Politics

I’m Heading To The Senate And There’s Not A Damn Thing Fraser Anning Can Do About It

Incoming Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi isn't going to take Fraser Anning's shit.

International Women's Day, Mehreen Faruqi

Mehreen Faruqi arrived in Australia from Pakistan in 1992. Next week, she will be sworn in as a federal Senator. Below, she responds to Fraser Anning’s maiden speech.

I’m a Muslim migrant, I’m about to be a Senator and there’s not a damn thing Fraser Anning can do about it.

Last night, Senator Anning spat in the face of millions of Australians, spewing hate and racism in his first speech to Parliament.

It’s easy for him to stand there, in a historically conservative chamber full of white, privileged men and praise the White Australia Policy while calling for a ban on Muslim migration. Come Monday, he’ll have to say it to my face.

Anning’s attack on non-white Australians and Muslims is really out of this world stuff. It seems he would be more comfortable in apartheid South Africa, but the sad reality is that he is a representative in multicultural Australia.

Imagine how cooked you’d have to be to borrow the core of your first speech straight from 1901. It’s like he’s stuck in the world’s shittiest time machine.

As kooky as his ideas may be, it is depressing that such dangerous fringe politics has made its way to the nation’s capital. And make no mistake, this is not an isolated incident. With increasing regularity, politicians treat race-baiting as an avenue to votes and the media compete to monetise hate. It’s a classic Racism 101 to distract people from the damage neoliberalism does to our society.

In a strange twist of fate, at the same time Senator Anning was spouting his racist rubbish, I was talking in my farewell speech to NSW Parliament about the heavy toll such abuse takes on people on the receiving end. I said:

“I think we could all be a more aware of the sustained abuse that some of us have to weather. This might go some way to helping encourage others like me to put their hand up and make parliaments look a bit more like the streets and suburbs of the country we live in.”

Farewell Speech to NSW Parliament

After five wonderful years, it's time for me to say farewell – and deliver some home truths to – NSW Parliament!

Posted by Mehreen Faruqi on Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Some might take Senator Anning’s comments as a big joke or just a ridiculous attempt to grab the headlines and remain relevant. And, sure, he might as well have been wearing a tin foil hat with his weird UN immigration conspiracy theories. But we can’t ignore the real consequences this will have for the people on the street.

There is no doubt in my mind that many migrants and especially Muslim-Australians woke up this morning deeply anxious, worried about the license Anning’s speech gives to racist opportunists.

It pisses me off deeply that people like Anning can say whatever they want but will never have their very identity questioned. For people like us, any time we dare express a public view, on anything from plastic bags to decriminalising abortion or banning greyhound racing, it inevitably results in a barrage of racism and questions about our right to be in this country.

I could stand on Bondi Beach, serving sausage sangers in an Akubra, draped in an Australian flag with a southern cross tattoo and, for some, I still wouldn’t be Australian enough.

If Senator Anning really wants to learn about the value of multicultural Australia, he knows where to find me. I’m heading to the Senate and there’s not a damn thing he can do about it.

You can follow Mehreen Faruqi on Twitter here.