National

New Labor MP takes aim at rise of bigotry

By AAP Newswire

A new federal Labor MP has taken aim at the rise of a "sinister element" within Australian politics which says the nation belongs to a core few.

In his first speech to parliament, Macnamara MP Josh Burns said he grew up in former prime minister Bob Hawke's Australia, where pride in the nation was never at the expense of others.

Mr Burns criticised an anti-immigration rally held in St Kilda - within his Melbourne-based electorate - earlier this year, where far-right wing extremists and anti-racism campaigners faced off.

"How can we fight what feels like a rising tide," the Victorian asked the lower house on Monday.

"I believe, as is so often the case, the answer lies with Bob Hawke and his unique brand of patriotism. Taking pride in our nation while continuing to be persistent in our defence against discrimination and ignorance."

Mr Burns, who holds the seat formally known as Melbourne Ports, said his policy inspiration came from his grandparents.

Two of his grandparents escaped the Holocaust, shaping his advocacy for policies to help people find financial security and fight bigotry in "all its forms".

His grandparents have also helped drive his ambition to help ensure a better, fairer future for Australian women, and for "world-class" healthcare.

Mr Burns also paid tribute to his predecessor, veteran Labor MP Michael Danby, who retired from politics at the election.

The new MP began his speech with a message from the traditional owners of his Melbourne electorate, pledging to ensure indigenous Australians achieve constitutional recognition.

His message from the Boon Wurrung people called for a focus on what brings the nation together.

He also called on Australians to learn from the 65,000 years of indigenous connection to land and water.

"It is up to each of us to look after our precious environment and to heed the lessons of sustainability from our planet's first conservationists - Australia's indigenous people," he said.