Culture

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy’s Moving Maiden Address Is The Perfect Antidote To Pauline Hanson

These two speeches couldn't have been more different.

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A pair of senators made their maiden speeches in parliament tonight. You probably already heard about one of them. Two decades after she declared that Australia was in danger of being “swamped by Asians”, Queensland’s own Pauline Hanson used her first parliamentary speech in almost a decade to spray her familiar brand of exclusionary, divisive and at times nonsensical rhetoric into every nook and cranny of the upper house.

Thankfully, she was immediately followed by Labor SenatorĀ Malarndirri McCarthy from the Northern Territory, who took literally the exact opposite approach.

Pauline Hanson Ripped Into Immigrants, Muslims And Women In Her Completely Bizarre First Speech

Standing in front of a podium draped with an indigenous print, McCarthy began in her family’s traditional language and paid tribute to both her Indigenous and Irish ancestors, before going on to deliver a speech in which she expressed solidarity with Indigenous Australians, immigrants, domestic abuse victims, the homeless and members of the LGBTQI community.

“I stand for all people of the Northern Territory,” she said. “All clan groups, all families who call the Northern Territory home. Whether they live on the vast cattle stations…or whether they have travelled from countries in Asia, Africa or the Middle East to forge a new life for their families.”

She also called on Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull to abandon plans for the divisive plebiscite on same-sex marriage, pointing to the racist taunting of retired footballer Adam Goodes as an example of the kinds of abuse LGBTQI Australians and their families might face in the lead-up to a public vote.

“We need only be reminded of the hateful and hurtful commentary that ended the career of an AFL hero, in Swans legend Adam Goodes,” she said. “Don’t let that happen here to any of these families.”

McCarthy drew on personal experience throughout her speech, and at one point had to hold back tears as she recalled the passing of a young gay family member. “To the sister girls and brother boys who struggle with their sexual identity, I say to you, stay strong,” she said. “I stand here with you.”

McCarthy’s speech received a standing ovation from the chamber. Afterwards, she was embraced by MP Linda Burney, who this year became the first Indigenous woman to be elected to the House of Representatives.