How the 18c debate restored my faith in parliament

Political service is well known for attracting the best and brightest of each generation. Nowhere was that more evident than in the Australian Senate during the debate on amendments to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. The debate’s participants are a credit to the private school system and its tireless commitment to cultivating the cream of society, with little more than six-figure bequests and government handouts to work with.

Had it not been for these selfless leaders, I might have ever remained a closed-minded leftist intolerant of bigotry and naively believing that offering some legal protection for racially marginalised groups was an overall positive, if largely symbolic, aspect of living in a post-white Australia policy world.

Three days of Senate debate have instead given me cause for some fairly profound introspection. I have learnt, for instance, that “we are at the end of the second 100 years’ war, and this second 100 years’ war is the war against tyranny” from assistant minister to the prime minister James McGrath. It makes sense if you think about it – who hasn’t at some point suspected the French of being behind 18C?

And probably because of all those communist schoolteachers, I was never taught about how racial discrimination law was “used by the Nazis to silence their critics”. It took One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts to acquaint me with this important alternative fact, which is exactly the sort that is sidelined when people won’t stop banging on about Indigenous youth being tortured in state custody or refugees self-immolating in the government’s offshore detention centres.

The debate also taught me that, while the left celebrates victimhood, it is the right that really bears the brunt of suffering. Only Cory Bernardi had the courage to name 18C for what it is: a “weapon of mass destruction”. This weapon, according to Queensland senator Ian McDonald, may have played a role in Bill Leak’s “untimely death”. Suggestions that Leak was a snowflake without the mettle to survive in a society willing to protect racial minorities are outrageous: he was a martyr hounded to death by political correctness.

But perhaps what the Senate debate brought out most starkly is the plight of white politicians, targeted mercilessly because of their race. A particularly harrowing moment was when Pauline Hanson described being called a “pig in mud” by an Aboriginal elder in 1996. And there was barely a dry eye in the house as George Brandis recounted how the leader of the Greens called out his campaign to make bigotry great again as nothing more than a self-serving identity politics crusade led by “a very small group of very privileged, largely older white folk”.

It was impossible not to be moved by this debate. It has restored my faith in democracy and reassured me that so long as the Australian parliament stands, the vilified and persecuted will always have a voice. While the key amendments may have failed, some much needed sanity has been injected back into the marketplace of ideas. That can only make for a fairer and more decent society.