A Sign of Manners

The graphic is a black and white banner with a stylised M. It reads, in capitals – MANNERS

Parliament is back. An emotional Prime Minister Albanese gave his full endorsement to the Uluru Statement from the Heart. This will give First Nations People a voice in parliament. Said Albanese,

“When you have issues that are affecting people, particularly people who have a history going back 65,000 years that offers us a continuous source of great national pride here in Australia, why wouldn’t you?

Why wouldn’t you grasp that generous and gracious offer which is about reconciliation, which is about acknowledging dispossession and colonisation and all of the tragedy and injustice that occurred as a result of the First Fleet arriving in 1788?

In what might be the understatement of the century, Albanese called the push to give First Nations People a voice in parliament – “A sign of manners.”

It was looking to be good week for minority groups at the opening of parliament. Australia’s first Muslim Hijab wearing Senator, Fatima Payman, urged Muslim women to wear their Hijab with pride. This was reported widely in the media. Senator Payman believes that it was time that Australia’s parliament reflected, “…the true diversity….” of the country. And so it should.

I began to think that the adults had finally arrived in parliament. Gosh, this collection of MPs and senators might actually begin to treat each other with respect and dignity. Finally, we might actually have a parliament that can disagree and debate without personal attacks and ulterior motives. It was looking good.

And then Dutton spoke. He accused Albanese, with out a shred of evidence, of siding with, “Union rapist thugs.” Such Unionist are apparently harassing women on building sites.

Worst of all, Pauline Hanson walked out of the Acknowledgment the Country at the opening of the Senate. Simply put, Hanson threw all her toys out of the pram. She stated that she wouldn’t acknowledge the Elders past and present now and never would. Racist only scratches the surface of all the evil things that this woman is.

But wait, it gets worse. New Senator, David Pocock, requested an Auslan interpreter for his maiden speech in the Senate. He was apparently refused this request by the major parties because they feared setting a precedent. You see, if Senator Pocock were allowed an Auslan interpreter it would mean that every Senator in the Senate or every MP in the parliament could request one. We cant have that, can we? Not with a trillion dollars in debt. Blimey, it might even encourage Deaf people to try for parliament. Gosh, all that diversity that Senator Payman is pleading for, we cant have that can we?? It was about here that I knew nothing really had changed. In the first line of this paragraph there is a hyperlink. Read it and weep, but don’t read the comments that tell Deaf people to stop moaning and use the subtitles. (I kid you not.)

What does that tell you about how the government and the opposition really thinks about people with a disability. Certainly not a group of people to enhance diversity. Certainly not a group of people that should be part of an inclusive workplace.

Prime Minister Albanese says it is good manners to give First Nations people a voice in parliament. It absolutely is and I support this 100 percent. BUT, somehow the simple measure of providing an Auslan interpreter to be inclusive for the Auslan users of Australia is some sort of dangerous and costly precedent. Sorry, but this smacks of double standards.

I urge the major parties to reconsider the request of Senator Pocock and any other member of the parliament or senate who should make such a request for Auslan interpreters hereon. After all, in the words of our newly elected Prime Minister, “It’s a sign of manners.”

Or are we not worthy???


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