Racial and cultural diversity in Parliament is fine. Just as long as you don’t sound any different.
In question time this week, Liberal Senator Ian MacDonald told Labor Senator Doug Cameron to “Learn to speak Australian.” Or – as he qualifies – “Learn to speak Australian, Mate.”
Senator Cameron is Scottish.
Being from the city of Glasgow originally, Cameron has quite a distinguishable Scottish accent.
While it appears Senator MacDonald’s comment was glossed over at the time it
was shouted across the Senate chamber slipped out, it did not escape the attention of Labor Senator Penny Wong, who asked Senate President Stephen Parry to have the comment withdrawn.
You can see Penny Wong address the comment below:
Wong labelled the comment inappropriate, stating, “In a multicultural society, that thing ought not be said in the national parliament.”
Senator MacDonald attempted to downplay the racial connotations, by clarifying that he did in fact add “mate” to the end of his request for Cameron to “learn to speak Australian”.