In a week that has seen a number of headline-grabbing maiden speeches being made in parliament, including Senator Pauline Hanson’s in which she claimed that Australia is at risk of being “swamped by Muslims”, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy’s used her address to proudly welcome immigrants.
Senator McCarthy, speaking at a lectern draped in an indigenous print, started her speech in Yanyuwa, her mother’s language, before going on to deliver a warm greeting to immigrants.
“I stand for all people of the Northern Territory,” she said. “All clan groups, all families who call the Northern Territory home. Whether they live on the vast cattle stations…or whether they have travelled from countries in Asia, Africa or the Middle East to forge a new life for their families.”
Her words were in direct counterpoint to Senator Hanson who used her maiden speech to allege that "We are in danger of being swamped by Muslims who bear a culture and ideology that is incompatible with our own."
Senator McCarthy also spoke out against the government’s proposed marriage equality plebiscite and addressed the issue of domestic violence in the Northern Territory.
"I think of the women in my life struggling just to survive. I call them my mothers, my sisters, my friends, who endure tremendous acts of violence against them,” she said. "With broken limbs, busted faces, amputations and sexual assaults - I stand here with you."