The Indigenous MPs have joined other parliamentarians to condemn and reject racism after Senator Fraser Anning's maiden speech.
16 Aug 2018 - 10:12 AM  UPDATED 16 Aug 2018 - 10:14 AM

Canberra is still dealing with the fall-out from new senator Fraser Anning's first speech to parliament on Tuesday.

Labor MP Linda Burney says Senator Anning's speech was designed to offend. 

"[His] comments were deliberately insulting," she told NITV News. 

"It is completely ignorant of Australia’s long and layered history, which began with First Nations people, and has continued with various generations of migrants from around the world – each contributing a chapter to the Australian story." 

Northern Territory Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy also found Senator Anning's speech to be "incredibly offensive". 

"Australia is home to the oldest living culture in the world and proudly welcomes new migrants every single day," she told NITV News. 

But Senator McCarthy said she was heartened to see the collective response against racism in parliament. 

"It shows that we will be better than these divisive and hateful statements."

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On Wednesday, in a symbolic rejection of Senator Anning's praise of the White Australia Policy and call for a ban on Muslim immigration, the senate voted to praise the dismantling of the former policy. 

Senator Anning's use of the term "final solution" in relation to immigration drew wide condemnation.

The term is commonly associated with Nazi Germany's persecution and systematic genocide of the Jewish peoples of Europe during World War II.

On Wednesday, in a rare display, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten shook hands after the parliament united to condemn the comments.

There were impassioned speeches from parliamentarians, most with immigrant backgrounds, such as finance minister Mathias Cormann. 

"We have in this chamber first generation migrants from Kenya, from Malaysia, from Belgium, from Germany, from Scotland," he said.

"What a great country we are where first generation Australians can join First Australians."

Labor’s Senate leader Penny Wong said what happens in parliament sets an important example.

"Think of what might be happening in some of the school yards in Australia today," she said. 

“Because those of us who've been on the receiving end of racism know what it feels like, and know what leaders say matters.”

'Underbelly of racism'

Ms Burney said Mr Anning's comments were "reprehensible".

"The Australian story is long and rich, not narrow and simple," she said. 

"It's about its original inhabitants, the migrants who came after, and the contribution we all have to make to this country." 

Western Australian Labor Senator Patrick Dodson said this clearly shows "there is an underbelly racism that exists in this country". 

"I think people are fearing that change is happening at a far more rapid pace, they are losing the touchstones of what they thought were the authentic signs of their societies and civilisations," he told The Project. 

Senator Dodson said reconciling with First Nations peoples will help the nation move forward. 

"We've got to deal with our own problems here in Australia and come to an agreement about the First Nations peoples position in our Constitution and within our polity," he said.

"I think Australians will be far better off - the levels of ignorance, the levels of hostility, the levels of fear will diminish and hopefully we can start to celebrate the diversity and differences that exist between us."   

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