QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS - Racism

I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education (Senator Cash) to a question without notice asked by Senator Dodson today relating to a vote on a motion concerning anti-white racism.

When I was a boy I grew up with the slogans whereby white folks were referred to as 'merinos'. That meant that they dominated the land and they took control of the best pieces of land, and that particular activity was known as 'peacocking'. So, they stole the best pieces of land from the Aboriginal peoples. It seems that we haven't moved very far in terms of this notion of greed that underpins racism.

What is the problem with being white? What is the problem? You have privilege. You have influence. You control every strata of life where we as First Nations exist—our social, our religious and our economic positions. And you've been in control of these lands and these waters and have managed them for the last 200 years. So, what's your problem? Over this time you have sought, through your policies, to exterminate the First Nations people, who happen to be different in colour from your whiteness. As I've said, you've managed every activity of our life, through policies and practices, if not of the gun then of bureaucrats and police. You've usurped our sovereign lands, and the waters, and you continue to deny us a rightful place in the Constitution of this nation. So, what's your problem? You've got the power, you've got the influence, you've got the status and you've got the might, and you say you're being discriminated against.

Well, join my side of the tracks, where we're the most poverty-stricken group in the country. We're the most incarcerated group in the country. Our kids are being taken off us and being put out into out-of-home care with the hope they'll be fostered out to white folks. We're people who are denied our rightful place in this country at every point. When it butts up against the multinationals, you amend the Native Title Act to suit the corporates. And you say you're disadvantaged and that you're being discriminated against. Well, join my side of the tracks and you'll find out what that means.

This is not really a question of colour. This is not a question of black and white. We're human beings. Maybe you want to study that a bit, and find out from people who understand that we come from one set of genes, with variations in our cultures, our customs and our practices. There's no superiority in white or black. We're human beings. And the day you want to become an Australian, then start to learn from the First Australians how to live in this country.

The act of government senators yesterday in support of this slogan by white supremacists really happened not because of a staffer who they tried to condemn and not because of some overworked senators who have responsibility for government business in the Senate. Let me suggest: it comes from being privileged. It comes from being privileged and allowing greed to reign. It comes from being white being synonymous with privilege and power. That's what has to be taken stock of, if we're ever going to lead to fairness for the rest of the nation's populations.

As I've said, the First Nations are poverty-stricken, powerless, overincarcerated and do not live with privilege or opportunities to exercise a voice in these halls of power and fame. If you want to fight racism—and I really doubt whether you do after this performance and previous performances going back to the last Prime Minister—you have to do something about greed and power. You definitely do. Take stock of it. You're leading the country nowhere, from a civil society point of view. You can argue about economics, but from a civil society point of view you're not contributing to the building of this nation as a coherent, social, civil society. You're seeking to drive wedges and drive further discord and division amongst people who are honest and fair in the main, and you'd do that on the basis of colour. I condemn you for it. You use power so well, not just to send a dog whistle; you actually had a bull's roar in here. It's not a dog whistle— (Time expired)

Stay up to date by subscribing to my newsletter.