DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
What is it with the persistent offensiveness of the Liberals towards Australians of Subcontinent background? Not long ago, the Treasurer mocked Hinduism in this chamber. Then last night we saw on 60 Minutes, in all the glory of the Liberal Party Victorian engine room, people of Indian background being referred to using a term that is so degrading I won't repeat it. It exposes this government's shallow approach to a people and a country that give so much to Australia and with whom we must build an economic relationship that's bigger and deeper. India is Australia's largest source of permanent migration, but the Liberals prefer insults to appreciating the contributions of Indian Australians and the compassion shown throughout COVID by different Indian communities in our suburbs.
But it's not just the Liberals' ignorance; it's their incompetence. Nothing of note has happened to progress the recommendations of the epic Varghese report from two years ago. India's share of our exports has fallen to a 17-year low. And don't forget the big call by Tony Abbott and Andrew Robb to deliver a free trade agreement by 2015. Meanwhile, the pandemic has seen offices like mine inundated with Australian citizens and Indian nationals desperate to be reunited with their loved ones. We're at the end of August, and the Prime Minister is only now being reported as asking for ideas on how to help stranded Australians get home. If the Liberals were as focused on building the India relationship as they are on insulting Indian Australians, we would all be better off.