Tag Archives: citizenship
I have been giving much thought to Jim Belshaw’s post Race and racism in Australia. He is quite right to say that pseudoscientific racism, the kind that was official policy in Nazi Germany and more widely accepted elsewhere in the not too distant past than we now find comfortable to admit, is probably a minority position in Australia. Jim prefers the word “prejudice”, the term “racist” having become a generic term of abuse that shuts down discussion. This is certainly worth considering. I will let Jim explain, but do read all his post:
…By global standards, we live in a remarkably open, pluralist, tolerant, polycultural society. We have transformed ourselves as a country and a people. Yet based on our own reporting of ourselves, an outsider could be forgiven for thinking that this is a place were racial bigotry runs rampant.
Mr Andrews is not known for his ability to handle things in a sensible and tactful fashion. Yet when I look at the facts, the ones who introduced and then followed up the race issue were the media and commentators more broadly. They created the problem.
There are a small number of genuine old style racists in the Australian community who do try to take advantage of this type of event. They did so in Tamworth following the controversy. As happened with Tamworth, they will fail.
Has the gatekeeper turned card dealer? is fair comment in my view.
Andrews’s mishandling of the Sudanese issue, talking up their alleged problems of integration, has been very odd. The politically tempting explanation is that this was a Government effort to play the “race card”. But there’s something unconvincing about that. This election is not 2001. The “race card” would be seen as a cynical tactic; it could lose more votes in middle-class marginals than it might gain in more redneck areas.
Certainly Labor, with its “me too” policy on cutting the African slice of the refugee intake is avoiding leaving itself vulnerable to any wedge politics, although spokesman Tony Burke quickly jumped in to condemn Andrews.
It’s possible Andrews has created a political storm by stirring the race pot without having any deliberate strategy to do so. Some describe him as narrow in focus and very “technical” in his approach. That might explain his failure to couch any negatives within the wider story of these African refugees. In fact, once they get over initial settlement challenges they make very good migrants…
Our experienced government (you know that one, of course) knows what to do with people attempting to flee Burma. Because they didn’t go through channels and choose to rot in one of the overcrowded refugee camps on the Burmese border, but were silly enough to try to come to Australia, you may well ask, “What happened to them?” You guessed it. Nauru:
THE Immigration Department has revived using Nauru Island for its Pacific Solution policy by transferring seven Burmese refugees there.
The seven had been held on Christmas Island, but were moved to Nauru on Sunday, the Immigration Department said yesterday. An eighth Burmese refugee who has been detained on Christmas Island remained behind because he is in hospital, but would be sent to Nauru later, a spokesman said.
“It is longstanding government policy that anyone arriving on an excised place will be sent to Nauru,” he said.
The Burmese group were transferred to Nauru, even though two other asylum seekers, who have been detained longer, were not moved.
The other two asylum seekers, a Palestinian and an East Timorese man were also caught outside Australia’s migration zone. But the spokesman said it had not been “worthwhile” to reopen Nauru for one or two people. The Burmese group would now be denied access to Australia’s legal system as a result of being outside Australia’s jurisdiction, he said.
Members of Burma’s Rohingya ethnic minority, they include one asylum seeker who has told of being jailed for more than a year for opposing his nation’s military junta.
Nauru had agreed to accept them, and had issued them special visas while their refugee claim is processed — either by the department or by the International Organisation for Migration, which runs the Nauru detention camp on behalf of the Australian Government. The spokesman confirmed that the camp’s new occupants would be locked up for the time being. Read the rest of this entry »
NOTE: Updated. I now give the resource book a qualified . Remarks below offer some qualifications, while others, especially about the TEST, still hold.
The singularly unimpressive Kevin Andrews was told how stupid this is over and over again. Go there and download whichever you choose; naturally I recommend (PDF) ATESOL’s contribution on behalf of ESL teachers — I can hardly improve on it. But The Garden Gnome wanted it and Andrews delivered and so the country is stuck with an English test that masquerades as something to do with benchmarks for attaining a successful Australian citizenship.
The Book of Knowledge (in English of course) does not appear to be available online yet*, so I have had to rely on the version presented today in the Sydney Morning Herald: I pledge allegiance to ? the Don. Nothing in there, it would appear, about the Eight Hour Movement or the Harvester Judgement, whose centenary occurs this year, but that is hardly surprising. Meanwhile not one person who represents any kind of threat to the Australian way of life will be deterred by this fatuous yet discriminatory exercise. But the government will seem to be doing something significant, and that is all that matters perhaps.
The Herald does provide these sample questions:
My impatience with this particular piece of gross idiocy has been made plain here often enough. So has my enjoyment of the magazine The Big Issue. Both came together yesterday as I read the new Big Issue (the annual short story number) where I spotted in the “Hearsay” column the following from writer, director, actor, teacher and former Young Australian of the Year Khoa Do.
“In the world I grew up in, a lot of people and their parents struggled to speak English,” he said. “Now they are successful in a whole range of fields. My parents are always learning and always trying. Asking whether people who don’t speak fluent English can contribute to Australia is like asking whether a blind or deaf person can contribute. Of course they can.”
I sourced that to an article by Jonathan Pearlman in the Moruya/Bateman’s Bay News. (Good to see regional papers running such stories, though it was in turn sourced to the Sydney Morning Herald.) Read the rest of this entry »