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One Nation Senator Brian Burston Maiden Speech
Senator BURSTON (New South Wales) (17:33): I acknowledge Australia's historic nation, forged by Christian explorers and pioneers from Britain and other European lands who created the federal Commonwealth under the Crown, and I acknowledge Australia's first peoples, the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, who have become valued members of our nation.
I was born and raised in Cessnock, in the fertile hinterland of the Hunter Valley, occupied since time immemorial by the Wonnarua people, first sighted by British explorers in 1797 and settled in the 1820s by British pioneers coming up from the new colony at Sydney.
My parents were battlers, who at that time lived with three sons in a converted garage measuring six metres by three metres with no electricity, lit by a kerosene lamp, with an outhouse for a toilet. Circumstances put us there but hard work allowed us to take the opportunities offered by Australia and we moved forward, as did other Australians.
My brothers and I attended Bellbird Primary School and Cessnock High School.
At age 15, I began a five-year apprenticeship with BHP to become a boilermaker, then trained with Australia Post to became a draftsman. In my time, I have taught engineering drawing at TAFE and lectured in teacher education at Newcastle University. It has been my privilege to have designed some of the wineries that distinguish the Hunter region.
I say to those who have aspirations: whatever your background, you can reach your full potential with hard work. In the past, Australia made that possible with minimal social barriers, equal access to quality public schooling and the political culture inherited and adopted from our British founders. We all have a stake in holding onto that Australia.
My life has been a journey from poverty to politics. My family was poor, but free public schooling was open to all—perhaps the most essential of the public goods in a democracy.
That was in the 1950s, when identity politics was almost unknown except for the schools promoting national pride and an unspoken assumption that Australia is special, worth defending. There was no doubt about who we are as a nation or about the rightness of the nation's possession of the continent. Schools flew only one flag—Australia's. Even the ABC was then gently supportive of one national identity.
In 1987, I was elected to Cessnock City Council, serving a term as deputy mayor. In 1997, I joined Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party and have remained a member to this day. How better to fight for Australia's way of life? How better to preserve our freedoms national and civic?
How things have changed since the 1950s and 1960s. Back then we were poor but we knew implicitly that Australia belonged to us—though the 'us' was not at the forefront of our minds most of the time. We, the people, were casually united. Despite that Australian casualness, we were truly a nation state, with all the social benefits that flow from that rare condition.
Most states are too diverse to be gently united. Now, in Australia, ethnic and religious identities are at the forefront of politics, part of an aggressive multiculturalism. It seems that every group pride is promoted in the media and schools except ours, the nation's. The ABC long ago abandoned any semblance of patriotism, or even balance. Other taxpayer-funded media—SBS and NITV—serve immigrants and Indigenous Australians. The national flag is often ignored or dishonoured in schools, while multiculturalism and Indigenous issues are now part of the curriculum. The majority of students are not supported in their Anglo-Australian identity but are made to feel guilty for supposed historical injustices committed by their ancestors. The acknowledgment of country ceremony, recited in school assemblies across Australia, finds no place of honour for the British and other European explorers and pioneers or the nation they created. That first nation founded the Commonwealth and served the country in two world wars. Our nation is still at the heart of Australia's economy, culture and identity but is routinely dishonoured in schools and the media. Soon that injustice could be thrust into our Constitution, if the referendum on constitutional recognition succeeds.
The political establishment has abandoned the nation in favour of any minority it can find. As a result, both major parties are in long-term decline. One point nine million voters deserted the major parties in the 2016 election. Of those, 32 per cent voted for Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party—or more particularly Pauline Hanson. They are disconnected with the lack of political choices and the worsening conditions evident in their neighbourhoods and reported in the evening news. The majority have rights too. Australians have a legitimate interest in retaining their nation's identity and the cohesion it brings.
Our political class—and that includes the educational and media establishments—is too often hostile to ordinary Australians, to the people whose ancestors forged this nation. Why that is so, I do not know. A case in point, one that shook my confidence in our democracy, occurred when establishment figures who were losing votes to Pauline Hanson moved to destroy her as a person. They established a fighting fund to pay for legal challenges. At the time I was working as a research officer in Parliament House in Sydney for a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council. Several times in 2001 I observed him provide lengthy interviews to a detective, who subsequently laid charges against Pauline, resulting in her imprisonment. In addition, the Queensland state government refused to repay $500,000 in electoral funding for the 1997 state elections, despite her conviction being quashed. This could have bankrupted her. I call for a Senate inquiry into the jailing of Pauline Hanson to identity the individuals responsible for the assault upon her. We need an independent and authoritative assessment of the propriety of the decision to withhold the electoral funding.
Another example of disconnect between rulers and ruled in Australia is the Defence bureaucracy's treatment of communities adversely affected by Defence Force contamination of their groundwater by toxic fire-fighting foam. Groundwater has been poisoned at bases in Williamtown in New South Wales and Oakey in Queensland, as well as another 16 sites around Australia. Residents are desperate. They cannot sell their properties as they are now worthless. They are exposed to potential severe medical complaints. And the Defence authorities? They do not listen. Reports show that the ADF knew of the problem as early as 2003 and failed to act. Its statements on the matter express more concern about bad press than about the health of local residents, who are unable to eat locally grown produce or use bore water. Why this indifference? One Nation will act to secure just compensation for those adversely affected.
A further example of elite contempt for ordinary Australians is public broadcasting. The cultural Marxist takeover of the ABC began in the late 1960s when Allan Ashbolt stacked the current affairs department. Ashbolt introduced the radical critique of mainstream Australia that had become fashionable in university departments of humanities and social science. Almost 50 years later, there is not one conservative program or anchor on the ABC—not one, in a billion-dollar enterprise. The ABC's oppositional stance to traditional Australia has grown to include the two other taxpayer-funded public broadcasters, the Special Broadcasting Service, SBS, whose explicitly ethnic mission is to cater to the identity and interests of the multicultural community, and most recently the National Indigenous Television network, NITV, created to represent the identity and interests of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. For budgetary reasons, NITV is now within the SBS stable. All three broadcasters are biased against mainstream Australia. They distort Australian political culture and support aggressive political multiculturalism. The systemic bias of public broadcasting is one of the clearest manifestations of a hostile cultural establishment. This bias has been known for decades but the conservative side of mainstream politics has failed to correct the situation. The time for complaint and diagnosis is over. It is time for the nation to break the bias of public broadcasting before that bias breaks the nation.
How might this be done? The main proposals have been to defund and privatise the ABC. But the country needs public broadcasters. Despite or perhaps because of their biases, the ABC, SBS and NITV have constituents who benefit from their services. It would be sad to throw the babies out with the bathwater. Might not balance be achieved between channels? A fair balance might be struck by leaving the minority ethnic channels intact while transferring funding from the ABC to establish a new channel that might be called the Patriotic Broadcasting Corporation, whose explicit mission would be to represent the identity and interests of mainstream Australia. It would present news and current affairs from the perspective of the historic Australian nation. Stripped of its mainstream content, the remaining ABC structure would receive funding commensurate with the size of its inner city, Greens-voting constituency. Australia needs more diverse public broadcasting in keeping with the growing diversity of the population.
The saddest, most consequential failure of the establishment parties to serve the national interest involves education. In recent months the public learnt of the cultural Marxist assault on the sexual identity of schoolchildren by the so-called Safe Schools program. Equally poisonous indoctrination of students has been a growing problem since the cultural revolution of the 1960s. The patriotic curriculum of my childhood has been replaced by the full gamut of political correctness.
The black armband version of history is firmly in the curriculum, playing on the sensitivities of children and young adults unable to defend themselves. An understandable concern for Indigenous children has been allowed to crowd out the needs of others. Children are subjected to wrenching images of the stolen generation. At school assemblies the acknowledgment of country ritual tells them, again and again, that their land belongs to Aborigines, whose flag is often flown with equal or superior prominence to the national flag. Likewise, multicultural civics training does little to support Anglo-Australian identity. There is little or no balancing celebration of the remarkable achievement of the First Fleet or our pioneers or the rise of a self-consciously British nation that went on to unite the six colonies into a federal Commonwealth.
It is understandable that children from all backgrounds should have their identities, their ancestors, affirmed. But Australia's majority has the same need. And everyone has a stake in national identity and cohesion. If school assemblies are to acknowledge the first peoples and the role of recent immigrants, they should also acknowledge Australia's first nation and its origins in Britain and Europe.
The political class's coldness towards the nation is also evident in the connected issues of immigration and multiculturalism. One Nation's policy is zero net immigration, meaning that our annual intake should be regulated to roughly match the number of Australians who choose to leave. We believe that our country needs to stabilise its population.
The mainstream parties approve of massive and permanent immigration. What is their logic? Assessing the costs and benefits of mass immigration is complex, as it involves economic and social factors. But Liberal and Labor sell it to the public using relatively simple propositions—firstly, that large-scale immigration boosts our economy qualitatively by providing needed expertise and entrepreneurial zeal and capital, which benefits most Australians; and, secondly, that it grows our economy quantitatively, building a larger domestic market and in time of war providing the population base from which to raise armies to defend against aggressive regional neighbours. This is the old 'populate or perish' adage.
Those arguments are not proclaimed during elections as the major parties do not contest core immigration policies. Permanent mass immigration is bipartisan policy because it is treated as sacred by the multicultural establishment. Both sides of mainstream politics are too entangled to see through multicultural dogma, or too intimidated to question it. In fact, both the qualitative and quantitative arguments are largely false. Recent data from the Productivity Commission shows that over the last 45 years immigration has added just seven per cent to GDP, an average of 0.15 per cent per annum. It is a gain, but only just.
The failure of the quantitative argument is largely due to the international scope of Australia's markets. The market for Australian produce and manufactures has for decades included Japan, Indonesia, China and other countries in our region, not to mention the US and places further afield. Likewise, we form part of their markets. Australia's economy is largely integrated into these regional and global markets.
Australia could double or triple its population overnight and our export market would not grow at all. Nor would our resources. The rise in population would be good for some areas of the national economy, such as the building trade, real estate and retail, but that would not improve most Australians' incomes. Profits from resource exports would be spread thinner.
What about the emotional argument for a 'Big Australia'—that bigger means safer? Well, Australia's population is now one-eleventh of Indonesia's, one fifty-fifth of India's, and one fifty-sixth that of China's. If we continue to grow our population at breakneck speed—among the highest rates of OECD countries—cramming ever more people into already congested cities, we might reach 48 million by 2061. Our population would still be mere fractions of those of potential aggressors—perhaps one-fifth of Indonesia's and one twenty-eighth of both India's and China's.
This is not some academic exercise. China is flexing its muscles, militarily, financially, and ethnically, as it translates economic power into regional influence. Falling under Chinese dominance would cost us our sovereignty but also our democracy. We would be another Hong Kong. Australia must understand the geopolitical realities of our region if we are to navigate them safely, avoiding shoals and occasional storms.
A population race with regional neighbours does not, it cannot, determine our national security. Our armed forces can be equipped to deal with moderate threats, including border security. To avoid these and larger conflicts we should rely, firstly, on diplomacy, including international law. Australia has built up a fine diplomatic corps. But should full-scale warfare eventuate, involving the region's major powers, we shall be forced to rely on strong allies, primarily the United States. Having a few million extra in population will not increase our security. It could reduce it.
Now let us consider the costs of pump-priming our population through immigration. Australians can see with their own eyes the congestion on our roads, the urban creep, the pressure on our environment and the sky-high housing market that has priced homes beyond the hopes of young families. The opening of the new real estate market to foreigners does not help—an outrageous exposure of citizens to global demand. Australians can see the rise of high-density housing degrading the architectural identity and amenity of their neighbourhoods. They can see the failure of infrastructure of all kinds to keep up. It is no wonder, when basic infrastructure costs about $100,000 per extra person. They are less equipped to detect the impact on public debt.
Infrastructure costs are only part of the story. The Productivity Commission estimates that each parent visa holder costs taxpayers $335,000 to $410,000 in government services over their remaining lifetime. Imagine the infrastructure that could be built or maintained with the money spent on 18,500 refugees who are to be forced on the nation every year by our establishment parties. Experience tells us that many of these refugees will be unemployed for extended periods, as will their children, and impact negatively on our society. How can this be portrayed as a humanitarian gesture when it takes funding away from needy Australians and undermines social harmony? A genuine humanitarian program would take into account the welfare of the most vulnerable Australians and the welfare of the next generation, and focus instead on helping refugees overseas.
Australia's refugee intake is so large that it surpasses many countries' immigration programs. Nevertheless, we do not select the intake for employability or cultural compatibility. The result is too often havoc in Australian society: carjackings, home invasions, flash riots and drive-by shootings. And, of course, when citizens object, there are endless complaints under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, administered by the ethnocentric Human Rights Commission. The refugee intake should be subject to the same basic criteria applied to immigrants, otherwise we continue to wound our own society. The precedent for selecting refugees responsibly was the very large intake following the Second World War, which had positive results. But refugees were selected according to the same criteria applied to immigrants.
Australians also see the transformation of their neighbourhoods due to rising ethno-cultural diversity. The official view, from both sides of politics, is that rising diversity is a boon. We hear again and again that Australia is among the most successful multicultural societies in the world, whose boring white-bread culture has been enlivened by immigrants and refugees from around the world. Well, let me cite some figures from the Scanlon surveys of social cohesion, conducted by Monash University since 2006. The Scanlon Foundation is strongly supportive of multiculturalism and diverse immigration, but their data tells a different story. It shows steep declines in social cohesion affecting long-term Australians, those whose grandparents were born in Australia before the recent waves of immigration.
There has been a general decline in the overall Scanlon index of social cohesion since it began in 2007, corresponding to the rise in ethno-cultural diversity. The index fell 10 points between 2007 and 2014. In the same period, Australians' sense of belonging declined from 77 per cent to 66 per cent. Trust in the federal government has also declined. Although Australia still rates well in overall cohesion compared to other Western societies, the decline in social cohesion is concerning, because we all rely on social cohesion and trust to keep us a united peaceful nation.
The situation is much worse in suburbs of heavy migrant settlement, where many more people are afraid to walk alone at night. Many are worried about becoming victims of crime and have lost confidence that ethnic and religious groups can get along. Many have lost faith in neighbours' willingness to help each other. Support for immigration and refugee intakes is down. Other findings show that Australians are fleeing the rising diversity, taking their children from schools whose identity has been transformed. Sydney and Melbourne are patch quilts of ethnic and religious groups as people choose to live among their own kind. These findings confirm research conducted overseas indicating that rising ethno-cultural diversity depresses social cohesion and leads to self-segregation. The Scanlon survey of 2012 acknowledged that its findings also showed that diversity depresses cohesion.
Muslim settlement is having a much greater impact. The 2014 Scanlon survey asked respondents to express personal attitudes towards two non-Christian religious groups, Muslims and Buddhists. Respondents were five times more likely to express negative views towards Muslims than towards Buddhists. Among supporters of multiculturalism, who are generally positive towards minorities, the difference was much stronger. The 2007 Scanlon survey found that the strongest opposition to immigration was directed at intakes from the Middle East and Muslim countries. Other research confirms these findings. A recent Essential poll found that 49 per cent of respondents opposed further Muslim immigration, with only 40 per cent in favour. Sixty per cent of those opposed were not primarily concerned about terrorism but about Islamic cultural and religious values they saw as incompatible with Australia.
There is more evidence that converges on these findings—organised crime, patterns of antisocial behaviour, especially among young men, welfare dependency, imprisonment rates almost three times the national average, the long-term threat of terrorism, and questionable loyalty. More Muslim-Australians have joined, or attempted to join, terrorist Islamist forces in the Middle East than have joined the Australian Armed Forces. All these lines of evidence indicate that Australia's bold experiment with mass Islamic immigration has failed. But the Prime Minister and the Immigration Minister tell us that Australia is a successful multicultural society. If this is success, what does failure look like?
There are standards of social impact assessment that help us discern what a successful society should look like. The Planning Institute of Australia explains that good social impacts improve a community's 'way of life, life chances, health, culture and capacity to sustain these.' The International Association of Impact Assessment lays down guidelines that identify loss of identity and cohesion as negative social impacts. These guidelines help judge the impact of diversity and Islam on Australian neighbourhoods. The guidelines state that the following changes can cause negative social impacts: firstly, changes to people's way of life—how they live, work, play and interact with one another; secondly, changes to their culture—their shared beliefs, customs, values and language or dialect; thirdly, changes to their community—its cohesion, stability, character, services and facilities; fourthly, changes to their level of hazard or risk—their physical safety; and, finally, changes to their fears and aspirations—their perceptions about their safety, their fears about the future of their community. Notice that the impacts include objective changes as well as changes to psychological wellbeing. Government should protect people from living in fear.
How can both major parties tell us that Australia is a successful multicultural society? Based on international standards of social impact assessment, the survey data I summarised earlier indicates that indiscriminate immigration is destroying social cohesion suburb by suburb, town by town. We are being swamped. Even supporters of open-ended immigration are noticing the transformation. Senior journalist Greg Sheridan likens it to the 'benign cultural genocide' of Anglo Australia. Around the country, residents are fighting back as best they can, opposing the construction of mosques in neighbourhoods with few Muslims, pleading with councils and state governments to spare their communities. But their real enemy is the federal government, Liberal and Labor, which keeps the immigration door wide open. This crisis is not caused by white racism. It is not caused by Christian intolerance. It is caused by Liberal and Labor governments colonising Australia, aided and abetted by political correctness.
The ugly reality of Australia's oppressive multiculturalism is beginning to shock even the Left. An example is the Hon. Peter Baldwin, one time member of this parliament, who commented recently:
The de facto alliance that has developed between the Left and militant Islam, the most reactionary force in the world today, is the strangest and most disconcerting political development in my lifetime.
He adds that political correctness is a system of thought control that serves this alliance. He is correct. But as the political scientist David Brown explains, this was true from the earliest days of multiculturalism, when the Left began using its cultural dominance to license minority tribalism, while denying that licence to the majority. Minorities are allowed to openly pursue group interests, for example in demanding generous immigration, while the majority is discouraged from talking about its interests, let alone openly pursuing them.
Combining the two insights, it seems that multiculturalism is an ethnic hierarchy, based on a coalition between minority activists and the Left, despite the latter presenting itself as anti-racist. This unholy alliance is united by shared opposition to traditional Australia, the core identity of the Australian nation. An example is the defeat of the Abbott government's policy of reforming Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, a form of political censorship.
Of course progressives do not directly support the reactionary components of Islam. But they abet Islam's demographic advance by opposing restrictive immigration and using political correctness to suppress critics. This oppressive system needs to be dismantled or reformed to make multiculturalism democratic, by ensuring that Anglo-Australians are allowed to join in as respected participants.
One Nation is the only party promising to democratise multiculturalism and restore the traditional policies that forged this nation. This was the original Australian settlement incubated during the 19th century and born in the first decade of Federation under the stewardship of Alfred Deakin. Those policies included: restrictive immigration and industry protection.
Immigration restriction is a principle wider than the White Australia Policy. The motivation for the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 was threefold: to maintain high wages, preserve social cohesion and protect national identity. British and European immigration was thought to meet all criteria, not without reason. Immigrants from Anglophone countries continue to assimilate most quickly.
One Nation does not advocate racially selective immigration but does seek to minimise cultural incompatibility, evident in the case of Islamic immigration. A predictable objection from Liberals and Labor is that they are opposed to selecting immigrants on the basis of identity. What immoral nonsense.
The PRESIDENT: Senator Burston, I am reluctant to interrupt you but we have been fairly generous with you. You have extended the normal 20 minutes. So I will just give you an indication that maybe you need to wind up shortly. Thank you, Senator.
Senator BURSTON: It is the government's duty to discriminate at the borders to ensure that newcomers are compatible. External discrimination reduces the need for citizens to discriminate internally—for example, in choosing where to live and which schools to send their children to. That preserves domestic peace.
That is why One Nation promises to discriminate by cultural and religious identity in selecting migrants and refugees, because any country that does not restrict immigration, to preserve its identity and thus social cohesion, will lose it sooner or later, sooner if it is a country as attractive as Australia.
Unfortunately and finally I must pay tribute to my leader, Pauline Hanson. Her courage and tenacity are legend. The political establishment have sought to destroy her and bring her down. Many have tried, but all have failed because of her resilience and continued belief in Australia and our way of life. I thank my colleagues and friends in the gallery for their love and support, particularly my beautiful wife, Rosalyn.
I look forward to working with all of you in the Senate for the benefit of New South Wales and Australia.