Nov 11th 2020

Thousands call on Scott Morrison to denounce Eric Abetz's "disgraceful" comments

At 2pm on Thursday, November 12, Per Capita research fellow Osmond Chiu will deliver GetUp and Colour Code petitions signed by over 25,000 people to Kirribilli House in North Sydney.

The petitions call on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to denounce Senator Eric Abetz's discriminatory and insulting suggestion in Senate Estimates last month that Chinese-Australians should "unequivocally condemn" the Chinese Communist Party. 

No one deserves to be bullied based on their background or what they look like – least of all by a Senator. If the Government chooses to let this slide, it will be sending a message loud and clear that it condones this vicious discrimination.

On Q+A on Monday night, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called Abetz's comments "disgraceful" and said "he should absolutely apologise to Osmond". It's time for Scott Morrison to show some backbone and demand the same.

Per Capita Research Fellow Osmond Chiu said:

"Senator Abetz’s actions were corrosive to our social cohesion and our democracy. We should not have to say that no Australian should have their loyalty publicly questioned because of their cultural background. 

"The deafening silence from Coalition Ministers is disappointing. This is not a partisan issue, this is about our elected leaders sending a clear message that Australia is a multicultural society where we can have robust debate but everyone is afforded respect and courtesy.

"Silence implies tolerance and that will only dissuade people from culturally diverse backgrounds from engaging in our political process."

GetUp Human Rights Senior Campaigner Tessa Pang said:

“There’s no room for racism in our politics. This is a fiercely multicultural country and our diversity in backgrounds is something to be celebrated, not questioned.

The fact that Prime Minister Morrison and senior Liberal Party figures have refused to condemn Senator Abetz’s racist bullying speaks to wider issues in their party. And with over 25,000 GetUp and Colour Code members across the country adding their voice to our petition, it’s clear the public demands more from our political leaders.

For Morrison to stay silent in this moment effectively condones Senator Abetz’s behaviour, and paints a chilling picture of a Government content to foster prejudice against people based on the colour of their skin.”

Asian Australian Alliance Founder and National Convenor Erin Chew said:

"Senator Eric Abetz demanded the three Chinese-Australian witnesses 'unequivocally condemn the CCP', despite the fact that they were presenting on three different topics. It is disappointing to see that no senior Ministers or the Prime Minister have taken any action to address the unbecoming conduct of Senator Abetz, essentially normalising to the rest of the country that 'loyalty testing' Chinese-Australians is an acceptable practice. 

This non-acknowledgement puts all of us who have a Chinese/Asian background under suspicion. This is why we keep hearing incidents of anti-Chinese/Asian racism — because racism is being allowed, normalised and enabled."

Colour Code Racial Justice Lead Anisha Senaratne said: 

“Migrant, Multicultural and First Nations communities make up over 25% of our population – and right now we are taking note of the Prime Minister’s silence.Politician’s words can be weapons against our communities, bolstering prejudice and hate and putting us at risk of harm.

At a time where our communities have faced an increase in discrimination and racist attacks through the COVID-19 pandemic, we need leaders who will hold their party to higher standards, and fight for our right to feel safe and secure in this country – no matter what we look like or where we’ve come from.”

Media contact: Alex McKinnon 0411 829 334


Osmond Chiu, Research Fellow at Per Capita

Tessa Pang, Senior Campaigner at GetUp

Anisha Senaratne, Racial Justice Lead at Colour Code 

Erin Chew, Founder and National Convenor at Asian Australian Alliance 

Colour Code is a national movement of multicultural, migrant and First Nations peoples advocating, campaigning and organising for our communities. Colour Code has a membership of over 25,000 people from migrant and First Nations backgrounds across its digital channels, and is powered by GetUp.