial or are actively sympathetic to far Right politics.'
When I called out the Deputy Prime Minister last month for, shamefully, comparing the white supremacist uprising at the US capitol with the Black Lives Matter protests and his use of the far-Right slogan 'All lives matter', my office was again bombarded with messages of hate, including over social media and email and via multiple very toxic and vile phone calls. We know why Mr McCormack used the slogan and made that comparison. He reckons there's a constituency out there for him. He thinks he can use it to electoral advantage. This is a sign of complete moral bankruptcy. You lot over there, together with your Prime Minister, won't say a word to condemn him or to pull him up because you are salivating after those voters that the far-Right Pauline Hanson's One Nation party has taken away from you. Shame on you!