Labor and Greens senators branded the One Nation leader as racist after she delivered her speech on the 2020 Closing the Gap report, which shows how the government is progressing in achieving equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Senator Hanson blasted the report as “complete rubbish” before going on to blame indigenous people for their “lack of commitment and responsibility to helping themselves”.
She attacked Aboriginal parents for not making their children go to school, claiming one school of 400 students in a Queensland town had just a 50 per cent attendance rate.
“They’ve got just one child in the whole school with a 100 per cent attendance record. Whose fault is that? Lazy parents,” she said.
“You can’t blame the whites when it’s your own negligence.”
At the end of the One Nation leader’s speech, Labor frontbencher Jenny McAllister immediately condemned Senator Hanson for her comments.
“Her racist comments – and they are racist – have no place in this chamber,” she told the upper house.
Greens Senate leader Larissa Waters apologised to anyone listening to Senator Hanson, saying a code of conduct was needed to stop hate speech in parliament.
“It’s the racism that we’ve come to expect from her and her party,” she said.
“They don’t reflect the sentiment of this chamber or vast majority of Australians.”
Indigenous writer and activist, Celeste Liddle, also weighed in on the controversy, calling Senator Hanson’s speech “revolting” but noting her comments pointed to a bigger issue in Australian society.
“Before anyone OMGs about Pauline Hanson’s revolting Closing the Gap speech, just remember racist Australia perpetuated the situation which inevitably allowed her to be voted back in by popular vote 20 years after she was booted,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Australia is fine with racism. It loves racism. It constructed a nation state and a constitution using racism. Governments win power using racist policy platforms. I mean seriously, what’s changed? Hanson’s a symptom, not a cause.”
In her speech, Senator Hanson claimed she represented the “quiet Australians” who are sick of seeing little improvement from the “billion dollar handouts”.
“Far too many Aboriginal kids in remote communities at this very moment are starving. They’re that hungry they’re breaking in to homes not to steal DVD players but to steal food,” she said.
“Far too many Aboriginal kids are fearful of their alcoholic parents and family members, who prey on their vulnerability.”
She added that Aboriginal children “remain vulnerable to sexual assault and a life of petrol and paint sniffing under the current weak plans by our federal and state governments”.
The One Nation leader claimed her remarks were echoed by many Indigenous people that she had met with.
She said Closing the Gap was a marketing term used by politicians and bureaucrats to pretend they’re doing something to “lift remote First Nations people out of their self perpetuating hellholes”.
The One Nation leader said indigenous people should “stop playing the victim”
“If you want to close the gap, start taking some responsibility for your own people. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. We’ve provided the schools, it’s now up to you to send your own kids to school,” she said.
“We’ve provided the jobs, but it’s up to you to turn up when you’re rostered on, not when it suits. It’s up to the Aboriginals to stay off the grog and the drugs.”
This isn’t the first time Senator Hanson has sparked calls of racism with a controversial comments.
One of her more notorious speeches in 1996 saw her call for a review of Australia’s immigration policy.
“I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians,” she said.
Senator Hanson has been criticised throughout her career for racism but denies she discriminates against people.