Opposition assistant immigration and citizenship spokesman Andrew Giles.
Opposition assistant immigration and citizenship spokesman Andrew Giles.

Racism on the rise in Australia: Labor MP

THE Morrison government has been "missing in action" as racism worsens in Australia, says Labor's multicultural affairs spokesman Andrew Giles.

Mr Giles will use a speech in Sydney to warn against the "creeping normalisation of hate and racism in Australia", and call on the government to back a new national campaign to combat growing xenophobia.

"Australia's government has been missing in action," the federal Labor MP will say on Wednesday.

"Whether it's on Facebook or in the supermarket, whether it's on the football field or on the street, or the disadvantage experienced by our First Peoples - racism persists in Australia."

He will say there had been attacks on people of Asian appearance in Melbourne and Sydney, a spike in attacks on Australian Muslims, and "near-constant denigration" of African-Australians in the media.

Businesses in a predominantly Chinese community in Melbourne's east have seen a 70 per cent drop in business.

"No doubt because of fear and misinformation about the coronavirus," Mr Giles will say.

"The truth is that racism in Australia is on the rise."

Not even parliament was immune, he said, pointing to the support coalition senators gave to One Nation leader Pauline Hanson's "it's okay to be white" motion.

"These actions carry heavy consequences," he says.

"Without doubt racism can take a real and lasting toll on individual lives and communities."

Mr Giles will also point to Daily Telegraph columnist Tim Blair referring to former race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane as "race hustler Tim Sudafednasalspray".

Dr Soutphommasane has continued to remain outspoken on race issues in Australia.

"At first, I thought it was a mistake," Mr Giles will say.

"It was racism, pure and simple."