Pauline Hanson suffered a defeat in the Senate on Monday after her “it’s OK to be white” motion was narrowly beaten by 31 votes to 28, with Labor and the Greens standing against it.
The One Nation leader gave an impassioned speech in the upper chamber, calling for her colleagues to acknowledge “rising anti-white racism and attacks on Western Civilisation”, with 23 votes in favour coming from Liberal-National senators, along with the likes of Cory Bernardi, David Leyonhjelm and Fraser Anning.
However, that support for Hanson’s motion quickly dwindled on Tuesday as the government publicly blamed an “administrative process error” for government senators, including Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and Minister for Jobs and Small Business Michaelia Cash, voting in favour.
“When the motion was first put forward in September and we considered (the) motion, we made a decision to oppose that motion and to make a statement in our own words that as a government we deplore racism of any kind, but not to actually support the motion,” Cormann said, reports The Australian.
“Yesterday, as a result of an administrative process failure, the government senators in the chamber ended up, on advice, voting in support of the motion. As Leader of the Government in the Senate, I take responsibility for that error and I’m sorry that that happened. It is indeed regrettable.”
Speaking in the chamber before the vote, Hanson claimed supporting her motion was the “reasonable thing” to do. She said: “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.
“People have a right to be proud of their cultural background, whether they are black, white or brindle. If we can’t agree on this, I think it’s safe to say anti-white racism is well and truly rife in our society.”
It was alleged that the government senators pledged their support to Hanson’s motion after receiving a directive from a staffer in Attorney-General Christian Porter’s office, which Porter later claimed he knew nothing about, despite seemingly tweeting about the vote on Monday afternoon.
In a statement on Tuesday he said: “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.”
Following the government’s backflip, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison describing the so-called error as “regrettable”, Hanson claimed the PM and Cormann were suffering from “white guilt” and suggested their change of heart was due to the impending by-election in Wentworth on Saturday.