Australia prides itself on free speech, not hate speech. Whether it be in a newspaper, on social media or at a public meeting – we can say what we like without fear of prosecution.
Sometimes those words can hurt you. They can be completely against your personal, business or community values – but we must acknowledge that every one has the right to speak their truth.
But then Queensland senator Fraser Anning comes along. The man who received just 19 preference votes now an elected representative.
He was third on One Nation’s ticket and got the gig to join the Senate when Malcolm Roberts was forced to resign after he was caught up in the dual citizenship saga.
He pledged his loyalty to One Nation, but on the November day he was sworn in he quit the party.
Two months ago he joined the Bob Katter’s Australian Party.
Normally maiden speeches don’t get that much coverage, but Senator Anning has been the political talking point for the past 24 hours.
He said many unsurprising comments – that Australian workers should get a fair go when it comes to wages and government funds should be spent on providing infrastructure to businesses and farmers to develop rather than spending money on welfare payments.
But then the speech went down a racist path that has been condemned by all sides of politics – even Pauline Hanson.
But if one thing is to come from Senator Anning’s speech is the acknowledged outrage by the majority of Australians in terms of ill-informed stereotypes and disrespectful and shameful reference to the “final solution”.
Robust conversation around immigration, border security and anti-terrorism measures is needed. But it doesn’t mean all three topics can be linked.
Australia has been here before, with the White Australia Policy.
We don’t need to look to the past, we need to look to the future and continue to develop our Australian identity that is based the values of camaraderie, courage, initiative, endurance, discipline and of course our humour and not the colour of our skin or our religion.