Australian centre-right conservatives are celebrating a Vietnamese MP who draped herself in the Australian flag during her maiden speech to Parliament. The stunt echoes Pauline Hanson’s infamous 1997 “in danger of being swamped by Asians” keynote. However, the message here is the inverse.
Hanson adorned herself “rhetorically” in colonial colours. Meanwhile, 54-year-old Dai Le, the former refugee and independent MP for Fowler in Sydney’s West, took things even further and chose a figurative approach.
Dai Le presented her maiden speech dressed in a traditional Vietnamese outfit fashioned from the Australian flag. In her speech, she made all the right noises to please the centre-right. Those confused libertarians actively tweeted and retweeted their approval of this interloper. Once again, a foreigner becomes the voice for ailing conservatives who’ve spent so long protesting that they’re “not racist” that they’ve finally realised they aren’t.
They’re not the least perturbed by the intolerable situation in which it takes somebody who wasn’t born here to enjoy the immunity to say the things that a Caucasian would be crucified for saying. And that wasn’t much either. It was pure Western Liberal Idealism to a fault. At least in part.
Let’s not overlook the fact that this woman is the deputy mayor of Fairfield. Fairfield was once almost exclusively Vietnamese in ethnic makeup. An incumbent migrant population has now successfully launched one of its own to political prominence. The nationalist-minded among us find that disturbing, although it’s hardly unprecedented.
However, Ms Le is technically everything an Australian conservative should abhor: a former journalist for both the left-wing Fairfax and ABC. In 2008, Le became political. She felt Australia needed an injection of whatever alien wisdom she carries about. Incongruously, her entrée into the world of politics was with the Liberal Party.
In 2016, Le was suspended from the Liberal Party when she joined former Labor pre-select Frank Carbone against the Liberal-endorsed candidate in a bid to become Mayor of Fairfield City. In 2022, she beat former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally to win the seat of Fowler, in an 18-point swing against Labor in the safe red seat.
Yet, Dai Le is a ferocious multiculturalist, pushing the agenda for “other” people to settle in Australia. In 2012, she was appointed to the Advisory Board of Multicultural NSW. In that vein, she founded the Diverse Australian Women’s Network (DAWN), which is working towards a “more inclusive Australia.” She feels more needs to be done in the interests of populating Australia with non-Anglo-Celtic-Europeans. But neocons won’t let that get in the way of supporting her. After all, they are multiculturalists too, although they like to infer they possess nationalist tendencies.
To that end, all she had to do was criticise the government’s COVID-19 lockdown measures, comparing them to “communism” and opposing a climate change bill, and whamo! She was one of the good people.
Her speech hit the right notes in conflating patriotism with multiculturalism, which is entirely contradictory. Conservatism is supposedly about “conserving” the past, but now it simply means signalling ill-expressed sentiments by appearing adjacent to signifiers like the Australian flag. Thus, there were cheers as she commanded the stage in the lower house, telling Australians, “I remember running with my mother and two younger sisters scrambling to make our way onto a boat and pushing through the cries and screams of women.”
Le was recounting her exodus from fallen South Vietnam, where she fled the encroaching communists and jumped with her family onto a leaky boat to steal her way into Australia.
“I looked back at my birth country to try and comprehend what was happening and just saw a big black smoke in the distance.
“I thought we would die when a huge storm hit our boat. All I could hear was a storm, terrified we wouldn’t survive because none of us could swim.”
Gripping stuff for those swayed by the narrative of strong refugees who make a hard passage to find hope in a new land. After all, these are the kinds of immigrants “we want,” or so their logic says. This is where nationhood becomes reduced to “values” and not the people and their distinctive culture and way of life.
Rather than seeing the desecration of the Australian flag, as Le appropriates it for the disinheriting language of multiculturalism, the conservatives applaud. After all, they are multiracialists. They’ve already forgotten that the policy of multiculturalism foisted onto Australia without consultation and in the vested interests of powerful migrant lobby groups, especially those from the Jewish community.
Le has cynically proven what every false patriot has known all along: that Australians are so confused as to their identity that all that is needed to win their support is to drape yourself in the national colours and you’re all right. Dai Le is Vietnamese, pure and simple. She is not Australian. She wants a “diverse” Australia, meaning that the country she arrived in during the mid-1970s wasn’t acceptable. It remains “too white” to this day. ■