altering our way of life...
Australia has a proud history of welcoming migrants to our shores, where they have enriched our society. Where's the political party that celebrates this rather than punishes new arrivals? Richard Hughes writes.
Like many people, I am appalled at refugee policy on both sides of politics.
The last Commonwealth election was, in part, about competitive cruelty to seagoing coloureds. The previous government had reintroduced offshore processing and re-opened the Pacific hells so redolent of Papillon.
Their successors, possessed perhaps of steelier nerves though no greater morality, have since delivered new horrors including an absolute silence on the fate of the unfortunates daring to flee here.
The last week may well have seen Australia knowingly return hundreds of people to their torturers for further abuse, rape and murder. But there is no official confirmation. The boat never existed. The people never existed. The Indian Ocean has become an oubliette.
There's a piece missing here: why has no political party articulated a real policy about refugees? A policy that is humane, socially and economically acceptable, and fully thought through.
Partisans on either side will point to their existing platforms, but I mean something a little bigger. Much as we laughed when the mining barons wanted a low-wage, migrant-powered workforce in the north, there was a glimmer there. Somebody was thinking about the big picture.
Consider this: between 1949 and 1970, Australia received more than 350,000 Italians and 180,000 Greeks. There were also 213,000 Germans, 95,000 Yugoslavs and 17,000 Spaniards, among others. That's more than 850,000 non-Anglos, more than half of whom had been our enemies a few years before.
Society, I am told, did not collapse. Foreign values and religious sects did not overrun the country. And yes, many of those southern Europeans tended to have large families, and create ethnic enclaves, and retain their languages and customs. And still society did not collapse. Even though most of those people were what is now called economic migrants.
They sought better lives in a new place. Apparently, that was nothing to be ashamed of in those days.
There is a view shared by about 65 per cent of the population and both sides of the government that most of the migration from the Middle East is presently 'retrograde". That is not bringing any pluses but division into the general community, by bringing in strong religious beliefs that are hard to melt down or be accepted by the general population. These religious practices are also in conflict with the general laws of the land... This is why premise such as "the concept of honour killing" was even too dangerous to be contemplated at the festival of dangerous ideas. This is why ASIO is keeping an eye on "Australian" fighting as 'rebels" in conflicts such as Syria and Iraq.
There is more to social constructs than Vietnamese bread rolls and Italian spaghetti.