Staff blamed for 'OK to be white' vote


On Tuesday, Porter issued a statement saying he had not been aware of an email sent by his office advising senators to back the motion, which he said had been "interpreted in my office as a motion opposing racism".

The motion was defeated 31-28 despite the support of government senators.

"As I indicated when this motion first came up, we made a very clear decision to oppose that motion".

It emerged this morning that Attorney-General Christian Porter had issued instructions to senators from the governing Liberal party to back Hanson's motion.

"The associations of the language were not picked up".

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson had the Senate vote on her "It's okay to be white" motion in the Senate yesterday which also sought to condemn anti-white racism.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the government's support was "regrettable" and Mr Porter says it was his office's fault. It wasn't voted on in September.

So how does that work, an administrative error in the Senate? There are 50 or 60 motions that get moved this way every week. "We never discuss that in the shearing sheds, on the farm or at the local pub" and said about all the motions being put forward in the Senate "frankly I'm over them all" calling them "political sessions".

Senator Hanson and fellow conservative crossbenchers didn't attend the second vote.

"The reality is yesterday's decision by Government Senators to vote in favour of a phrase created and disseminated by white supremacist groups around the world is a shameful episode".

Mathias Cormann has now asked the Senate to recommit to voting on the motion so Coalition Senators can have opportunity to vote against it.

Senate tried to turn things around by playing up the fact that a slim majority voted against the motion, claiming that it proves that the government isn't racist.

He repeated Cormann's statement that it was an "administrative error", and he is reviewing the processes in his office. "We deplore racism of any kind", he said.

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

"Senator Hanson tweeted a very clever line-up dreamed up by, I imagine, a giggling cohort in the backroom, her line about "It's okay to be white" and then went public with it before most of the senators in this chamber had even heard about it", he said.