OPINION: Are our politicians setting the tone for a country full of bigots?

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‘Australia is Full’ by Newtown Graffiti (CC BY 2.0)

As the 2019 federal election draws closer, it comes as no surprise that scandals have started to emerge surrounding party candidates.

The number of candidates that have recently been forced to resign, or dropped from their parties, due to bigoted beliefs begs the question just what type of people are trying to lead our country?

Two months ago, Australia was revolted by Senator Fraser Anning’s victim-shaming comments surrounding the Christchurch massacre, blaming immigration policies for the abhorrent crime.

The brazenness of Anning’s comments was perhaps an anomaly, but clearly the occurrence of bigoted views from political representatives is a prevalent issue in our country.

Pauline Hanson, leader of the One Nation party, still holds public support after years of comments such as “Ban the Burqa” and “send immigrants back where they came from”.

Hanson now wants to implement a travel ban like the Trump administration in the United States, which saw immigrant families torn apart and children imprisoned in border camps.

Labor candidate Wayne Kurnorth and Liberal candidates Jessica Whelan and Jeremy Hearn were all recently fired or forced to resign after their anti-Semitic comments were brought to the public’s attention.

Similarly, Greens candidate Jay Dessi’s racist social media comments regarding his Asian friend saw his resignation last week.

Members of the LGBTQI community are still experiencing intolerance from political candidates too.

Liberal candidate Peter Killin resigned on May 1 after saying that a “homosexual lifestyle” carried “appalling health risks” and that he wanted to ensure there was “no homosexual MP”.

Shockingly, Liberal candidate Gurpal Singh held his position within the party after linking same-sex marriage to pedophilia. It was only last week, when his comments dismissing a rape victim was exposed that the Liberal party drew the line.

Is it no wonder that stories regarding immigration draw comments from the public like “fit in or f— off”?

If our political representatives are sharing uneducated views, they are encouraging ignorance from Australian communities.

For a country whose history is steeped in racism, it is time that we learnt from our mistakes.

When voting in the upcoming election, maybe fact-check if your candidate believes in simple things like equality and multiculturalism.

It’s 2019 after all, not 1901.

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