Racial and Religious Tolerance

Mr RICHARDSON (Mordialloc) — I want to raise and address some of the comments made in and the coverage of the recent US presidential debate, particularly the demonisation of a particular religion — Muslims generally — and some of the hate-filled speeches made at rallies across our country demonising Muslim Australians. The recent coverage of these events has risked normalising some of these hate-filled speeches. Not challenging these bigoted speeches for what they are risks demonising people in and alienating them from our community. This bigoted behaviour creates angst, it hurts people, and I think we need to call it out for what it is. Examples of this are that there have been a number of rallies on a number of issues across this place.

I also want to put on the record that as parliamentarians we have a responsibility to speak out. My challenge for the government and for the opposition for next year is that instead of proposing matters of public importance and throwing political mud at each other, maybe we should step back and push for discussions of matters of real public importance, such as the demonisation of people in our community. We have seen through the generations examples of what not speaking out against hate-filled speech can bring. My worry is not just for this generation but for future generations with that normalisation. My message for people who are preaching hate and intolerance is: you will not do it under our name, you will not do it under our country’s flag, and you will certainly not do it on behalf of our nation.