First, congratulations to Australian Story for an episode about Jake Kovco, Australia’s only military fatality in Iraq, in circumstances that had nothing to do with the Iraq War as such. It served to remind us that when we sound off about this or that we quite often really don’t know what we are talking about.
Second, my paranoia about Media Watch seems to have been unfounded. You may note here that Beverley Farmer herself has put me right.
This brings me to Difference of Opinion which premiered last night. You may watch it for yourselves there if you have enough gigabytes to play with. I had a certain trepidation about the show as it has been cooked up in response to last year’s call for “balance”; in other words it is part of the Howardising of the ABC, and sure enough one of the panel was Professor Helen Hughes from the Centre for Independent (Howardite?) Studies looking and sounding like the kind of formidable grandmother you had better bloody well take notice of. Turns out she is of Central European background herself; I hadn’t realised. The panel also had Dr Ameer Ali, Dr Anita Heiss and Julian Heath (go to the program site for details) and comic relief from cartoonist Warren Brown. Watching it, I realised the ABC has had programs like this before, years ago.
Last night’s topics were: Is racism on the rise in Australia or are we one of the most tolerant nations on earth? Is multiculturalism working or do we need a new approach? How do we define Australian values and are they unique to this country? And the citizenship test — what are its benefits? Well, some very sensible propositions emerged in the course of the show, I have to say. We were, thank God, reminded that this is one of the most successful pluralist societies on earth, and that Australian multiculturalism has been more successful than most. We were reminded that three things have long been at the core of that successful multiculturalism: inclusiveness, acceptance of diversity, and harmony.
We were invited to vote online on the proposition “Should Australia continue to process unauthorised boat arrivals in offshore detention centres?”
This is what you find there so far:
Difference of Opinion may turn out to be a reasonable addition to our current affairs diet. It is certainly less contentious than Michael Duffy’s effort on ABC Radio National.