Multicultural Australia

I rise to support the member for Goldstein on her matter of public importance. The member for Goldstein is my electorate neighbour.


Since becoming the member for Goldstein, I've seen her bring an intellect and a thoughtfulness to this place and to the people of Goldstein as their representative. But until Friday night I didn't realise how much the member for Goldstein cares about her community. I heard it on the phone when we spoke, at about 9.30 at night, after we had, frankly, one of the most confronting scenes I've ever seen happen in my community in the more than three decades I've lived there.


I've lived in and around Macnamara and Goldstein my whole life. The warnings that we heard from the Director-General of Security of ASIO, of having demonstrations meet each other, were unfortunately found to be exactly correct. The scenes that happened—where people were assaulted, where people were screaming at one another, where people were breaking police lines, where businesses were targeted—were unacceptable, and they were dangerous. They go to the heart of why I think this matter of public importance is so important right now, because, frankly, despite the fear that people were feeling after Friday night, the one thought I had afterwards, as I was lying in bed trying to go to sleep, was: 'Thank God no-one was killed. Thank goodness, in Australia, no-one lost their life in that moment,' because that wouldn't have been devastating for just one community; it would have torn the social fabric that we are talking about right now even further apart.


That is why it is absolutely important that we do everything we can, everything in our power, to be there to support communities: to support the Islamic community, who are going through the most unimaginable pain right now, and to support the Jewish community, who are lost in this world of devastation and antisemitism that I hadn't ever experienced in my lifetime.


You know, I think about what this country has meant for me and my family. I think about the fact that my grandparents, all four of them, were born in different countries. I think about the fact that one grandmother didn't have a state next to her name when she arrived here as a four-year-old girl, and what this country meant for her, and the life that she was able to build as a migrant coming into this country. I think about my grandparents, who left school when they were 13 years old. They came here, and Australia meant that they could send their kids to university, for free; that they could send their kids to the doctor if they were sick; that it didn't matter how much money they had in their bank account, they were going to be able to be there and provide for them and their family. My family has an incredible life here in Australia, and we are proud Australians. And I want that for every single Australian.


I look at the Australian Islamic community and I see among them my people and my friends. I see the Islamic community as people who have had similar experiences, of coming to this country and wanting to build a life of peace and prosperity. I want them to be able to go to the mosque and to be with their family and to practise their faith and to be who they are, in our country—just as I look at my own community and think that it is devastating that our schools are fortresses; that our synagogues have walls; that people are terrified to show their identity and to publicly display being a Jew in Australia in 2023; that kids are thinking about whether or not they can do that in public; that children right now are thinking about whether or not they can wear their yarmulke in public. That is not the Australia I grew up in. That is not the Australia that has been a safe haven for my family.


So it's incumbent on all of us remember what it is to be multicultural Australia—why this is a fundamental part of who we are; why the member for Goldstein has brought this matter of public importance into this place today: because we are all custodians of not only the laws of this place but the social fabric and the culture as well. We are leaders in a time where there is great tension and where there is great difficulty and pain being felt. So it's incumbent on all of us not to seek to increase that pain, not to seek to further divide and polarise communities, but to try, in some way, to bring people together and to show that we have a shared humanity that is not just as Jews or Muslims but as Australians and as people.


I thank the member for Goldstein, and I thank all members for joining in this discussion.

16 November 2023