Federal Parliament - Senator Eric Abetz

November 12, 2020

Dr ALYI regret having to stand here today to remind the House that no Australian should be singled out solely on the basis of their cultural background or heritage and have their loyalty publicly questioned by parliamentarians when they seek to participate in our democracy. I'm referring to the line of questioning during a committee hearing in which Senator Abetz demanded that three witnesses of Asian descent disavow the Chinese Communist Party. Senator Abetz's actions were not only corrosive to our social cohesion but also counterproductive to any fight against foreign interference at home or for human rights abroad.

The deafening silence from Coalition ministers is, frankly, disappointing. This is not a partisan issue. This is about sending a clear message to the world that Australia is a multicultural democracy where we have robust debate but everyone is afforded respect and courtesy. Australians recognise this, and that's why tens of thousands of people have signed a petition asking the Prime Minister to show some leadership to say that Senator Abetz's behaviour was not acceptable. We've had former Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull both stating on the record that it was unacceptable. When is this Prime Minister going to say so? This needs leadership. That is why I have also signed the letter organised by the Asian Australian Alliance asking for the Minister and the Prime Minister to make a clear statement that Senator Abetz's behaviour is unacceptable.