Politics

You Need To Watch Linda Burney Schooling A ‘Q&A’ Boomer On Australia’s Racist Past

"If you think that bigotry is not part of the Australian story, you're wrong."

Linda Burney -- Q&A

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Last night on Q&A, a member of the audience asked a question that’s become rather typical of the level of discourse to be expected from the program.

“After working and paying taxes for about 50 years myself, I believe that no person living in Australia today should be entitled to any benefit or recognition which is based not simply on need or achievement, but rather on race, or how long their ancestors have been here,” the audience member, a man named Bill, told the panel.

The statement was met with awkward silence by the audience, and with care and attention by Sami Shah, an ABC radio presenter and Q&A panelist on the show. Shah explained that it’s easy to disregard the issue of race when it doesn’t affect you, and gently redirected Bill towards a new way of understanding. “Unfortunately for you, we do live in a society which is entirely designed on helping one another,” Shah said.

But it was shadow minister Linda Burney who really tackled the question head-on. Burney, the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, began her response by explaining that she was “surprised” and “saddened” by the comment.

“I’ve paid my taxes for 50 years too,” she began. “I think that where you’re coming from is not actually understanding the truth of this nation. The truth is that First Nations People have a special relationship with the land, and have a very spiritual connection with country that has gone back tens of thousands of generations. And that means something.

“The second point that I’d make is that if you think that bigotry and racism has not been part of the Australian story … then you’re wrong. Because it has. And the things that I see daily are the terrible outcomes of that bigotry and that racism and that history. I see it in young people — young Aboriginal people in particular.

“The truth liberates. And for us as a nation to come together as Australians, all of us, to understand our shared history and our shared story can only make us a better place.”

You can watch the response in its entirety below.