TRANSCRIPT - DOORSTOP (GILES) - CHINATOWN MELBOURNE - Friday, 6 March 2020

06 March 2020

SENATOR THE HON KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
 
ANDREW GILES MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CITIES AND URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE
 
 
E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
CHINATOWN, MELBOURNE
FRIDAY, 6 MARCH 2020
 
SUBJECTS: Labor’s petition to stand against racism; Faith-based attacks by Josh Frydenberg and Alex Hawke; Sports Rorts and Bridget McKenzie firing a warning shot over Scott Morrison’s bow.
 
ANDREW GILES, SHADOW MINISTER FOR MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS: Good morning everyone. I'm Andrew Giles, Labor's Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs, and I'm here in Chinatown today with my friend and colleague Senator Kristina Keneally, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs. I'm particularly pleased to be here in Chinatown, where we are launching today Labor's petition against racism. We are calling on the Government to fund a national anti-racism campaign and now is the time that needs to happen. We're doing it in Chinatown because, while racism is on the rise, generally – we're seeing reports of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia – we know in response to the Coronavirus issue, we're seeing Chinese-Australians and Asian-Australians generally feeling the brunt it. We're hearing terrible stories of exclusion and racism. Labor is standing with them. We are calling on the Government to join us in standing with them. This petition is an opportunity for us to say to the Government – “it's time to act”. It's also an opportunity for ordinary Australians, all Australians to come together by signing the petition to say we exist in solidarity, we stand up for multicultural Australia. We won't let anyone be separated by these forces of hatred and division. And so, in the Parliament yesterday, I moved motion calling on the Government more broadly to stand up for multicultural Australia. I like to think that my colleagues and I made some good speeches but I'd encourage Australians to look at the speeches of Government members. They could not point to a single achievement they've made in standing up for a multicultural Australia since Harold Holt in the 1960s and I think that speaks volumes. But that wasn't all. There were also some terrible remarks made in the midst of that debate and Senator Keneally will touch on this.
 
KRISTINA KENEALLY, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: Thank you, Andrew. And I wholeheartedly endorse the petition that Andrew and I are launching here today and invite Australians to sign up and commit to standing up against racism. I wish that Scott Morrison would make the same requirement of his Cabinet ministers. Two sitting weeks in Parliament, two of Scott Morrison's ministers and two attacks based on faith. Two faith-based attacks. That's right. We've had two weeks in Parliament, two of Scott Morrison's ministers and two faith-based attacks.
 
First, Josh Frydenberg inexplicably using – inexplicably using – the Hindu faith as the basis political joke. Not once, but several times, with the Prime Minister and other ministers laughing along with him. Secondly, we see last night, what extraordinary and offensive comments from Alex Hawke, Minister Alex Hawke, attacking the Member for Cowan, Anne Aly on the basis of her religion and her family. It is unbelievable that we have a Prime Minister who on one hand holds himself out as the defender of people of faith and as the person who stands up against religious discrimination. And then on the other hand, allows two of his ministers, on the floor of the Parliament, to use faith as the basis to attack people – the Hindu faith, people of the Muslim faith. Now, the Hindu community in Australia has made it quite clear they found Josh Frydenberg's antics cringe-worthy and racist and they've called on him to apologise. I want to make clear, I think that Josh Frydenberg and Alex Hawke should stand up and apologise for the things they have said and the offense that they have caused. There is no excuse from our political leadership, to using religion and race as the basis to attack one another. We need more unity and less division. Social cohesion doesn't build itself and it is created when we have the community standing together, respecting and recognising one another's differences and celebrating them and supporting one another. That leadership needs to start from the top and that is why the actions that we are taking here today in launching this petition is to bring a community together, not to do as Josh Frydenberg and Alex Hawke have done, to seek to divide.
 
I also want to touch on another issue that has emerged today, ahead of her appearance before the Sports Rorts Inquiry, former Sports Minister, Bridget McKenzie, has fired a warning shot across Scott Morrison's bow. What do we hear today from the former Minister, Bridget McKenzie? She's clearly sick and tired of being blamed in public by the Morison Government for decisions taken after the Government went into caretaker mode – changes made to the grants allocation. Bridget Mackenzie has come out today and made it clear – she made no changes after the 4th of April and she signed a brief allocating the grants under the now-corrupt Sports Rorts Scandal. Well, Bridget McKenzie didn't make changes after the 4th of April. Question is – who did? Who did? Was it the Prime Minister? Was it his office in those 136 emails? In the changes that were made after the government went into caretaker mode? Were those changes made by Scott Morrison? Were they made by his office? Scott Morrison has misled the Parliament. It is now clear that Scott Morrison has not been truthful with the Australian people when he says he just passed on representations, so the decisions were all made by Bridget McKenzie. Because Bridget McKenzie has made clear today, she didn't make those decisions. Bit by bit, the truth is coming out and the truth is closing in on Scott Morrison and his office. And I have to say, I look forward to Bridget McKenzie's appearance before the Inquiry into these corrupt Sports Rorts. Thank you.
 
ENDS