Racism is a die hard issue in Australia. While the racism against Indians across the country over the last two years has yet to show any sign of winging down, the new opposition leader Tony Abbott begin the 2010 election year with Howard’s style racism on the issue of Immigration.
In his Australia Day speech, Tony Abbott urged minority leaders to “respect mainstream Australian values.” He stressed that “the great prize of Australian citizenship is insufficiently appreciated and given away too lightly”. The impression I had with the tone and content of Tony Abbott speech are as follows:
1) Australia is doing a favour to migrants by giving them the “Great Prize” of the citizenship lightly;
2) Minority Migrants are not appreciative of Australia citizenship;
3) Minority Migrants fail to respect “Mainstream Australian values”;
4) Minority Migrants has not done the right thing to Australia.
It puzzle me that throughout Tony Abbott speech, he failed to explain unambiguously the meaning of “mainstream Australians” and “Australian Values”.
Are you “Mainstream” Australian?
Our First Australians (Indigenous peoples) called Australia Day (26 January) an “invasion day” and would like to “change the date of Australia Day to a date that includes all Australians,” this request has been rejected by Prime Minster Rudd in 2009 ( Northern News, 25 Jan 2009). The question here is, is the term “Mainstream Australians” includes our First Australians? If not, what is “Australian values”? Who represent “Mainstream Australians”? - Our First Australians or Prime Minister Rudd?
The reality is, all human being regardless of race, language, tradition or religion are individual with their own mind and values. Each of these values and beliefs are to be respected and accommodated in order to create a harmonise society. That is, people need to learn to agree to disagree!
Even members of the same family could have different opinions, beliefs and values in regards to the same subject matter. For example, contrary to Prime Minister Rudd 2009 position on the issue of Australia Day and racism in Australia, his nephew, Van Rudd marks this year (26 January) 'Invasion Day' with anti-racism protest. So, who represent “Mainstream Australians”? Our Prime Minister or his nephew?
According to a recent survey, most Australians believe that “high-income earners do not pay enough tax, and nearly all think low- and middle-income earners pay too much”. A quick search on the Internet will provide us numerous examples of rich people spending big money on accountants and legal experts to fight the Australian Tax Office in order to minimise their tax obligation to Australia. Just to name two examples:
(2) Our famous “Crocodile Dundee” actor Paul Hogan: Paul Hogan loses bid to stop ATO examining US bank accounts and Paul Hogan on Nine Network Sixty Minutes, paid his ATO tax.
So, do these rich people represent “Mainstream Australians”, do their effort to minimise their tax obligation to Australia represent “Australian values”?
Australia has no value - the term “Mainstream Australians” is simply another form of racism
Like any human society, Australians as individuals have a variety of views and values on a variety of issues. For examples:
There are people who passionately want to retain the British’s Queen as our Queen (we called them Monarchists), there are also people who passionately want Australia to become a Republic to reflect the reality that modern Australia is made up of migrants from all over the world; In term of religions, there are believers (Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Christians, etc) and non-believers (Atheists, etc); Even among the Christian populations, there are history of conflict between Catholic and Protestants; Politically, there are right wing, left wing; there are pro-gay and anti-gay; there are pro-abortion and anti-abortion; there are criminal and police; there are very wealthy people and homeless; there are emigration and immigration; there are ruling party and opposition party; the list of contradiction within the populations is simply too lengthy to be listed.
It is like the Chinese philosophy of “Ying and Yang”, only through mutual respect and inclusion where harmony could be achieved.
Therefore, the term “mainstream” Australians is simply another form of racism representing a section of the population trying to control and assimilate all others. It is divisive and meaningless as I believe that, no body could possibly provide a flawless definition on the term “mainstream Australians”.
Migration to and from Australia is a two way traffics
The movement of people across the world is an ancient issue not exclusively Australia. There are many reasons for people to move from places to places within a country or from countries to countries. People move around for all kind of reasons. For examples,
Escape from wars such the displacement caused by the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003; Escape from prosecution such as the Nazi Holocaust; Escape from natural disaster such as Earth Quake (Haiti), Tsunami (Samoa), flood (Katrina in America), famine, the spread of disease and so on.
There are also migration against one will, for examples, the First fleet to Australia and the African slavery during the colonial era.
People also move from country to country for economic reasons (career and business opportunities); family reasons (following the new career posting of a love one and marriage); personal reasons (education, the love for travel, the love for certain culture or living environment, weather condition or humanitarian effort, etc).
According to the ABS (latest update: 7 April 2006), under the heading: Population Growth: Leaving Australia, states that: “Over the past five years, the number of Australian-born people leaving Australia permanently has doubled.”, “interest in emigration has shifted to its impact on the composition of the workforce. The recent higher levels of emigration are causing concern that skill shortages are being created or exacerbated in some fields.”
In fact, the number of Australian leaving Australia permanently each year is by the ten of thousands for a variety of reasons. According to ABS, “for Australian-born persons, emigration is more likely to be a result of increasing internationalisation of labour markets and increasing global demand for skilled workers. In contrast, overseas-born emigrants often leave permanently to return to their former country of birth because of feelings of homesickness or insecurity. Older emigrants often depart after they retire from the workforce, while widowhood and divorce can also motivate departures among the overseas born.”
Therefore, the issue of immigration and emigration is a two way traffics. We should use a normal heart to respect the desire of a fellow human being to seek a better life elsewhere through migration in the form of employment, marriage or refugee.
The shifting of wealth and economic power from West to East in the 21st Century
If history is of any indication, the rise and fall of a civilisation is an inevitable process. The Roman Empire did not last forever; the Crusader was unable to hold on to Jerusalem; Spain was unable to prevent the rise of Britain; and Britain was unable to prevent the independent and rise of America. The 2008 Wall Street Financial Tsunami resulted in the decline in the number of migrants from Mexico to USA (New York Times, 14 May 2009).
21st Century may be a century shifting away from the West, the following news headlines may provide some insight into the trend of the new world order within the next few decades:
The attractiveness of Western countries in the form of wages, social welfare, political stability may also be in the process of declining in the 21st century if the western politicians unable to manage the current crisis effectively. For examples:
10) Breadline USA: Why People Are Going Hungry in the Land of Plenty (Alternet, 4 July 2009)
Australia is also facing a series of new and accumulated problem throughout the country in the 21st century (For examples, the currently hotly debated issue of aging population; the record level of national and individual debts; the lack of hospital funding; years of water mismanagement with dying rivers; Global warming with disastrous weather pattern such as the threat of flood, bush fire, sand storm; the threat to the survival of the Great Barrier Reef and a series of social imbalance in the form of the number of homeless and housing affordability etc. All these required finance, technology and human resources to overcome. Can Australia cope with these challenges with on-going racism against migrants (an important contributor to the economy) fuelled by politicians?
Australia may be a lucky country due to its natural resources, and was blessed by the wave of China economic dynamic and strong demand for its resources (Iron Ore, natural gas etc) over the last decade, if our politicians continue to stir racism against migrants and countries in the Asia Pacific region, the middle east and Africa, I am afraid, Australia will eventually pay the price from the racism and political myopia of its right wing politicians. The recent drastic reduction of Indian student enrolment to Australia universities is just an example deserve policy maker attention. (Brisbane Times, 7 Jan 2010 - Indian student numbers plummet).
The reality is, most Western countries including Australia after decades of restless spending will have to cut back their social welfare program in order to cope with the declining economy and rising national debt as a result of their recent borrowing to stimulate their economy. While China, after 30 years of economic reform with accumulated wealth and foundation to push its economy upwards, it is in the process of extending its social welfare program to its citizens. For examples:
5) Education: 700,000 impoverished students receive subsidy (Global Time, 20 Aug 2009)
6) Every Chinese Village To Get Health Clinic (CBS News, 8 April 2009)
7) China plan to resolve 7.47 million low income urban families housing problem within 3 years (Hong Kong media - Ifeng in Chinese language, 2 Jun 2009)
8) From poor areas to poor people: China's evolving poverty reduction agenda (World Bank)
What will Australia born emigrants feel if the new country they called home begin to treat them like Tony Abbott?
The anticipated shift in the economic powerhouse from the West to the East will inevitably results in the increasing flow of migrants from the West to the East for better life style, business and career opportunities in the decades to come. I wonder, what will Australia born emigrants feel if their new country they called home begin to behave like Tony Abbott and former Prime Minister John Howard?
Australia Media love to put migrants on the TV screen each and every year telling the world that Australia is the best country! Australia is not a racist country! Are we?
Let’s respect each other as a fellow human being. We are all equal. Aren’t we!
Written on 1 Feb 2010.
Related articles on Racism in Australia:
Another case of media fuelled racism in Australia
Let’s not deny the evidence that Australia has a problem with racism—General Cosgrove is right….
Evidences of Australia Media Fueling Racism against Minorities
Understand China Care For Australia Understand Developing Countries True Story of Outcast Journalist
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