Pauline Hanson Rhetoric Dangerous, Race Discrimination Commissioner Warns
5 July 2016 at 11:44 am
Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane believes Pauline Hanson’s rhetoric on race, multiculturalism and immigration, which includes calling for a royal commission into Islam, could lead to “fear, hate and division”.
Hanson is expected to secure a Senate seat in Queensland, 18 years after she lost her lower house seat. The leader of far-right party One Nation said she also expected to win a seat in New South Wales and Western Australia.
She has been outspoken about her divisive policy agenda, which would see immigration limited, the Racial Discrimination Act abolished and a royal commission into Islam that would include banning the burka and surveillance cameras installed in all mosques and schools.
Inflammatory rhetoric and appeals to xenophobia: a sure recipe for fear, hate and division https://t.co/L6GwHMjj5D
— Tim Soutphommasane (@timsout) July 4, 2016
“You have our values, our culture and our way of life that’s here in Australia, you don’t have a full burka… you don’t keep putting up mosques,” Hanson said on Monday.
“And it’s not me, it is our society that actually are on the streets protesting against the building of mosques. Why? Because they see the repercussions that are happening in their own communities.
“Why don’t we investigate this further to ensure that we don’t become like… many other countries around the world.”
Dr Soutphommasane has been outspoken in the media and on Twitter about Hanson’s comments, warning they could give licence to racism and lead to violence.
“It’s important that we are able to have debates about multiculturalism and immigration, but let’s not give licence to prejudice and bigotry,” Soutphommasane said.
“The manner in which we conduct debates matter. Citizens should be civil and respectful. Arguments should be grounded in facts and reason. Passions and emotions must never spill over into violence. We have plenty of examples about how licensing hate can lead to serious violence and ugliness in our streets and our communities.”
— AusHumanRights (@AusHumanRights) July 4, 2016
He also said that the “remarkable success story” of Australian multiculturalism should be protected.
“The politics of Hansonism haven’t changed during the past two decades. By contrast, Australian society has moved on. We have grown even more diverse. Close to half of our population is first- or second-generation Australian. The largest source countries of immigration are now China and India,” he said.
“Moreover, multiculturalism enjoys robust public support. Surveys show that about 86 per cent of Australians believe it is good for the country. The vast majority of us are relaxed and comfortable about leaving room for diversity in our national identity.
“We should not be apologetic about responding to ignorance or nastiness. Calling out racism or bigotry doesn’t mean that you are preventing someone from having an opinion. It just means that you are holding them to account for what they say.”