Ms O’CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, I rise to defend myself from a most terrible slur put on the Hansard by my colleague, the member for Clark, Ms Haddad, on Tuesday night.
Ms Haddad, in this place - and I have a copy of her speech here - said she was calling out racism, pure and simple. I challenge Ms Haddad to step outside this place and call me a racist. That is defamatory and she used that language under cover of parliamentary privilege. Ms Haddad has called me a xenophobe in print and a racist in here. It is an understatement to say I take personal offence. I want Ms Haddad to withdraw and apologise.
Ms Haddad said words matter. Madam Speaker, they sure do. What words did I use that were xenophobic or racist? Ms Haddad, in her contribution, could not point to one example, despite being repeatedly challenged to do so by my colleague, Dr Woodruff.
To call someone a racist is a most terrible slur, and as someone who spent the first six years of their life in India, Singapore and Japan, who spoke Japanese as a child, who has been to China twice - once as a guest of Ms Haddad's father, as it happens, and loved the place and its people - who is living a life immersed deeply in the lives and concerns of all people, no matter where they come from, I reject it absolutely.
Ms Haddad should have the insight and the guts to apologise. Ms Haddad is consciously or unconsciously running Chinese Communist Party talking points. It is standard operating procedure.
I go now to Clive Hamilton's landmark book Silent Invasion, where he says -
For writing this book I will be accused of racism and xenophobia, epithets flung at anyone who raises the alarm about the influence of the Chinese Communist Party of Australia. The accusation can be made only by conflating the CCP with Chinese people so that being anti-CCP must mean being anti-Chinese.
This is exactly what the CCP wants us to think. It is a cheap accusation, but it serves as an effective silencing device in this country because of the widespread and quite proper sensitivity to inflaming racial tensions. However, that sensitivity is exploited by those who do not want to draw attention to what the CCP is doing.
Madam Speaker, Ms Haddad, despite saying in her speech that we should all call out human rights abuses, did not take the opportunity to do so. She did not speak out against human rights abuses in occupied Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong or Taiwan.
Ms Haddad had the opportunity to use her voice in this place, and her words, to speak up for the people of occupied Tibet and the women of Xinjiang, who have endured forced abortions, forced sterilisations, the theft of their children, forced marriage, slave labour, the men, the academics, teachers, artists, poets, fathers, brothers and sons sent to concentration camps. The whole towns obliterated in Xinjiang, ancient mosques flattened. This is documented. There is evidence of this, but Ms Haddad did not. Ms Haddad was silent. She did not use her voice to speak for these people, oppressed as they are by an irrational, genocidal, misogynist, colonialist, planet-plundering regime. She only said that she is not anti-Xinjiang. What does that even mean? What does that even mean to not be anti-Hong Kong or anti-Taiwan? Where was Ms Haddad when the international students from Hong Kong were here last year putting a Hong Kong wall up at the University of Tasmania that kept getting torn down so that we took to Senator Nick McKim's office. We were there all night with those kids, with those students and they are terrified of the Chinese Government.
Where was Ms Haddad speaking up for Hong Kongers and Taiwanese? We should, as a country, raise our voices very loudly to offer people from Hong Kong asylum in Australia because their city and their lives have changed dramatically.
Ms Haddad, whether consciously or unconsciously, is running a weaponised narrative.
Ms O’CONNOR - Absolutely. We hear the groans from Labor, which is so compromised on this. This is an article written by Chris Zappone -
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, we are trying to run a safe workplace here. I think you are just on the border of being very personal. I personally feel extremely uncomfortable with what you are saying.
Ms O’CONNOR - Is that right?
Madam SPEAKER - I do not believe Ms Haddad had any intention of any of those things that you have claimed. I think it is a personal attack and I am not comfortable with it.
Ms O’CONNOR - On that, Madam Speaker, in Ms Haddad's speech, she said, 'I was calling out racism pure and simple'. She said that I have a very strong bias against the Chinese. That is a lie and I am entitled to defend myself in this place.
She has accused me of the most grotesque - grotesque - motives, which I reject absolutely and, in fact, which are an insult to Chinese Australians. When people stand up and speak out against the human rights abuses of the Chinese Government and they are accused of racism and xenophobia, it is an attempt to shut that criticism down. It is a weaponised narrative. I watched the broadcast again last night, which is why I am in here now.
Unfortunately, I did not hear you, Madam Speaker, pull up Ms Haddad for calling me a racist, biased against the Chinese -
Madam SPEAKER - Because, quite frankly I did not find her address as insulting as yours was.
Ms O’CONNOR - Could you tell me what is insulting about my address?
Madam SPEAKER - I know you are entitled to an opinion but you are just one opinion out of 25. I am afraid you are going very close to being out of order. Your time is up.
Ms O’Connor - Madam Speaker, I will be back in here because I want Ms Haddad to withdraw that accusation and apologise. How dare you? How dare you?
Madam SPEAKER - Excuse me, that is most unparliamentary and it is a disgrace. Do not go threatening someone like that.
Ms O’Connor - I did not threaten anyone.
Madam SPEAKER - 'How dare you?'.
Ms O’Connor - 'How dare you?'.
Madam SPEAKER - Yes, 'How dare you?'.
Ms O’Connor - Accuse me of racism and xenophobia.
Madam SPEAKER - Who do you think you are? Sit down.
Ms O’Connor - What I think I am is an equal member of this place who is entitled to defend myself.
Madam SPEAKER - Then you should not make inflammatory comments.
Ms O’Connor - I urge you, Madam Speaker, to have a look at what Ms Haddad said.
Madam SPEAKER - I did; I listened to every word.
Ms O’Connor - I don't think you were paying attention.