Politics

Senator Jordon Steele-John Gave An Incredible Speech About What’s Wrong With Australian Politics

"The era of the dominant, white, able-bodied man is over."

Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John

Greens Senator and disability rights advocate Jordon Steele-John has given a powerful speech about the state of Australian politics, declaring that “the era of the dominant, white, able-bodied man is over”.

The 24-year-old senator for Western Australia was speaking Friday at the University of Melbourne, where he and Labor Senator Penny Wong were named the McKinnon Political Leaders of the Year “for their courageous, visionary and collaborative political leadership”.

In his speech accepting the award, Steele-John condemned Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers and the lack of action on climate change. Politics, he said, has devolved “into a joke, into a game, that brings us revulsion rather than pride”.

“We see decades wasted in the critical fight for climate change,” he said. “We see the science denied. We see ridiculous policy solutions put to the Australian people because that is easier than confronting the fossil fuel interests which donate to both parties.”

“Where we should see confrontation of race and hate, we see a playing into it. We see a perverse attempt to disown the monster of Fraser Anning without attempting to acknowledge and take responsibility for the collective roles played in the creation of that monster.”

“This moment we are in together is not an aberration. It is a culmination,” Steele-John continued. “If you spend two decades telling people that Muslim refugees are a threat to this country, if you spend two decades crafting a false bipartisan narrative which suggests the only way to treat asylum seekers, the most desperate people in the world, is to lock them up for their own good, if you allow this to continue then you are part of this dehumanisation. You are part of how we got here. And you cannot be part of the solution until you acknowledge that.”

The senator went on to say that Australia was in desperate need of a parliament “as diverse and as vibrant and as energetic as the community it is sent to represent”.

“We must end a situation in which we are governed by people who bear no life experience to us,” he said. “The era of the dominant, white, able-bodied man is over.”

“Now is the moment. The community will not take this anymore. We have had enough. We have had enough of being played for fools. We have had enough of our leaders treating us like we can’t see exactly what they are doing.”

“In the word of the great poet: y’all better get on board, because times, they are a changing.”

After the speech, the moderator asked whether Steele-John would ever consider running for Prime Minister.

“I’ve never run for anything in my life,” he joked.

You can watch a section of the speech below thanks to SBS News, or view the whole thing via the University of Melbourne’s Facebook page.