Watch Penny Wong Roast Mathias Cormann Over Pauline Hanson Comparison
"Saying to someone Asian, 'you're channelling Pauline Hanson'?"
Labor senator Penny Wong has excoriated finance minister Mathias Cormann after he joked the Malaysian-born politician was "channelling" Pauline Hanson.
In a Senate estimates hearing on Tuesday morning, Wong grilled Cormann on the government's plan for company tax cuts, including the revelation that One Nation would withdraw support for the reforms, which could effectively sink the chances of the bill passing the parliament. Wong asked Cormann what conditions One Nation's earlier provisional support for the tax cuts had been predicated on, and whether the government would support her calls to lower immigration numbers.
"I’m putting Senator Hanson’s proposals," Wong told Cormann after he attempted to avoid a question.
"I know that you always like channelling Senator Hanson," Cormann replied, with a slight grin.
"Actually that’s a little offensive. She thinks people like me were swamping Australia," Wong said in response.
In her maiden speech to the parliament in 1996, Hanson infamously told the parliament "I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians." In her 2006 maiden speech to the Senate, following her re-election to parliament 18 years after she was voted out at the 1998 poll, she backed her 1996 claim, adding "now we are in danger of being swamped by Muslims."
Wong fumed at Cormann for his claim, saying she and her family had been offended and damaged by Hanson's "swamped" claim.
"We don’t channel Pauline Hanson. You’re the ones who cosy up to her and let her write tax policy, and government policy," she said.
"Don’t tell me I channel Pauline Hanson. I find that personally offensive. I can tell you what happened to me and my family and people like us, when she stood up in the Parliament, possibly before you were here, saying Australia was in danger of being swamped by Asians. I will never do anything other than fight her."
"Bad call, Mathias. Wrong person to make that," she added, asking Cormann to officially withdraw his remark.
"You should withdraw it. Saying to someone Asian, 'you're channelling Pauline Hanson'?" she asked.
Cormann responded by calling it "confected outrage".
"How dare you! It’s not confected. It is not confected," Wong replied.
"I am asking you, your response to her position on policy. You’re the ones who are dealing with her. You’re the ones negotiating with her."