We should all assume that our elected representatives share certain values. Foremost among them is an understanding that every citizen deserves respect, no matter their differences. There is no place for racism in our society or in our politics.
I am proud to represent an electorate that embodies Australian multiculturalism.
We share a common belief that diversity makes us stronger.
We celebrate many cultures, customs, religions and languages. We acknowledge the ancient culture of Indigenous Australians and the land on which we stand is and always will be Aboriginal land.
We come together to show respect for one another and to acknowledge the vibrancy that every culture brings to Australian life. In Sydney's inner west we share a belief that each of us has a right to live and let live, without fear of intimidation, insult, offence or humiliation.
We know that racism and bigotry of any kind have no place in a modern Australia.
Like most Australians, I was horrified to see the rise of Pauline Hanson and One Nation. I have said before that Ms Hanson has never understood the importance of multiculturalism or the many beliefs it brings to our country. When she was first elected to Parliament in 1998 I remember the electric shock it sent through every aspect of Australian political life. I remember the sense of anger and the deep sadness that her divisive and ugly politics evoked in people of Asian descent.
That fight reinforced my part in the Australian Labor Party. When we talk about equality, fairness and opportunity, Opposition members understand that that applies to everybody.
Pauline Hanson continues to play on people's fears and to take advantage of a deep-seated sense of uncertainty. Always within her sights are the vulnerable, those who struggle to be part of our society, often sacrificing everything that is important to them—their homes, families and friends—to migrate to our country.
According to Hanson, we were first in danger of being swamped by Asians and then by Muslims. We have seen the disastrous and dangerous effects of this kind of politics in the United States and it has been brutal. We know there is no place for this in a modern society or in modern politics.
When a leader of a political party spruiks her own brand of racism and makes ridiculous and offensive claims, including warning parents against vaccinating their children or aligning themselves with Vladimir Putin of all people, one would think this Government would have the backbone to strongly reject it.
The Leader of the Opposition and NSW Labor have had the backbone to rule out One Nation preferences in New South Wales but the Premier and those opposite have refused to do the same. NSW Labor is taking a stand against racism and the rank opportunism of One Nation. When will this Government do the same?
When will the Premier take a stand against racism?
I appreciate that people on both sides of the House are appalled by Hanson and believe that this attack on multiculturalism defines their electorates as much as it defines ours. But why will they not take a stand against racism?
Surely it is time for those opposite to take a principled stand and rule out One Nation preferences.