Culture

This Charming Liberal Senator Told Someone To “Speak Australian” In Parliament Yesterday

Penny Wong was not having a bar of it.

With over 25 years in office, Queensland Liberal Senator Ian MacDonald has the informal title of “Father of the Senate”: one which recognises his accomplishment of having the longest continuous stretch of any other sitting senator. But like many conservative dads creeping their way up to 70 years of age, he’s also a bit of a gronk.

Last year, MacDonald made headlines by arguing to repeal the mining tax while inexplicably wearing a safety vest literally emblazoned with marketing material for the Mineral Council of Australia. Earlier this year, he could be found admonishing Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs for a report he admitted he hadn’t even read. And yesterday, he stood in Parliament as an elected representative of his nation and proudly told someone to “learn to speak Australian”.

The comment was first directed at NSW Labor Senator Doug Cameron — a man who is known for eloquently slamming MacDonald as a climate denier with a fairly heavy Scottish accent — and it soon brought Senator Penny Wong to her feet. As Wong reached out for the inappropriate comment/casually racist dad joke to be withdrawn, old mate defended himself by clarifying he had actually said, “Learn to speak Australian, mate”.

Senate president Stephen Parry ruled against the point of order and deemed the remark did not qualify as unparliamentary language. Wong was not pleased.

“I will respectfully disagree with you,” she said. “In a multicultural society, that thing ought not be said in the national parliament.”

Considering his words are almost a carbon copy of Sarah Palin’s universally derided remarks last week about speaking “American”, and an exact copy of this satire about Australian racism, it seems like she has a fair point.