Multiculturalism here in Australia – a Good read for Migrants.


  • Author Mamun Rahman
  • Published May 21, 2020
  • Word count 914

I’ve just come across a great article written by Chris Bowen MP, it was published earlier this year but is still a good read when discussing multiculturalism here in Australia.

Why Sheridan and the Immigration Minister parted company on road to multiculturalism

By Chris Bowen MP, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

The Weekend Australian, April 16, 2020

On 12 March 1868, a deranged gun man named Henry O’Farrell shot Prince Alfred on Clontarf Beach in Northern Sydney. Presuming the attempted murder to have been motivated by this lunatic’s Catholicism, 20 000 Sydneysiders gathered in an anti-Irish public meeting to denounce Catholics as being papists devoted to undoing the Empire and the Australian way of life.

As ridiculous as this seems to us now, it is a reminder that we cannot allow the actions of extremists (whether sane or not) to colour our view of the vast majority of law abiding, industrious people who come to Australia not to change our values, but because of them.

Each wave of immigrants to Australia has faced questions about whether they can fit in to the Australian way of life. Sometimes these concerns have centred around the religion of our migrants and links to extremism.

In his piece ‘How I lost faith in multiculturalism’ (Weekend Australian, 2 April 2020), Greg Sheridan calls on his experience of the Sydney suburb of Belmore to inform his thoughtful and passionate criticism of multiculturalism.

I too have called on my experiences in Fairfield – a suburb not too far from Belmore – to inform my equally passionate defence of the respect for migrant cultures, which is engendered in multiculturalism.

For me, there is nothing in my experience of growing up in and representing Fairfield, or my experience as Minister for Immigration, which has led me diverge from my support from multiculturalism. In 1996, Greg Sheridan and I both supported multiculturalism. His views have changed, mine have not.

In 1996, Greg wrote: ‘There is nothing in multiculturalism that could cause any worry to any normal person. Multiculturalism officially promoted an overriding loyalty to Australia, respect for other people’s rights and Australian law, recognition of people’s cultural origins, respect for diversity, the need to make maximum economic use of the skills people bring to Australia and equity in access to government services.‘

The point Greg made in 1996 is essentially the same point I made in my Sydney Institute speech in February, which he then used the pages of The Australian to rebut. The best way to engender commitment to the traditional Australian values of democracy, freedom and sexual equality is, in turn, to respect the cultures of our immigrants wherever they do not conflict with these values.

My essential argument is this: If you are to have a large and diverse immigration policy (which we both support), then you have a choice. Do you respect, embrace and welcome the cultures of those you have invited to make Australia home, or do you shun them?

Do you seek to invite full participation in Australian society of those who come here, or do you treat them as guest workers and hope they integrate, while all along suspecting they won’t.

Greg is correct to be concerned about the development of Islamic separatism and adversarial culture. But rejecting multiculturalism and going down the French and German road is no way of encouraging greater integration into Australian society.

The main factor that caused Greg to walk away from his long held belief in multiculturalism is his experience of Belmore, Lakemba and Punchbowl. He was rightly concerned about the adversarial nature of (presumably) Muslim youths at the railway station and the lack of academic performance at the local high school. He notes that the Catholic high school had no Muslim students, and it was an excellent school.

Could I be presumptuous enough to suggest a return to the local area and a visit to Punchbowl High School? Here, the Principal is Jihad Dib. Mr Dib is an Australian of Islamic faith. His brother, Bill is the Asia Pacific Featherweight Boxing Champion. Another brother, Nasser, is a highly decorated policeman, while their brother Yusseff is completing a journalism degree at Notre Dame University.

At Mr Dib’s Punchbowl High School, the NAPLAN results show an academic improvement between years 7 and 9, which rates highly compared to other schools throughout the state. In 2010 over 30 per cent of Punchbowl High’s students entered tertiary education, a rate that compares respectably with other high schools with similar socio-economic demographics. There are very few incidents between students and around 40 parents turn up for each P&C meeting, a record many schools would envy.

Likewise, a visit to Cabramatta High School, just outside my electorate, will show you a school heavily dominated by students with a non-English speaking background but with some of the best maths and science results in the state.

I hazard a guess that none of the Dib brothers would agree that their religion has encouraged anti-social behaviour or aggression. Aggression by boys at a railway station is unacceptable. Just as verbal or physical attacks on women who choose to wear the burkah are unacceptable. The boys who were aggressive at Belmore station do not find their actions condoned or encouraged by multiculturalism.

I’m not suggesting that relations between immigrant groups and the Anglo-Celtic population (and those between different ethnic groups) are always entirely harmonious. But I do argue that the Australian version of multiculturalism gives us the best chance of being an open, tolerant, harmonious and prosperous nation

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