Migrant bashing, the next Tampa


Bob Gould  at 10:27 am on Saturday, November 4, 2006

Rehosted from Leftwrites

Alan Ramsey in today’s Sydney Morning Herald rounds up the parliamentary debate on the Howard government’s new citizenship laws. It hasn’t had much attention in the media.

Melbourne’s Anna Burke: “The notion of ‘other’ — that we need to be wary of ‘other’ — is whipping up anti-Muslim hysteria and sentiment. I concur with the comments [this week] of the former prime minister Malcolm Fraser, when he said that this is the card the [Howard Government] is going to play at the next election. ‘We have had the asylum-seeker issue [in 2001], we have had the interest rate issue [in 2004], now we have to find a new scare campaign.’ Instead of going with decent policies, [the Government] is going to whip up the notion of ‘other’. I’m surprised that in this debate the parliamentary secretary [Robb] did not slide in that we are going to have an English language test [for citizenship]. That is coming. That will be next year.”

Andrew Robb, for the government, gives the game away:

“The principal reason [for increasing citizenship residency from two years to four years] is to give people more time to understand the Australian way of life. I can assure the house the sole motivation was to do with new arrivals from new and emerging communities. Over 200,000 people in the past 10 years have come from the Middle East and Africa. It is just a fact they need [more time] to get some understanding of what makes Australia tick …”


justaguy November 4, 2006 @ 10:51am  First Yeah, good column that pulls no punches. On the money too I’d say. You can smell the stench of the next election theme already.

Lal D November 4, 2006 @ 11:24am  All self-defeating politics too, since there is nothing more likely to reinforce ethnic-racial-national identity, and resentment, than emphasis on the need to integrate and assimilate. Think Yugoslavia, eg for the historical vengenance of particularisms writ large.

Besides, migrants cohere to their national, etc, groups because of the experience of racism in their new country. As long as their name, skin colour, lineage, accent, etc, belies their ethnic origin, they and their children will experience racism in this country. You can count on it. The Libs policies are beyond irresponsible. They will just ramp out racism in the “lucky country”.


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