‘Ungrounded’: Hanson defends attack on Greens senator

Pauline Hanson's comments were a rhetorical device to criticise a Greens senator, her lawyer said.

Pauline Hanson's comments were a rhetorical device to criticise a Greens senator, her lawyer said. Photo: AAP

A tweet by Pauline Hanson telling a Muslim Greens senator to go back to Pakistan was not nice or polite but also not racist because it responded to perceived criticism of the Queen on the day she died, a court has been told.

The One Nation leader is being sued for racial discrimination in the Federal Court by Greens deputy leader Mehreen Faruqi.

As the case returned for a final day of trial on Thursday, Senator Hanson’s barrister Kieran Smark SC said the colour of the Greens senator’s skin was the last thing on his client’s mind when she sent the tweet in December 2022.

“Your Honour would not have a proper basis to conclude that ‘go back to Pakistan’ had anything to do with colour or in fact religion,” he told Justice Angus Stewart.

“What it’s all about is the death of the Queen and speaking out on those political causes at the time.”

The Greens deputy had tweeted hours after the Queen’s death that she could not mourn the passing of the leader of a “racist empire built on stolen lives, land and wealth of colonised peoples”.

Hanson responded, saying she was appalled and disgusted with the Greens senator’s comments, telling her to “pack (her) bags and piss off back to Pakistan”.

Smark rejected the claim that what “got Senator Hanson going” was the fact that Faruqi had dark skin or was a Muslim.

“We say it’s just far, far into the realm of not just speculation, it’s simply ungrounded,” he said.

Hanson’s comments were a “rhetorical device” used to attack and criticise Faruqi in a way which was not meant to be nice or polite, he told the court.

“There’s the engine of anger … and disgust of Hanson which actuated the sending of this message,” he said.

“Colour would seem to be the last thing on her mind.”

Given the One Nation leader’s history of being outspoken against Muslims and Islam, one would expect that this would be referred to in the tweet if it was racially motivated, Smark said.

“If she’s got something to say about Islam then she’ll say it,” he told the court.

“Its absence from the tweet is notable.”

Justice Stewart said he struggled to see how Senator Faruqi’s tweet was an attack on the Queen herself as opposed to the institutions of the monarchy and colonialism.

Smark argued that while lawyers could distinguish between the two, this did not mean the ordinary person would do the same.

The judge also questioned the One Nation leader’s claim she had responded to highlight the Greens senator’s hypocrisy in “taking advantage” of the benefits of living in Australia while criticising the Queen.

He noted that Senator Hanson had also been very outspoken when criticising the government’s policies.

“Why is it hypocritical of someone else to be critical of aspects of Australia or its history unless it’s because they’re from somewhere else and they’re not actually welcome here?” he asked.

The attack was legitimately raised and regarded political matters, Smark said.

The hypocrisy related to breaking the well-known convention that one did not criticise someone within hours of their death, he told the court.

Smark also made submissions about why certain sections of the Racial Discrimination Act relied on by Senator Faruqi should be struck out as they contradicted the constitutionally implied freedom of political communication.

The trial continues.


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