“We as a nation are entitled to insist that those who are allowed to come here predominantly reflect the historic European-Christian composition of Australian society,” Anning told the Upper House. “Those who come here need to assimilate and integrate.”
The Senator singled out the Muslim community calling for an immediate ban on immigration. “While all Muslims are not terrorists, certainly all terrorists these days are Muslims,” he said. “So why would anyone want to bring more of them here?”
He further added that the “final solution” (a term adopted by Nazi Germany to describe the mass killing of Jewish people) would be to move the issue to a popular vote.
“We need a plebiscite to allow the Australian people to decide whether they want wholesale non-English speaking immigrants from the third world, and particularly whether they want any Muslims.” He said.
Anning’s claims were swiftly condemned by the majority of Parliament. Labor frontbencher Tony Burke labelled the speech “bile”, while Minister for Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge tweeted that Anning’s comments “do not reflect the views of the Government”– a sentiment backed up by the Prime Minister.
Well said Alan. Australia is the most successful multicultural society in the world built on a foundation of mutual respect. We reject and condemn racism in any form. https://t.co/RHslbs1FNs
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) August 14, 2018
Labor Senate leader Penny Wong, injected a personal note to her rebuke.
“My parents were married in the dying days of the White Australia Policy,” she said. “We’ve rightly consigned that policy to the dustbin of history.”
This forceful and united censure of Anning’s toxic address is encouraging. In less than half a century, Australia’s done a lot to move past a sordid history which included The White Australia Policy. Our diversity is what makes us successful and for the most part, we embrace it wholeheartedly.
Of course, it would be easy to dissect and analyse Anning’s words; to assume they echo the beliefs of many and fear the likely repercussions. But I’m not inclined to believe that a silent majority of racists lies in the shadows of this country.
My own mother and her family immigrated to Australia in the 1970s setting up camp in Sydney’s predominantly Anglo-Saxon, Cronulla. My Indian grandfather became the local GP, my Malaysian grandmother a preschool teacher. They loved and embraced their community and they were loved and embraced in return.
At times they encountered racism, as did my Mum, as have my siblings and I. But fringe pockets of toxicity, should never be believed to be the norm. Most people are proud of Australia’s multiculturalism; we wouldn’t be the country we are, without it.
Senator Anning’s claims are inflammatory and noxious but they hold no water. A few sad people will slap him on the back with gusto and give him more airtime than he ever deserves. But the majority of us– the loud, proud majority– will roll our eyes to the sky and await his inevitable demise.