The Coalition is scrambling after senators voted for a motion saying ‘it’s OK to be white’

Senator Mathias Cormann Michael Masters/Getty Images
  • Yesterday, Pauline Hanson tried to pass a motion saying “it’s okay to be white” – and the government backed it
  • Mathias Cormann has apologised for the support of the motion, saying it was an “administrative error”
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison also says it was “regrettable” Liberal senators supported Hanson’s motion

The Coalition government is blaming an administrative error for its senators backing Pauline Hanson’s motion in the upper house that “it’s okay to be white”.

Leader of the Government in the Senate Mathias Cormann has apologised for the support of the motion, which was narrowly defeated yesterday with 31 votes to 28, after after several crossbench senators rejected the motion calling for the Senate to acknowledge “the deplorable rise in anti-white racism and attacks on Western civilisation”.

“As a result of the administrative process failure, the government senators in the chamber ended up, on advice, voting in support of the motion,” the minister for finance said.

“As leader of the government in the senate, I take responsibility for that error, and I’m sorry that that happened, which was indeed regrettable.

“As I indicated when this motion first came up, we made a very clear decision to oppose that motion. It was voted on in September, it came up yesterday and it slipped through,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also says it was “regrettable” Liberal senators supported Hanson’s motion, which claimed that “anti-white” racism was on the rise in Australia.

Hanson, the founder of nationalist, right-wing populist party One Nation, told the Senate that “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.”

“It 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,” she said.

Attorney-general Christian Porter released a statement which said “an early email advising an approach on the motion went out from my office on this matter without my knowledge”.

“It appears that, of the very large number of motions on which my office’s views are routinely sought, this one was not escalated to me because it was interpreted in my office as a motion opposing racism,” he said.

“The associations of the language were not picked up. Had it been raised directly with me those issues would have been identified.”

He repeated Cormann’s statement that it was an “administrative error,” and he is reviewing the processes in his office.

Below is a list of the senators who voted in favour of the motion.

Labor and the Greens voted against the motion.

Independent candidate Derryn Hinch had this to say about the motion:

Greens leader Richard di Natale said “the reality is this ‘it’s okay to be white’ slogan has got a long history in the white supremacist movement”.

American white supremecist band Aggressive Force used the phrase as the title of a hate speech-filled song in 2001.

Last year, a campaign by white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups on 4chan to print out the slogan and post it across university campuses in America gained popularity, according to the American Anti-Defamation League.

Controversial commentator Milo Yiannopoulos took the opportunity to cash in on the furore, selling t-shirts with the slogan on Shopfiy, according to ThinkProgress.

READ MORE: An Australian senator tried to pass a motion saying ‘it’s okay to be white’ – and the government backed it