New South Australian ALP senator Penny Wong used the closest thing she has to a political opposite as inspiration for her maiden speech to the Senate.
Pauline Hanson was an unknown fish and chip shop owner when she brought the term one nation into Aus-tralian households. Last night Wong -“ a 33-year-old Malaysian-born lesbian trade-unionist – used her first speech to flag her intention to reclaim the term.
I seek a nation that is truly one nation. One in which all Australians can share regardless of race, gender, or other attribute, regardless of where they live, and where difference is not a basis for exclusion, Wong told the Senate.
We do not live in such a country. We are not yet truly one nation. But it is the task of political leaders to build one.
Wong did not speak on any specific minority groups, choosing to use her address to call for unity and an open, honest and constructive debate about race in Australia.
Prime Minister John Howard was put on notice for his anti-political correctness rhetoric which Wong told the Senate had led to a different form of correctness -“ one in which it was right to be racist but wrong to defend tolerance.
Wong has not raised any intention of dealing specifically with gay and lesbian rights or law reforms. Wong has also refused to take questions from the media regarding her personal life, although she consented to a recent article in The Adelaide Advertiser which included mention of her sexuality.
Senator Penny Wong was elected in November last year at the same time as fellow ALP senator Linda Kirk. The pair were sworn in on Monday.