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ANTHONY PUN: Tribute to the late Hon Bob Hawke, AC

On 16 May 2019, the nation mourns the loss of a great Prime Minister the Hon Bob Hawk, AC. The Chinese Australian community also felt the sad loss of a great humanitarian benefactor who almost single handedly, made a decision to allow 42,000 Chinese students to remain in Australia, despite stiff opposition from his colleagues. Beneficiaries of his legacy and magnanimous gesture should bow their head in silence for a minute to pay respect to the great Australian statesman and Prime Minister, Bob Hawke.

The Chinese Australian community is saddened by the death of an eminent Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Robert James Lee HAWKE (Bob Hawke) and immediately put out a media comment in the SMH to express our sentiment:”

The CCCA’s Vale to Bob Hawke appeared in the SMH blog on 16 May 2019 as follows:

Vale to Bob Hawke. It is a sad moment for our nation to lose a great Labor PM at this critical moment in history. Bob is known for his warm personality and always greets you with his hand on your shoulders and most importantly, he remembers your name. From ACTU to one of the best Prime Ministers, was a great achievement.   The Chinese Community Council of Australia acknowledge his magnanimous gesture together with Nick Bolkus (Immigration Minister), in allowing thousands of Chinese students to remain in Australia in the 1990s. The 1.2 million Chinese Australian community will mourn the loss of a great friend and benefactor and will remember forever the deed of this kind-hearted statesman. Our condolence to the family and may he Rest in Peace.

Bob was a very down to earth person and he would give sound advice. In the late 1980s, when I showed him my business card, he responded ‘You should print your card using “Tony” instead of “Anthony” as most people know you as Tony‘. On reflection, he must have said that he uses “Bob” instead of Robert.

At the time of the Tiananmen Square incident, I was the Hon Secretary of the Australian Chinese Community Association (ACCA) and became the President for 3 years (1989-1992).  I took a strong interest in the matter, particularly, the TV media interviews that followed.

It is notable that the tears shed by PM Bob Hawke at a memorial service at Parliament House would be the trigger to prepare a plan to allow the Chinese students to stay. At that time, Australia had been “wrestling with refugee issues since the end of the Vietnam War and its impact on immigration”.

It was Hawke’s tears that paved the way for a new sympathy for refugees on human rights principles.

The then Immigration Minister Robert Ray told Cabinet that the influx of the 16,500 refugees would “blow the allocation intake of 14,000 places to pieces”, and he also referred to the objections by the Kurds, Afghans and Lebanese. This problem was solved with the help of a resolution passed by the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council with a proposal from ECC NSW (under the Chair of Angela Chan), that FECCA had no objection to grant refugee status to Chinese nationals. The argument was that every community will have an opportunity to put their case, but the urgency of the Chinese students makes it the “first cab off the rank”.

Declassified cabinet papers revealed that in 1988-89, Bob Hawke acted alone in offering asylum to Chinese students. Then Australian PM did not consult cabinet before making a tearful promise to allow Chinese students to stay after the Tiananmen Square incident.

The Chinese Australian community will always remember the kind words of this great Prime Minister who said “I have deep love for the Chinese people. I had no consultation with anyone and when I walked off the dais [after the announcement], I was told: ‘You cannot do that, prime minister.’ I said to them, ‘I just did. It is done.’ ”

The 1988-89 cabinet documents, released by the National Archives, showed substantial resistance to the decision by several government departments, including Immigration, the Treasury and Finance. Departments warned of negative consequences for the budget, the migration program and the labour market.

There was also strong opposition coming from a heated debate about the rate of Asian immigration, fuelled by comments by the historian Geoffrey Blainey, the then opposition leader John Howard, and by the FitzGerald report on immigration.

Despite strong opposition, Hawke was courageous and stood strong. The Chinese Australian community will never forget his brave commitment.

Ross Garnaut, a former ambassador to China and former economic adviser to Hawke, told The Guardian Australia the Chinese students had turned out to be an asset to Australia. They are generally seen to have made a very positive contribution, a huge contribution to the arts, academic and business fields.

Garnaut’s observations were spot on as the 42,000 Chinese students have made significant contributions to the development of Australia since 1989.

As an advocate of the Chinese students, together with the Hon Dr Peter Wong, AM (former NSW MLC) and the Hon Henry Tsang OAM (former NSW NMLC), we know what Hawke has done for the Chinese Australian community and we will constantly remind the beneficiaries and their descendants in Australia that a great Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Hawke, whose commitment, dedication and humanity gave the opportunity to 42,000 Chinese students to stay in Australia.

We offer our sincere condolence to the family of the late Bob Hawke and we know he has now joined the ranks of another great Australian, the former Prime Minister, the Hon Gough Whitlam.

Rest in Peace.

Dr Anthony Pun OAM, CCCA National President, Chair (MCCNSW), and former President of ACCA (1989-92), ex Chair (ECC NSW 1997-98 & 2001-2003).

The Multicultural Communities Council of NSW position on Immigration

ANTHONY PUN:  Metamorphosis of the Immigration Department to a fatal progeny?

This article relied on the materials provided by two distinguished former Deputy Secretaries of the Immigration Department, their building of the people’s immigration department and their disappointment of its development over the last 2 decades.  As an active community advocate on Immigration matters, I also have been involved with the department over a period of about 40 years. I too, shared their achievement s and current disappointment.  The merger of Immigration and Customs to DIBP is a mismatch and the incoming government should take a serious view to recast the foundations to a department more sensitive to the peoples’ need.

The Historical Right Turn

The Immigration Department started to turn right starting with the time when the Hon Philip Ruddock was appointed as the Minister of Immigration during the Howard Administration (1990s).  Some of the manifestation of the right pendulum swing were not observable for another 10 years.  It was commonly acknowledged then that Mr Ruddock was extremely knowledgeable in his portfolio on immigration matters and there was a lobby then to request PM Howard to move him into Cabinet.  It did happen later on. 

Despite my frequent “sparring” with Minister Ruddock on radio, TV and print media on immigration policies, I do respect him for keeping his word on certain issues which was important to the community and his manner in the public media, has always been a gentleman.

The current DIBP report card

The merger of the Immigration Department and the Customs was the final trophy on the pedestal for the right.  The current failure of the DIBP were well illustrated in articles (JM P&I) written by two former Deputy Secretaries of the Department, Mr Abul Rizvi and Mr Peter Hughes and their long-term involvement with immigration policies should be respected.  These articles are appreciated by the community in being informative and objective; and include the following:

By Peter Hughes:

·        The Coalition Government’s immigration shambles Part 2: What an incoming Labor government could do.

 

By Abul Rizvi:

·        Is the Immigration and Customs Merger an Irretrievable Disaster?

In one of the articles, Mr Stephen Saunders made the comment that polls indicated that voters did support a lower immigration or population growth.  However, this claim may reflect a reaction to a biased propaganda about the contraindications of sustained migration growth that has gone on for the last 2 decades.  However, another commentator, Mr Michael Rogers wrote “You may come to the conclusion that somewhere there is a ‘spin doctor’ with a gold certificate of commendation on their mantelpiece.”

The changes in the last 2 decades culminated in almost a “dysfunctional” Immigration Department, not because departmental officers were inept or derelict of their duties, but because its policy and implementation has been shackled by chains or priorities of another department whose runs on a different agenda and philosophy.  In short, it is a mis-match.

Both former Deputy Secretaries painted a picture of a former respectable department going down in flames and I could understand their disappointment after spending half their lives in building up a people’s immigration department. 

The Multicultural Communities Council of NSW position on Immigration:

As Australians, we are interested and concerned about our immigration policies particularly where such policies would move Australia towards better planning and prosperity for our future generations.  Hence, we must not allow the governments to dictate how immigration should be managed but prefer our government to accept community views and co-op them as partners in determining the nation’s future in immigration.

On this note, we maintain, after the census stats for the 2016, that “Multicultural” is now part of “Mainstream” and inseparable.  Hence, we have a right to have a say in immigration matters.

There are specific issues worthwhile reforming or reviewed (listed below) so that the nation can come up with an immigration policy supported by the majority of Australians.  As the articles and comments imply, there are areas worth getting the attention of the politicians because most of these issues can be “election” issues:

  • English language testing for Citizenship tests can be viewed as discriminatory and can create an “underclass” of permanent residence.
  • There may be miscalculations on the present government’s part in reducing immigration numbers. This can lead to loss of funding for social welfare programs including Medicare, Pensions and other needy programs.
  • Parents visa are a problem because of capping and contributions.  Poorer Australians are disadvantaged and can cause hardship in the families.
  • Some temporary visas can unintentionally create “an underclass” of workers which are no better off than “modern slavery”.
  • Spouse visas are a problem and regulations put into effect to maintain visa system integrity has the unintended consequences of catching genuine cases in the “net’.
  • The capping and increases in visa fees and AAT appeal fees is getting expensive.
  • Long queues in primary decisions and AAT decision reflect deliberate government policy and create unnecessary on shore applications for asylum status and divert applicants to alternate visas.

On the immigration debate, we urge the government to return active consultation with the community as done during the time when the Immigration Minister was Gerry Hand.

An informed debate without racial politics would put an end to use of immigration as a “bogey man” by far-right politicians playing racial politics and scaring gullible voters into xenophobic fears of Asian take-over for the sake of maintaining power.

Finally, we support a call by Mr Peter Hughes for a Royal Commission as we believe that his call is not an over reach but a necessary tool in our democracy to recast the foundations of the Immigration Department that should be sensitive to the needs of the community and nation; and to seek consultation and debate on genuine evidence based arguments on immigration intake based on long term overall planning of the nation; and not the old ocker make shift solutions followed by “she’ll be right mate!”.

Dr Anthony Pun, OAM writing as a former Immigration Tribunal member, community advocate and commentator on Immigration matters for nearly 40 years. 

MCC NSW Media Comments April 2019

Smh comments 15 April 2019 published

A comment to the SMH (15/4/2019 Story: ‘Our approach is to remove the hard right’: GetUp raises $12 with url shown below:

Getup is not a political party but it contributes well to our democracy in terms of checks and balances in either supporting or campaign against a candidate. As it is has wide membership, more than both major parties, it cannot be ignored as an influential participant in our democracy. I believe that donation from ordinary Australians are just as important as other political donations by unions and businesses. Their social justice policies are sound or otherwise their supporter will vote with their feet. It is no point labeling them as owned by the Labor Party, as they are non-party political. Perhaps if the trend continues, their membership will far exceeds the political parties, then they may consider become the third political party with a bite.

https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/our-approach-is-to-remove-the-hard-right-getup-raises-12m-in-effort-to-oust-conservatives-20190414-p51e3c.html

Anthony Pun says: comment on Abul Rizvi article pulished

20 April 2019 at 5:29 PM

A comment on “Exploitation of low skilled immigrants” published in the article on 20April2019 with url shown below:

Successive attempts to put skilled worker stream into regional area have not worked well because there is a lack of infrastructure to hold these new immigrants in the regional area. Once they satisfy their settlement period in the bush, they packed up moved to the city.
As Abul Rizvi correctly pointed out the bottom category of unskilled immigrants is akin to “indentured labour” (of the British Colonial Empire) and just slight better than modern day “slavery”. The restriction imposed on this group, ie. lack of permanent residency prospective and the inaccessibility of social welfare benefits were unthinking some decades ago where there was adequate union protection for unfair work conditions and a sense of social justice for workers.
There has been some very bad publicity for 457 temporary visas being exploited by employers. Despite the statement of 12/3/2019 by DHA “All workers in Australia have the same rights and protections at work regardless of citizenship or visa status”, some unscrupulous employers will always find a way around it.
The result of a “seven-day wonder” temporary visa category will be an increase of “unlawful” immigrant in Australian cities and they will be subjected to further exploitation, just like the “undocumented” immigrants in the US. Is this a breach of human rights?
Whilst overseas visitors with approved working holiday visas can do seasonal farm work, other regional professions are not easily filled. Unless Australian government has a long-term plan for regional immigration together with a will to spend money on infrastructure, it will not attract the right immigrants.
The “bandage” solution creates the low skilled visa category with no protection from exploitation and safety net protection on health, is a recipe for disaster and create an adverse international reputation that Australia is nation that exploits overseas workers.

https://johnmenadue.com/abul-rizvi-new-regional-visas-a-recipe-for-exploitation-and-destitution/?fbclid=IwAR3US5Ejcl0BkPEmF5BacswEMO_JgHY4gJPrKLRNfco61rwmlBC7BFlU6BY

Comment JM 21 April 2019

A comment on “Morrison and Dutton lost control of border” published on the journal with url shown below:

Abul Rizvi should be thanked for showing us some immigration data not easily available in the net.  This article is consistent with his previous article which concluded that Australia is creating an underclass of immigrants, who are basically “unlawful” and easily exploited by unscrupulous employers. This underclass is very similar to those “ethnic underclass” frequently mentioned by the “ethnic community leaders” of the 1990s and a source of creation of “ethnic ghettos” and these statements were fondly made by the late Bill Jegarow, the founding Chair of ECC NSW and FECCA.

In his second article, Rizvi attribute the cause of backlog to loss of control of our borders (visa systems) by PM Morrison and Dutton; and with Dutton claiming that the backlog is due to greater scrutiny.

The presentation of the number of cases using back door techniques to stay after arriving in Australia, featured well with people from Malaysia, China and India (all Asians).  In the absence of other nationalities, one could easily perceive that there is another explanation for “greater scrutiny”, ie. the criteria for a class of visa could have a higher indirect discriminatory content and the English proficiency criteria is a good example. 

Asylum seekers also qualify for the “greater scrutiny” and public debate led by political leaders with an alt right agenda, has already placed enough fear in ordinary Australians about the suitability of these people to settle in Australia.

Rizvi’s conclusion is spot on however, it did leave out an important highlight, that “greater scrutiny” means higher indirect discrimination.  Dutton has not loss control of the borders but has made it harder to these people to get regularised.  Cynically, we need some cheap labour and let them suffer a few more years before we allow them to stay!  This reminds me of the Chinese student days (1990s) when the Hawke government finally gave them residence after having been in limbo for several years.

Another discriminatory action by the present government regarding the introduction of the English test at University level, for Citizenship applications has resulted over 230,000 Australian citizenship applications held in limbo and wait time exceed two years.  This action has created a “second class” citizenship category for these applicants.  This statement was made by me during a SBS TV interview together with GetUp last year.

Finally, when a person is locked in by immigration regulations, he/she has a right to seek lawful alternatives to overcome those “chains”.  The response by the applicant should not be consider crafty or improper simply because they

are reacting to a set of rules.  Do not cure the symptoms, go and fix the primary cause.

Letter to elicia 7 April 2019 acknowledged

Complementary medicine crackdown by Medical Board has doctors fearing natural therapies ban

A letter in response to Elicia Kennedy’s article on the ABC news “Complementary nmedicine crackown by Medical Board has doctors fearing natural therapies ban,” (see url below)

7 April 2019

Dear Elicia,

My first impression on reading your article was this: the MBA intends to curb my fundamental rights in choosing whatever treatment I prefer by removing or preventing me from getting the complementary medicine I require.  On this issue, the consumer will not submit to such draconian measures made in the name of patient safety.

The discussion of this proposal by MBA should divided into two parts, the legalistic part which could infringing my fundamental rights (could be human rights) to choose and the merits part, which describes the controversy involving the efficacy and safety of complementary medicine and alternate medicine (CAM).

The ban on doctors practicing CAM is an indirection violation of my fundamental rights to choose my treatment.

I also understand the global conflict between Big Pharma and the CAM practitioners.  This conflict has been narrowed down to “profits” and the constant bashing of CAM based on insufficient evidence is revealing. 

More clinical studies and medical publications are emerging from China and the US are giving evidence-based credibility to CAM.

Yes, there are anecdotal cases of death caused by CAM, and also death caused by quacks, witch doctors, etc., but these deaths are in small numbers compared those caused by conventional medicine.

For example, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an wholistic approach to health and it is not voodoo but emerging as a re-discovery of its biological efficacy with evidence-based research.  In time, both convention medicine and TCM will merge as scholarly research reveals more of its secrets.

It is not surprising that the Chinese civilization is continuous for 5,000 years and their health system based on TCM, with recorded experience in the Imperial Medical Corp of every dynasty, must have rendered adequate protection to maintain a continuous increase in the population and their use in countless military campaigns within China.

If we allow the banning of western trained doctors to use CAM then the ban should equally applied to all registered practitioners of TCM in Australia.  This unthinkable ban is not only unfair to the practitioners but would completely deny any choices by the patients.

Hence, I would make a plea to you, on behalf of the community to join us to opposing such moves by the MBA.

Yours sincerely,

Anthony Pun, OAM

Chair, Multicultural Communities Council of NSW

National President of the Chinese Community Council of Australia

President, the Australian Health Reform Association

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-06/medical-board-considering-complementary-medicines-crackdown/10972770?fbclid=IwAR3c1IoGpbTYN16yF2ogw6AYLG4XZ8UCg_UvWmqgON1csyLXnfl4Ykziyhk&amp%3Bpfmredir=sm

and finally, the Anzac Day Article’

What does Anzac Day mean to Asian Australians.

https://www.quora.com/What-does-Anzac-Day-mean-to-Asian-Australians/answer/Anthony-Pun

MCC NSW – Media Release on NZ Terrorist Attack

Multicultural Communities Council of NSW Inc. National Sikh Council of Australia Inc. Chinese Community Conicity of Australia Inc. MCC NSW – Media Release on NZ Terrorist Attack

16 March 2019

Today the world is shocked once more with mass shooting in two Christchurch mosques. leaving a total of 49 dead at the Deans Avenue mosque and Linwood Avenue mosque, and 20 injured in hospital including children. New Zealand PM Ardern described it as a terrorist attack. The MCC NSW, NSCA and CCCA, wish to commend our leaders, PM Morrison for not mincing words when he described today’s attack as a “vicious murderous” act of “right-wing” terror; and our Opposition Leader Shorten who described it as a “senseless act of evil” We wish to stand in solidarity with our fellow Commonwealth citizens in Christchurch and offer our condolence and sympathies to the Muslim families of the victims. We pray that those who are injured in hospital and particularly, the children, will make a quick recovery, not only their physical injuries but their minds and spirits. The statement of Queensland Senator Fraser Anning that “the attack highlighted the “growing fear over an increasing Muslim presence” in Australia and NZ communities is only adding fuel to the fire. Our response is that Senator Anning is denting Australian’s international reputation with his callous views; and damaging community harmony in our multicultural society and incitement to violence. His statement could be perceived as “it is OK to do it” We urge our political leaders to institute strategies to prevent future fatal terrorist acts by strengthening legislation against racial vilification, hatred and violence; and particularly the spread of extreme hate statements and radical views on social media. Authorised by: Dr Anthony Pun OAM, Chair, MCC NSW & National President, CCCA. Mr Ajmer Singh Gill, National President, NSCA.

A summary of media comments on the NZ massacre

REPORTED MEDIA COMMENTS
A summary of media comments on the NZ massacre.
Terrorism should be condemned in the strongest terms regardless of the religious background of the perpetrator. The NZ massacre should be a lesson for all of us that we need (i) to live in peace and harmony, (ii) political leadership in clamping down of hate speech and (iii)spending some resources in education that promotes community harmony. On the last point, some of the money spent on community grants for safety should be diverted to education.

Congratulations to both leader PM Morrison and Opposition Leader Shorten in giving leadership against hate speech. Mr Shorten’s statements are particularly sharp and precise and calling the spade a spade. A successful joint Party censure on Senator Anning would be a good way of recovering our international reputation as a fair and just society as well as retaining public confidence that the government will contain hate speech. In view of our strong leadership statements, should the government revisit the case of Yiannopoulos and cancel his visa?

https://www.quora.com/An-Australian-senator-h…/…/Anthony-Pun

PREMIERS HARMONY DAY DINNER 28 February 2019

Attended the Premiers Harmony Day Dinner as a Guest of Cultural Verse, Melbourne. The Dinner was attended by 1500 participants is the probably the largest Premier’s Harmony Dinner so far. Met with some old friends from ECC NSW (they have 4 tables) and Raymond Arraj & his wife Lena. I was the last one to have a picture with the Premier Glady Berejiklian and the Hon Ray Williams and both acknowledged that I am No1 trouble maker (in jest). Also met up with Stephan Kerkyasharian AO at function. I wish to thank Mr Loc Trinh from CulturalVerse (Melbourne) for inviting me to dinner as their guest.

Left to Right: The Hon Ray Williams MP, Dr Tony Pun OAM, and Premier Gladys Berejiklian MP

ACRI talk on Human Rights in China Jocelyn Chey

8 March 2019 Spy features genuine spy equipment, surveillance images and candid interviews with ASIO officers. Visitors can play the part of a secret agent in the interactive family trail and test their skills at codebreaking and reading invisible ink. Using objects from the National Archives of Australia, ASIO and other security organisations, Spy brings the stories of spies out of the shadows and into the light. (Whitlam Institute)

The main topic was the discussion of Prof. Jocelyn Chey’s article on Human Rights and China. 

Mr Mark Franklin, MCC NSW Director was also present at the Seminar.

Is there a problem with Australia’s approach to human rights in the PRC?

Left to Right:  Prof James Laurenceson (ACRI Acting Head)  Shirleyy Huang (rep-CCCA) the Hon Philip Ruddock (ACRI Board), Prof Joceyln Chey, Richard Broinowski (Former Australian Diplomat & now AIIA). and Dr Tony Pun OAM.

Human rights in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are under increased threat. The PRC government ignores international representations. This begs the question: should Australia even attempt to intervene? What do we risk by doing so? The easy course would be to do the minimum and restrict our representations to cases where Australian citizens and interests are directly involved. This author argues that Australia’s approach to human rights should be recalibrated. Despite possible repercussions for other aspects of our vital bilateral relationship, Australia should take a stand and declare to the PRC and other countries that the ideals of human rights are central to our cultural identity. If one takes a longer historical perspective, it is not unreasonable to hope that this and other recommended actions may ultimately contribute to Beijing’s rights policies being modified.

For details of the paper see:

http://chinamatters.org.au/policy-brief/policy-brief-february-2019/ and

https://johnmenadue.com/jocelyn-chey-what-to-do-about-human-rights-in-china/

Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme

The Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme commenced on 10 December 2018. Its purpose is to provide the public and government decision-makers with visibility of the nature, level and extent of foreign influence on Australia’s government and political process.

The scheme introduces registration obligations for persons and entities who have arrangements with, and undertake certain activities on behalf of, foreign principals. Whether a person or entity is required to register will depend on who the foreign principal is, the nature of the activities undertaken, the purpose for which the activities are undertaken, and in some cases, whether the person has held a senior public position in Australia.

A range of guidance materials to assist potential registrants to understand their obligations under the scheme is available on the Resources page.

To register, please go to the Registration portal.

Scheme summary

When the scheme commences, registrants will be required to disclose information about the nature of their relationship with the foreign principal, and the activities they are undertaking on behalf of the foreign principal. 
A foreign principal includes:

  • a foreign government
  • a foreign political organisation
  • a foreign government related entity
  • a foreign government related individual.

Categories of registrable activities include:

  • parliamentary lobbying on behalf of a foreign government
  • parliamentary lobbying on behalf of other kinds of foreign principals for the purpose of political or governmental influence
  • general political lobbying for the purpose of political or governmental influence
  • communications activities for the purpose of political or government influence
  • disbursement activities for the purpose of political or governmental influence
  • employment or activities of former Cabinet ministers
  • employment or activities of recent designated position holders in the 15 year period immediately following their public role.

The scheme also:

  • establishes exemptions, including for diplomatic and consular activities, activities related to the provision of legal advice or representation, religious activities, activities of registered charities, activities related to the arts, and activities for the purpose of providing humanitarian aid
  • establishes transparency notices, which may be issued if the Secretary is satisfied that a person is a foreign government related entity, or a foreign government related individual
  • contains criminal offences ranging from failing to comply with obligations under the scheme, through to failing to register in circumstances where a person is required to do so. ​​​​​​​​​​

Multiculturalism Part 3 – Contemporary support of multiculturalism.

Former PM Turnbull is a strong advocate of multiculturalism, but his successor PM Morrison appears to waver on his commitment to multiculturalism as shown by the inconsistency of his words on the subject.  We prefer a PM with a consistent view, whether it is supportive or not; at least we could learn how to have a meaningful dialogue with him or persuade him to our views.  The Multicultural Communities Council of NSW (MCCNSW) has examined the public reports on the subject in the media and determined that a rise in opposition to multiculturalism has increased and can be attributed to the rise of the right.  However, statistical facts from the Scanlon Foundation and ABS show that the vast majority of Australians still support multiculturalism.  Apparently, in the present political climate, the opposition to multiculturalism do not attract multicultural votes. 

Among Liberal prime ministers, the late PM Malcolm Fraser was a strong supporter of multiculturalism.  Conservative hostility emerged in the 1980s spearheaded by Prof Geoffrey Blainey who raised the controversy on Asian immigration and regarded it as leading to a “nation of tribes”. PM Howard then held similar views, had difficulty pronouncing the “M” word (multiculturalism) and believed that Australian culture is singular.

In the last ten years, Australia has had six Prime Ministers and five in the last five years.  Among the Liberal PMs (Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison) Turnbull turned out to be the most supportive of multiculturalism. In his valedictory speech, Turnbull warned against the rising tide of populist anti-immigration political rhetoric emanating from his own party and said: “We are the most successful multicultural society in the world, and I have always defended that and advanced that as our greatest asset.  We must never allow the politics of race or division or of setting Australians against each other to become part of our political culture.”

The same report however showed that the current PM, Morrison, is not so keen on multiculturalism:

“Not everyone is a fan of multiculturalism. That includes the current Prime Minister. At least, that’s one conclusion you can draw from his aversion to the word. This week, Scott Morrison announced that local councils would be compelled to hold citizenship ceremonies on January 26. Australia Day should be reserved for conferring citizenship to migrants, given that “Australia is the most successful migrant country on earth”.

A previous report contradicts the above.  In a speech in the presence of the Indian PM on the unveiling of a Gandhi statue in Parramatta, PM Morrison described Australia as a great multicultural story.  He said “We’re a people of great diversity, of acceptance.  We believe that if you have a go, you’ll get a go.”  These reports create confusion and doubt about whether the PM is supportive of multiculturalism.  It appears that the PM would say the words to please his crowd of the day.  With the Indian Australian community, he was supportive of multiculturalism but with his own electorate in Sutherland, he had a different view.

We would have preferred a PM to be consistent with his views. For example, despite PM John Howard’s views, the multicultural communities’ leaders were able to have a meaningful dialogue with him in his Canberra office. At least, we knew who we were dealing with.

I remember accompanying the then FECCA Chair A/Prof Abd Malak to see PM John Howard and acceptance of a multicultural representative on the Australian Pharmaceutical Advisory Council under Health Minister Tony Abbott.

Accordingly, the Scanlon Foundation 2017 report confirms that:

  • 80% of Australians reject the notion of selecting immigrants by race,
  • 85% believe multiculturalism is good for this country. “It’s a very strong brand,” says Markus. “You even go to rural areas and get amazing majorities of people who think it’s good for Australia.”
  • 74% reject the idea of selecting immigrants by religion, and
  • 56% of us believe the number of migrants Australia takes each year is either about right or too low.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed a diverse Australia in its Cultural Diversity data summary.  The results of the latest national census reveal we’re a fast changing, ever expanding, culturally diverse nation.  The 2016 Census shows that two thirds (67%) of the Australian population were born in Australia.  Nearly half (49%) of Australians were either born overseas (first generation Australian) or had one or both parents born overseas (second generation Australian).

PM Morrison’s preferred M word is “migrant” and not “multiculturalism”.  Although he claimed that his choice of M word is more inclusive, we have to disagree on the basis of the information provided by the Scanlon Foundation and the ABS which respectively showed that the vast majority support multiculturalism and that Australia does have a diverse population.

Early Chinese settlers in Australia suffered discrimination under Premier Parkes and quoting Parkes is not making a unifying statement;  on the contrary, it is divisive.  Dr Tim Soutphommasane has also made his point on Parkes in his article.

Perhaps PM Morrison’s preferred M word is pandering to the right or, in the Trump world, looking after his support base in the not so diverse Sutherland electorate.  His loyalty to his base is commendable but it will not unite the nation, nor will it get the votes he needs to remain in government as multicultural supporters could vote against his party.

Trump’s loss of control of the US Congress to the Democrats should be an object lesson for PM Morrison not to pander to the right and ignore most Australians who support multiculturalism.

Dr Anthony Pun, OAM, is the current chair of the Multicultural Communities Council of NSW.

Article posted on: http://johnmenadue.com/anthony-pun-multiculturalism-part-3-contemporary-support-of-multiculturalism/

Media Release: A Case for Criminal Prosecution in serious act of Racial Vilification 6 august 2014

Media Release: A Case for Criminal Prosecution in serious act of Racial Vilification

6 august 2014

The MCC NSW is deeply disturbed with the news that a “Ukrainian Catholic church in Western Sydney desecrated with swastika graffiti” as reported by the SMH (21 June 2014). (http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/ukrainian-catholic-church-in-western-sydney-desecrated-with-swastika-graffiti-201Rhw40621-zsheb.html#ixzz39bG8IBAiD).

We concur with NSW Minister Dominello when he said. “To use an international racial dispute to vilify a community in Sydney is abhorrent. The use of swastikas as a means of denigrating and attacking any community in NSW is utterly offensive.”

The MCC NSW has a charter to promote community harmony in order to achieve a strong, cohesive and united Multicultural Australia. Hence, issues of “motherland” politics that cause division in our community is strongly discouraged. In this context, we echo Peter Shmigel of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations, when he said that the act trashed the principals of a multicultural and democratic Australia and added ‘‘There is no room for people like those who attacked our church to import their foreign conflicts to Australia and Sydney, where our community has made a positive contribution for 65 years,’’.

According to the “Racial vilification laws: the Bolt case from a State perspective (Oct2011, NSW Parliamentary Research Service author: Gareth Griffith), only NSW and WA has criminal provisions in their Act.

In WA, The first set of provisions, introduced in 1990, was specifically drafted to address the activities of the Australian Nationalist Movement (ANM), a neo-Nazi organisation led by Jack Van Tongeren. This was a successful prosecution.

The NSW Section 20D, the 1989 amendment also created a criminal offence for inciting hatred, contempt or severe ridicule towards a person or group on the grounds of race by threatening physical harm (towards people or their property) or inciting others to threaten such harm. Prosecution of the offence of serious vilification requires consent from the Attorney-General. An offence has not yet been prosecuted under this law.

The MCC NSW would urge the NSW State Government to consider simplifying procedures which would facilitate the prosecution of serious racial vilification under Section 20D, as a deterrent.

Dr Anthony Pun, OAM, Chair, MCC NSW