A Chinese-Australian community leader has taken up the challenge offered by Pauline Hanson when the One Nation leader asked Parliament on Wednesday to “actually show me anything that I have said that has been racist”.
During debate over the Turnbull government’s proposal to change the Racial Discrimination Act, Senator Hanson said the word “racist” had been “used against me so many times over the years that it’s become boring”.
“The word racist means to believe your race to be superior to another. I have never, ever said that. And I challenge anyone to actually show me anything that I have said that has been racist,” she told the Senate.
Senator Hanson also claimed that she had been a victim of racism when she was called “white trash” in 1996.
“You might be surprised that I’ve had racist comments said to me. But I let it go over the top of my head. It’s water off a duck’s back,” she said.
Watch Pauline Hanson’s comments:
‘Swamped by Asians’
Responding to Senator Hanson’s speech on Wednesday, Chinese Australian Forum President Kenrick Cheah said “Pauline’s definition of racism is a bit too narrow”.
“Back in 1996 when she said Australia was in danger of being swamped by Asians, that led to a lot of attacks on Asian-Australians,” he said.
“She might think there’s a very narrow definition, but it’s the effect of her words in the community that constitutes racism.”
In 1996, Hanson, then a lower house MP, caused outrage in Parliament during her maiden speech as the new Queensland MP for Oxley.
“I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians,” she said.
“They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate. Of course, I will be called racist but, if I can invite whom I want into my home, then I should have the right to have a say in who comes into my country.”
‘Islam a disease’
Upon her return to federal politics last year, the Queensland senator referenced that controversial speech in comments directed at another minority group.
“Now we are in danger of being swamped by Muslims who bear a culture and ideology that is incompatible with our own,” she said.
Senator Hanson again addressed the topic last week saying: “Islam is a disease; we need to vaccinate ourselves against that.”
The comments were labelled “bat poo crazy” by Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.
Mr Cheah said his community had stood in solidarity with Muslim Australians following those remarks.
“We know what it’s like having felt the brunt of it back in the 1990s,” he said.
The One Nation leader also raised eyebrows last year over an exchange with an indigenous man, James, captured on the TV show Pauline Hanson: Please Explain.
“You’re not going to tell me you’re a refugee, James, are you?” Ms Hanson asks.
To which James replies: “No, Aboriginal.”
Ms Hanson responds: “Really? Wouldn’t have picked it. It’s good to see that you’re actually, you know, taking up this and working.”
In 2006, the conservative firebrand announced a bid to return to federal politics, during which she spoke about a new concern – Africans.
“We’re bringing in people from South Africa at the moment, there’s a huge amount coming into Australia, who have diseases, they’ve got AIDS,” Ms Hanson was quoted as saying by AAP.
“They are of no benefit to this country whatsoever; they’ll never be able to work.”