OPINION: Fraser Anning's first speech was a disgrace
SENATOR Fraser Anning's first speech on Tuesday evening was disgraceful, and the ideas he put forth in it should be rubbished and condemned.
Calling for Australians to "hold fast to the crimson threads of kinship," Senator Anning praised the pre-1970s White Australia policies, pining for the days when Australia discriminated against migrants based on their ethnicity.
Much of the discussion has since focused on the Senator's use of the phrase "final solution" when talking about a plebiscite on immigration.
We could argue back and forth - and I suspect he would like us to - as to whether his use of the phrase was intentional.
But there was more than enough context throughout the rest of the speech to make it clear he wants ethnicity to be front and centre of our immigration policy - and he sees his own European ethnicity as the most desirable.
The undertones were so blatant that Pauline Hanson, who used her own maiden speech in 1996 to warn Australia would be "swamped by Asians", called the speech something "straight from Goebbels' handbook".
When figures on the political fringes (and increasingly in the mainstream) stray into the territory on which Senator Anning just set up camp, they often fall back on some familiar excuses.
They're concerned about culture, not race, they say. Where could we possibly have gotten that idea?
If Senator Anning attempts to rely on similar excuses he should be laughed out of town.
"Fifty years ago Australia was a cohesive, predominantly Anglo-Celtic nation," he said longingly, not long into his speech.
Later he added that what makes Australia a nation is "what unites us - our common history, values, language and ethnicity."
And apparently it is "our ethno-religious identity" that "defines us and shapes our national destiny" more than anything else.
This was not a speech delivered by somebody uneasy about the pace of cultural change, or concerned about the unintended effects of mass migration.
This was a senator using the floor of Parliament to ask the question: if racial discrimination was seen as OK 50 years ago, why can't we do it now?
What's the term for thinking a great deal of society's problems could be addressed if we were all, on average, just a little bit whiter?
I call that racism - and I'm encouraged to see that label being widely applied to Senator Anning's views.
The Senator makes much of his Gladstone roots; he owns a home here, and has spent time working with Bechtel and in our hotel industry.
But how can he speak for us when he's made it clear a large portion of our community would never have been allowed in the country if he had his way?
Andrew Thorpe is a journalist at The Observer.