Multiculturalism will only work if all Australians sign up, Coalition’s first policy statement says – ABC News
2017/03/21 Leave a comment
A shift towards more explicit integration messaging, not unlike that occurred under former Minister Kenney starting in 2007:
The Federal Government’s first policy statement on multiculturalism declares it a “success” but says every Australian must sign up to shared values and mutual obligations.
Releasing Multicultural Australia: United, Strong, Successful (Australian Government’s Multicultural Statement) today, Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs Zed Seselja said the Coalition had put its stamp on the “unifying” statement, which is also the first since 2011.
The son of Croatian migrants, Senator Seselja acknowledged there were some people who were “very anti” the idea of multiculturalism but said he believed most Australians supported the policy.
“Overwhelmingly it has been a success and I want to see that continue. But we need to bring the community with us and the way we do that is by reaffirming the fundamental values of our nation,” he told the ABC.
The statement emphasises that Australians are bonded by the “shared values” of respect, freedom and equality and adds the “fundamental rights of every individual” cannot be broken.
It also addresses growing concerns about the threat of global terrorism, and the need for social cohesion, by declaring that every Australian is expected to obey the nation’s laws and support its democratic processes.
“Underpinning a diverse and harmonious Australia is the security of our nation,” the statement says.
Coalition MPs including George Christensen have questioned the benefits of multiculturalism and used the rise of violent extremism overseas to push for greater restrictions on immigration and citizenship.
Labor’s multicultural statement, released by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2011, focused primarily on fairness and inclusion; the Coalition’s version places a stronger emphasis on national security in a time of greater global uncertainty.
The statement promotes the principle of mutual respect and mutual obligations and states the Government “continues denouncing racial hatred and discrimination as incompatible with Australian society”.
But Senator Seselja denied this was at odds with a push within the Coalition to change the contentious section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, saying the latter was a debate about where to draw the line in terms of free speech.
“There is no contradiction whatsoever,” he said.
Multiculturalism was conceived as a policy in Australia in the 1970s, replacing the previous approaches of assimilation and integration.