Senator Fraser Anning brought a pool of racist rhetoric into Parliament House this week, but a united political front quickly cast it out.
All sides of politics expressed disdain for the Katter Australian Party senator’s vitriolic speech, effectively transforming a moment of hate into a history-defining statement against racism, discrimination and prejudice.
As this remarkable show of solidarity goes down in history,The New Daily has reflected on 10 positively defining moments in Australian politics.
Politicians unite against a hate-filled speech
Two MPs from with opposing religions embraced after each delivered an address denouncing Senator Anning’s notorious “final solution” speech.
In an emotional display, government frontbencher Josh Frydenberg, who is Jewish, reached over to opposition MP Ed Husic, a Muslim, and the pair hugged on the floor of the chamber.
“We are from different parties, from different parts of the country and from different faiths, but actions matter more in terms of being able to find common ground,” Mr Husic said
Bob Hawke brought to tears over Chinese massacre
During a memorial service at Parliament House in 1989, then-prime minister Bob Hawke laid bare in a history-changing impassioned speech, his profound sadness at the thousands of freedom protestors brutally murdered by Chinese Communist Party soldiers five days before.
An estimated 10,000 student activists were mercilessly shot dead with automatic weapons and mowed down by armoured tanks in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Mr Hawke cried as he delivered an unfeigned address acknowledging the pro-democracy campaigners who were killed while they sat in peaceful protest.
In his speech, Mr Hawke suddenly announced more than 16,000 Chinese students would have their stay in Australia extended – a decision that dumfounded several government departments.
Eventually, more than 42,000 Chinese students were afforded the right to stay in Australia permanently.
Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech
Seated, silenced, and seemingly staggered, then-opposition leader Tony Abbott was publicly disgraced by a defiant prime minister, Julia Gillard, who delivered a vehement parliamentary address in 2012 about his hypocritical stance on sexism and misogyny.
The 15-minute speech, whereby Ms Gillard called out during Question Time a string of gender-based attacks by Mr Abbott, went viral, turned heads globally and was widely hailed as “a turning point for Australian women”.
“The Leader of the Opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office,” Ms Gillard fiercely proclaimed.
“Well, I hope the leader of the opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation.”
Kevin Rudd says ‘sorry’ to the Stolen Generation
On February 13, 2008, thousands across the nation paused to listen to then-prime minister Kevin Rudd’s landmark apology to Indigenous Australians, namely the Stolen Generation of children who were forcibly taken from their families, under former government polices.
Crowds assembled on Parliament House lawns, at large auditoriums and in front of big television screens to hear Mr Rudd’s long-awaited address.
“For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.
“To the mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.”
Malcolm Fraser opens Australia’s borders
In his time in office, Malcolm Fraser compassionately granted thousands of Vietnamese people fleeing the civil war, asylum in Australia, leaving him a legacy of forever changing the cultural makeup of Australia.
Almost three years after the end of the Vietnam War, Australia had collectively resettled more than 3700 refugees and boat people.
There were no boat turn-backs, nor were any Vietnamese detained under the Fraser government.
Gough Whitlam abolishes ‘White Australia policy’
In 1973, the Whitlam government officially abolished the White Australia policy after the Menzies and Holt governments had made significant steps in previous years to dismantle the race-based immigration laws that it comprised.
Race was no longer a factor that determined a person’s eligibility to stay in Australia.
Immigrants, irrespective of their origin, were allowed to apply for citizenship after three years of living in Australia.
The White Australia policy was now ‘dead and buried’, Whitlam government Immigration Minister Al Grassby declared in 1973.
The end of the discriminatory policy laid the foundation for a multicultural Australia to begin to form.
Parliament passes same-sex marriage bill
On December 7, 2017, Parliament united to make Australia the 26th country to afford same-sex couples the right to marry.
A packed public gallery at Parliament House euphorically sang I am Australian shortly after a bill to legalise same-sex marriage passed the House of Representatives.
“What a day for love, for equality, for respect. Australia has done it,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull exclaimed.
MPs from opposing parties celebrated the historic feat by embracing each other in a rare display of political unity.
Greens welcome aboard Australia’s youngest senator
Jordon Steele-John made history in 2017, when it was announced he would join the Greens, aged just 22.
The disability advocate replaced former Greens Senator Scott Ludlam whose tenure was cut short following revelations he held a dual New Zealand citizenship.
“I’m really looking forward to bringing the unique perspective that I have into the legislative process, whether that be around people with a disability in terms of the NDIS or indeed, in relation to young people,” Mr Steele-John said after being sworn in on November 10.
Robert Menzies’ ‘forgotten people’
On May 22, 1942, Robert Menzies, Australia’s longest-serving prime minister, delivered one of the most memorable and highly regarded speeches in the country’s political history.
Menzies brought to attention Australia’s “forgotten people” – middle-income earners who were totally overlooked by trade unions and the elite.
“They [the middle class] are envied by those whose benefits are largely obtained by taxing them.
“They are not rich enough to have individual power.
“They are taken for granted by each political party in turn.
“And yet, as I have said, they are the backbone of the nation.”
The values and principles discussed in his speech later formed the backbone of the Liberal Party.
‘I want to do you slowly’: A sharp-tongued Paul Keating
Questioned about his steadfast refusal to grant an early election, then prime minister Paul Keating in 1992 aptly demonstrated his wonderful talent to inject humour into parliamentary debate.
Of all his political insults, and there were plenty, Mr Keating’s quick-witted response to then opposition leader John Hewson on September 15 was – although not exactly in line with Australia’s most proudest moments – certainly memorable.
“If you are so confident about your view of fight-back, why wont you call an early election?” Hewson asked Keating during Question Time.
“The answer is, mate, because I want to do you slowly. There has to be a bit of sport in this for all of us. In the psychological battle stakes, we are stripped down and ready to go. I want to see those ashen-faced performances; I want more of them. I want to be encouraged. I want to see you squirm out of this load of rubbish over a number of months. There will be no easy execution for you,” Mr Keating replied.