The Guardian August 28, 2002


Senator Wong reclaims "one nation"

by Stacy Farrar

New South Australian ALP Senator Penny Wong used the closest thing she has 
to a political opposite as inspiration for her first speech to the 
Senate.

Pauline Hanson was an unknown fish and chip shop owner when she brought the 
term "one nation" into Australian households.

Last week, Senator Wong  a 33-year-old Malaysian-born lesbian trade-
unionist  used her first speech to flag her intention to reclaim the 
term.

"I seek a nation that is truly one nation. One in which all Australians can 
share regardless of race, gender, or other attribute, regardless of where 
they live, and where difference is not a basis for exclusion", Senator Wong 
told the Senate.

"We do not live in such a country. We are not yet truly one nation. But it 
is the task of political leaders to build one."

Senator Wong did not speak on any specific minority groups, choosing to use 
her address to call for unity and an "open, honest and constructive debate 
about race in Australia".

Prime Minister John Howard was put on notice for his anti-political 
correctness rhetoric, which Senator Wong told the Senate had led to a 
different form of correctness  one in which it was right to be racist but 
wrong to defend tolerance.

Senator Wong has not raised any intention of dealing specifically with gay 
and lesbian rights or law reforms.

She has also refused to take questions from the media regarding her 
personal life, although she consented to a recent article in the Adelaide 
Advertiser which included mention of her sexuality.

Senator Penny Wong was elected in November last year and was sworn in on 
Monday last week.

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Sydney Star Observer

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