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Ahmed Faid, an Eritrean-Australian living in Melbourne’s Flemington flats, has some simple advice for One Nation senator Pauline Hanson and others targeting his community.
“She needs to learn,” he said. “Not just her, everyone. Even the ministers in our federal government.”
“They need to understand people and then build their policies and their understanding. It’s all about knowing people. It’s all about coming closer to people.”
On Thursday, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age revealed Hanson had sent stubby holders en masse to those living in the locked-down North Melbourne and Flemington public housing towers in July, emblazoned with her face and the words “I’ve got the guts to say what you’re thinking”.
The items were mailed shortly after Hanson vilified residents in the towers as “drug addicts” who “cannot speak English”.
Faid said the actions were nothing worse than what his community hears and sees in rightwing media. But he warns such attitudes are laying the ground for acts of hate and says Australia has a “national responsibility” to foster better understanding, harmony, and respect.
“They are winning ground, they are pushing forward,” he said.
“Nothing in this world is cheaper than promoting hate, because hate doesn’t need any knowledge, it doesn’t need any justification. Hate’s cheap.”
Australia Post’s role in the scandal is also under scrutiny after revelations it threatened the City of Melbourne council with legal action unless it allowed the stubby holders to be delivered, reportedly along with a note saying “no hard feelings”. The council had stopped the mail from reaching the residents over fears it would increase tensions and inflame an already difficult situation.
Australia Post’s chief executive, Christine Holgate, is expected to be grilled over the scandal during an upcoming Senate estimates hearing.
Labor is alleging a “quid pro quo” between Australia Post and One Nation in order to secure the crossbench party’s vote to preserve a temporary easing of regulation.
“If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck let’s call it a duck,” the shadow home affairs minister, Kristina Keneally, said on Thursday. “This looks like a quid pro quo between Australia Post and One Nation. Australia Post delivering beer coolers or beer holders for One Nation in order to secure their vote in the Senate.”
She said Senate estimates was “no doubt” going to “take a very serious look at this”, unless the government tells the public precisely what happened.
Australia Post denies it spoke to One Nation or Hanson about the delivery at any point.
The organisation is also now under pressure to release all documents linked to the affair and disclose whether it had ever made any similar interventions in separate cases.
The crossbench senator Rex Patrick has lodged a freedom of information request with Australia Post for records of any prior threats, and the documents associated with the Hanson delivery.
“Do I think it proper for Australia Post to deliver mail and parcels in a reliable and timely manner – yes! Some would argue that they’ve been waiting some time for Australian Post to do exactly that,” Patrick said.
“But how many times has Australia Post’s general counsel written threatening to call in the police to ensure good service? I suspect not often. This requires further investigation.”
The council has not been spared from criticism itself. The City of Melbourne was responsible for distribution and deliveries during the hard lockdown of the towers, and decided to withhold these deliveries from the residents.
The Guardian has spoken with one councillor, Philip Le Liu, who says the council should have given residents a choice of receiving the mail, if they wished to.
Le Liu has since requested a formal investigation into the council’s handling of the incident.
Hanson’s office has not responded to the Guardian’s requests for comment.
She tweeted yesterday: “Talk about a storm in a stubby cooler! – PH”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘Hate is cheap,’ Melbourne tower resident says after Pauline Hanson’s stubby holder stunt | Melbourne