A veteran Wagga solicitor has described Pauline Hanson’s incendiary anti-Muslim speech as “utter nonsense”.
Senator Hanson used her first speech to the Senate on Wednesday to claim Australia was being “swamped by Muslims” and to argue Islam was not compatible with Australian society, but Graham Burmeister said the senator needed to “wake up” to reality.
“In 1996 she said we were being swarmed by Asian migrants, now she’s got a different swarm coming,” he said.
“If she gave a maiden speech in 1950 she’d say a swarm of Greeks, Italians and Yugoslavians was coming.”
Migrants already within the borders, who did not “assimilate” into what Senator Hanson described as Australia’s culture, could “go back from where you came from…if it would be of any help, I’ll take you to the airport and wave you goodbye with sincere best wishes”.
But the senator, who also called for an end to halal certification and for a ban on the construction of any further mosques – with those existing to be monitored – said she did not believe the nation could remain secure under current policies.
Greens senators walked out of Ms Hanson’s maiden speech while she made the controversial claims and subsequently posted a video on social media attacking Ms Hanson’s “deeply hurtful and racist comments”.
“Racism and bigotry have no place in Australia and they have no place in the Australian parliament,” Greens leader Richard Di Natale said.
“We’ve got an obligation to call out hate speech, to call out racism, to call out bigotry whenever we see it.”
Former One Nation member Lex Stewart, who contested the seat of Riverina at the 2013 federal election, listened to Ms Hanson’s speech live on the radio and said there was “nothing racist or wrong there”
“We have a healthy democracy in Australia,” Mr Stewart said.
“The Greens were quite childish and demonstrated intolerance toward Pauline then talked about tolerance and diversity.”
Mr Stewart said Australia was a country that believed in free speech and tolerance of differing views.
“The best thing it to allow people to speak and then discuss and criticise,” Mr Stewart said.
“I commend Pauline, she’s one voice among many in the parliament and I welcome her voice.”
Mr Burmeister said the Greens made a mistake by leaving the chamber.
“In the vigour of parliament you’ve got to sit there and listen and then stand up and say you don’t agree with it,” he said.
“Fools have always been able to speak and I’ve got no objection to fools that make themselves look foolish.”