Australia: Immigration as a Security Threat – The New York Times

Waleed Ali on the increasing shift in Australia:

But the idea of a home affairs minister focused on national security makes sense only if we assume immigration is entirely a security problem. This points to the true ideological import of this newly formed department.

Australia began this century with a Department for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. Back then, the department’s slogan was “Enriching Australia through Migration.” Just over a decade ago it dropped the multiculturalism portfolio entirely, creating instead a Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Now it’s to be rolled into a national security department. Thus, we can chart Australia’s public conception of migration from being a celebrated aspect of its multicultural character to a civic idea whose highest ultimate expression is citizenship to a threat to be managed.

That certainly chimes with Australia’s established rhetoric on asylum seekers, which has dominated public expression of our immigration program. And it might suit the increasingly nationalist belligerence of our age. But it does not suit Mr. Turnbull, a man who until recently was fond of celebrating Australia as “the most successful multicultural society in the world”; a man who only a few weeks ago was declaring that his party was established to be liberal, in contradistinction to conservative.

When the story of the Turnbull government is written, he will have been the prime minister who finally debased immigration in the Australian political imagination. The image last week of the prime minister draped awkwardly in military power will surely accompany that chapter. And those gas masks won’t look much like liberalism. Most likely they won’t look much like success either.

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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