Senator Mehreen Faruqi, the Greens deputy leader, has filed a lawsuit against One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson over a tweet telling her to “pack her bags and piss off back to Pakistan”. The tweet was a response to comments made by Senator Faruqi after the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September last year.
Senator Faruqi wrote, “Condolences to those who knew the Queen. I cannot mourn the leader of a racist empire built on stolen lives, land and wealth of colonised peoples. We are reminded of the urgency of Treaty with First Nations, justice & reparations for British colonies & becoming a republic.”
This week, Senator Faruqi has filed legal documents in the Federal Court, alleging unlawful offensive behaviour against Senator Hanson. She seeks compensation in the form of preventing Senator Hanson from publicly using the phrases “piss off back to Pakistan” and “go back to where you came from,” as well as any variations of these phrases.
Senator Faruqi, who moved to Australia from Pakistan in 1992, wants Senator Hanson to delete the tweet and post a new one stating she has been found to have committed unlawful offensive behaviour against Senator Faruqi on the basis of race. Senator Faruqi is also seeking a financial contribution from Senator Hanson of $150,000 to a not-for-profit or community organisation of Senator Faruqi’s choice, as well as requiring Senator Hanson to undergo anti-racism training at her own expense.
Senator Faruqi believes that Senator Hanson’s comments were offensive and triggering for many migrants, and that her brand of hate has hurt migrant communities of colour for too long.
“This court action is about holding her accountable and using the Racial Discrimination Act to prevent her from engaging in bigoted conduct that hurts people in the future,” Senator Faruqi said.
She added that she is “drawing a line in the sand” and that “Senator Hanson cannot keep insulting and humiliating [migrants]without any serious consequences.” ‘Go back to where you came from’ is a racial slur that most migrants and people of colour have endured, she added.
Senator Faruqi had previously lodged a complaint against Senator Hanson with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in October last year, but the complaint was ultimately terminated in March after Senator Hanson refused to participate in a conciliation process. The Greens also attempted to censure the federal One Nation leader in federal parliament, but Labor and the Coalition amended the motion to instead condemn all forms of racism.
Senator Hanson said she will fight the legal action in court, adding, “This is a ridiculous waste of taxpayers’ money. If you can’t handle criticism, get out of politics.” [Ed’s note: The legal action from Senator Faruqi is not being paid for by taxpayers. It is a private legal action. An earlier version of this story did not make that distinction].
NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham is also potentially facing legal action, after a homophobic tweet that even Senator Hanson condemned, which was directed towards NSW independent MP Alex Greenwich.
Mr Greenwich told media recently that unless he received an apology from Mr Latham, he would sue the former leader of the Labor party-turned One Nation MLC.
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