One Nation party leader Pauline Hanson reacts during debate in the Senate chamber on  Monday. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
One Nation party leader Pauline Hanson reacts during debate in the Senate chamber on Monday. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

‘OK to be white’ vote an ‘admin mistake’

THE Federal Government backing a motion from Senator Pauline Hanson that "it is OK to be white" was a mistake, senior government minister Mathias Cormann said this morning.

In a controversial move, yesterday the government voted for the motion put up in the Senate, though it went down 31-28.

A total of 23 government Senators voted for the motion, including four from Queensland, and none opposed it.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and his cabinet colleagues Michaelia Cash, Simon Birmingham, Mitch Fifield, Matt Canavan and Bridget McKenzie all voted in favour.

So too did crossbench senators Peter Georgiou, Cory Bernardi, David Leyonhjelm and Fraser Anning.

One Nation party leader Pauline Hanson reacts during debate in the Senate chamber on  Monday. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
One Nation party leader Pauline Hanson reacts during debate in the Senate chamber on Monday. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

At the time, Senator Ann Ruston made the only statement from the Coalition, saying "the Government condemns all forms of racism".

But Senator Cormann, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, this morning said it was an administrative error and the intention had been to oppose the motion.

"When the motion was first raised in September, the government made a clear decision to oppose this motion and to make a statement that as a government we deplore racism in any kind," he said.

"That is a decision that should have been maintained yesterday and as a result of an administrative process failure it wasn't. That is regrettable and I take responsibility."

He said there was a substantial workload in the Senate, with 50 to 60 motions being voted on each week.

Senator Cormann was absent from the vote yesterday.

It took the government 17 hours to make the statement that supporting the motion was an administrative error.

Senator Cormann did not condemn the motion or One Nation for moving it.

"I don't support the form of words that's in that motion and the government made a decision not to support that motion. We deplore racism of any kind," he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also said it is "regrettable" government senators voted in favour of the motion.

Senator Hanson on Monday moved a motion, which was symbolic only, that the Senate acknowledge that there was a rise of "anti-white racism" and that "it is OK to be white".

"People have a right to be proud of their cultural background, whether they are black, white or brindle," Senator Hanson said.

Senator Derryn Hinch said that Senator Hanson and Senator Fraser Anning - who this year promoted a return of the White Australia policy - were "locked in a race to see who can be the biggest, the loudest, ­racist bigot".