Matters of Public Importance – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, Wednesday 9 November, 2023

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (17:42): I rise in support of Senator Hanson’s matter of public importance. As a proud Australian, just like Senator Hanson, I believe that we should do all that we can to unite our beautiful nation. I love Australia, and I will proudly fight to preserve my home for future generations.

On 14 October, what happened? The Australian people overwhelmingly voted to reject the government’s plan to permanently enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament within our Constitution. Every single state resoundingly voted no against this proposal. But senators would be mistaken if they think that this was merely a vote against constitutional change.

It was more than that. This was a vote against racial division. This was a wholesale rejection of continuous efforts to divide Australians by race. On 14 October, Australians got to say, in the privacy of a ballot box, what they unfortunately dare not say in public because of fear of far-left, Marxist extremists.

It’s true that Australians sit politely through welcome to country ceremonies, but I’m sure everybody is thinking the same thing: why are we being welcomed to our own home? It is as nonsensical as it is insulting. We privately mock public officials who get up one after the other in a conga line of political correctness, trotting out the acknowledgement of country. ‘Elders past and present’—what does that even mean?

No-one even knows who they are. Not even the person regurgitating the acknowledgement knows who they are. Half the time, there aren’t even any Indigenous people in the room—elders or otherwise. And what if there were? Are we really wanting a country where your family lineage rather than your individual achievements establishes your importance? Is that the sort of society that we all want?

My favourite part of the acknowledgement of country is the salute to elders emerging. What does that even mean? I’m not trying to make fun of Indigenous people. It’s not me who’s mocking them; it’s the acknowledgement of country that mocks Indigenous people, because it insists that the most important thing about an Indigenous person is their skin colour rather than their character or their achievement. This is wrong. It’s insulting to Indigenous people; it’s insulting to non-Indigenous people.

On 14 October, more than 60 per cent of Australians said, ‘Enough’—enough of being welcomed to the country in which many of us were born or now call home; enough of the acknowledgement of country as if we are hundreds of countries rather than just one, Australia; and enough of this divisive, pointless undermining of equality by insisting at the beginning of every government function that all Australians are equal, except that some, by virtue of race, are more equal than others.

The people of Australia have sent a clear message to their political leaders—to us in this place. They don’t want a nation divided by race. It’s as simple as that. God knows, there is enough to divide people around the world right now without public officials coming up with new ways to separate rather than unite the nation. How foolish is it, then, for federal and state governments to continue these divisive rituals?

I support Senator Hanson’s proposals for these ceremonies to be ditched—I do. In an increasingly fractured world, federal, state and local politicians should be looking for ways to unite this country. Federal and state politicians should be emphasising what we share in common rather than what makes us different. To begin every single public meeting by pointing to differences is not only contrary to the will of the Australian people but, I think, dangerous. A house divided will not stand. It’s that simple. I call upon my colleagues in this place to stop dividing our nation. Our national anthem begins with this:

Australians all let us rejoice, For we are one and free …

One—not many—and that’s what I want for Australia. That is what we must all want and promote. God bless Australia!