Multiculturalism will only work if all Australians sign up, Coalition’s first policy statement says – ABC News

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.

Source: Multiculturalism will only work if all Australians sign up, Coalition’s first policy statement says – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Australian Senator proposes a tough new citizenship test | Starts at 60

For those advocating values vetting such as CPC leadership contender Kellie Leitch, this example of an Australian Senator’s idea of what should be asked is revealing.

And perhaps those proposing values vetting might consider what their questions would be, not to mention the broader question is whether this is needed or implementable:

At the moment the citizenship test consists of questions about Australia’s government and justice systems.

But many politicians and other commentators have argued the test is too easy and want it to focus on more people’s ability to integrate into society.

It’s a plan that has been discussed by many politicians including Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and One Nation senator Pauline Hanson, and now Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm is weighing into the debate.

He’s proposing a new citizenship test with questions that focus more on people’s beliefs than their knowledge of Australia.

Senator Leyonhjelm told NewsCorp he believed there needed to be “extreme vetting” of applicants for citizenship.

“It is only citizens who elect our government and determine what kind of society we create,” he said.

“We should therefore only grant citizenship, and the rights that come with it, to those who have contributed to and assimilated into our society, and who share our values.”

He’s provided a list of his questions, which have been published by NewsCorp and they’re getting plenty of attention.

The questions are:

1. Should there be a law banning slavery?

2. Should tax obligations differ depending on a person’s religion?

3. Should there be a law banning female circumcision?

4. Should there be a law banning women from:

– voting?

– being elected to government?

– driving?

– showing her head hair, arms or legs in public?

5. Should there be a law banning a husband from:

– hitting his wife?

– having sex with his wife without the wife’s consent?

6. Should there be a law banning a wife from:

– leaving the home against the wishes of the husband?

– driving against the wishes of the husband?

– showing her head hair, arms or legs in public against the wishes of the husband?

7. Should there be a law banning adults from:

– drinking alcohol?

– gambling?

– having sex with a child?

– having sex outside marriage?

– holding hands or kissing someone of the same sex in public?

– homosexual acts and relationships?

– owning or viewing pornography?

8. Should there be a law banning children being married?

9. Should there be a law banning a person from refusing to marry according to a parent’s instruction?

10. Should there be a law banning divorce?

11. Where a mother and father of a child are not married, should there be a law granting custody to the father?

12. Should there be a law giving preference to men over women regarding the receipt of inheritances?

13. Should there be a law banning the schooling of boys and girls in the same class room?

14. Should there be a law banning:

– the charging of interest on loans?

– people abandoning their religion?

– blasphemy?

15. Should the punishment for killing be reduced if the killer says it was done for family honour?

So, how do you know what the right answers are?

Well, Leyonhjelm provided NewsCorp with those too.

1. Yes

2. No

3. Yes

4. No

5. Yes

6. No

7. No, except for 7(iii) Yes

8. Yes

9. No

10. No

11. No

12. No

13. No

14. No

15. No

Controversially, he is also arguing that only those who pass the test should be given welfare.

But his citizenship test and comments about welfare have been slammed by some.

Australian Council of Social Services CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie told NewsCorp that Senator Leyonhjelm’s proposal would “take us back to 1909”.

“Australia has the most targeted system of income support in the world and there are already strict rules around eligibility for payments,” she said.

“This proposal would take us back to 1909 when people had to show they were of ‘good character’ to get a pension and automatically exclude large numbers of people from social security and throw them into destitution.”

Source: Senator proposes a tough new citizenship test | Starts at 60

U.S., Australia have ‘very strong’ relationship despite reports of tense phone call

A reminder that despite all the preparations and efforts by the Canadian government to meet the Trump challenge, there is a high degree of unpredictability at play, and a real challenge for the first Trump-Trudeau meeting:

Australia’s prime minister said his country’s relationship with the United States remained “very strong” but refused to comment on a newspaper report on Thursday that an angry President Donald Trump cut short their first telephone call as national leaders.

At the heart of the weekend conversation between Trump and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was a deal struck with the Obama administration that would allow mostly Muslim refugees rejected by Australia to be resettled in the United States.

Turnbull declined to comment on reports in The Washington Post that Trump had described the agreement as “the worst deal ever” and accused Turnbull of seeking to export the “next Boston bombers.”

The Boston Bombers refer to Tamerlan and Dhozkar Tsarnaev, U.S. citizens born in Kyrgyzstan, who set off two bombs at the 2013 Boston marathon, killing three and injuring more than 260 people.

Turnbull also would not say whether Trump had abruptly ended the expected hour-long conversation after 25 minutes as the Australian attempted to steer the conversation to other topics.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wouldn’t go into details about his phone call with the U.S. president, only saying ‘I can assure you the relationship is very strong.’ (David Gray/Reuters)

“It’s better that these things — these conversations — are conducted candidly, frankly, privately,” Turnbull told reporters.

Turnbull said the strength of the bilateral relation was evident in that Trump agreed to honour the agreement to resettle refugees from among around 1,600 asylum seekers, most of whom are on island camps on the Pacific nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Australia has refused to accept them and instead pays for them to be housed on the impoverished islands.

“I can assure you the relationship is very strong,” Turnbull said. “The fact we received the assurance that we did, the fact that it was confirmed, the very extensive engagement we have with the new administration underlines the closeness of the alliance. But as Australians know me very well: I stand up for Australia in every forum — public or private.”

Hours after the Washington Post story was published — and after Turnbull’s comments — Trump took to Twitter to slam the deal.

“Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why?” Trump tweeted. “I will study this dumb deal!”

Source: U.S., Australia have ‘very strong’ relationship despite reports of tense phone call – World – CBC News

Aussies Say Yes to Multiculturalism, Marriage Equality But No To Politics | PBA

The key findings of the annual Scanlon Foundation report:

The Mapping Social Cohesion report is the annual study tracking Australian attitudes on issues including immigration, multiculturalism, discrimination and political trust and is described as the largest study of its kind with a collective sample of more than 35,000 people since 2007.

Report author Professor Andrew Markus said while Australia was overall a stable and cohesive society, some indicators showed a negative trend.

“There was an expectation that following the victory of the Coalition government in 2013, there would be a significant increase in trust. However, in 2016 only 29 per cent of respondents have a high level of trust in the government, which is 19 per cent lower than in 2009,” Markus said.

The report shows one-third of Australians were politically disengaged with this year’s federal election. Some 34 per cent of survey respondents indicated that they had little or no interest in the election. Among young men aged 18 to 24 years, 23 per cent indicated that they had no interest at all in the election.

Results showed there was also a significant increase in support for change to the system of government – 31 per cent of respondents believed major change was needed, an increase of 8 per cent since 2013.

“One factor influencing disengagement and a lack of trust in the system may be a disconnect between politicians and the public on key topical issues,” Markus said.

Of those surveyed, 83 per cent of respondents supported medical use of marijuana, 80 per cent supported medically approved euthanasia, and 67 per cent supported marriage equality. Reduced reliance on coal for electricity generation was supported by 70 per cent.

The report said the findings also challenged the view that negative attitudes toward Muslim Australians, immigration and multiculturalism were increasing.

“Over the course of the last six surveys, there has been no significant shift in negative opinion towards Muslims, which remains in the range of 22 to 25 per cent,” it said.

Support for multiculturalism has also remained high. The 2016 report found 83 per cent agreed that multiculturalism had been good for Australia.

“There is a positive view of multiculturalism. Most people see multiculturalism as a two-way process of change, involving adaptation from Australian-born and migrants,” Markus said.

Scanlon Foundation CEO Anthea Hancocks said the report provided valuable insight for government, business and the community and those working towards building welcoming, inclusive communities.

The 2016 survey was conducted in July and August, in the weeks immediately after the federal election, and employed a national representative sample of 1,500 respondents.

Hancocks said the findings build on the data collected in eight earlier national surveys, produced in partnership with Monash University and the Australian Multicultural Foundation.

Summary of findings by demographics:

  • Almost a quarter of young males had no interest at all in the federal election, compared to 7 per cent of young women.
  • The biggest predictor of acceptance of immigration and cultural diversity is age, followed by the level of completed education and financial status. Strong rejection of immigration and cultural diversity was around 7 per cent among those aged 18 to 44 years and 4 per cent among those with a bachelor or higher level qualification, compared to 22 per cent of those over 65 years of age and 22 per cent of those whose highest level of education was year 11.
  • A minority of respondents, 26 per cent, opposed marriage equality. Further insight into attitudes to marriage equality by age group shows that of those over 75 years of age, 47 per cent were opposed, 34 per cent aged 65 to 74, and a much lower 17 per cent aged 18 to 24.
  • Support for multiculturalism remains high at 83 per cent, and the strongest positive association of multiculturalism is with its contribution to economic development.
  • Sense of belonging in Australia remains high at 91 per cent, but is lower than the 94 per cent to 96 per cent reported between 2007 and 2012.
  • Just 34 per cent considered that the immigration intake was “too high”, the lowest recorded in the Scanlon Foundation surveys.

Source: Aussies Say Yes to Multiculturalism, Marriage Equality But No To Politics | PBA

Australia: Repealing 18C will consign the idea of a ‘fair go’ to the dustbin of Australian history | Richard di Natale

Australian Green Party Senator di Natale on the proposed watering down of anti-discrimination legislation:

Malcolm Turnbull is a smart man. He must understand that section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act just sets the minimum standard of engagement in a respectful, multicultural society and all that is required is that any public debate on matters of race and culture be conducted “in good faith”.

And he must also know that the 18C debate is a proxy. When certain far-right politicians say they want to repeal 18C, what they’re really saying is that they want to repeal multiculturalism itself.

Just last year we celebrated forty years of the visionary Racial Discrimination Act, the final death-knell of the White Australia policy and a signal moment in our journey towards becoming the world’s most successful multicultural society.

Multiculturalism – the celebration of cultural differences within our diverse Australian nation – is one of Australia’s great strengths, a source of our prosperity and happiness. Multiculturalism is a source not only of cultural capital, but financial capital as well. When we attack it we become poorer in every respect.

By reviving the toxic debate about section 18C, Malcolm Turnbull has given in, yet again, to those who seem determined to consign the notion of the “fair go” to the dustbin of Australian history. What we politicians say in our nation’s parliament has a direct impact on communities – right down to how children are treated in playgrounds and on their way to and from school. Opening up 18C just gives cover for some people to be racist.

Source: Repealing 18C will consign the idea of a ‘fair go’ to the dustbin of Australian history | Richard di Natale | Opinion | The Guardian

Turnbull rebukes Labor over citizenship questions, saying ‘get on Australia’s team’ | The Guardian

Never a good idea to make this kind of accusation, reflects poorly on the accuser:

Malcolm Turnbull has attempted to shut down questions from Labor about the validity of the government’s citizenship revocation laws by borrowing a locution from the Abbott era and advising the shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfus to “get on Australia’s team”.

In question time on Monday Labor referenced a media report saying a “notorious terrorist” was set to have their citizenship revoked in the first case to be taken under the government’s citizenship revocation laws.

The report suggested the government was anticipating the move would be tested in the high court.

Dreyfus asked the prime minister whether the case referenced in the Daily Telegraph report would proceed under the same legislation where the attorney general had “incorrectly represented advice from the solicitor-general?”

The solicitor general, Justin Gleeson – courtesy of a bitter public dispute with the attorney general, George Brandis – has said very clearly he did not sign off on the final citizenship bill passed by the parliament, an account which cuts across a suggestion made by Brandis at the time that Gleeson had advised the government its citizenship revocation package had a good prospect of clearing the high court.

“What the shadow attorney general is now doing is taking his feud with the attorney general into an area where he is putting our national security at risk,” Turnbull told parliament on Monday.

The prime minister said Dreyfus needed to “get over these petty personal animosities and get on our team, get on Australia’s team, to ensure that we have the right legislation”.

Source: Turnbull rebukes Labor over citizenship questions, saying ‘get on Australia’s team’ | Australia news | The Guardian

Australian extremist with dual nationality ‘will be stripped of his citizenship’ | Daily Mail Online

Australia’s first test case of its citizenship revocation law:

The government is preparing to prosecute an Islamic State terrorist with dual-nationality to strip them of their Australian citizenship in the first case tried under new security laws, officials claim.

It is understood the government will enforce a case against a well-known unnamed terrorist under amendments to the Citizenship Act, which was passed in December 2015, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The Citizenship Loss Board was created soon after to identify jihadis with Australian citizenship and that of at least one other country. It is understood there are more than 50 people who fit the profile.

The government is reportedly keen to pursue a test case of the controversial law.

Australian Federal Police and ASIO are believed to have recently raised concerns about the burden of proof needed under the new laws.

Officials must show the suspected terrorist is also a citizen of a new country, not that they are simply entitled to dual-citizenship – which could be difficult to prove, The Daily Telegraph reported.

A new parliamentary report published in September backed the government’s controversial plan to strip citizenship from convicted terrorists of dual nationality.

Abdul Nacer Benbrika, Mohamed Ali Elomar and Mostafa Mahamed Farag are believed to be part of an initial group of six people the government plans to boot from the country once the law is passed, the newspaper claims.

Elomar was part of a group found guilty in 2009 of planning an attack in Sydney, after he was arrested in 2005. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison in 2010, and is also the uncle of killed ISIS fighter Mohamed Elomar.

Farag, also known as Abu Sulayman, is believed to be one of the most senior Australian terrorists fighting in the Middle East. Before leaving the country, he preached at a centre in the western Sydney suburb of Bankstown.

 The Australian government has been increasingly concerned about the flow of fighters to Iraq and Syria to join extremist groups such as Islamic State, with some 110 Australians reportedly fighting in the region as of last year. As many as 45 have died in the conflict.

The Attorney-General George Brandis said at the time the law passed that they will not render individuals stateless, but will apply in ‘very limited circumstances’.

They cover people who engage in terrorist acts, including training, recruitment and finance, and are convicted of a terrorist offence and sentenced to at least six years in jail.

Those who fight for a declared terrorist group also automatically lose their citizenship.

‘Dual nationals who engage in terrorism are betraying their allegiance to this country and do not deserve to be Australian citizens,’ Mr Brandis said.

Source: Australian extremist with dual nationality ‘will be stripped of his citizenship’ | Daily Mail Online

Australia finally ending long nightmare of peaceful multiculturalism

Andrew Street’s critical look at Australia’s language and actions with respect to immigrants and refugees:

And while we might differ over what constitutes a “generous humanitarian program” when taking 18,750 of the literal millions of people seeking asylum, the Prime Minister’s argument appears to run as follows: fierce border protection allows Australians to be generous and welcoming to those we invite to join in our proud multicultural success story.

If we’re not taking just anyone, in other words, we can afford to be generous with those we do take. And that would be awesome if it wasn’t also completely, laughably, insultingly false.

It can’t be lost on Malc that our increasing level of panic about The Boats hasn’t exactly been accompanied by a commensurate increase in tolerance and celebration of our nation’s cultural diversity. Isn’t that right, Muslim Australians?

In fact, you might say that all the evidence points in the oppositedirection – almost as though years of leaders making political mileage by demonising foreigners as at best greedy and at worst probably terrorists has encouraged the worst racist instincts of Australians.

Should this seem like an unfair assessment, a quick look at the current make up of the Senate might be instructive.

(And while everyone is apparently united in their anti-people smuggling rhetoric, is anyone else curious as to why people smugglers are clearly evil opportunists preying on the vulnerable when we’re talking about countries with less-white populations but they were brave freedom fighters snubbing their noses at repressive regimes when, say, smuggling economic migrants out of communist East Germany?)

Also, the PM might more easily highlight Australia’s gosh-darn generosity in resettling 12,000 Syrian refugees, if maybe more than a quarter of them had actually been resettled in the year since the promise was made, amid accusations that the government has been deliberately focussing on accepting non-Muslim refugees because… um, their suffering is more noble, presumably?

And sure, suggesting that harsh border policies somehow fosters greater generosity within Australia might be accurately perceived as being a new version of arguing that indefinite offshore detention under horrific circumstances is somehow “saving lives at sea”: a complete non-sequiter designed to deflect criticism with zero basis in fact.

But on the plus side, by dividing those fleeing violence, oppression and terror into the deserving and undeserving on the basis of their religion or ethnicity, the Turnbull government is helping to embed an outspokenly us-and-them spirit which puts Australian citizens at risk while encouraging racists to express their vile, hateful opinions in word and in deed to a degree that risks destroying this peaceful, stable, genuinely magnificent society we’ve built together.

And making Australia a more hateful, unstable, violent place to live is the plan, right? Because if so, it all appears to be going great.

That being said, I do think that support for immigration does correlate with confidence that inflows are controlled and managed, at least in the Canadian context.

Source: Australia finally ending long nightmare of peaceful multiculturalism

Australia: Federal police commissioner warns MPs ‘words matter’ in debate on Islam

Wise words. The presence of One Nation in the Australian elected Senate highlights some of the political differences between Canada and Australia:

The Australian federal police commissioner, Andrew Colvin, has warned federal parliamentarians that words matter, emphasising that police rely on good relationships with the Muslim community to keep Australians safe.

Colvin was asked during an appearance on Sky News on Monday about whether he had any concerns about the newly elected One Nation MPs calling for a ban on Muslim immigration, or a royal commission into Islam.

The police commissioner was reminded about previous interventions by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio) warning Coalition MPs to tone down florid rhetoric about Islam because the contributions were considered unhelpful to agencies trying to maintain public safety.

Colvin said he didn’t want to intervene in any political debates but he emphasised that people needed to be careful about their public interventions. “What I have been on the record saying and I will say it again, words do matter,” Colvin said on Monday.

“It’s very important to me that I maintain good relationships with the community. Words do matter. They listen very carefully to what’s said,” Colvin said.

Newly elected senators will come to Canberra on Tuesday for orientation ahead of the resumption of parliament next week. One Nation emerged from the recent poll with a Senate bloc of four.

One Nation’s policy on Islam states that the religion sees itself “as a theocracy, not a democracy.”

“Islam does not believe in democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of the press or freedom or assembly,” the policy says.

“It does not separate religion and politics. Many believe that it is solely a religion, but the reality is that it is much more, for it has a political agenda that goes far outside the realm of religion.”

“Its religious aspect is fraud; it is rather a totalitarian political system, including legal, economic, social and military components, masquerading as a religion.”

Anti-Islam group storms Anglican church in Australia – BBC News

More ugliness in Australia:

Right-wing protestors dressed in mock Muslim outfits and chanting anti-Islamic slogans have stormed a church service on Australia’s east coast.

The protestors interrupted a service held at Gosford Anglican Church on the Central Coast of New South Wales state.

A group of about 10 people entered the church and pretended to pray while playing Muslim prayers over a loudspeaker.

Local police are investigating what the church described as a “racist stunt”.

The Party for Freedom posted photos and video of the incident on social media, claiming it was a demonstration against the church’s support for Islamic leaders and multiculturalism.

The organisation has ties to Senator Pauline Hanson’s anti-immigration One Nation party, which has won four seats in Australia’s Senate.

“We want to share Islam with you, this is the future,” one of the protesters said in the footage.

“This is cultural diversity, mate. The rich tapestry of Islam that we’d like to share with Father Rod, and the congregation, and the social justice agenda we hear all the time.”

More than 24 hours after the altercation, One Nation released a statement saying that it did not have any official affiliation with the Party For Freedom.

‘Traumatised’

Father Rod Bower said the incident at his church terrorised the congregation.

“They were shocked,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“I worked out who it was fairly quickly. Some of the congregation was quite traumatised.”

The church is known for spreading pro-immigration messages on its billboard and in services.

The far-right nationalist group warned the congregation not to promote Islam.

“[The protest] was simply because we support the Muslim community, we try and build bridges,” Fr Bower said.

Source: Anti-Islam group storms Anglican church in Australia – BBC News