Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — I rise to speak on the motion moved by Ms Springle on behalf of the Greens. Equality is a founding plank of my policy platform, and I stand in a strong position and have a strong record on anti-discrimination issues. At this very moment I have two motions on the notice paper calling on the government to strengthen Victoria’s anti-discrimination laws, and I will continue to fight that good fight.
I am appalled by Pauline Hanson and One Nation. I think they trade on disunity, division and fear, and they have no place in this multicultural country that we live in. We have 270 different ancestries here. There is a rich cultural diversity, and it is one of our great strengths. However, the reality is that too many individuals and communities in Australia experience prejudice, discrimination and racism on a regular basis.
I appreciate what Mrs Peulich said, and I understand the discrimination that she felt when she first came to this country. I appreciate what Ms Springle said, and she raised some very good issues and she also raised some solutions. Unfortunately, with due respect, this motion is not one. This motion will not address the vilification of the Muslim community or, as Mrs Peulich raises, the Jewish community or any other community, any other group of people, that faces vilification and discrimination in Australia. This is not the answer.
I question whether we should be even talking about other political parties. Frankly why are we giving this particular party any oxygen? We have been discussing how we do not want our staff to be involved in politics, so why are we talking politics here? Why are we not talking about solutions to the vilification of all races and the discrimination against all people? This is what we should be doing in this house today, and this motion does not do that. We are here to make laws and to assist people; we are not here to grandstand politically, although that seems to be what we have been doing a lot of lately.
Like the Greens, I am a crossbencher, and I get a few precious moments to lead debate in this house. Agree with me or not, I get those times, and I use them preciously. To me it was very important to set up a medically supervised injecting centre in Richmond. No matter whether you agree or disagree with me, I get one or two times to lead debate in this house, and I use those opportunities preciously. Whether you agree or disagree with what I choose to use them for, they are very important to me. I spend a lot of time on them, and I hope they will result in what I see as an improvement for my electorate and for the people of Victoria. I do not think that this motion does that. Actually the Greens have a number of motions on the notice paper that we could have debated today that I think would have been of far more value. In fact, in listening to Ms Springle’s speech — —
Ms Springle interjected.
Ms PATTEN — Ms Springle, I am here to actually congratulate you on your speech. I think you highlighted a lot of issues and you highlighted a lot of solutions, and I would have liked it if that is what we spent today doing, taking note of how we can decrease the vilification and discrimination that people in our communities are meeting every day.
When I have a precious moment to lead debate here, I take it very seriously. I have looked at drug law reform. I have looked at safe access zones. I have looked at ridesharing legislation, online petitions, end-of-life choices inquiries. These are things that I thought were very important. I do not think that bashing One Nation and calling on us all to put them last on our how-to-vote cards is actually a good use of our time.
Ms Springle — You’re missing the point.
Ms PATTEN — I am not missing the point, Ms Springle. I understand that we could have done something very constructive here, and I felt that part of your contribution was very constructive. In fact I think the first half of your motion is very constructive; it is just the second half that I do not support. I do not support the second half that Mrs Peulich has added to, but I support the first half of the motion.
Let us note that One Nation is actually not a registered party in Victoria, so yes, we are actually talking in the hypothetical at the moment. Do you know who is registered, though? Rise Up Australia is a registered party, and it was the party that blamed the Black Saturday fires and the deaths in those fires on the change of abortion laws; yet we are not calling to put them last. Australia First is an extremist right party that is completely anti-Islamic and may run in the election next year. I do not know whether we will find other parties, like the Australian Liberty Alliance, which is another extremist party. There is Love Australia or Leave; these are all extremist, anti-Islam and anti-Muslim parties that are fuelling that fire.
In my electorate we had the Coburg riots. I would have loved this motion to address how we could have stopped the Coburg riots and how we could have looked at identifying and building on good practice initiatives to prevent and reduce racism. At the Islamic Museum in my electorate you can have a weekend coffee with Sherene. There you get to meet a whole bunch of Muslim women, and they can talk about their experiences and the experience of getting their hijabs pulled off on public transport or being spat at when they are driving in their cars. Those are the issues that I want to address, and I want to find solutions for them. I want to empower those communities, as we heard Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau do in Canada. He does not have all the answers, we do not have all the answers, but this is what we should have been spending this 90 minutes dealing with.
I am not going to go on, because I want to allow other members time to speak on this, but I feel very strongly that this motion should have been about how we address racism and how we address prejudice. How do we create a society where there is freedom of religion as well as freedom from religion? How can we create a secular society? How can we address anti-female comments coming from the Islamic community? How can we address the absolutely outrageous comments that sometimes come from the Catholic Church and the Catholic community or from the Jewish community? How do we address those prejudices? How do we not accept that, no matter what your religion is? How do we empower those communities to take action and those individuals to take action to prevent and reduce racism in this society?
This is what we should have been debating today, not who we as political parties may or may not put on our how-to-vote cards. We do not know what parties will be running in 2018. I do not believe that this is the right place for us to be discussing such political matters. Racism is a serious issue in our country, and this motion is not a way to tackle it. In many ways I think it diminishes it by somehow putting the issue as simply as One Nation being the be-all and end-all of this issue when it is far more than that. There are far more racist and discriminatory practices and policies coming out of numerous parties, and I will be far more judicial in how I decide where my votes are going to go and how my party decides on its how-to-vote card. I cannot support this motion.