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Pauline Hanson denies ‘Pakistan’ tweet aimed at Mehreen Faruqi was racist

Pauline Hanson has argued in court that a tweet aimed at the Greens deputy leader, Mehreen Faruqi, was not based on her skin colour or ethnic origins.

Faruqi has filed a federal court lawsuit over a September tweet by Hanson, the leader of One Nation, who wrote that she should “pack [her] bags and piss off back to Pakistan”.

The tweet was in response to one sent by Faruqi about the death of Queen Elizabeth II in which she wrote she could not mourn the passing of the leader of a “racist empire built on stolen lives, land and wealth of colonised peoples”.

Faruqi is seeking $150,000 from Hanson in the lawsuit, claiming the tweet breached the Racial Discrimination Act by being insulting, offensive, humiliating and intimidating to herself and those with Pakistani backgrounds.

On Thursday Faruqi’s barrister Jessie Taylor told the court that “piss off back to Pakistan” was a variant on the phrase “go back to where you came from”.

This latter phrase had a “rich and harmful history as a racist epithet”, Taylor told Justice Angus Stewart.

“Its effects are demonstrably harmful, demonstrably racist,” she said.

The tweet insulted and offended not only Faruqi but also people of colour and those from migrant backgrounds, the judge heard.

“As a person who’s white, I find it offensive,” Taylor said.

Hanson’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC said her client denied the tweet was sent based on race, colour, national or ethnic origin.

She sought details of the Greens senator’s case in proper pleadings, saying there was not enough information on how the tweet was allegedly discriminatory or what its effects were on her.

An application could also be made to elevate the case to the high court, Chrysanthou said, given it involved Australia’s implied constitutional freedom of political communication.

“This is not something that has ever been considered by the high court,” the barrister said.

Future arguments about experts proposed to be called by Faruqi were also flagged. Chrysanthou said that if the Greens senator needed someone to give evidence about the allegedly racist epithet then it was not as widely known as she made it out to be.

Faruqi will file her pleadings by 15 June while Hanson will file her response by 27 June. The matter will return to the federal court on 29 June.

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