The motion, moved by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson on Monday, was narrowly defeated 28 votes to 31, despite the Coalition’s backing.
It called on the Senate to acknowledge the “deplorable rise of anti-white racism and attacks on Western civilisation” and that “it is OK to be white” — a phrase commonly used by white supremacists.
Facing an almost immediate backlash, Attorney-General Christian Porter, whose office directed Coalition senators to vote in favour of the motion, defended the move on social media.
As news.com.au’s Frank Chung reported at the time, the catchphrase “It’s OK to be white” was originally conceived by trolls on 4chan’s “politically incorrect” image board.
Signs and cards bearing the phrase have popped up in all sorts of public places since, occasionally inducing outrage.
“I hope that the Senate does the reasonable thing today by supporting this motion. Anyone who pays attention to the news or spends any time on social media has to acknowledge that there has been a rise in anti-white racism and a rise in attacks on the very ideals of Western civilisation,” Ms Hanson said before the vote.
“I would also hope the Senate does the right thing and acknowledges that it is indeed okay to be white. Such a simple sentence should go without saying, but I suspect many members in this place would struggle to say it.
“People have a right to be proud of their cultural background, whether they are black, white or brindle. If we can’t agree on this, I think it’s safe to say anti-white racism is well and truly rife in our society.”
Ms Hanson’s motion was defeated by a close margin, 31-28. Labor and the Greens voted against it, while many government senators voted in favour.
So, there’s the background. “It’s OK to be white” is a well-known slogan concocted by an internet forum crawling with white supremacists, which has since been adopted by the trollier elements of the far-right.
Speaking in the Senate today, Labor’s Penny Wong ridiculed the idea that the Government misinterpreted Ms Hanson’s motion.
“There is nothing innocent, nothing unknown, nothing hidden about this phrase. Frankly, the claim that somehow the Government didn’t understand it or didn’t know about it is not believable,” she said.
“We are supposed to believe that no one in the Government paid attention and some junior staffer ticked it off, and then Government senators just filed in and sat behind Senator Hanson oblivious to the fact that they were endorsing a racist motion designed to promote Nazis, the Klan and other white supremacist groups.”
Ms Hanson, for her part, has angrily denied any suggestions her motion was racist.“If I had said it’s OK to be black, every single senator in the chamber would have voted for it,” the One Nation leader said today.