I am proud to represent one of the most culturally diverse electorates in this country.
The electorate of Oxley has over 55,000 people who were born overseas. People from all over the world, including
India, South Africa, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, call the suburbs of Oxley home, with just over 38 per
cent of people living in our community having been born overseas. Among this number is a rich and flourishing
Vietnamese community, with almost 7,000 people having been born in Vietnam and a total of 10,000 people
whose ancestry comes from Vietnam. Vietnamese, Samoan, Mandarin, Spanish and Cantonese are some of the
most common languages spoken at home in our community, alongside some other, not-so-common languages
including Danish, Polish and Korean. It is facts like these that prove the true success of how great our multicultural
society in Australia really is—one based on inclusivity, diversity and our mutual respect for one another.
However, last week I, like many Australians, was dismayed to see the Turnbull government throw open the
floodgates with proposed changes to 18C that will allow speech that offends, insults or humiliates people based on
their race. Of all days to make this announcement, they chose Harmony Day, a day when schools and community
organisations join together to celebrate the message that everyone belongs. Students, teachers and parents all
dressed in orange to celebrate how we embrace cultures from all over the world to make ours the most successful
multicultural nation on earth.
What a relief to those extreme right-wing members of this government that now they can say whatever they
want. They can break open the shackles of their daily nightmare and be able to say what they really think. Make
no mistake: the proposed changes to section 18C will allow more racial hate speech in Australia. Throughout
the last week, we have seen leaders from across multicultural communities denounce this change. We have seen
members of my own Vietnamese community stand strongly against these changes. As I said earlier, the success
of Australia is based on our inclusivity and mutual respect for one another. However, unfortunately, there are
examples where this is not the case. When these occur, we must make sure that adequate protections for those
that need them are in place.
But it seems the Turnbull government are not interested in doing this at all, instead allowing speech that will
discriminate against their fellow Australians based on the colour of their skin, race or religion. At the end of the
day, there is no question: they are weakening the words in legislation, and we will see more examples of racial
discrimination involving offending, insulting and humiliating examples of where Australians will no longer be
protected under the law. I stand strongly with my community and will always fight against race hate speech.