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One Nation MP defends immigrants’ ‘right to maintain culture’

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One Nation’s first SA MLC has told parliament that immigration has “enriched” the nation’s culture and skill base, defending “people’s right to maintain their culture and belief practices in Australia”.

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In a further statement of policy and ideological separation from the party that installed her to the Legislative Council, Sarah Game – who last week declared herself at odds with a One Nation pledge to ban the teaching of foreign languages in schools – delivered her maiden speech late yesterday, championing immigration to Australia.

“My father is of Lithuanian and German heritage, born shortly after his parents immigrated to Australia,” she told parliament.

“My paternal grandparents were immigrants. They came to Australia after the Second World War, because their countries of birth had had their democracies destroyed.”

Game said: “I want to make clear that I support genuine refugee intake, and Australia’s responsibility to help communities overseas in need.”

“I support and acknowledge the benefit of sustainable cohesive immigration to Australia,” she said.

“Immigration has enriched our culture and skill base.”

One Nation founder Pauline Hanson forged her early reputation on outspoken rhetoric against Asian immigration “swamping” Australia, and her subsequent turn in the senate has been marked by calls for measures such as a ban on Muslim immigration, a Royal Commission into Islam, a Burqa ban and a motion that “it’s ok to be white”.

In a 2018 column for The Australian, Hanson wrote: “All I ask is that before we grant a permanent visa there should be a finding that the individual has a reasonable prospect of integrating socially and economically into Australia.”

But Game told parliament yesterday: “I believe in people’s right to maintain their culture and belief practices in Australia in a way that fosters a unified Australia, good relationships and respect between everybody.”

“Despite immigrating here at 18, my ‘oma’ retained her thick Bavarian accent her whole life,” she said.

“She brought with her wonderful culinary skills, and she maintained German traditions that enriched my childhood, particularly at Easter and Christmas.”

Game said that “in terms of what I hope to achieve, I want to make clear that I make no distinction between Australians born overseas and Australians born here”.

“I want to advocate for all South Australians,” she said.

“I am passionate about equalising opportunity for everyone.”

She spoke about her father working full-time while studying to become a dentist, saying: “I respect my father for his achievements and his support for my education, and his views have shaped my own – although my views have further developed with my own life experience, and unfortunately I do not share my father’s views that anything can be achieved with a good work ethic and the right attitude.”

“These attributes are part of the solution, but they are not the complete solution, and I hold the belief that there are obstacles that the government needs to remove to allow people an equitable opportunity in life, and I am passionate about removing obstacles that prevent those who are desiring and those who are willing to achieve their full potential,” she said.

Game’s mother Jennifer, the party’s leader in SA, is vying for an SA senate seat at Saturday’s federal election.

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