It was Greens Senator Jordan Steele-John who stole the show at the McKinnon Political Awards last Friday for declaring ‘The era of the dominant, white, able-bodied man is over’ in his acceptance speech for winning the Emerging Political Leader of the Year Award.
But Labor’s Senate Leader and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Penny Wong who won the Political Leader of the Year also did her best to virtue signal her progressive credentials. She declared that “Hate speech is inimical to democracy; it must not be normalised; it cannot be defended on grounds of freedom of speech because it inflicts real and direct harm”.
She went onto claim that hate speech operates “by dehumanising, by singling out people as outsiders, as second-class citizens, not deserving the protections and dignity afforded to full members of the community” and that “This is what makes hate speech so dangerous; it is what links hatred in speech to hatred in deed”.
Wong also warned that “History shows that genocides, mass atrocities, and systemic forms of enslavement and ill-treatment have been fuelled by hate speech which dehumanises and blames the victims”.
Wong had another opportunity today in the Senate to condemn hate speech and racism as being anti-democratic when speaking in support of the bipartisan Senate motion to censure Fraser Anning for his statement post the Christchurch mosque shooting which said it was the result of third world immigration and Muslim violence in the west.
Wong said “We must repudiate those who seek to spread intolerance and hate and in doing so undermine our democratic values” and claimed that “There is a difference between freedom of speech and hate speech. The former is a feature of our democracy; the latter is an attack on our democracy”.
She went on to repeat much of speech from McKinnon Award acceptance speech about why hate speech is a threat to democracy adding that “legislative protections against hate speech are so important”.
Going onto condemn Anning himself Wong called his statement “A shameful and pathetic attempt by a bloke who has never been elected, to get attention by exploiting diversity as a fault line for political advantage. Well this motion makes it clear he does not speak for us. He does not speak for this Senate. He does not speak for this nation He does not represent Australian values”.
But once again Wong was upstaged by a Green with Senator Sarah Hanson-Young demanding that Anning be suspended from Parliament for his views. The Coalition and Labor did not support the suspension motion given the dangerous precedent it would set in the parliament.
One Nation’s Peter Georgio and Australian Conservatives’ Cory Bernardi were the only Senators not to support the censure motion. Anning said he was only being censured for telling the truth “no matter how many times they tried to condemn me, they could not refute that what I said is 100% true” and that it was an attempt to stifle dissenting views.
This is likely to be the last time the Senate sits before the expected May election where Fraser Anning, and it should be added Sarah Hanson-Young is up for election where the voters, not the politicians will decide who sits in the Senate.
It has just been confirmed this afternoon that Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party has been registered with the Australian Electoral Commission after a significant period of delay.