Hare-brained populism

13 Sep

I worry about Kim Beazley. I wonder sometimes where his brain — and he does have one — is. Take his brilliant idea to “force an Australian values pledge on tourists”, supported in a lukewarm fashion by his own Julia Gillard.

Victorian frontbencher Julia Gillard played down party divisions on the issue, but she failed to offer any enthusiastic endorsement of the opposition leader’s statement.

Mr Beazley’s call was simply an idea and “no more and no less than this”, Ms Gillard said…

Ms Gillard, the opposition’s health spokeswoman, said the idea did little more than build on the concept of being a good neighbour.

“If you and I go to someone else’s home, when we’re in that home we’ll conduct ourselves with respect for the owners and respect for the rules of the home,” she told ABC TV’s Lateline program.

“I think Kim Beazley’s taking that pretty simple concept, which we’d all understand from our neighbourhood and friends, and saying let’s apply it to the way in which we allocate visas for the nation.”

The frontbencher, touted as a future leadership contender, said making a values statement part of visa conditions could hardly be considered onerous.

“It’s just about simple respect, about paying people some courtesy, it’s no more onerous than the way you and I would conduct ourselves if we went to the next door neighbour’s,” Ms Gillard said…

But one can’t help wondering what good it might do, and how on earth it would work in practice. If I were a terrorist I would sign anything to get into the country; wouldn’t you? I sympathise with Jim Belshaw on this:

I was just finishing this update when I heard a news report saying that Opposition Leader Kim Beazley wanted migrants to sign a document expressing support for Australian values as a condition of visa grant. I shuddered. This is one of those things that sound superficially sensible but is in fact an example of the type of response that is starting to frighten me.

Jim has an interesting series there on the history of immigration with reference to Australia and Canada. He cites a reference that points out that “[b]y 2017 more than half of greater Toronto will be non-European.” I have actually been in such an environment for some time, workwise at least, here in Sydney. See these statistics. And even there it is fair to say that core Aussie values thrive.

Which reminds me. I must start the tedious process of updating and checking my English and ESL pages.

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2 responses to “Hare-brained populism

  1. Daniel

    September 13, 2006 at 7:50 pm

    Australia, beneath all the bluster and glitz, is so parochial. Must be the convict beginnings or the geographical isolation or something in the air.

  2. Jim Belshaw

    September 14, 2006 at 12:49 am

    First, Neil, congratulations on the stats. I think it comes from your content.

    Secondly, I have put up the next part of the migration story – Took me bloody hours to write. Daniel might be interested re the parochial issue. To bed.

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