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Hanson comments a 'recipe for hate'

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Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane fears Pauline Hanson could create a new wave of racially fuelled hatred and division.

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The soon-to-be senator believes her One Nation Party can take four and possibly as many as six seats in the Upper House, and has a long list of anti-Muslim policies.

At her first major press conference since the election, Hanson said Islam was not a religion of peace, but rather an ideology.

She wants a royal commission into Islam, and says hatred has been preached in mosques. Her party also wants surveillance cameras in all mosques and Islamic schools.

The flame-haired Queenslander said some Australians were now seeing she was right almost two decades ago when she used her maiden speech in federal parliament to warn Australia risked being swamped by Asians.

Dr Soutphommasane has told the ABC Hanson’s anti-Asian comments 20 years ago unleashed a great deal of ugliness and division.

He fears a similar experience with her return to the political arena.

“There’s great potential for harm to be done when you’re talking about inflammatory rhetoric or appeals to xenophobia,” he said.

“They make a sure recipe for hate and division. Australian racial tolerance and community harmony will not be served by an indulgence of such kind.”

Dr Soutphommasane said recent overseas events had shown how “licensing hate can lead to serious violence and ugliness in our streets and our communities”.

“We shouldn’t be doing anything to compromise the remarkable success story of Australian multiculturalism,” he said.

Hanson went to the election on a platform that includes doing away with the Racial Discrimination Act and “abolishing multiculturalism”, although she hasn’t said how that could be achieved.

She also wants to stop further Muslim immigration and halt the intake of Muslim refugees, a ban on the construction of new mosques, and on the burqa and niqab being worn in public.

And she’s called for a referendum on changing the part of the constitution that offers protection for the free practice of religion.

Soutphommasane said he’d invited Hanson to meet with him to discuss her views.

Attorney-General George Brandis said Hanson’s views were entitled to be treated with respect.

“Pauline Hanson represents a view that has been endorsed by hundreds of thousands of Australian electors and she is entitled to be listened to,” he told ABC radio.

“If only so that we can debate her points of view and those of us who disagree with them can explain why we disagree.”

Senator Brandis, as the coalition’s leader in the Senate, would be in charge of negotiating with Hanson and any other One Nation senators.

-AAP

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