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Oh the irony

One of the production team behind The Political Sword regularly attends a trivia night at a local pub. Recently the host (who runs a company that hosts multiple trivia nights every night of the week — so he’s pretty good at finding obscure facts) made the claim that 49 percent of Australians are either immigrants or one/both their parents are immigrants.

You may have noticed over the years that we at The Political Sword like to check claims presented as facts regardless of the origin, so we did. As it turns out, the trivia host was right — 49% of Australians are either first generation (they immigrated) or second generation (one/both parents born overseas) Australian. It’s one of the facts that has come out of the much maligned 2016 Census (remember the one we were supposed to do on-line, until the website crashed). The remaining 51% of us have Australian born parents — although the Grandparents’ country of origin could be a different discussion. 

When this data was released half way through 2017, The Guardianreported:

As of 2015, Australia had the ninth-largest number of overseas-born people of any country, and the highest proportion of its population, at 26% — ahead of New Zealand (23%) and Canada (22%), the bureau found.

The Guardian’s article also has a lot of other population related statistics that are interesting — and who knows may help you win a trivia night somewhere, sometime. 

Given the distances between the homes of the production team behind The Political Sword, most communication is done by email. Apart from ‘business related’ discussions we also discuss the usual things that people discuss — the weather, politics (strangely!), and various events that happen in the lives of the co-conspirators. The same week as the trivia host made his 49% of Australians are either first or second-generation comment, another member of the production team wrote about an example of blatant discrimination that he had recently seen. 

Some ‘very lovely’ ladies who are recent immigrants turned up at a local computer club, eager to learn, gain some additional skills and fit into their adopted community. There was also one attendee who was considerably older and also an immigrant (from the UK in the era of the ten-pound Pom). Apparently the older English ‘gentleman’ was offended that the ‘very lovely’ ladies, who were from an Islamic community group, would be furthering their understanding of computers at the same time as he was and started to verbalise his thoughts at full volume. Fortunately the Community Co-ordinator was able to diffuse the situation before it really became heated. 

In a nutshell, an older ‘gentleman’ who immigrated to Australia around 50 years ago finds it objectionable that others have immigrated to Australia more recently, with different cultural beliefs. Oh, the irony! You’d have to wonder if, 50 odd years ago, the ‘gentleman’ had different cultural values to those around him when he arrived in this country. 

Many years ago, Bruce Woodley from The Seekers and Dobe Newton of  The Bushwackers wrote a song that claimed

We are one But we are many And from all the lands on earth we come We’ll share a dream And sing with one voice I am, you are, we are Australian

You might recognise the words — they have been recently appropriated by ABC as their network identity jingle. Pity there are pockets where the reality is somewhat different from the lofty ideals. 

So what would our ‘older gentleman’ have us do with his ‘very lovely ladies’ — send them back? If we are going to send immigrants back to where they came from, do we only send the 26% of the population who are first generation Australians away, in which case the UK immigrant is out too? Do we deport the 49% of first- and second-generation Australians which might be a problem if for example Mum comes from Ukraine and Dad comes from Russia? Do we send all immigrants away in which case Australia reverts to being a terra nullus of 60,000 or thereabouts years ago; or do we just agree that the ‘gentleman’ is a bigot rather than a gentleman and welcome the ladies from the Islamic community group while telling the bigot his rant is not welcome? 

The reality of immigration to Australia over the last 60,000 years in this country is a blend of cultures from ‘all the lands of earth’. It is a far more pleasant place than the cold, narrow minded monocultural vision offered by the followers of the ultra-conservative bigots spewing hatred such as the likes of Hanson, Bernardi and the ‘alt-right’ poster children who occasionally tour (or try to tour) the country promote. Assimilating parts of different cultures presents solutions to seemingly intractable problems, gives us benefits as mundane as pizza and fried rice as well as demonstrating that ‘Anglo’ culture doesn’t always offer the ultimate solution to the problem. 

Where else in the world will you see kids of African background pestering their parents for sushi in the local food court or young girls of Middle Eastern, Asian and European backgrounds all performing together at the local dance school concert? And that’s just how it should be. 

What do you think?

This article by 2353NM was originally published on The Political Sword.

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23 comments

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  1. josephus

    A white man with an English surname told us, whites with English accents and names, that immigrants were the cause of many problems. I presume his prejudice was racial rather than geographical. I did not point out that clearly his parent/s or grandparent/s etc were immigrants, as he was our guest, but outside my home I never fail to point out that anyone born here and not at least partly of First Peoples descent is an immigrant. It is so obvious. I equally deplore those who kill roos and other wildlife for the sake of cows or sheep, which damage the thin soil and whose wet poo attracts flies in enormous numbers in the bush.

  2. Sir Scotchmistery

    Wearing a very specific hat, I was asked to address a thousand young women in a Brisbane school on the occasion of the year 12 final assembly, and get ready to begin their final exams.

    I didn’t see any first nations girls, but I am old so that could be my eyes.

    I didn’t hear anyone recognise the traditional custodians of the land upon which we met, so I did that myself. Since I think it’s important to recognise the custodians.

    I saw precious few hijabs, but again, that could be my eyes, but I bet it isn’t.

    I presented an essay award to the granddaughter of a judge. Her subject was the treatment meted out to first nations soldiers upon their return from world wars 1 and 2.

    My presentation began with “we old white men have little to be proud of…..”.

    5 years later, I still feel we have little to be proud of, as old white men.

  3. New England Cocky

    Whinging POMs came to Australia under the Ten Pound Pom Plan and about 25% returned to England within or after the required two years. Indeed, there were cases where the return occurred within a week and at least once at the end of the disembarking gangplank.

    Many other Poms came to Australia and added to the community, particularly bringing soccer for the masses and English rock music for the world.

    Then there were the child slaves, kids under 10 who were despatched by uncaring government institutions, often wrongly and knowingly misinformed that they were orphans. The English government wanted to reduce British population by exporting “the lower classes”. These kids often suffered terribly, and later British and Australian government did little or nothing. Check out “The Leaving of Liverpool” ABC Television. Thank you David Hill.

  4. David Bruce

    I am an old white man who has been blessed since migrating in the 1940’s. For years I thought I was a WASP (white anglo-saxon protestant). Imagine my delight when my ancestry proved I was a Celtic Viking. My father was born here, as were his male line back to first descendants of the First Fleet. So to celebrate Christmas this year, I will sending a Black Santa Christmas card to one and all!

  5. Sir Scotchmistery

    Can I also suggest a couple of child sacrifices just to add port wine to an otherwise already excellent roast, David? They always seemed good fun except for the endless screaming of course, but that should be fine with only a couple.

    @Josephus, knowing there will be zero farmers reading this, I agree. I have found most farmers are too thick to understand how many different ways they have fucked this country with their hard hooved bank balances.

    I don’t think all farmers are dumb. But I think a lot of them should grow a brain

  6. corvus boreus

    I am an Australian by both birth and citizenship.

    Although I sprouted on this soil, I am not an Indigenous Australian, but represent ancestry of much more recent arrival.

    If asked my ethnicity, I readily identify as a ‘European Australian’.

    If questioned on my race, I would answer ‘irrelevant’, and if pressed, admit ‘mixed’.
    Given the vagarities and complexities of all the migrations and admixtures within humanity over history (and pre), as well as the unclarity and controversy (both scientific and societal) over the concept of ‘race’ as applied to the species Homo sapiens, it’s probably the simplest and safest answer.

    If asked about the hue of my skin, I classify it as ‘relatively pale’.

  7. Sir Scotchmistery

    I am still thoughtful about David Boone – “I am a native of my native land…” to which I am forced to call bullshit.

    A citizen of your native land, no issue, but he sure as hell isn’t a native

  8. helvityni

    “We are one But we are many And from all the lands on earth we come We’ll share a dream And sing with one voice I am, you are, we are Australian”

    Good old Seekers, those were the happier times in Oz, now there’s a lot discontent, unhappiness; maybe the commercial Stations and the folks on night-time SKY ought start singing it as well…not just our ABC followers…SBS is already pretty multi-cultural…LOL…

  9. Mark Needham

    “I am a native of my native land”.

    Well I hope so. 7th generation of Migrants, Yes. But I was born here, I’ll die here.

    If not a native of Australia, who the bloody hell am I?

    White and Guilty,
    Mark Needham

  10. Sir Scotchmistery

    I think there is a conversation to be had over having a native land and bring a white native of it.

    My personal view is the first nations people are the only Australian Native. End of story.

    I have been corresponding with someone for a few days who doesn’t believe any of my shit. She reckons they are all too drunk to be worth anything and her proof is she knows white folks who work with them. She believes their position, which is fine. Like many people who espouse progressive positions on things, the devil is in the detail.

  11. Murphy

    An Australian is someone here who believes themselves to be Australian and if someone is not born here they will have citizenship or will have citizenship in the future and so be Australian. This is a meaningless form of nationality some would say, but this is the future of the world once the fixations of the past, the fixations called borders are dropped. Even before the arbitrary borders are removed from maps we are one people! Imagine how freeing it will be to not be restricted to one country. Dropping the idea of being Australian or any nationality will be a rite of passage. Think global, act global, we can even adopt one global religion under jedism, global citizens of the one world unite. Take to the streets in your yellow vests, declare in shouty voice, ‘I am free, your borders are rubbish’.

  12. Mark Needham

    “My personal view is the first nations people are the only Australian Native. End of story”

    A view, that is all it is. A view that could be wrong, do you want to think about that.?

    Ah well,
    Mark Needham

  13. New England Cocky

    I went to dinner the other night and much to the delight of the assembled party, I was the only Australian borne Australian in the room. Everybody else was borne overseas and escaped persecution by the Russians, the US backed Nasser regime, Thatcher’s England and North Korea’s threats. Four senior academics with illustrious careers who made Australia a better place.

  14. Sir Scotchmistery

    @Mark N, the most perfect view finishes with IMHO. Can’t ever be wrong in the eye of the holder of the view.

    I don’t decry your view at all. We all have a right to own view. I hear your question, more importantly I don’t question it. It’s not wrong.

    It’s pretty hard to justify or explain to a council of first nations elders. Therein is the challenge.

  15. James Cook

    Helvityni, indeed those were happier times, but mainly if you were a WASP . I’m sure our indigenous mates didn’t get a real smooth time of it back then, and some of the non-European migrants might have had a few hassles out and about.

  16. Mark Needham

    @ Sir Scotchmistery. Yes, funny how I am always right. Point is, I am always ready to take a step back.

    Anyhow, according to events in Victoria, I could now be called, ‘African Australian”, or “Lithuanian Australian”.

    Either way, I recognise as being a Native Australian, and would accept, that others would accord me that right to do so.

    But good having the conversation. It is a great country that we live in.
    Mark Needham

  17. corvus boreus

    Mark Needham,
    I mainly work in restoring endemic ecosystems, so I am a bit protective/precious regarding the term ‘native’.
    A Camphor laurel may germinate here, a feral kitten be born here, but they are not Australian natives.
    Similarly, although I am undeniably Aussie born, I do not classify myself as a ‘native’ organism.
    I find that making such a distinction helps me to be a bit less ‘invasive’ in my attitude.

  18. Stephen

    It would be a lot easier to be a proud white Australian if it wasn’t for the racists, liars and double talking apologists who are our so called representatives! Pulling apart the multibillion dollar border protection racket established by the LNP would go a long way towards restoring Health and other services not being delivered to ordinary Australians and our indigenous cousins. Further pulling money from culturally superior and bigotted religious schools and spending that money on a secular education would go a long way towards raising educational standards. Finally taxing the rich and tax dodging multi-nationals would bring balance back to funding for rural and outback communities to bring them back from the brink of collapse! The rich white wealthy men have to start sharing, then we can all stand tall and proud!

  19. helvityni

    James Cook, the Indigenous people have never had it easy….

    Corvus Boreus, well said…

    Stephen, we don’t have any Private Schools in Finland, only one good public school system, we have some religious teaching, but it’s mainly about the history of all religions….

  20. Mark Needham

    And the smallest little piece of Aboriginal blood that I bear so proudly, affords me no rights?

    Graft a piece if Apple tree to the Laurel.?

    Cross the kitten with a quoll.? Yes I know, not practically possible.

    Not invasive, settled.,
    Mark Needham

  21. Nick

    On more than one occasion I have met new Australians from the UK who over here because they couldn’t stand all the immigrants. I am always so stupefied I cannot think of a suitable response

  22. Kaye Lee

    Yes Nick. It takes a certain kind of assumed privilege or cognitive dissonance….

  23. helvityni

    Nick, one English migrant family went back home because they found Australian native birds too loud….

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