One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has doubled down on her extraordinary Today show rant about locked-down tower block residents which led to her being dumped from the Channel Nine breakfast show.
The outspoken senator was met with widespread criticism after saying on Monday residents confined to their apartments in Melbourne housing blocks were ‘drug addicts and alcoholics’.
Former Labor leader Bill Shorten even refused to say her name as he condemned her comments on the program on Tuesday morning.
But in a fiery justification of her comments posted on her official website, Ms Hanson said her controversial comments were simply ‘an honest assessment’ of Australia’s inability to manage its multicultural society.
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Under-fire One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has doubled down on her Today show rant about the ‘drug addicts and alcoholics’ under lockdown in Melbourne’s social housing blocks
‘The pandemic has revealed that the failure to assimilate into Australian culture and learn English can indirectly be deadly,’ she said.
Hanson had sensationally stated in the interview with Today show host Allison Langdon locked-down residents were not social distancing because they could not understand government rules communicated in English.
In her statement published on Tuesday, Hanson re-emphasised that English-language health advice disseminated during the COVID-19 lockdown was lost on much of the immigrant population.
‘Health advice during this emergency has been published only in English – our national language – so it meant many residents from non-English speaking backgrounds, who have rejected the English language, missed the safety message,’ she said.
‘We now have an emerging second wave and the Melbourne housing apartment harsh lockdown.’
Hanson also doubled down on her argument that confined residents ‘should know what its like’ to be locked down because of their war-torn countries of origin.
PAULINE HANSON’S FULL STATEMENT ON TODAY SHOW INTERVIEW CONTROVERSY
I love Australia. I will love this nation with pride until the day I die.
I have always respected the people from many different nations and cultures that live here, with whom I interact almost daily, and who help to make this the best country on earth.
However, we are not perfect and we can’t stick our heads in the sand and pretend that we don’t have our problems.
My comments in the media this week reflected an honest assessment of failures in the management of our multiculturalism that have now come back to bite us during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has revealed that the failure to assimilate into Australian culture and learn English can indirectly be deadly. Governments of all persuasions are guilty of being soft on promoting assimilation and the need for English language proficiency, for the benefit of the individual and society as a whole.
Pictured: Residents of the Flemington Towers Government Housing complex are tested for COVID-19 on Monday. Hanson said she was making on Monday ‘an honest assessment’ of Australia’s multiculturalism failures
Many who come to Australia are happy to enjoy the good things – our safety and stability, our friendly way of life, our relatively good government services, our generous welfare support – but then believe it’s acceptable to reject the culture and common language of their adoptive nation, and we now see the consequences.
Health advice during this emergency has been published only in English, our national language, so it meant many residents from non-English speaking backgrounds, who have rejected the English language, missed the safety message.
We now have an emerging second wave and the Melbourne housing apartment harsh lockdown. The two weeks in quarantine for the 3000 residents will be aided by taxpayer-funded food, alcohol and drug deliveries, government financial handouts, and more than 500 police guards.
I want the best for Australia and its many residents from all cultural backgrounds. That is why I will keep highlighting the problems that need to be fixed, that many people feel afraid to discuss.
We need to be allowed to debate the problems that exist in Australia – including issues that revolve around multiculturalism and Aboriginals – otherwise we will never smooth out the bumps that hold our nation back.
I have said many times that criticism is not racism. To reject certain opinions and stifle debate on the issues that affect our nation is an attack on free speech and also a roadblock to a better future for all Australia.
‘A lot of them are drug addicts as well, they are getting their medication, they are alcoholics so they’re being looked after in that way,’ she had said on Monday.
In her renewed justification of her criticism public housing residents, Ms Hanson said they were being more than looked after by the taxpayer.
‘The two weeks in quarantine for the 3000 residents will be aided by taxpayer-funded food, alcohol and drug deliveries, government financial handouts, and more than 500 police guards,’ she said.
‘I have said many times that criticism is not racism. To reject certain opinions and stifle debate on the issues that affect our nation is an attack on free speech and also a roadblock to a better future for all Australia.’
Former Labor Leader Bill Shorten has teamed up with a Melbourne butcher to deliver Halal care packages to residents locked in public housing towers
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Shorten told the Today show people living inside Melbourne’s locked-down social housing towers are ‘battlers’ who deserve to be treated as decently as anybody else.
He refused to mention Ms Hanson by name, but criticised her for appearing on the show on Monday and labelling residents ‘drug addicts and alcoholics’.
‘I saw a guest whose name I won’t mention carrying on like they have the life of Riley,’ Mr Shorten said on air. ‘They don’t’.
‘They have two or three-bedroom apartments. If they have four or five kids and little boys and girls in one room and the baby may sleep with the parents in the third.’
Police patrol the housing commission flats at 120 Racecourse Road in Flemington on Monday
He reminded viewers people living in the 10 buildings under lockdown due to the threat of coronavirus ‘are not something different or special’.
‘They are battlers, they are trying to go to work. There are nurses and teachers there. There’s a whole lot of people trying to make ends meet,’ he said.
‘It is a difficult situation. I just think that we need to, as best possible, we just need to treat these people as decently as we can.’
Hanson (left) was banned from her regular appearance on the Today show after a shocking rant about residents in Melbourne’s public housing towers on Monday that led host Allison Langdon to ask: ‘Do you have a heart Pauline?’
Mr Shorten teamed up with a local Melbourne butcher on Monday to deliver food and goods to people living in the towers.
Pictures showed Mr Shorten wearing a face mask and carrying boxes of supplies to and from buildings.
His comments come after Hanson defended her stance, denying her opinions were ‘ill-informed’ or racist.
‘As long as I’m a member of parliament, I’m going to keep speaking out and saying what I feel, what needs to be said if we’re going to have a cohesive society,’ she said as she revealed she ‘didn’t regret’ her comments.
‘I couldn’t care less about whether I go on Channel 9 or not.
Hanson said refugees who fled war-torn countries should be able to deal with being locked up. (Pictured: Angry tower residents place signs in their windows showing messages of despair amid total lockdown)
‘I have my Facebook page, I connect with people. I don’t really care about Channel 9 or Channel 7.’
Nine executives ruled the ever-outspoken One Nation senator had crossed a line when she told Langdon residents complaining about being locked in their towers should ‘know what it’s like to be in tough conditions’.
‘Come on Ally, we’ve seen food being delivered there,’ Hanson said.
Pauline Hanson was dropped as a regular contributor to Today after making the divisive comments
‘A lot of them are drug addicts as well, they are getting their medication, they are alcoholics so they’re being looked after in that way.’
She said refugees should be accustomed to tough conditions having experienced life in their war-torn home countries.
Within hours Channel Nine announced she would no longer be a regular contributor on the show. A spokesperson for the network called her comments ‘ill-informed and divisive’.
Hanson denied claims her comments on the Today show about Melbourne’s locked down public housing residents were ‘ill-informed’ and that they constituted racism.
Hanson claimed she was only being called racist because people disagreed with her point of view.
‘I’m up for election in two years time – if they don’t want me, good. Don’t vote for me. That’s as simple as that. Until then, they’ve got me for the next two years and if you don’t like its stiff biccies,’ she said.
‘I’m not disrespectful to people but I will call out the way I see it which is in tune with a lot of Australians.
‘Having criticism is not racism. I’m not racist and people misuse that word when they disagree with what you have to say.’
Community transmission within Victoria is currently soaring, leading to a border closure between Victoria and New South Wales
Andrew Bolt asked Hanson if she regretted what she said – to which she responded ‘no I don’t’, before prefacing her reply by adding she should have chosen her words better.
‘What I read [was] about the methadone and various alcohol addiction and other problems,’ she said.
‘I probably shouldn’t have said “a lot”.’
Some 3,000 public housing residents have been subjected to a ‘hard lockdown’ by the Victorian government in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19 inside the walls of the towers
Bill Shorten teams up with local butcher to deliver Halal packages to residents locked in public housing towers – as residents complain they haven’t received enough food
Former Labor Leader Bill Shorten has teamed up with a Melbourne butcher to deliver Halal care packages to residents locked in public housing towers.
Ten towers in Flemington and North Melbourne were locked down on Saturday in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, with 3,000 residents unable to leave their apartments for any reason for at least five days.
Some residents locked in the towers have complained they haven’t received enough food and supplies, so Mr Shorten took it upon himself to deliver some on Monday.
The former leader of the opposition shared photos of himself and local butcher Macca Halal Foods delivering the food in Flemington.
‘Community at its best,’ Mr Shorten tweeted.
‘Thanks to local butcher Macca Halal Foods, these care packages have made it to the Flemington Towers.’
Images show Mr Shorten wearing a face mask and carrying boxes of supplies to and from buildings.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the towers have almost doubled, from 27 on Sunday to 53 on Monday from about 400 tests, as testing ramps up and police continue to patrol entrances and corridors.
The state government says it has distributed 3,000 meals, 1,000 food hampers and 250 personal care packs to residents.
Meanwhile charity FareShare has provided more than 3,000 prepared meals and 4,500 pastries.
The government is also delivering bread and milk to residents after the staples were missing from hampers on Sunday.
The senator then took to social media to double down on her remarks.
‘It’s being reported I made ‘a number of controversial comments’ this morning. I’ve gone back over the interview and I’m struggling to see what I said that was so controversial,’ she said.
Hanson hit out at the 3,000 residents who have been subjected to a ‘hard lockdown’ by the Victorian government in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19 inside the walls of the towers.
Many residents have complained at a lack of notice before the lockdown came into effect and say they have not been supplied with food or essentials.
The 10 public housing towers across Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne are home to some of Victoria’s most vulnerable people, including refugees who fled to Australia from wartorn countries.
‘I saw them taking a truck load of food to them, all the rest of it – if they are from war torn countries, which some of these people are, they know what it is like to be in tough conditions,’ she said.
Hanson argued other Australians have also been through a similar lockdown, and said it is no different to the housing commission quarantine
More than 3000 tenants in nine buildings were unprepared for the surprise decision and many had been left without groceries
‘Have a look at the facts before you criticise. The governments and all of these … interest groups and everyone will make sure they’re well looked after.’
Hanson rejected suggestions that health authorities and the government should be communicating with residents in their native languages.
‘Why should we? Why should we put everything out in someone else’s language when you come to Australia,’ she said.
‘We should not be putting out literature in their own language. Learn to speak English when you come here to this country. That’s a big problem that we have in Australia.’
‘A lot of these people are from non-English speaking backgrounds, probably English is their second language who haven’t adhered to the rules of social distancing. They all used a lot of the same laundry,’ she said.
Following her rant, Hanson was asked by Langdon: ‘Do you have a heart Pauline?’
Hanson went on to say the no-warning lockdown was justified if residents were not practicing social distancing.
Towers in the suburbs of Flemington (pictured), Kensington and North Melbourne will be closed for five days
Medical staff wearing PPE holding material about to walk into the Flemington Public housing flats
‘Why is it they are in that situation? Why has the government gone to this high-rise building and shut it down? Possibly because a lot of these people weren’t doing the right thing,’ she said.
‘There has to be a reason why they have targeted this set of blocks, apartment blocks. Ask that question.’
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 8,586
New South Wales: 3,429
Western Australia: 621
South Australia: 443
Australian Capital Territory: 108
Northern Territory: 30
TOTAL CASES: 8,586
Hanson argued other Australians have also been through a similar lockdown, and said it is no different to the housing commission quarantine.
‘We’ve gone through months of people, the public being locked up. We’ve gone through months where people couldn’t go to the park, gyms, couldn’t go to the park, couldn’t go any where,’ she said.
‘Australian people have been locked up in their homes for ages.
‘We really need to clean up the COVID-19. Make up your mind. You either want to clean up COVID-19 or you don’t. And you have to make the tough decisions if we are going to get this country back on track.’
The end of Hanson’s year-long role at the Today show comes after she parted ways with Seven News rival Sunrise over a clash with host David Koch about the Christchurch massacre.
Premier Andrews locked the doors to nine housing towers from 4pm on Saturday amid fears the virus is spreading rapidly within their walls.
The ‘hard lockdown’ will force 3,000 people in towers across Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne to stay inside – with armed police on every floor of every block ensuring they do not leave for any reason over the next five days.
Residents who refuse to be tested for coronavirus could be locked up for as long as 14 days; the same quarantine period as people arriving from overseas.
‘We do have milk and bread, but if we are going to be in lockdown for 14 days, which is what we have been told, it is not going to last that long,’ Flemington tower resident Thana Sirag said.
Ms Sirag said she just wants to be treated like other households dealing with the virus.
‘We are put under much more severe circumstances than everyone else, we are being treated like prisoners,’ Ms Sirag said.
Premier Andrews locked the doors to nine public housing towers from 4pm on Saturday amid fears the virus is spreading rapidly within their walls
The ‘hard lockdown’ will see 3,000 people in towers across Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne forced to stay inside Pictured: Police enforce a lockdown at public housing towers on Racecourse Road in Flemington
Victoria has for three weeks been grappling with an outbreak of coronavirus across various Melbourne hotspots.
The state racked up another 74 new cases on Sunday and 127 on Monday.
Some 12 Victorian postcodes have been put into stage three lockdown until at least July 29 in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
Two of those areas, covering North Melbourne, Hotham Hill, Kensington and Flemington in the city’s inner northwest are home to the 10 public housing towers.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the hard lockdown was about the safety of residents as well as the entire state.
‘This is not about punishment, this is about protection for you and your loved ones,’ he said.
‘And then, by extension, it’s about protecting the entire state and we don’t make those decisions lightly’.
Which suburbs are in lockdown?
3012 – Brooklyn, Kingsville, Maidstone, Tottenham, West Footscray
3021 – Albanvale, Kealba, Kings Park, St Albans
3032 – Ascot Vale, Highpoint City, Maribyrnong, Travancore
3038 – Keilor Downs, Keilor Lodge, Taylors Lakes, Watergardens
3042 – Airport West, Keilor Park, Niddrie
3046 – Glenroy, Hadfield, Oak Park
3047 – Broadmeadows, Dallas, Jacana
3055 – Brunswick South, Brunswick West, Moonee Vale, Moreland West
3060 – Fawkner
3064 – Craigieburn, Donnybrook, Mickelham, Roxburgh Park, Kalkallo
FROM 11.59 ON SATURDAY JULY 4:
3031 – Flemington, Kensington
3051 – North Melbourne