LNP senator Ian Macdonald says racism in Australia is isolated, questions role of discrimination commissioner
Queensland LNP senator Ian Macdonald has questioned whether there is enough racism in Australia to merit a national race discrimination commissioner.
The $346,250 position, which assesses whether people have been treated unfairly due to their ethnicity, will be vacant in August when the current commissioner’s term expires.
Senator Macdonald and some conservative politicians have been critical of the role — particularly under the tenure of Tim Soutphommasane, who actively campaigned against changes to freedom of speech laws.
The Queensland senator asked Coalition frontbencher Michaelia Cash whether “the Government has considered whether there is a need in today’s Australia’s society for a Race Commissioner”.
Senator Cash said the Federal Government was still considering who to appoint to the role.
“I mean in this building, we have two senior ministers who are clearly not white Australian males.
“In my own society up in Eyre the greatest hero, in fact the King of North Queensland, is Johnathan Thurston who, if only I could get him to run for a political party he would walk it in.
“So I just don’t know, there are obviously isolated aspects of racism in Australia but I would think across the board they’re very isolated.”
Earlier in the day, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar told the same committee about her own experiences.