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Multicultural Australia: yet … still fearful of ‘others’

By ‘Outsider’

Part One … Multicultural Australia: Malcolm Turnbull’s camouflage

Part Two … Multicultural Australia: but still we debate

“We know that the detention centres we have built on our continent, on Nauru and on Manus Island, are not places we would ever countenance imprisoning Australians. We know what we have done. We don’t need history to instruct us on that.”

As Primo Levi had been reduce to number 174517 at Auschwitz, so we have turned all ‘undesirables’ into numbers at Nauru and Manus Island.

Such is the respect for ‘the rule of law’ by Australian governments since 1992.

It is extraordinarily presumption, nay arrogant of Australian governments and their prime or ordinary ministers to assume that all migrants do not know the difference between ‘parliamentary democracy’ Canberra style and ‘representative democracy’.

The latter means very simply one head, one vote and one weight, regardless of the personal qualifications of the elector, whether s/he is barely able to write her/his name and read her/his ballot or s/he is an astrophysics scientist. And it is the duty of the governments to provide the elevation of those less fortunate, and to set up conditions whereby who counts is not the occasional Ph.D. (P in Head Dressing – or similar profanity as conferred by the ‘new schools’ which “spark innovation, creativity and vitality”) – as the statement proclaims at p.13. The last words seem to have come from the pen of Mr. Turnbull. Waffle one would say, while other could have a choice of: rattle, chatter, babble, ramble, jabber, gibber.

So here is a suggestion: why not send the competent ministers to find out how such countries as Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland manage their elections? Better still, ample information could be obtained from the relative embassies in Canberra. None of those countries enjoys the high privilege of British birth, but they seem to be getting along fairly well, and none would question their democratic practice. They are eight of the some forty countries governed with proportional representation.

Their citizens would be horrified at the result of the most recent Australian elections, where the anti-Labor Coalition of Liberal, Liberal National and Nationals received 5,661,209 votes, Labor gained 4,702,314 and the Greens: 1,153,736.

After the chien-en-lit which is compulsory preference distribution, the Coalition obtained 76 seats, Labor 69, while the Greens could occupy only one seat – having obtained roughly one/fifth of the Coalition and one/fourth of Labor votes. Four other seats made up to the 150 Representatives. That could be ‘parliamentary democracy Southern-Westminster-Style’; representative democracy it is not.

Disregarding for some un-reason both the experience of Dublin and Reykjavík, why not look at Helsinki? There they had the most recent election of 2015. Here are the results of representative democracy – not Westminster blessing, but one head, one vote and one weight, distributed by party, percentage of votes and number of seats.

Centre Party, 21.10 per cent, 49 seats; Finns Party 17.65 per cent, 38 seats; National Coalition Party, 18.20 per cent, 37 seats; Social Democratic Party, 16.51 per cent, 34 seats; Green League, 8.53 per cent, 15 seats; Left Alliance, 7.13 per cent, 12 seats; Swedish People’s Party of Finland, 4.88 per cent, 9 seats; Christian Democrats, 3.54 per cent, 5 seats; and Åland Coalition, 0.37 per cent, 1 seat.

One concluding observation: the 20 March Turnbull Statement on Multiculturalism boasts of Australia as “the most successful in the world.” Well, it depends on whom you are reading and to whom you are talking.

If one is talking about multiculturalism as expressing cultural diversity and/or ethnic diversity, then one could hear different voices.

A recent work by the respectable Pew Research Center presented the study of cultural diversity and economic development by researcher Erkan Gören of the University of Oldenberg in Germany.

In his paper, Gören measured the amount of cultural diversity in each of more than 180 countries. To arrive at his estimates, he combined data on ethnicity and race with a measure based on the similarity of languages spoken by major ethnic or racial groups. “The hypothesis is that groups speaking the same or highly related languages should also have similar cultural values.” affirmed Gören. He used his language and ethnicity measures to compute a cultural diversity score for each country which ranged from 0 to 1, with larger scores indicating more diversity and smaller values representing less.

Not unusually, the list of culturally diverse countries is headed by Chad, with Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo following. (In Chad in north-central Africa 8.6 million residents belong to more than 100 ethnic groups). These and other African countries typically rank high on any diversity index because of their multitude of tribal groups and languages. According to Gören, the only ‘western’ country to break into the top 20 most diverse is, again, Canada.

Such data should be observed with considerable caution: cultural diversity is a different concept from ethnic diversity. As a result, a map of the world reflecting ethnic diversity looks somewhat different from the one based on Gören’s cultural diversity measure which combines language and ethnicity profiles of a country.

The Harvard Institute of Economic Research developed a map similar to the one offered by Gören’s findings.

Still, a comparison of the Harvard and Goren maps shows that the most diverse countries in the world are found in Africa. Such conclusion could be a source of worry for Mr. Turnbull, permanently concerned as he is about his difficult relations with the troglodytes at his right and with most of the ‘Nationals’.

The cave-men, and probably some of their women, would feel more comfortable with the dreams of Menzies and his “British to the bootstraps”, or the menaces of Howard and his “we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come.” than with looking, if they ever look at such things, for a real multicultural experience and finding it in … Chad. The comparison with Toronto comes back here: in Toronto there live 53 per cent ‘Whites’, 7 per cent Blacks, and 40 per cent ‘Others’. Every member of the Melbournian bene society would be entitled to worry. What? Some 250,000 Blacks going about in Melbourne? There is enough to hear about ‘being swamped’ by them!

And how would Mr. Turnbull react if faced with a motion similar to the one passed by 201 votes to 91 on 24 March 2017 by the Canadian Parliament? On that day, the Parliament adopted a landmark anti-Islamophobia and religious discrimination motion which calls on politicians to condemn anti-Islamic behaviour and rhetoric. It called on the Canadian Government to recognise the need to “quell the public climate of fear and hate”.

It is worth reproducing that motion verbatim:

“Whereas:“Islam is a religion of over 1.5 billion people worldwide. Since its founding more than 1400 years ago, Muslims have contributed, and continue to contribute, to the positive development of human civilization. This encompasses all areas of human endeavors including the arts, culture, science, medicine, literature, and much more;

“Recently an infinitesimally small number of extremist individuals have conducted terrorist activities while claiming to speak for the religion of Islam. Their actions have been used as a pretext for a notable rise of anti-Muslim sentiments in Canada; and

“These violent individuals do not reflect in any way the values or the teachings of the religion of Islam. In fact, they misrepresent the religion. We categorically reject all their activities. They in no way represent the religion, the beliefs and the desire of Muslims to co-exist in peace with all peoples of the world.

“We, the undersigned, Citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to join us in recognizing that extremist individuals do not represent the religion of Islam, and in condemning all forms of Islamophobia.”

How can one even imagine such a thing happening in Canberra?


All the best,




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  1. Arthur Tarry

    No, I cannot envisage such a declaration coming out of The Australian Parliament. Not within. Bull’s roar!

  2. Terry2

    On ‘The Drum’ the other night talk of human rights, refugees and the like, one contributor observed that with our punitive and indefinite offshore detention policy and denial of access to justice for asylum seekers and refugees, we did not have much of a record on human rights to allow us to lecture others.

    This was immediately shot-down by Nick Cater – ex the Australian and now Menzies Centre – as a complete distortion of the facts and he considered that we had a fine record in human rights.

    I’m afraid I cannot share Cater’s blinkered view on our record on human rights !

  3. helvityni

    I have a lot admiration for Trudeau, almost envious of the Canadians. Here we have Fizza looking after the big boys, they need helping…?

    It was hard watching the Drum the other night, I can’t cope with Cater, anymore than I can tolerate Dutton, Hanson, Cash or any others of their ilk…

    Nothing sincere about Fizza, when he says Oz being the most well-functioning multicultural society in the whole wide world, or was it just in the Southern Hemisphere…(as the old Oz adage goes) 🙂

  4. Mark Needham

    “We know that the detention centres we have built on our continent, on Nauru and on Manus Island, are not places we would ever countenance imprisoning Australians. We know what we have done. We don’t need history to instruct us on that.”

    But certainly good enough, for our troops, Military Training bases. Good enough for them, but not good Enough for illegal immigrants.
    Jeesus Christ,
    Mark Needham

  5. Roswell

    Mark, if we didn’t have the detention centres then they wouldn’t need to be staffed. Simple.

    And I was unaware that they were also military training bases. Fill me in.

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