Immigration and consensus
Australia is often spoken of as though it was a vast empty land, just waiting to be populated. In fact, most of our country is arid and settlement is concentrated on the fertile coastal strips. Immigration overwhelmingly impacts in the large cities particularly Sydney and Melbourne and attempts to decentralise the intake historically have been failures. This means that in considering immigration we have to consider the impact on the areas where immigrants actually settle and the capacity of those areas to cope. When that is done, the illusion of a vast land waiting to be populated dissolves.
Apart from environmental considerations there is clear evidence that the massive immigration intake of recent years has driven us further into debt. Most economists now agree that immigration exacerbates our current account deficit, Australia's most pressing economic problem.
The recent cut in the immigration intake announced by Mr Hand is a step in the right direction, but should not induce complacency. There are signs that both parties intend to increase immigration in the longer term and there will be enormous pressures placed on them to do so, both from the publicly funded immigration/multiculturalist industry group and big business interests.
The former rely on continuing injections of immigration to justify their existence and must be confronted if immigration is to be brought under control. The latter - particularly property developers - along with the real estate industry, want more immigrants because more people mean more development, regardless of the best interests of the country.
Also, immigration is a way of adding to an already underemployed labour pool and so placing a downward pressure on wages and working conditions. Those big business interests, bureaucrats and economists who claim that freer trade should be followed by free movement of labour between nations, do so because they realise the effect this would have in undermining local wages, so reducing production costs and increasing profit margins. Already in Asia there are large-scale labour migration schemes run by wealthy elites. The labourers in these schemes work for very low wages. It is clear that "free movement of labour" would mean Australian workers would be competing against modern day indentured labourers.
Immigration is not just a problem for Australia. Worldwide it will be one of the big issues of the 1990's.
throughout this paper, criticisms are made of the so-called ethnic leaders, but I want to make it clear that I do not think they represent the people they claim to represent, the vast majority of whom want what is best for Australia.
Finally, I would like to thank Mark Uhlmann for the work he has put into this paper.
Member for Kalgoorlie
IMMIGRATION AND CONSENSUS
After his election as Prime Minister in 1983, Bob Hawke stressed that his aim was to achieve a consensus in Australian society. A woolly concept at the best of times, it came to mean that reaching a uniformity of opinion in public issues, or maintaining an illusion of uniformity was promoted as the overriding virtue.IMMIGRATION PRE-WAR
To initiate debate which threatened consensus, or caused a section of the population pain. was to be divisive a term of abuse which implied that the person was not only insensitive but wilfully destructive.
The participation of the general public was not called for in the achievement of a consensus. The consensus could be reached by various groups afforded elite status and then handed down from on high. If the general public showed signs of not living up to the high standard of consensus that was set for it, then something was wrong with the general public. It would have to be attacked for its ignorance and be educated to think correctly.
Snugly wrapped at the heart of consensus were two interrelated issues which came to be afforded that status of sanctity: immigration and multiculturalism. The latter policy was foreshadowed by Mr Al Grassby, Immigration Minister in the Whitlam Government.
As Dr Katharine Betts, the author of "Ideology and Immigration" [Melbourne University Press] has pointed out, the policy of multiculturalism was subsequently embraced by the Fraser Government. It was felt among senior Liberals that the party had failed to court the "migrant" or "ethnic" vote and that the Labor Party had been much more effective.
The Fraser Government's first Immigration Minister, Michael MacKellar, oversaw the re-establishment of the Immigration Department, which, in 1974, had been downgraded to the Department of Labour and Immigration under the Whitlam Government. A strong connection was established between immigration and ethnic affairs, which was reflected in the title of the new department - the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. As part of this overhaul, Mr MacKellar began a strategy to woo the so-called ethnic vote.
The Fraser Government believed that by appealing to, and helping to establish so-called ethnic leaders, these leaders would deliver ethnic voting blocs to its cause. But the hoped for delivery of ethnic voting blocs to the Liberals didn't happen, nor do ethnic groups vote in blocs today. As part of the policy of multiculturalism, the Fraser Government funded various people, particularly small groups of Greeks and Italians, who claimed to represent their broader community.
However, for all its rhetoric of multiculturalism, the Fraser Government continued to give preference to British people in immigration. The Greeks and Italians who had been funded, and in effect established as pressure groups by the Fraser Government, exerted pressure for a widening of family reunion provisions, believing that this would allow more Greeks and Italians to be admitted.
Mr MacKellar did widen the category before he left the Ministry. Continued pressure from the Greek and Italian groups on the new Minister. Ian McPhee. saw a much more fundamental change to the family reunion programme. In 1979 he introduced a new category called "concessional family reunion" - which greatly facilitated the entry of family members, such as brothers and sisters.
Though the expansion of the family reunion programme was a Liberal initiative, the Labor Opposition had endorsed the wider family reunion approach to immigration before the Government. In general though, it opposed large increases to the intake.
But the ALP, from the mid-seventies, in Victoria. as part of its own "ethnic electioneering" and to counter the Liberal initiatives, established and expanded Greek speaking Party branches. This was intended as a way of trying to ensure the support of people of Greek background did not drift to the Liberals. The News Weekly of 6 June this year notes that there are 20 'ethnic" ALP branches in Victoria. Apparently 14 of these are Greek. Other ethnically exclusive branches consist of Turks, Lebanese, Kurds, Macedonians and Cambodians.
In spite of the claims of Greek and Italian professional ethnics that there was a strong desire for expanded family reunion among their wider communities, very few Greeks and Italians took advantage of the changes initiated by Mr MacKellar and Mr McPhee to bring out relatives. More British people used this new category than Greeks and Italians. The big users of the new category were Asian people.
The Hawke Government inherited both the policy of multiculturalism, which it immediately embraced and strengthened, and the family reunion change in immigration policy.
Prior to World War Two, organised labour had traditionally opposed high immigration, but the business sector had supported it. This was because immigration had the effect of forcing wages and working conditions down by adding to the supply of labour relative to demand. Business also believed a larger population would increase its market.WHITLAM, FRASER AND HAWKE
At various times in the 19th Century, employers had proposed importing cheap indentured labour from Asia, particularly after convict transportation to the Eastern Colonies ceased. Opposition to the introduction of cheap Asian workers came to loom large in the labour movement.
In 1878, when Australasian Steam Navigation Company replaced European seamen with cheaper Chinese labour. there was a strike which was supported by unions in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and New Zealand. The strikers eventually won.
This positive proof that employers were prepared to use cheap Asian labour to displace European workers, combined with fears of being overrun by Chinese in the wake of Chinese immigration during the gold rush, brought the union movement closer together. An inter-colonial trade union congress was held in 1879 to call for entry restrictions on Chinese to Australia.
At the same time as the labour movement pushed for exclusion, conservative politicians. through representing employer groups, saw a value in the social cohesion they believed would be fostered in importing people of basically - British-stock. In other words, the evolving idea of White Australia on both sides of politics was a very influential, unifying factor among the colonies. This was one thing the conservatives and the labour movement could agree on. Between 1881 and 1888 the colonies enacted legislation restricting Chinese immigration.
At Federation, the White Australia policy was one of the first pieces of legislation passed by the new Australian Government. It was not only a unifying factor, but laid the basis for the relative stability and prosperity of future generations. No matter how much people of today may abhor the racial hostility which was deeply felt in the labour movement in particular and widely expressed in such papers as "The Bulletin"; this exclusion of cheap Asian labour laid the basis for reforms in working conditions which set world standards.
If the labour movement had not been so vigorous in pressing for exclusion. Australia may have well gone the way of Malaysia and Fiji where cheap indentured labour was imported by the British, so keeping wages and working conditions down. Also hostility to the descendants of those labourers. who came to constitute large sections of the population, has been an on-going problem in Malaysia and led to the 1987 coups in Fiji.
If our forebears are to be judged on the White Australia policy, they have to be judged according to standards and imperatives of their time. It should be remembered by those strident critics from the fashionable middle class left, including those who inhabit such publicly funded organisations as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, that the famous names of the Labor Party strongly supported the White Australia policy. These included H.V. Evans, the first President of the United Nations General Assembly, who announced the Declaration of Human Rights, but insisted that Australia had the right to chose the composition of its own people.
With the changing times though, the White Australia policy had to change. The relative slowness to adapt to the necessary change may help explain why the self-anointed elites are such champions of a high immigration intake today.
Given our past, they don't think we have a "moral" right to be firm in our own interests when it comes to immigration.
As noted, before World War Two the labour movement continued to oppose immigration for economic reasons, but immigration continued strongly, except for periods of recession and depression.
The threat of invasion by Japan during World War II had a deep effect on Australian politicians. They saw Australians exposed as a tiny population, inadequate to hold a vast continent against invaders. The 19th Century slogan "populate or perish" was revived and heard on all sides. The Chifley Labor Government of the day was convinced we needed more people.
So it was mainly fear, the fear of invasion, which motivated the mass post-war immigration programme. It was launched by Immigration Minister, Arthur CaIwell, with bi-partisan support. The conservatives, of course, traditionally favoured immigration. The Menzies Government which followed, continued it. Although there have been non-British settlers from the earliest days in Australia, the country was overwhelmingly of Anglo-Celtic descent before World War Two. With the mass immigration programme large numbers of people from continental European countries came to Australia, particularly from southern Italy and Greece.
During the Whitlam Government, the labour movement eventually reasserted its more traditional opposition to immigration. Economic recession was a large factor, but not the only factor, though Mr Whitlam himself stated in his book The WhitIam Government 1972-75 that "the Government, due to the advert of world recession, was forced to constantly reduce its annual targets for migrant intake. The size of the new settler programme was reduced from 140,000 to I 10, 000 in December 1972 to 80.000 in late 1974 and to 50,000 in late 1975".PUBLIC DISCONTENT
The administration of the programme under Mr Al Grassby, who served as Minister for Immigration from December 1972 to June 1974, was unusual. As Peter Hartcher indicated in The Sydney Morning Herald of 3 May 1991, the approach Mr Grassby took to his portfolio was to "surrender" to special interest group pressures.
Hartcher notes - "in a year in which 112,000 immigrants entered Australia, Grassby 's office decided the vast bulk of the annual intake on the basis of special interest without reference to the Immigration Department". The potential for abuse of such an approach is obvious. Mr Grassby also foreshadowed the policy of multiculturalism, a concept which first gained credence in Canada, with the release of his paper, "A Multicultural Society" in 1973.
It was only after Mr Grassby had lost his seat in the 1974 election and was replaced as Minister that immigration levels were cut to the bone and, in a revamp of the department, immigration was merged with the Department of Labour and relegated to second place.
The entity was called the Department of Labour and Immigration and the former Labor Minister. Clyde Cameron, became its Minister in June 1974. Mr Cameron lasted less than a year in the new portfolio and was replaced in June 1975 by James McClelland. who held the post until the Whitlam Government was dismissed by the Governor General, Sir John Kerr, only five months later.
With the change to the Department of Labour and Immigration, the view was widely expressed that Australia had an obligation to train its own people in preference to bringing in skilled workers.
There were no accusations from ethnic groups that the changes and the immigration cuts were racist, rather they were generally seen as being sensible in the economic circumstances. The defence rationale for immigration was widely held to be discredited [and in recent years, expert opinion from the Defence Department has confirmed that, in this age of technological warfare, population increase has little impact on our defence capabilities].
But the Fraser Government, which replaced the Whitlam Government in late 1975. not only pushed the numbers back up, but, as has been seen, established a strong link between immigration and ethnic affairs. Criticism of the increased immigration intake became linked to criticism of ethnic groups. Betts notes that in 1976, Labor's Tom Uren, though he supported family reunion, criticised the general immigration increase. His criticism was attacked in Parliament by the Liberal, Roger Shipton as, "an insult to the migrant community ... an attack upon migrants ... an attack upon the relatives of people in Australia, it is an attack upon our refugee policies, and it is an attack upon migrant children".
This set the standard for the sort of emotive criticism people faced if they dared to question the immigration programme. In 1979 the Government established the Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs as part of its response to a report by the prominent lawyer Frank Galbally. In 1981, in his inaugural address to the Institute, Mr Fraser endorsed "multiculturalism" as the official policy of the Commonwealth Government.
During the Fraser years, pressure groups claiming the non-British migrants who had come to Australia since World War II and their dependents as their constituency, had an increasing influence on immigration policy. As has been seen, their influence had the unintended consequence of increasing the component of Asian immigrants.
In the Hawke Government, the Immigration Minister, Stewart West, again wanted to bring down numbers and in particular to cut back on the skills intake of migrants. Mr West did not feel he could cut back on the family reunion and refugee areas, but he had a traditional Labor commitment to the training of locals, as did, initially. the Government. An Australian Parliamentary Library background paper, prepared by long-time immigration critic, Dr Bob Birrell, with Ernest Healy and T.F. Smith. outlines the position of the ALP at the time. The paper, released in March this year, is called "Migration Selection During the Recession".
The paper notes that in its early days, the Hawke Government introduced an "Occupational Share System" which restricted the entry of skilled migrants to areas which were deemed to be in short supply over the medium term in Australia. The determination of which skills were in short supply was made by the then Department of Employment and Industrial Relations [DEIR], which had Mr Ralph Willis as its Minister.
The scheme was implemented in 1984-85. The paper notes that ceilings were placed on the number of migrants who could be selected, in particular occupations over the programme year. The Government, in the words of its DEIR news release of 22 February 1984, aimed "to increase over time, through improved education and training efforts, the shares of jobs in skilled occupations taken up by Australian residents". This objective is consistent with a policy of maximum self-sufficiency in skills.
But at the same time as the Hawke Government cut back on the intake of skilled migrants, it eased the criteria for the concessional family category, which consists of "brothers and sisters, non-dependent children, parents not eligible for 'balance of family' - [i.e. most of their family do not live in Australia] - and nieces and nephews sponsored by relatives resident in Australia".
As has been noted, this category had been introduced under Liberal Immigration Minister, Ian McPhee in response to continued ethnic group pressure. At that time concessional applicants had to pass a selection test which was weighted towards skills and English language ability.
On taking office, the Hawke Government removed the English language requirement and less weight was given to skills. Again, this was in response to pressure from Government funded professional ethnics, again mainly from southern Europe. This made it easier for the people to qualify under the concessional category. The numbers coming in under this category expanded considerably and reached a high point of 39,246 in 1987 - 88. [Entry requirements for this category were further watered down in 1990 in response to ethnic pressures].
However, the initial pattern of cuts to skilled immigration meant that the overall number of migrants fell, at first, under Labor - to 62,000 in 1984. But the proportion of Asian migrants rose dramatically, because most in the favoured family reunion and refugee categories were Asian. This, as with the Liberals, was an unintended consequence of the appeasement of so-called leaders of other ethnic groups.
Mr West, a member of the left wing of the Labor Party, was concerned about the political allegiance of many of the refugees, who, coming from Indo-China, were not only anti-Communist, but overwhelmingly anti-socialist as well. They had little sympathy for the left wing of the Labor Party.
In an attempt to counterbalance this, Mr West broadened the refugee programme to include people from South and Central America who were opposed to right wing regimes and so sympathetic to the left.
In spite of this peculiar policy approach to refugees, it must also be said of Mr West that he was very sceptical about another component of the intake - the now discredited Business Migration Programme. At that early stage he clearly saw the potential of such a scheme for abuse.
There had been simmerings of discontent among the general public at the rate of increase in Asian immigration from the time of the Fraser Government. It was known by the "elites" that the general public was not happy with both the composition of the immigration intake and the policy of multiculturalism, but the general public was easy to handle as long as it had no focus and was not organised All the elites, including crucially the great bulk of the media were in agreement that these two issues should not be publicly discussed, or, if discussed, in such a way as to discredit those who questioned them.ASIANISATION
It is true that many of these people were driven by good intentions. It was feared that the hostility which exists in every society of racial diversity, but was particularly claimed to exist in Australia, would overflow if not contained. Also, there was a large degree of middle class guilt over the White Australia policy and a belief that our future lay in Asia.
We were part of Asia, or so we were told ad nauseam. It was madness to upset Asian countries by questioning Asian immigration. It was also in extremely bad taste given our White Australia background. Therefore, the immigration was unexamined by the media, or, if examined. only in the most superficial terms. The "racist" general public had to be attacked and/or educated. The onus was on the host population to adapt and change to accommodate the newcomers, without question as to what affect these newcomers might be having on the society.
Then, in 1984 a prominent figure, Professor Geoffrey Blainey, who rightly speaking should have been seen as a member of the elite, one of the "educators", was perverse enough to break the consensus. He publicly criticised the rate of Asian immigration and said that social problems would result if it continued. He also strongly criticised the policy of multiculturalism, and noted that during his time on the Australia Council he was directed by the Government to give preference in funding to people of ethnic background. As the economist, Stephen Rimmer, notes in his highly recommended book, "The Cost of Multiculturalism" this "positive" discrimination aspect of multiculturalism has virtually become institutionalised throughout the public sector, particularly in the Immigration Department.
Professor Blainey was savagely attacked by the elites. He stood his ground. The public had a focus. A man of influence was articulating what was widely felt, but which had been suppressed.
In the ensuing backlash against Blainey, which saw his own academic colleagues savagely turn on him for daring to exercise his right of free speech, Stewart West was moved from Immigration.
But his successor, Chris Hurford, was a believer in high immigration. In 1985 he released the CEDA Report, which he took as supporting economic benefits of high immigration. One of the members of the steering committee of this report, Dr John Nieuwenhuysen, is the head of the Immigration Department's Bureau of Immigration Research, which is supposedly independent but continues to stress the benefits of high immigration.
The levels of immigration rose dramatically. Mr Hurford concentrated on increasing the economic category of the immigration intake but the component of family reunion also continued to rise. In mid-1986 he opened up a new independent category which gave priority to people with university degrees and a sound employment record.
Though he stressed the economic importance of high immigration, Mr Hurford did not have a strong commitment to multiculturalism. After the August 1986 Budget, the Government announced cuts to the English as a Second Language Programme, a cap on grants under the Ethnic Schools Programme, the end of the Multicultural Education Programme, the merger of the Special Broadcasting Services with the ABC and the abolition of the Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs. As the Treasurer of the time, the present Prime Minister, Mr Keating, must have approved of these measures.
These changes were greeted with hostility by ethnic pressure groups, who with the backing of academics, bureaucrats and much of the media launched a campaign against them. The Prime Minister, Mr Hawke, was alarmed at the response and in 1987 attempted to regain the support of these ethnic groups. He replaced Mr Hurford with Mick Young, who was thought to be popular with ethnic groups and dropped the SBS-ABC merger proposal.
The Prime Minister's most significant act however, was to establish the Office of Multicultural Affairs [OMA], not within the Immigration Department, but within his own Department. The staff of OMA was vetted by the Federation of Ethnic Community Councils of Australia [FECCA], which itself was funded by the Federal Government [and in fact would probably not exist without such funding]. A former academic adviser to FEC CA, Dr Peter Shergold, became the head of OMA. He later became a Deputy Secretary in the Prime Minister's Department and is now Secretary of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. Certain members of FECCA are fond of running a "we made him what he is today" line, when he is discussed.
These changes were accompanied by an increasing belief in academic, economic and bureaucratic circles that Australia had to integrate with Asia to secure its economic future. The rapid increase in Asian immigration, originally, as has been seen, an unintended consequence of the widening of family reunion provisions, was embraced by the elites as essential to our economic and social well being.FAMILY REUNION ENGINE
The Hawke Government began to pursue a deliberate policy of Asianisation, though publicly denied it was doing so. As Stephen Rimmer has pointed out, "the policy of Asianisation, while linked and allied with the multicultural lobby" has a number of philosophical differences and rejects the idea that all cultures are of equal value to Australia. It gives primacy to Asian countries and cultures. The proponents of Asianisation view "multiculturalism as useful for engineering social change and silencing public debate" and so actively support the policy.
One of the strong influences behind Asianisation is a former Ambassador to China, Professor Ross Garnaut who used to be one of Mr Hawke's close circle of personal advisers, derisively dubbed "the Manchu Court" by Paul Keating, while he was Treasurer.
However, Mr Keating since he has become Prime Minister, for all his talk of nationalism has embraced the essentials of the Hawke position. Mr Keating uses Britain and British connections as a convenient straw man. Britain offers no threat to our national sovereignty or unity, but Mr Keating's attacks give the illusion of independence. At one and the same time he advocates "integration" - in other words dependency - in Asia.
Also, in spite of private reservations about the policy of multiculturalism, he appeases the multiculturalist lobby. He is both afraid of a backlash from ethnic groups in his own electorate and determined to keep the fashionable elites on side, including trendy arts bureaucrats and their clients who push the politically correct line.
Professor Garnaut's 1989 report, "Australia and the North-East Asian Ascendancy" which was greeted ecstatically in the press, is, in its fundamentals and in spite of quibbles over tariff levels which unexpectedly emerged between himself and Garnaut, Mr Keating's - as it was Mr Hawke's - blueprint for the future. Mr Keating has essentially embraced the ethos of "the Manchu Court" he once derided.
The "integration" of Australia into Asia is also enthusiastically pursued as a foreign policy objective by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Gareth Evans, whose department released a report in late February this year strongly backing the Garnaut position. The report is called "Australia and North-East Asia in the 1990's: Accelerating Change" Things are clearly not proceeding fast enough for the Foreign Affairs bureaucrats. The report has been nicknamed "the son of Garnaut".
In a consideration of another publication, Senator Evans's own book on foreign policy released last year, "Australia's Foreign Relations in the World of the 1990's". The Age of 4 November 1991 quoted Senator Evans as making the claim that "increasingly Australians were accepting that their nation was part of Asia". In a foreword to his book, Senator Evans says "The late 1980's and early 1990's are watershed years for Australia. We are, whether fully recognising it or not, engaged in nothing less than the reshaping of our national identity".
That is to say, a section of the elites are attempting to engineer such a change, whether the people want it or not. Senator Evans is echoed by a herd of academics who can always be guaranteed wide and uncritical publicity for their books on the need to Asianise. One recently released book given a dream run, barely touched by the breath of academic criticism, was "The Yellow Lady: Australian Impressions of Asia" by Alison Broinowski. The book was launched by the Governor-General, Bill Hayden who once stated that it was inevitable that Australia would become a "Eurasian" country and welcomed the prospect. Though more recently he seems to have developed reservations about the administration of the immigration programme!
The author of "The Yellow Lady" is the same Alison Broinowski who gave a speech at an immigration conference held by the Evatt Foundation in Sydney on 24 April this year. The conference was titled: "A Fatal Shore or a Worker's Paradise?". At the conclusion of her speech she asked, in all seriousness, why Australia did not have an immigration category for domestic servants! No doubt writing fashionable books is hard work and she thought a cheap, foreign domestic would come in handy.
This is precisely the sort of thing which the labour movement in the past fought bitterly to prevent - namely the provision of cheap, imported labour for the wealthy at the expense of the wages and working conditions of locals. Ms Broinowski though used to such a lifestyle with her diplomat husband when they resided in foreign countries, could clearly not see a contradiction.
Senator Evans, along with such morally advanced supporters, clearly sees himself as being a major agent in the process of Asianisation. He states in the concluding chapter of his own book that Australia's foreign policy, as driven by himself, is acting as an important catalyst in building a new Australian identity, "one which is much more internationalist and regionally focused, than before". Senator Evans may one day care to stop and ask the Australian people, whose servant he is supposed to be, what they think of his words. So might the Prime Minister, Mr Keating, who clearly endorses them.
In the mid to late 1980's, the family reunion component of the immigration intake was the engine which drove the numbers up toward and beyond 150,000 per annum. Most in the family reunion category were low skilled and, as the ability to speak English had been downgraded as a requirement for immigration after 1984, many could not speak English. Low skilled people such as these would supposedly help improve our trade with Asia.THE BUSINESS MIGRATION PROGRAMME
This policy of Asianisation was accompanied by an embracing of the free market and a pressure to cut protection of local industries, in line with Garnaut's recommendation to cut all tariffs by the year 2000. [As noted, the Keating Government has changed tack slightly, but not essentially, on tariffs].
But it was precisely these protected industries, such as automotive plants and the textiles, clothing and footwear industries where low skilled. non-English speaking migrants had been largely employed in the boom years of the past. By bringing in such large numbers of immigrants at the same time as future job prospects for them was declining, Government policy was clearly contradicting itself.
The recent closure of the Nissan automotive plant in Victoria starkly illustrated this contradiction. A report in the Australian Financial Review of 17 March this year highlighted the prevalence of migrant workers in the highly protected automotive industry. It quotes a survey by the Work Placed Education Project for the Victorian Automotive Industry Training Board stating that "over 71 per cent of the State 's car workers were from non-English speaking backgrounds [and] over 34 per cent of these employees - typically production line workers - had arrived in Australia in the past five years".
These and the remainder of the 71 per cent non-English speakers, came from 53 countries and spoke a total of 67 different languages". How can such enterprises possibly compete with the Japanese and other mono-lingual countries as the Government continues to bring down the tariff walls protecting them? These industries will need massive injections of funds merely to bring communication skills to scratch.
The lack of English language in the workplace has been estimated by the Office of Multicultural Affairs itself to cost $3.2 billion dollars per year in extra time needed to communicate.
Where will these workers be employed if the factories close?
The low skilled, non-English background migrants the Government is continuing to import - despite the recent cut in the programme to 80,000 for the 1992-93 year -directly compete with those already in Australia for scarce positions. To continue to import people of this profile in large numbers, as is done through the preferential family reunion component, works against both migrant and non-migrant Australians. as well as the best interests of the country in general. Australia is well on the way to creating an intractable pool of long term unemployed.
Also, particularly during the 1980's, the size of the immigration intake, which acted to boost demand and direct local savings to the unproductive areas of housing and infrastructure, was in conflict with policies to dampen local demand for imports and encourage export capacity. To complicate matters, from 1985, precisely as immigration numbers were rising substantially, the Government cut back significantly on its spending. Public services such as hospitals, education and postal services have been compromised, but bureaucrats associated with immigration and multiculturalism - after the backlash to the proposed 1985 budget cuts - which have been noted - have had little problem in getting funds. In fact they, with other politically correct bureaucracies which interlock them, have become a growth industry even in the midst of a severe recession.
In the l980's, the ever increasing immigration intake was also accompanied by a sustained attack on the worth of "old" Australians who resented the changes and could not see how they benefited from them. The elites preached that it was precisely because Australians were so lazy, dull and unimaginative that such an immigration programme was vital to "invigorate" the country economically and make us face up to the 'reality" that Australia was part of Asia.
The elites had also consistently pushed the line that Australia had no culture and that multiculturalism would invigorate us culturally as well, to the point where these attacks have been of significant impact in undermining local morale. Any commentator of reasonable intelligence should realise that good morale is fundamentally important to the economic health of a nation.
In 1983, a programme had been introduced, one designed to attract business migrants. Its introduction and subsequent justification is almost a classic case of the colonial mentality in action. Given that locals were considered second rate, we had to import business people. In January 1988, under Mick Young as Minister, the prevailing belief in deregulation and the deification of the market saw the administration of the programme virtually handed over to private enterprise middle men whose driving motivation was the profits they could make. They, at one and the same time, were employed and paid by prospective migrants, mainly from Hong Kong and Taiwan and also entrusted by the Government to decide which migrants gained entry to Australia.THE FITZGERALD REPORT
When rumours of mismanagement arose, the bulk of the media relied on the testimony of these middle-men and others in the immigration industry. They, of course, including representatives from the Immigration Department, claimed the scheme was working well and did not hesitate to smear critics as racist. The Business Migration Programme became a byword as a massive rort, but for years nothing was done about it. Finally, in 1991, the all party Federal Public Accounts Committee was directed to investigate the programme.
The Australian of 15 April 1991 reported that the Australian Federal Police stated in a submission to the Committee that it was concerned that "individuals are arriving in Australia under the Business Migration Programme by using funds provided by organised crime. It is thought that the funds are then recycled and used to fund ... immigrants under the Business Migration Programme. It is also suspected that the scheme is being used to launder money by known criminal groups which lend the immigrants the money required far the scheme. No apparent checks are made to ensure that the funds for the Business Migration Programme are kept and used within Australia".
The Australian Federal Police believed that Triad crime gangs were using the scheme to help them relocate to Australia before Hong Kong was taken over by the People's Republic of China. About 10,000 business migrants and 30,000 dependents entered Australia under the scheme.
The Australian Tax Office noted that in 1987 the Immigration Department had given it a list of names of 100 successful business migration applicants, but had been unable to provide any other personal information. The Tax Office could trace only seven of the migrants. and only two of those had lodged tax returns. Despite evidence such as this, the Immigration Department continued to claim that the programme was working well right up until the Committee delivered its report on 21 June.
The report was a scathing indictment of the Business Migration Programme and also stands as an indictment of the integrity and professional competence of the Immigration Department itself. The Committee said that the programme was flawed from the start, had been "disastrously" mismanaged and called for its abolition.
In spite of this, the Secretary of the Immigration Department, Chris Conybeare, subsequently claimed in letters to newspapers that the scheme had not been so bad alter all and that any new scheme would be based on what he called the "successes of the old". What does it take before the Immigration Department and other immigration advocates will face up to their failures?
Further, given that the elites are so desperately afraid of how Australia is perceived in Asia - sections of ~e press harp upon this theme constantly - it is interesting to note that the scheme became a standing joke among the Hong Kong business community. Far from increasing our prestige in Asia, it, along with the Education for Export fiasco, which will be considered later, has significantly diminished it.
The Business Migration Programme has since been scrapped, but private sector immigration agents lobbied hard for a new scheme to suit their purposes. The new business scheme - the Independent/Business Skills category - was announced by Mr Hand on 17 December last year and began in February this year. The scheme supposedly has strict controls, which will include extensive monitoring of the successful applicants, but given the record of the Immigration Department, it is yet to be seen how it will work out in practice.
Australia has gained a reputation for mismanagement and confusion in dealing with Asian countries. It is instructive to note the comments of the Executive Director of the Indonesian Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Hadi Soesastro, who said in April 1991 that Australia was part of the Pacific and should identify with the Pacific. "We, in East Asia should also identify ourselves with the Pacific and that is where we meet. It's time for all of us to look to our individual positions in the larger Pacific rim". Australia's pathetic efforts to graft itself to Asia is a source of bewilderment in Asia and has made us appear as a country sadly lacking in confidence. This has been exacerbated by the deeply embarrassing, cringing attitude our officials adopt towards Asian countries.
It should also be noted that a de-facto guest worker scheme has been in operation in the tourist industry in Australia for several years, with Japanese-owned companies overwhelmingly employing Japanese nationals holding working holiday or temporary resident visas as tour-guides, in preference to locals.
This allows Japanese companies to form a network, whereby Japanese tourists fly into Australia on Japanese planes, stay at Japanese owned hotels and go on Japanese owned guide tours, filled with Japanese tour guides. Where the job prospects for Australians materialise is uncertain
Attention has been brought to this practice by the recent proposal by Japanese tourist companies to import up to 2,000 Japanese to work as guides in the local industry. The Sydney Morning Herald of 3 June states, "Figures show that last yew; only five of 96 tour guides working with Japanese tourists in Cairns were Japanese-speaking Australians. On the Gold Coast only 36 of 278 guides were Australians. The remainder were Japanese [on short stay visas]". It is claimed that guides from Japan will be only a short to medium-term prospect while locals are trained, but there is no sign that such training has been seriously contemplated.
In spite of general attempts to stifle debate on immigration, the public discontent with immigration was noted and acknowledged by Mick Young when he was Minister. He commissioned a report into immigration and chose Dr Stephen Fitzgerald who, like Garnaut, was once an Ambassador to China, to head the study. Mr Young left the Immigration portfolio before the report was released. Mr Clyde Holding was the Immigration Minister when the report was handed down in 1988. It was widely expected that the report would back up the Government. Instead the report was by implication and in particular, very critical of the policy of multiculturalism.CHINESE STUDENTS AND REFUGEES
During the inquiry, Dr Fitzgerald spoke to hundreds of people claiming to represent ethnic groups and not one of them spoke of immigration in terms of the national interest. He was disgusted and later commented privately that the ethnic lobby didn't "give a stuff' about the national interest. He personally became strongly opposed to the policy of multiculturalism. The report also recommended that Australia should ~disengage~ from the Indo-Chinese refugee programme and merge the Independent and Concessional Family Reunion categories into an ~Open" category, which took more account of Australian labour market needs.
As the paper "Migration Selection During the Recession" stated: "The Commission agreed that extended family reunion was not a right and that only those meeting Australia's economic, demographic, social and cultural priorities should be selected". The Fitzgerald Report favoured continuing high immigration rates, but with an emphasis on skilled workers. The criticisms of multiculturalism and the family reunion and refugee policies in the report were leaked by a disgruntled committee member to OMA, which subsequently orchestrated a campaign against the report even before it was delivered.
Once it was delivered, both Mr Holding and Mr Hawke at first distanced themselves from it. Dr Andrew Theophanous, Chairman of the Caucus Committee on Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, and Chairman of the all party Migration Regulations Committee weighed in.
Since shortly after entering Parliament in 1980, Dr Theophanous had made immigration matters his speciality. He took it upon himself to condemn the report out of hand on behalf of the Labor Party.
Subsequently, the role of the Caucus Committee in the Government's consideration of the Fitzgerald recommendations was crucial. Dr Theophanous claimed in 1991 that an Immigration Minister couldn't make decisions that go to Cabinet before they go through the Caucus Committee. He said there were 22 meetings of the Caucus Committee to consider the Fitzgerald Report and "we then determined, with the Minister [then Senator Ray} the shape of things". He said the Committee got agreement with the Minister on 80 per cent of issues, but couldn't get agreement on four key issues.
In Cabinet however, the Committee got its own way on three out of four of those issues. The basic composition of the programme was maintained: 50 per cent family reunion, 40 per cent economic and 10 per cent refugee, though the economic component actually fell. There was no "disengagement" from the Indo-Chinese refugee programme and the Independent and Concessional categories were maintained along. of course. with the policy of multiculturalism. The Minister had wanted points to be awarded for English language across the whole programme, but the Committee managed to exclude it as a factor in family reunion sections. The other change went to strengthen the primacy of family reunion in the immigration programme.
The only victory the Minister achieved was to have regulations introduced to reduce the amount of Ministerial discretion in immigration matters. Senator Ray stated that Ministerial discretion had led to a "skew factor" in immigration decisions in the past. Discretion had allowed intensive lobbying of the Minister by pressure groups and so increased their influence over immigration decisions. Senator Ray indicated in Parliament in December 1989 when introducing the regulations that "1987 one particular year in our history" one former Immigration Minister specialised in having immigrants apply to his office rather than go through the Department. Senator Ray stated "more drug pushers got in that one year than during the rest of the years put together
Senator Ray continued: "A [diligent] Minister - not be going out and spending $5m to deport a drug pusher and, after all that money has been spent, have his colleague come in the next day and write one word on the form - admit -with a signature. We will do away with this business of marginal seats candidates trooping into a succession of Labor and Liberal Ministers and saying "I must get this case because it will help me save my seat". All the rotten borough system had to be done away with. All that political sleaze had to be sunk, and the only way to sink it was to make immigration policy' into law and that is what we have sought to do".
In spite of all this, the Caucus Committee wanted Ministerial discretion to be maintained. There is a potential problem with complex regulation, in that lawyers, spying profits to be made, could complicate immigration proceedings further, as indeed they have done. In fact, immigration law has become extremely complex and has spawned a parasite growth industry of migration agents.
But that was not the basis of the Caucus Committee objection. As will be seen in the face of this and other opposition, the Senator's victory was short lived.
At any rate, sources in the Immigration Department have confirmed that widespread lobbying of the Department by Politicians on behalf of others is still very common. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but, as Senator Ray has indicated, there is considerable scope for problems to arise where the cases seem to have little intrinsic merit.
With the release of the Fitzgerald Report and polls showing public disenchantment with the levels of Asian immigration, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr John Howard, sensed an opportunity and entered the fray.
Though Mr Howard is, these days, an excellent critic of immigration policy and multiculturalism, at that time his approach was ill considered. Instead of carefully examining the evidence, getting his facts straight and proceeding with a strong philosophical base and standing firm under pressure, he jumped into the fray unprepared. He hinted that a Coalition Government would slow down Asian immigration, but refused to be definite. As a result he was easily tripped up and discredited, despite his genuine concern for social stability. As part of his approach Mr Howard jettisoned multiculturalism. There was a split with senior members of the Party, including Ian MacPhee and the present immigration spokesman Phillip Ruddock. In general though, there was agreement on actual numbers. The Liberals wanted even more immigrants than Fitzgerald had recommended.
With the Liberal coup just before the last election, Mr Andrew Peacock replaced Mr Howard, and Mr Ruddock replaced Mr Alan Cadman as Shadow Immigration Minister. Multiculturalism was again embraced and it was emphasised that Asian immigration was not an issue. The Liberal policy was still to push the overall immigration numbers up.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to gain foreign currency, the Department of Education, Employment and Training has also had an effect on immigration. A new full-fee paying overseas student policy was introduced in 1986 under the then Minister, Mr John Dawkins. As part of his policy, and again without adequate government controls, private English language schools were encouraged to establish themselves, mainly in Sydney and Melbourne. These schools were supposed to attract foreign, particularly Asian students, who would pay for a short-term course and then return to their countries of origin. That was the theory.ILLEGALS AND CRIME
From the very first these schools were used as a front by supposed students to obtain back door entry to Australia. The Government was warned that this would happen. Even a Kung Fu school was allowed to recruit Chinese nationals as students. Loans were raised by students in places such as Hong Kong or on arrival, and the students then worked in Australia to pay them back, with the result that much of the expected foreign exchange did not eventuate.
The Immigration Department, under Clyde Holding, officially passed on its concerns about the abuses of the programme to the Prime Minister. Mr Hawke in March 1988, but they were ignored.
Alter the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square. Australia found itself with thousands of Chinese students on its hands, the majority of whom had never intended to return to their homeland.
As John Masanauskas noted in The Age of 26 June 1991, the Education Department routinely allowed such students to abuse visa conditions and turned a blind eye to the use of forged medical certificates. The Department did not want to know about other abuses of the system.
John Masanauskas also stated that "By August 1989, the Government seemed to be saying enough is enough when it announced that there wou1d be strict checking of the bona fides of thousands of Chinese who prepaid their course fees, bitt had yet not been given visas. Despite the apparent toughness, opposition in Cabinet from the Education and Foreign Affairs Departments succeeded in watering down the policies. The result: an extra 25,000 Chinese nationals were allowed into Australia".
The Government cynically allowed the public to believe it was being tough while allowing the entry of these "students" knowing full well the sort of problems that might arise with them. Of this latter group, 17,000 have applied for refugee status. In other words, they claim they are afraid to return to China. when they were freely allowed to leave China after the massacre. The highly dubious claims of the students are being processed at the cost of millions of dollars of taxpayers money.
This aspect of the Chinese student fiasco has been allowed because of the direct and highly emotional intervention of the then Prime Minister, Mr Hawke, who granted the pre-Tiananmen students a four year extension to their visas and approved of the entry of the post-Tiananmen students.
Some of these students seem to have become very careless with their passports in recent times. As reported by John McNamee in the Sunday Telegraph in April this year, hundreds of passports belonging to Chinese students has been reported stolen in the previous few months. The report stated that, "Federal authorities suspect that the majority of the Chinese citizens reporting their passports lost or stolen have applied for refugee status in Australia". An Immigration Department spokesman is quoted as stating: "We think they believe, quite wrongly, that their applications for refugee status will be enhanced by them losing their passports."
However, the report stated that "unofficially" the authorities thought that the lost and stolen passports "may be part of a racket involving the entry into the country of illegal immigrants". It will be remembered that a prominent member of the Chinese community in Melbourne, Wellington Lee, accused the bulk of these students of trading "on the blood" of the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre. After the massacre, it was common practice for these "students" to publish their names in newspapers under denunciations of the Chinese Government.
A number later cited such self-publication of their names as a reason why they would face persecution if they returned to China.
Whatever the situation in China, it is clear that the Australian Government does not have the political will to return these students. In fact, Mr Keating in April this year wrote to a Chinese magazine to assure the 20,000 students who arrived before the massacre that they would not be forced back to China against their will. In effect he converted the four-year extension granted by Mr Hawke into permanent residency. Dr Hewson however, wrote a letter to the same magazine insisting that these students would be considered on a case by case basis under a Liberal Government. Given the assurances already made however, by both Mr Hawke and now Mr Keating, it is extremely unlikely that these students would be returned under a Liberal Government. The case would be put in the too hard basket. To all intents and purposes the 20,000 are here to stay
Already the Immigration Department has signalled that about 14,000 relatives at least will be able to come out from China to join the students who have already been accepted. With the chain migration effect the figure is likely to be increased by several times that number in the next few years. This is quite apart from those Chinese students who arrived after the massacre and are applying for refugee status. In fact. the present Minister for Immigration, Mr Hand, has acknowledged that if all these Chinese students were granted permanent residence they could sponsor a further 300,000 relatives under the family reunion scheme within a decade. The relatives in turn will be able to sponsor others.
It should be stressed though, that the Immigration Department is not responsible for this fiasco. Mr Hand had privately, like the Immigration Department under Senator Ray, opposed the blanket de-facto acceptance of the Chinese students announced by Mr Hawke. The Immigration Department also consistently warned of the likely problems with the students from before the time of the massacre.
The principal responsibility for the fiasco lies with the Department of Education. Employment and Training under Mr Dawkins which imposed itself on immigration matters and exercised a minimum of supervision over the programme it initiated. It is also the result of the personal intervention of Prime Minister Hawke in particular, but also the Department of Foreign Affairs under Senator Gareth Evans, which, with the Education Department, was instrumental in allowing the extra 25,000 Chinese students into the country after the massacre. Since then, as noted, Mr Keating has weighed in and compounded the problem.
A scheme which was aimed at raising money has, in large part, become a financial and social liability. No doubt the advisers who dreamed it up are still drawing healthy salaries and coming up with new schemes.
In fact, they were dishonest enough to try to pretend that there were no problems with the programme. even in the face of solid evidence. Senator Robert Ray, when he was Immigration Minister, was very concerned about the issue.
He had to bring Dr Bob Birrell of the National Population Council, the man who had been instrumental in bringing these problems to light. to Canberra from Melbourne to argue the point against officials of the Department of Employment, Education and Training who were still defending their scheme.
In fact, both the Federal and State Governments have since expanded their education-selling activities in China. This includes the distribution of a promotional video throughout China and arrangements between the NSW TAFE system and a Chinese agency to provide Chinese students. Mr Dawkins also reached a similar agreement with Chinese counterparts before he left the Education portfolio to become Treasurer. Australia is also to open a Consulate in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong which will, among other staff, have immigration and education officials. Clearly. Australian Governments seem to have learnt little from experience and another problem is in the making.
The upshot of the Chinese student fiasco is that Australia will be accepting thousands of people as immigrants who it had no intention of accepting. This is on top of the already very high level of immigration, which the Immigration Department does want to maintain and which its research body, the Bureau of Immigration Research, which was established while Senator Ray was Minister, supports with selective reports.
As for the refugee programme apart from the Chinese students, it is clear it also has been massively rorted. Officials from the Immigration Department itself admit that up to 50 per cent of refugee applications are bogus. Given the record of the Department it is highly likely that it has understated the problem.
As far as boat people specifically go, Australia is facing a second wave. As David Jenkins noted in The Sydney Morning Herald of 6 June this year, the first occurred after the fall of Saigon in 1975. About 2,000 Vietnamese boat people arrived in Australia between 1975 and 1981. Far more - 43,000 - were flown to Australia by plane from refugee camps in Asia during those years.
Jenkins states: "A number [of the boat people] were ethnic Chinese fleeing persecution and harshly restrictive economic policies". However, Jenkins states that there were indications that not all of the boats which arrived in Australia in that wave had set out from Vietnam. He quotes a source from the Immigration Department as stating: 'The last boat, in 1981 came from Thailand. But there were others we have always had great doubt about.
No refugee boats arrived in Australia for the next 8 years.
The second wave, which began in 1989 with a boat from Cambodia, is different in character from the first, and claims of the boat people are far more dubious.
The Immigration Department's Deputy Secretary, Mr Wayne Gibbons, told the Migration Regulations Committee in 1991 that refugee rorts would worsen if boat people in this second wave were given the right to apply for residence on humanitarian grounds, as well as refugee grounds, as had been suggested in some quarters. He said: "If we relax controls on our borders, we are sending a great signal to the world which might result in large numbers of people turning up trying their luck ... and also (genuine) claimants are not the most deserving of the refugee claims".
In spite of this clear warning, the Chairman of the Committee, the ubiquitous Dr Theophanous, strongly supported giving boat people a 'second chance" to apply on humanitarian grounds if they failed the refugee test and said his committee might urge Mr Hand to accept this view. Mr Hand indicated that the humanitarian aspect of the immigration programme would be flexible to respond to the possible large movements of world population. Flexibility of response is not a bad thing, but in this case. in spite of Mr Hand toughening his stance on illegal immigrants, there would be every incentive for bogus refugees to continue to try their luck in Australia.
By February this year, Mr Hand had honestly admitted that in refugee matters he "had been taken for a bit of a dill" by lawyers and others claiming to represent refugees. This is a refreshing change from the bureaucrats who generally refuse to admit any errors. Mr Hand indicated that the Government would crack down heavily, because as he stated. "I hate rorters". He outlined procedures which would allow the prompt processing of refugee claims and the deportation of those whose claims were rejected. In the past, some claims have taken several years to process with the result that residential status was virtually assured by default.
The cost of accommodating these refugees runs in the millions of dollars each year. A First Assistant Secretary in the Immigration Department. Mr Mark Sullivan, stated before a Senate Committee in early April this year that 438 boat people had arrived in Australia between November 1989 and January this year. He said the cost of accommodating them was about $6 million last financial year and would be about $8 million this year. Mr Sullivan said 22 of these people had absconded from their low security compounds and 15 were still at large.
Since then, another eight Cambodians have absconded from Villawood and six are still missing. The costs above of course do not include such things as legal aid, which is available to boat people to contest court cases against the Immigration Department. and has provided a lucrative practice for lawyers. The Coalition estimates the overall cost to Australia involved in the processing of refugee claims - including the Chinese students - at about $500 million. Shadow Immigration Minister, Mr Phillip Ruddock, said on 12 April this year that this estimate included, "benefits, holding arrangements, additional staff for refugee processing, legal assistance and so on".
It is one thing to process the refugees and another thing entirely to send them home. Cambodian boat people claiming to be refugees and held at Port Hedland indicated in early March this year that they would refuse to return to their country and would rather die in Australia.
They had already been here waiting a decision on their case for two years. This has basically been due to the delaying tactics of the people representing them, particularly "human rights" lawyers, the fact that Mr Hand was played for a dill - and lengthy bureaucratic procedures.
As Lenore Taylor in the Weekend Australian of 14-15 March this year stated, "From the Just boat load [of the second wave] in 1989, Australia's refugee processing system was tested. Refugee applications were lodged a month after their arrival. But then a group of supporters and lawyers lobbied Mr Hand on behalf of the boat people; it was said there had been insufficient time to write an application that would give them the best chance. Mr Hand agreed to the applications being re-lodged, bitt they were not lodged again for 16 months". Taylor notes that a similar pattern was followed with the next boatload of 119, who arrived in March 1990 and are being held in Villawood in Sydney. They used the same delaying tactics. A third boat of 79 Cambodians "arrived" in June  and took more than a year to lodge re/it gee applications in November 1991.
As indicated, these refugee claimants are never short of outside advisers, some of whom are experts at milking the media. Apart from the excellent factual article by Taylor, The Weekend Australian of the same date also published a piece on the refugees by the paper's foreign editor, Greg Sheridan, under the headline "Serial Murderers Get More Reasonable Treatment". The front page of the paper also featured a large close up picture of the face of one of the refugees, "baby Cohn" behind a wire fence. Clearly the shot was set up to gain maximum emotional impact. This sort of emotionalism will continue to be used by sections of the media to cloud the larger issues at stake.
The Cambodians went on a short-lived hunger strike, which was readily abandoned when their adviser. a locally-based Catholic priest, Father Larry Reitmeyer, suggested they should stop, as reported in the West Australian of March 11. The Cambodians at Villawood also went on a short-lived hunger strike at about the same time.
To Minister Hand's credit, he has repeated his intention to stand firm and has shown great resolve on this issue, in spite of his softness in other areas. After initially being taken for a ride, he has learnt from bitter experience. He said that if he was "forced to sabotage the system" to allow the boat people to circumvent the process he would resign. This seems to be a message to Mr Keating and other Cabinet Ministers that he will not tolerate the sort of intervention in his portfolio which has occurred in the past particularly under the leadership of Mr Hawke. In Parliament on May 5 Mr Hand stated: "In theory I have the ability and control over matters that I ain concerned with, I will be scrupulously fair and firm. The problem is that I have not always had that ability or control over certain things".
On the same date, Mr Hand also pointed out a media ploy which was used to try to milk sympathy for the boat people in Port Hedland. Mr Hand stated: "a woman was shown on television stumbling out of a car. She was encouraged to run to the fence to embrace her son through the wire. But the departmental officers had made arrangements to have the gate open 50 yards down the road so that the car couldn't drive in and she could embrace her son in a proper way. But that was not good television; that was not good copy".
Mr Hand also pointed to the tactics of some church leaders: 'a bishop goes on television and alleges that the Department and I have engaged in some sort of complicity in an abortion process, and then he carefully backed away. That is another .... lie - bishop or no bishop. That was never going to happen".
But this sort of pressure can be expected to increase in the future. The Government will clearly face great difficulties in sending the so-called refugees home. If they are allowed to stay it is an absolute certainty that more will follow.
A group of Chinese are also being held in Port Hedland along with the Cambodians and some Vietnamese and Poles. These are some of the 56 boat people from South China who arrived in the Kimberley in WA on December 3 1991 without the knowledge of authorities and wandered around for days before being picked up. Ten of these people were transferred from Port Hedland to Roebourne gaol. This has sparked another humanitarian outcry and the Human Rights Commission was quick to jump in to "monitor" the situation. Apparently seven of these ten had previously escaped from Port Hedland, and according to the Immigration Department were considered a threat to the safety of the other detainees and immigration staff According to the Department, other detainees had in fact asked for them to be removed, though this had been contested by church groups.
Another 10 Chinese arrived by boat in Darwin on 10 May and have since been transferred to Port Hedland. Their initial application for refugee status has been rejected and they have appealed. Most remarkable of all however, was the discovery of 12 Polish 'boat people" on Saibai Island in the Torres Strait on 22 May. These people were clearly in the process of making an attempt to cross to Australia from Papua New Guinea when they found themselves stranded on the island and gave themselves up to local residents.
They had previously made inquiries to Australian immigration staff earlier in the month in Port Moresby about visiting Australia. Now they claim they face political persecution if they return to Poland, have claimed refugee status and have been transferred to Port Hedland. Mr Ruddock is indeed correct in saying that their arrival is a disturbing precedent. They are not "boat" people, but "aeroplane" people, who attempted the last leg of their journey by boat. Aeroplane is not an uncommon mode of entry to western countries by so-called refugees, particularly in North America and Europe. Given the economic state of many Eastern European nations, if the Poles are successful with their application there are many more who will follow their example. The Poles will be represented at public expense by the group Australian Lawyers for Refugees, who have also represented the 56 Chinese boat people.
The arrival of the Chinese boat people was also very disturbing - apart from health concerns raised by graziers about the first group and the slackness of coastal monitoring - on two counts. The first is that, like the Poles, they could have no pretence for political persecution.
Their motivation was clearly economic and if they are successful with their refugee applications, there are no doubt tens of thousands of others from China who will be encouraged to try their luck.
Secondly, the Chinese boat people were assisted by Indonesia to reach Australia, particularly the first group of 56. The Age of January 23 this year, among a number of papers, pointed this out. The Age carried a story which stated: "The Indonesian media reported in July that the boat people, who had come from southern China, either wrecked or substantially' damaged their Chinese boat. They were forced to... trade-in their boat for an Indonesian one. An Australian immigration official, who refused to be named, said yesterday that preliminary interviews with some of the boat-people have revealed that a number of them were detained by Indonesian authorities during the five months they spent in the Indonesian archipeligo.
Naturally the Indonesians, who have become tired of the demands boat people have placed upon their resources in the past, would have no desire to accept them in the first place, but re-equipping them and sending them on to Australia would be a perfect way of both embarrassing and exerting influence on the Australian Government. Both Malaysia and Indonesia have been upset by Australian criticism of their internal affairs and sending on refugees is one way of getting square.
There is always the threat that in the event of a major exodus many more could be actively assisted to reach Australia if relations with the countries to our north soured. The boat people would know, in those circumstances, that they were assured of stopover points and assistance, making the trip less hazardous and therefore more attractive. During the Afghan war, East Germany dumped thousands of people claiming to be refugees on West Germany, which because of its constitution - recently amended to try to stem the flow of economic refugees from Eastern Europe - was obliged to accept them. The refugees had been transported thousands of miles by air from Afghanistan by the Russians expressly for the purpose. So the potential of using or orchestrating the movement of people into other states as an instrument of strong-arm diplomacy, or war, is definitely there.
That is not to say that we need to cravenly appease Malaysia and Indonesia. Standing up for ourselves and our own values, while at the same time not indulging in moralising over their internal affairs will gain us respect. Our system and values are right for us, but it is arrogant in the extreme to attempt to impose our ways upon others. It is interesting to note that our relations with Malaysia, in particular, were far better before the new breed, which fluctuates between craven appeasement and moralising, took control in Foreign Affairs.
More generally, the contention has been put forward by B.A. Santamaria and others that because of worldwide population pressures and movements, Australia is obliged to continue with a large immigration and refugee programme. The argument goes that if Australia cuts its immigration intake significantly then we would eventually be forced to take more people anyway. Mr Santamaria suggests that the United Nations might impose such a solution upon us, or at least sanction large scale movements of people towards Australia.
The simple answer to that is that if population pressures ever get so great that such a movement is encouraged it will occur anyway, no matter what level of immigration we have. Also, Australia is not exactly defenceless and Australians. at least at the grass roots level, are not so weak that they would allow themselves to be invaded without resistance. Mr Santamaria does not adequately consider the wishes of Australians. This after all is our country and we have the sovereign right to determine our own destiny. If the great majority of Australian people decide they are prepared to take their chances in cutting immigration, then that is their prerogative. This country is supposed to be a democracy after all.
Further, Mr Santamaria's attitude implies a negative resignation and encourages immigration abuses to continue. Why bother to strive for proper selection procedures when we are going to be engulfed anyway? In fact there is no iron law to say that we will be engulfed, but if we court such a prospect, this prophecy will have a dangerous tendency to fulfil itself.
Australia is not only entitled to cut immigration significantly, it is also entitled to have a rigorous selection procedure for refugees. Indeed such a procedure is vital if abuses of the system and the flow of boat people to Australia are to be checked.
It is interesting to note that not all of the members of the Migrant Regulations Committee were as blase as Dr Theophanous about the refugee problem. One said many boat people were wealthy and had bought their way to Australia, intending to enter through the back door. A report on the ABC radio news on November 11, 1991 indicated that a number of Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong camps had criminal records and others without records had been persuaded to operate with the criminals in protection rackets in the camps. These people had been among the most vociferous in opposing forced repatriation to Vietnam. Though the Vietnamese Government has said it would not persecute the people returned from the camps, it said it would prosecute people who had committed crimes before they had left. One has already been charged with murder.
The Liberal Party Immigration spokesman, Mr Ruddock, is on record however as opposing forced repatriation of Vietnamese from Hong Kong. As Mr Hand pointed out in Parliament on 5 May, Mr Ruddock, at a Vietnamese function on 5 January 1990, issued a press release which stated: "Phillip Ruddock, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs today suggested that the United Kingdom Government should rethink its policy on forced return of Vietnamese boat people from Hong Kong". Mr Hand suggested that Mr Ruddock changed his message to suit his audience.
On 5 May, Mr Hand introduced changes to the Migration Act, which, among other things, meant that courts would no longer have the power to release boat people while their applications for refugee status were being considered. This was designed to ensure that applications would be lodged promptly and prevent further legal delay.
There was an outcry against the legislation which effectively circumvented an attempt by lawyers to use the Federal Court to have 37 Cambodians released from detention pending a decision on their refugee status. As has been seen, lawyers had strung out the determination process and have subsequently moved to challenge the legislation in the High Court, which is not likely to hear the case until November. All this is being funded by the public. Refugees are clearly a nice little earner for humanitarian lawyers.
Most of the media continues to portray the refugee problem in purely bleeding heart terms, as if all the refugees were merely innocent victims, instead of looking at the problem closely. It is clear that the soft approach taken in the past has made things worse, not better, and countries such as Australia have in many cases been played for fools. The former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, said as much several years ago. It is high time that the situation was dealt with firmly.
Bob Bottom. a journalist and author who has written extensively on organised crime produced a publication called "Insight Bookmagazine". In its December/January [1991-92] edition, he highlighted the problem of illegal immigrants in Australia. He stated that authorities acknowledge the existence of at least 78,000 illegals living in Australia, though others have put the figure at over 100,000. Of the 78,000 about 70 per cent were said to hold down jobs which would otherwise be available to locals and I per cent drew the dole under false names. "Four, out of ten of the illegals are suspected of doing underhand deals to avoid paying any income tax". Employers have also complained that the Commonwealth Employment Service "has sent them people for. jobs who have turned out to be illegal immigrants".WHAT OF THE ACTU?
Bottom notes, "One illegal immigrant, a Fijian, James Shiram Sz'nda not only managed to live and work in Australia under a false name, but used four other aliases to milk the Social Security system to obtain multiple unemployment benefits totalling $84,000".
Most apprehended illegals did not use false names, but 21 per cent were found to have Medicare cards and five per cent managed to get government accommodation subsidies. "More than 10 per cent also have been able to use millions of dollars in taxpayers' money in free legal aid". Bottom states, "When authorities raided an Indonesian fishing boat, used to land illegals from Bangladesh on the north west coast of Western Australia in a highly organised scam, papers seized listed a number of Australian addresses and information on how best to use Australia's free legal aid system". Two of the eleven illegals had been deported previously.
Bottom notes that in Australia "some members of/he legal fraternity, as well as for charging immigrant advisory groups, specialise in exploiting loopholes in legislation and regulations on behalf of illegals. Authorities complain that most illegals lie to gain visas for temporary access, then seek out legal and civil liberty groups to campaign to be allowed to stay to achieve permanent residency status
Sixty per cent of those caught entering Australia on visitor or tourist visas stay on and go underground. With a boom in international tourism. the issue of short-term visas has exceeded 750,000 a year". Corruption within the Immigration Department and its overseas agencies has also been a problem.
Mail order bride agencies have also acted as fronts for illegal immigration. Bottom states. "Cases have been recorded of immigrants terminating marriages of convenience by divorce, then using their new status to sponsor a wife and family from overseas. According to immigration authorities up to 70 per cent of all visitors applying for permanent residency by marrying or claiming de-facto relationships with Australians are based on deliberate fraud ".
Australia is the only country in the world to "recognise a de-facto as legitimate for permanent residency on the same basis as a spouse", and this has been exploited by illegal immigrants.
The soft attitude of our Governments in general has, of course, also been exploited. Bottom points out that amnesties for illegal immigrants in the past have been failures and have encouraged more illegals to come to Australia in the hope of amnesties in the future. However, after the last amnesty in 1980 "legislation was enacted disallowing further proclamations and both major political parties agreed that there should not be any more".
This did not stop the rumours however, including one which was widely current in 1988, that illegals would be granted amnesty as part of the Bicentennial celebrations. It has been claimed that migration agents in other countries stoked this rumour and arranged for illegals, who believed the rumours, to land in Australia. Of course there was no amnesty.
The cost to taxpayers of all this is enormous and includes such fees as legal aid, detentions, investigations and deportations. But the bleeding heart industry, including large sections of the media, generally portray illegals as humanitarian cases.
In fact, immigration/refugee/passport rackets are a big and growing worldwide business and are increasingly connected to organised crime groups.
In the Sydney Morning Herald of 24 January 1992 there was an article entitled "Billion Dollar Backdoor Migrants" by Margaret Harris, which outlined the illegal immigration racket in China, thought to be controlled by Hong Kong Triad syndicates.
The organised illegal immigrant smugglers are known as "snakeheads". Harris stated:
"The most complicated and successful immigration syndicate uncovered so far was one that flew 23,000 mainland Chinese to Venezuela between March 1989 and February 1990. Most came from Guangdong province [as did Australia's Chinese boat-people] and paid between US $10,000 and $17,000 for the trip".
"Those who take this route often get the money by borrowing .. from the syndicate ..... then they' get to their destination they are put to work in restaurants or factories will their wages are used to repay the debt". This was the pattern with many of the so-called Chinese students who have come to Australia. Also some of those are believed to act as operatives for them in the new country.
The Sydney Morning Herald of 3 April this year reported that established Mafia groups in the US were in decline and Asian-American [and Latin American] gangs were increasing their power. The Asian gangs have "links to sophisticated Asia-based crime syndicates smuggling heroin and illegal immigrants, [and] these modern gangs seemed poised to move into America '5 criminal mainstream.
Canada is another country with such problems. Reuters news agency reported on 27 May this year that the West Coast-based Chinatown Merchants Association "says Canada's Liberal Politicians, afraid of being labelled racist, appear unwilling to crack down on illegal Asian immigrants who are terrorising Vancouver's large Chinese community". Spokesman, Victor Cheng said that Asian criminals consider Canada a soft touch. He said, "The criminal community from South-East Asia know that if they come to Canada they will not get deported.". Canada has since announced plans to toughen its immigration requirements.
There is no doubt that similar problems exist in Australia.
As far as the high immigration intake generally goes and its specific effect on Australian workers, what of the ACTU, the supposed guardian of working conditions'? What was it doing while immigration numbers were being forced up? During the rise of multiculturalism and a strident brand of feminism, the ACTU found itself under attack by middle class, left-leaning academics for not taking these concerns to heart. The ACTU resisted these criticisms initially but gradually gave way.GRASSROOTS OPPOSITION
People of the sort who gave these criticisms, rejecting the aspirations of their own class, but not the comforts of the lifestyle, have systematically taken over the Labor Party. The agenda of these people reflect their own aspirations and desire for status. They may still support workers in specific efforts to secure better working conditions, but their support for a high immigration rate means that wages and working conditions will invariably be undermined anyway.
Also, in other respects, such as lifestyle, they regard the Australian working class with derision, particularly the working class male. They realise that the working class is most resistant to their agenda, particularly the god of multiculturalism. Workers who regard themselves first and foremost as Australian have not only been denied a voice, but also their lifestyle and their value as human beings are being attacked by the organisations which are supposed to represent them. Bob Hawke, when Prime Minister, and other Labor politicians, were never slow to join these Volvo socialists in their attacks.
The old Australian working class will find more sympathy for them as people in the mainstream old Australian middle class, than they will amongst the trendy lefties and social poseurs who have insinuated themselves into their organisations.
So multiculturalism and feminism have become high on the Labor and ACTU agenda and distorted their more traditional working class concerns. The ACTU, in its support of multiculturalism and fear of being branded racist, did not feel as though it could publicly criticise the high immigration levels.
In fact, particularly through its Ethnic Liaison officer, Alan Matheson, the ACTU is extremely anxious to appease ethnic lobby groups and so very reluctant to confront family reunion. Mr Matheson has also gone so far as to suggest that there is little that can be done to prevent the worldwide movement of labour impacting upon Australia. This echoes the opinion of someone such as Michael Stutchbury of the Australian Financial Review who clearly believes in the "free" movement of labour, along with capital between nations, as though labour were just a commodity and local governments had no obligations to their own people.
The free movement of labour would mean that the labour export schemes which already widely operate in Asia would be introduced into Australia, with devastating effects on local wages and working conditions. Local workers would essentially be faced with modern day indentured labourers as competitors, particularly if China entered the market in a big way.
China has yet to embrace labour export schemes to any great extent, but has made significant moves in that direction. The Far Eastern Economic Review, in a 2 April article on migrant labour schemes noted that China officially classifies 200 million of its workers as "surplus". Were a portion of those to be released onto an open Australian labour market the effects can be imagined. The Chinese have already reportedly offered to send two million migrant workers to Japan, to the horror of the Japanese.
That Mr Matheson appears to be oblivious to such potential problems illustrates just how out of touch he is with the sentiments of the people he is supposed to represent -Australian workers. In fact, he acts as though he is little more than a captive of the multiculturalist industry and echoes their tactics in trying to take the high moral ground. He has called for "a positive strategy to combat racism" in Australia which no doubt involves more multiculturalist bureaucrats. He and the ACTU in general, as apologists for the policy of multiculturalism, have badly failed Australian workers on immigration.
Big business, real estate operators, property developers and the like, realising multiculturalism's effect on immigration had moved in behind it before the ACTU. They were free, with ethnic pressure groups, to push for ever higher immigration intakes without the traditional opposition of organised labour. As has been seen, big business favours immigration both because it has a downward effect on wages and working conditions, particularly where those people come from countries with no strong tradition of organised labour, and because, for developers and real estate operators, more people mean more development, regardless of the best interests of the country.
In April 1991 however, the ACT made a submission to Cabinet for a cut in immigration, though it was very careful not to target the family reunion category. The ACTU called for a cut in skilled immigration of 20.000. This was a short-term response to the recession, which had little impact upon the Hawke-led Government, but was at least a start. The long-term impact skilled immigration has on local training opportunities has to be considered. As long as employers know they can import skilled workers readily there is little incentive for them to train locals.
Apart from locals losing opportunities for training. our unthinking cargo cult commitment to skilled immigration has also meant an oversupply of skills in some areas. The 19901-91 Budget papers acknowledge that over-servicing by GP's is caused by the oversupply of doctors. The AMA recognises that this oversupply is largely caused by the immigration of doctors and is rightly concerned about it. Like engineers - whom we continue to import - we have too many doctors, at least in the city areas, where the overwhelming majority of immigrant doctors settle. This not only leads to over-servicing pressures. it denies local residents places in medical schools, which because of the oversupply have cut back on student numbers.
Yet the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health. Mr Howe has been very slow to confront this problem. On the contrary, he initially threatened to flood the country with foreign doctors in his battle with the AMA over his proposed Medicare patient charge of $3.50, which was eventually revised downwards to $2.50 in the face of opposition from the Labor Caucus, and ultimately abandoned by Prime Minister Keating. This charge was proposed to offset the costs caused by over-servicing.
Mr Howe's threat to use immigration as a way of attempting to break the strength of local doctors was an echo of the tactic some employers down the years have advocated to break the strength of trade unions. The irony - and the dangerous precedent he would have set - seemed to have been completely lost on him. Mr Howe though subsequently acknowledged that some restrictions on foreign doctors may be necessary and since then has conceded that some form of entry restriction is necessary.
A paper drafted by the Director of the National Health Strategy, Ms Jenny Macklin, entitled "The Future of General Practice" and released on 15 March this year, took account of the problem of the immigration of doctors. This paper, among other things, called for the intake of overseas doctors to be restricted to 10 per cent of the output of Australian medical schools, which themselves would face a 10 per cent cut in student places. Mr Howe said he supported the thrust of the proposals.
The Macklin paper pointed out that over 400 foreign doctors per year were being allowed to settle permanently in Australia, which was more than five times the number of overseas doctors allowed to settle in Canada. a country with a much larger population.
On 16 May this year, Mr Howe announced that the number of overseas trained doctors allowed to settle in Australia would be reduced to 200 a year in 1992-93. This followed an announcement by Mr Hand that the qualification of medicine would be downgraded for immigration selection purposes. So there is some progress on that t'ront.
But the problems do not exist only with doctors. Note should be taken of the problems Australian shearers have been experiencing. The Australian of 9 September 1991 stated: "In Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland, Australian shearers are continually being outnumbered by their New' Zealand counterparts to a point where more than 42 per cent of the country's flock is shorn by foreign hanks'. The Australian Workers' Union, NSW Secretary. Mr Ernie Ecob remarked: "Over the last three and four months there has been a completely orchestrated, organised campaign by the National Farmers' Federation to have these foreign teams come in and do the work which has been traditionally done every year, for 20 years, by the locals. The large graziers are bending to the wishes of the NFF to ensure they get the work
The Australian reported that the itinerant NZ gangs were working for rates of about $90 per 100 sheep, compared with the award rate of $137. This is an example of the traditional attempts to undermine the wages and working conditions of locals by using cheap foreign labour. Further, much of the money earned by the itinerant workers is taken out of Australia. This trend has continued.
As the New Zealand gangs are predominantly Maori, the issue had become complicated by racial factors. It is interesting to note that the Office of Multicultural Affairs sponsored an episode of the ABC's "A Big Country" screened in 1991 in which the Maoris were portrayed as being better shearers than the locals. It is typical of OMA's propaganda techniques that locals are portrayed as inferior to migrants or foreign workers. By such insidious means OMA, a publicly funded body established by a Labor Government, is justifying the undercutting of the wages and working conditions of locals.
The shearers set up a camp outside Parliament House in May/June this year and put their case to the ALP Caucus. Among other things, the shearers called for work permits for New Zealanders. The Closer Economic Relations Agreement between Australia and New Zealand stipulates free movement of labour between the countries. Historically, Australia and New Zealand have had a special relationship and free movement between the countries has been part of the legacy. With changing times though, circumstances are different. A passport requirement was introduced for travel between countries in 1982 and clearly the case for work permits exists.
CER is basically a trade agreement and it does not follow at all that the freeing up of trade automatically means that labour should be able to move "freely" between nations if this is clearly shown, or is likely to disadvantage local workers. Yet in the Sydney Morning Herald of 30 May, a spokesman for the New Zealand Minister for External Affairs and Trade is reported as stating: "You can't have free trade between countries without a free labour market". This is apparently the New Zealand Government position.
This one example of the shearers being undercut by cheap New Zealand labour gives a small scale indication of what would occur were the present push for freer trade with Asia to be followed by free movement of labour. As already indicated, the consequences for local workers would be disastrous. Yet this prospect is seriously proposed by members of the academic and bureaucratic elites. Is this to be the subtext to the "free" trade push - namely the deliberate undermining of local wages and working conditions by the "free" movement of labour in order to minimise production costs? It becomes clear why the bible of high finance in the USA, the Wall Street Journal, preaches open borders in its editorial pages.
The Caucus Immigration Committee backed the shearers. The support of Committee Chairman, Andrew Theophanous. may be largely due to the fact that the professional ethnic lobby has always been against preferential treatment for New Zealanders and this was a good opportunity to drive the point home. At any rate the Caucus Committee recommendation called on the Minister for Immigration to "cancel forthwith those aspects of these arrangements, which allow New Zealanders automatic access to the Australian job market, so that uniform standards apply to ... Australians and all eligible visitors seeking employment opportunities in Australia.
A watered-down resolution, which did not support work permits was later accepted by Caucus on 2 June. It called on the Government to "cancel those aspects of the travel arrangements that allow New Zealanders to 3to,.k authorise paying in income tax and in breach of awards ". This however was considerable progress and the shearers dismantled the camp, though they intend to continue pushing hard on the issue particularly in the lead up to its consideration by Cabinet. (Editor's Note: we will correct the errors in this paragraph shortly.)
One evocative part of the shearer's general protests was a meeting on Sunday 31 May of a group of about 100 shearers under the "Tree of Know1edge"in Barcaldine, Queensland, to support their fellow shearers in Canberra and call on the Government to support the resolution of the Caucus Immigration Committee. Under this tree in 1891 a group of shearers met following their disastrous defeat in strike action that year, and their resolutions led to the formation of the Australian Labor Party. It is an understatement to say that in recent years they have become disillusioned with the party their predecessors founded.
Whether doctors, shearers or carpet layers, Australian Governments and bureaucrats have an obligation to support locals first. If they don't, then nobody else will and if they don't, why should locals have any respect or regard for their Government?
Mr Howe also has a grand, but imprecise, plan for the cities, yet nowhere does he acknowledge the impact of immigration on the cities. Cut immigration and a great deal of the pressure on the cities would be eased. In fact, Mr Howe is all the development of new growth corridors, which combined with urban consolidation, he seems to believe is the answer.
It is clear from the example of doctors and shearers that immigration and itinerant foreign workers have had a negative impact on local employment. In a more general sense while it is true that there is no hard evidence that immigration increases overall unemployment in the long term. it can hardly be doubted that by increasing the labour pool it has a downward effect on wages and working conditions.
Wages in Australia are already among the lowest in the OECD, but select, well paid economists continually stress that lower and middle income real wages must fall while not suggesting that their own salaries or those of the bankers and executives many of them work for should be cut. In saying Australian real wages are too high they are not comparing us with OECD countries but Asian countries. It is part of their grand vision of Asianisation that real wages should fall to those of Asian countries, so we can properly compete and "integrate" with Asia.
The call for Australia to integrate itself with Asia is essentially a call to the majority to deliver itself into the hands of the economic imperialists. These economists, bankers and big business would benefit individually, but Australia would merely become a colonial satellite, a quarry and construction dump. with the bulk of the locals a cheap labour pool without unity or a sense of national purpose.
People who support Asianisation, high immigration and the "free" movement of labour should be very clear that in doing so, whatever noble motives they think they have, they are riding shotgun for those who would reverse all the gains in working conditions that the labour movement has fought for and which Australians in general take for granted. They are also acting as agents for the social disintegration of our country.
In the absence of opposition to immigration by bodies such as the ACTU, and with the general hysteria surrounding the subject, organised grassroots opposition to immigration, despite general public discontent, was slow in coming. It began while Senator Ray was Minister. Groups formed opposed to Australia's high immigration rate for environmental and economic reasons. Individuals, such as Dr Bob Birrell. had for many years stressed the problems of high population growth. When Bob Hawke first entered Parliament in 1980, it was Dr Birrell he contacted and asked to advise him on immigration matters! How things change.SOCIAL SECURITY COSTS
In 1984 Dr Birrell edited a book - "Populate and Perish?" - backed by the Australian Conservation Foundation. Sections of the ACF attempted to block publication, because its release coincided with the Blainey furore, but it went ahead. Under the ACF leadership of Executive Director, Phillip Toyne, and President, Peter Garret though, population levels and particularly immigration policy, were not openly criticised. While Mr Hawke was Prime Minister there was clearly an understanding that the ACF would not rock the boat on such issues, in return for political favours.
In some cases, members of the ACF executive seemed to have no understanding of population issues at all, or even knowledge of submissions on the issue put forward in the name of the organisation. albeit not by members of the executive. The President, Peter Garrett, for all his rock star celebrity, went so far as to say: "immigration is "not an issue at all for ACF", in spite of the fact that high immigration levels were very much a concern in the ACF submission to the Fitzgerald Inquiry. Further, the ACF in the 1970s repeatedly criticised immigration intakes.
Under the Hawke Government, while the dominant sections of the conservation movement avoided one of the major issues confronting the environment, namely the effects of our very high rate of urban population growth, they alienated potential allies with the hysteria and the hyperbole of their approach to other issues. The problems of the environment are of genuine concern to the majority of the general public. but there is a strong risk they will become antagonistic if this approach continues.
A power struggle arose within the ACF between those who wanted to criticise immigration levels and those, such as the leadership, who want the issue suppressed in line with the general consensus of the elites. Finally, by late 1991, Phillip Toyne garnered the courage to take a stand on population. The ACF now call for a population policy and recommends in its draft policy that immigration should be set at 60,000 per annum.
The change of attitude of the executive is to be welcomed, but it must be emphasised that the leadership of the ACF avoided the hard struggles. When it took courage to confront the issue, they went missing. In fact Phillip Toyne joined in the smear tactics against those who did have the courage to confront the issue within his own organisation.
Environmental groups opposed to high immigration, which did have the courage to confront the issue when it was taboo, included the Canberra-based Australians for an Ecologically Sustainable Population [AESP] and the Melbourne-based Australians Against Further Immigration [AAFI], both formed in 1988. These groups were the major groups to take a public stance against high immigration.
The first group, which includes poets Mark O'Connor and Judith Wright, concentrates strongly on environmental arguments for a significant cut in immigration as part of an overall population policy, though they also use economic arguments. AESP has no clear policy on multiculturalism. Some members are opposed to the policy and others are not and are hopeful that immigration can be cut significantly, while keeping the policy of multiculturalism in place.
Recently elected President, Jenny MacLeod, who also works for the Leader of the Democrats, Senator Coulter and frequently has letters to the editor published in newspapers, stated in a letter to The Australian of 16 March 1992 that "It may not be necessary to dismantle multiculturalism ..... in order to achieve an immigration policy in the national interest". There are some members of AESP however who regard this belief as deluded.
Australians Against Further Immigration on the other hand are strongly opposed to the policy' of multiculturalism and see it as fundamental to confront the policy in order to bring immigration policy under control. AAFI argues on environmental, economic and social grounds for cutting immigration to replacement levels, and the development of a more independent Australian outlook. Its' members include Dr Bob Birrell, Dr Katharine Betts, Denis McCormack and founders Dr Rod Spencer and his wife Robyn.
Others. such as Stephen Joske, formerly of the Legislative Research Service of the Federal Parliamentary Library, specifically dealt with the economic cost of immigration. His 1989 paper "The Economics of Immigration; Who Benefits?" claimed that the immigration intake was adding as much as $8 billion a year to the current account deficit and was distorting the economy. Australian savings, instead of being invested in productive capital were being directed into building unproductive housing and infrastructure to accommodate the population increase brought about by immigration.
Further, there were not enough savings in Australia to cover the cost, so we borrowed overseas, so adding the $8 billion to the current account deficit. Australians were not only subsidising an immigration intake they clearly did not want, but the intake was pushing the country further into debt. Mr Joske's paper was met with considerable hostility by the BIR and Senator Ray, and he was subject to an emotive and unfounded attack by Dr Neville Norman, author of the CEDA report.
Dr Norman also launched an intemperate attack on a critic of the CEDA report. Mr Brian Parmenter. Mr Parmenter, in his Presidential address to the Victorian Branch of the Economics Society in 1989, had cast serious doubts on Dr Norman's conceptual approach in the CEDA report. Most economists, including those in the Federal Treasury, now agree that immigration worsens the current account deficit.
This is quite apart from the Social Security payments which have been paid out to the large number of immigrants who have entered Australia in the last few years and have been unable to find jobs, particularly those from non-English speaking backgrounds.CALL FOR RATIONAL DEBATE
The paper "Immigration and the Recession" by Dr Bob Birrell released on July 1, 1991 and based on Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, stated that the average unemployment rate for migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds who had arrived since 1986 was 21.6 per cent. For those arriving since January 1990 the rate was 44 per cent. Dr Birrell calculated that if the average level of unemployed from non-English speaking backgrounds of 48,000 was sustained over 1991-92 and they all received unemployment benefits at the single rate it would cost Australia $340 million.
Even in the skilled area, Australia was bringing in people as engineers when there was an oversupply of engineers. These people were reluctant to look for work outside their areas of expertise and so ended up unemployed.
Further the unskilled migrants who did find jobs in manufacturing were directly competing with locals for scarce positions. Dr Birrell asked; "Why then is the Government continuing with a substantial migration intake, most of whom will add directly to the dole bill or indirectly by taking up jobs locals could have filled?"
The BIR subsequently attempted to debunk Dr Birrell's findings. It commissioned a paper entitled "Immigrants and the Social Security System" by Peter Whiteford of the Social Policy Research Centre of the University of NSW. This paper was one of six delivered at the BIR's Social Impact of Immigration Conference at Macquarie University in September 1991.
Much of the media subsequently reported this document as though it was fact. The document however, was seriously flawed as pointed out in a critique by Stephen Rimmer. Mr Rimmer noted that Mr Whiteford's paper "ignored important characteristics of migrants; these include English language ability - or the lack of it - and educational and occupational skills". Definitions were also changed in the Whiteford paper to suit the purpose. Mr Rimmer notes: "changing the use definitions then results are not consistent with a hypothesis represents an unscientific misuse of statistical methods, which "could not be tolerated in any university in Australia".
Mr Rimmer concluded Mr Whiteford's paper did nothing to undermine the conclusions of Dr Birrell's paper. The BIR issued yet another report which, while acknowledging the high unemployment rate of NESB migrants, tried to twist the argument to claim that this was because of workplace discrimination. The Australian Chamber of Manufacturing called this report, "a very illogical, soft review, which doesn't prove anything" and remarked that as the Government entices such migrants. training them was the Government's responsibility. It was not the role of employers to train migrants in the basics they needed to adapt to this country. Neither BIR report stands up to scrutiny.
Dr Birrell's original findings were further supported by the facts provided by the Department of Finance in October 1991 in response to a question put by the Opposition Shadow Minister for Social Security, Senator Alston. Senator Alston had asked for figures on the full year cost of the Social Security payout to migrants of less than one year's residence in Australia. The Department of Finance calculated that the payout for these migrants was $251 million. The BIR report, which aimed to downplay such payments, was clearly misleading. A further Department of Finance document estimated the major recurrent Commonwealth costs incurred in the first twelve months after migrant arrival, as at June 1991, as $378 million. This includes other Social Security benefits, health and language training courses. This document was dated 17 September 1991.
In fact, the quality of some of the work the BIR had commissioned is truly appalling. The worst example so far is probably "Immigration, Ethnic Conflicts and Social Cohesion" by Cope, Castles and Kalantzis from the Centre for Multicultural Studies, University of Wollongong, a paper which was also delivered at the September conference.
This is no more than a bigoted attack on "old" Australians, the very group which most heavily subsidises the writers. Ms Kalantzis has since joined the University of Technology in Sydney which strongly promotes the policy of multiculturalism.
At any rate, during Senator Ray's period as Minister, AESP and AAFI, as well as other individuals. called for a rational and open debate on immigration. Through efforts of people such as these, more people began to realise just how high Australia's immigration was; how under the mantle of anti-racism and deliberate lack of scrutiny and intimidation of critics. the immigration intake had steadily climbed since 1984.APPEASEMENT CONTINUED
In an article in the "Current Affairs Bulletin" in May 1989, the demographer, Dr Christabel Young of the ANU pointed out that Australia's immigration intake was two or three times per capita the immigration intake of Canada or the US. Largely because of an immigration rate at the time of upwards of 150,000 per annum. Australia had the highest rate of population growth in the developed world. She said that if the growth rate continued, Australia would double its population in a bit over 40 years.
Most of the immigration intake settled in major cities, so massive problems of congestion and pollution would eventuate. The quality of life of all would suffer. The effect of the immigration policy on urban infrastructure costs was underlined in a report delivered in March 1991 by the Economic Planning Advisory Council, entitled "Urban and Regional Trends and Issues". The report also notes. "It would seem indisputable that high level of immigration have contributed to the very high growth in housing prices in Sydney in recent years".
The great bulk of immigrants settle disproportionately in Sydney and Melbourne. and attempts to decentralise the intake have been historic failures. Where outflow from these cities occurs it is largely by longer-term residents - who can no longer afford the price of living - to other cities. In the unlikely event that immigration decentralisation programmes were seriously implemented in the future, there is no indication that they would be any more successful than in the past. At any rate, none worth the name are in place. This means that in considering the impact of the immigration intake it is simplistic in the extreme to point to the large size of the Australian land mass to justify a large intake, as for example was done in the Catholic Social Justice document "I am a Stranger, Will You Welcome Me?", which was released last year.
Quite apart from the fact that our land mass is largely infertile, it is the capacity of major cities to cope with immigration which must be considered, as that is where immigration impacts. The so-called solution of urban consolidation not only implies a lower quality of life for existing residents in cities, it does not effectively bring down the price of housing, one of the things its proponents, particularly those on the left wing of the ALP, claim it will do.
Local Councils are also strongly resisting urban consolidation, And. as was indicated in an article in the November 1991 edition of "The Independent Monthly" by A.N. Maiden, in Sydney's experience, "in inner suburban areas urban consolidation is perversely being achieved at the expense of low and moderate-cost rental accommodation". In North Sydney the accommodation mix "increasingly excludes low-to-moderate income owners and virtually all first home buyers".
The article goes on to state: "It is difficult to escape the conclusion that urban consolidation is, at best, a holding operation - a programme of apparent action that can be pursued with apparent vigour until environmental and economic constraint at the fringes impose a market-dominated price solution to Sydney's and .Melbourne's housing crisis. And that solution will be to exclude the population that cannot afford soaring home prices. For an urban consolidation programme to achieve anything eA~e will require draconian changes to the lifestyle that generations of all Australians have come to regard as their birthright".
Yet, as Dr Birrell states in his article in the book "Immigration, Population and Sustainable Environments"; "Though officialdom rarely acknowledges it, the message is that in their scale of values the well-being of the next generation of Australians living in Sydney and Melbourne is less important than the maintenance of high immigration". It is becoming increasingly obvious that mass immigration is a liability.
There have also been contentions that immigration can overcome the problem of an aging population, and that without immigration our population would decline. These contentions have been demolished by the work of Dr Christabel Young. She has found that, in fact, without any immigration our population would grow by several million by the end of the first quarter of the 21st century. Even a recent report by the Bureau of Immigration Research has supported this, though high immigration spokesmen had earlier contended that immigration was needed to offset a supposed population decline which would result from Australia being below replacement fertility levels.
But, in spite of Dr Young's work, Dr Andrew Theophanous and others continue to claim that immigration can play a significant part in retarding the ageing process. The fact is that our rate of natural increase is enough to cope with, we do not need to import such a large number of people.
During the 1990 election campaign, despite a general avoidance of the issue, immigration again impinged briefly with the issue of the Multiculfunction Polis, a Japanese "future city" with implications for immigration policy. One of the most prominent backers of the MFP incidentally is Will Bailey, retiring Chief Executive of the ANZ Bank and Chairman of the Australian Bankers Association. He is an enthusiast for Asianisation and one of the men who approved the loan of about $1.5 billion to young Warwick Fairfax to attempt his disastrous takeover of the Fairfax publishing empire.
In spite of this outlandishly bad decision. Bailey and others who made similar decisions are still thriving. while people who had nothing to do with the financial excesses of the 1 980~s have lost their jobs. In fact, Mr Bailey was one of those who Prime Minister Keating sought Out in his much vaunted exercise of consulting the people before the One Nation economic statement was handed down in February this year.
After the re-election of the ALP in 1990, the new Opposition Leader, Mr John Hewson called for a rational and open debate on immigration. Then there was a real bombshell. Senator Peter Walsh, who resigned from the Finance Ministry attacked the immigration intake on economic grounds and revealed that he had been arguing against high intakes in Cabinet for several years.
The media which, in general, had done its part to keep the lid on the subject, burst forth. The newspapers were awash with immigration stories. At last, in the media there was a general acceptance that it was alright to talk about the subject as long as race wasn't a consideration. The press, in general though, maintained its commitment to high immigration and the policy of multiculturalism, though dissenting voices were heard.
Not long after Gerry Hand took over as Immigration Minister in 1990, there was a slight cut in the intake and a long overdue campaign against illegal immigrants was instituted. However, changes introduced by Senator Ray to reduce the opportunity for direct lobbying on the Minister by special interest groups were overturned. As will be recalled, the introduction of regulations to replace discretion was the one victory Senator Ray. as Minister, had had over the Theophanous-led Caucus Committee on Immigration and Ethnic Affairs in the wake of the Fitzgerald Report. This change had been urged on the Minister by the Secretary of his Department, Ron Brown, and the Deputy Secretary, Tony Harris. There was an outcry in the ethnic lobby at the change. They felt particularly aggrieved with Mr Harris because he consistently held the line against ethnic lobby groups in the Immigration Department.THE IMMIGRATION CLUB
Although the Immigration Department was in favour of continuing high immigration under Brown and Harris, it was prepared to stand up against the more importunate demands of the professional ethnic lobby. Brown and Harris, for example, refused to water down skills testing - such as it was - in the concessional family category so that a predetermined target in the 1989-90 for the category could be met. They were prepared to allow a shortfall rather than compromise the entry test as the ethnic pressure groups demanded.
The ethnic lobby had considerable influence on the Department, but saw the real champion of its cause as the Office of Multicultural Affairs. As stated in an article in The Financial Review of May 1990, "because of the perceived [electoral] power of the Lebanese community leaders in Sydney and the Jewish, Greek and Italian community leaders in Melbourne they have almost direct access to Mr Hawke".
A campaign was launched to overturn the changes which was orchestrated by FECCA, with the assistance of OMA.
Though all the ethnic groups involved in FECCA had motives in overturning the regulations, the decisive intervention, according to sources in the Immigration Department and Peter Hartcher in The Sydney Morning Herald, came from the Melbourne-based Jewish pressure groups who wanted to clear the way for the entry of Soviet Jews and lobbied Mr Hawke directly. A special category was established with the refugee component to accommodate them and Ministerial discretion was reintroduced.
In order to disguise the real reason for this category, other ethnic groups will also qualify under its provisions. On 31 January this year, Mr Hand announced that "A tentative total of up to 4, 000 places has been decided.. to be distributed among ethnic minorities of the former Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Croatians, Slovenians, East Timorese and Lebanese applicants". Those in this special category are described as people "who had a special need to resettle here, but who did not fit the United Nations definition of a refugee". Also entry requirements for the concessional family reunion category were watered down, which effectively increased the concessional family in take by 7,000.
As Mr Hartcher notes, the Head of the Immigration Department, Ron Brown who had advised Senator Ray to make the original change to introduce Ministerial regulation was sacked on the Prime Minister's initiative. The Deputy Secretary, Tony Harris. was also sacked. Mr Harris has since made a comeback, via the Industry Commission and is now an adviser to the Treasurer, Mr Dawkins. The replacement for Mr Brown was Mr Chris Conybeare, a Hawke man, formerly of the Prime Minister's Department. This continued Mr Hawke's trend of appointing officers who had served him in the Prime Minister's Department to senior positions in other departments.
During Mr Hawke's reign, examples of this, other than Mr Conybeare, who are Heads of Departments include: Noel Tanzer, Administrative Services; Allan Rose, Attorney General's; Tony Ayers, Defence; Greg Taylor, Employment, Education and Training; Mike Keating, Finance; Stuart Hamilton, Health, Housing and Community Services; Neville Stevens, Industry, Technology and Commerce; Graham Evans, Transport and Communications; Tony Cole and Mike Codd, Prime Minister's Department. Mike Codd under Mr Hawke was the number one bureaucrat in Australia.
Since Mr Paul Keating has become Prime Minister, Codd has resigned and Mike Keating [no relation] has moved to the Prime Minister's Department, while Steve Sedgewick [another ex-Prime Minister's Department man] has moved from the Industry Commission to Finance.
Though individual ethnic leaders were heard claiming the credit for Mr Brown's demise, Dr James Jupp, Head of the Immigration and Multicultural Studies unit at the ANU another Hawke adviser, generously funded multiculturalist and intimate of FECCA, stated at a conference in Austin, Texas in April 1991 that FECCA had been gunning for Mr Harris, and that Mr Brown was just "collateral" damage. Mr Harris had been seen as the real thorn in the ethnic lobby's side.
This is a clear example of what Dr Stephen Fitzgerald described in his Morrison Lecture of November 1989. He said immigration and settlement philosophy in recent years had no vision or forward thinking plan, but was "step by step backwards in decision making" in response to "pressure, threats and manipulation" by interest groups.
On April 30 1991. in the face of the recession, the Cabinet cut the projected intake for 1991-1992 programme to 111.000. In spite of the ACTU's recommendation, the skilled intake was only cut by 7,500 and the family reunion intake by 6.000. But basically, the changes were cosmetic. At the time of the cuts the Government also announced its intention to gradually increase the intake to 128,000 by 1993-94.
At any rate, as Michael Millet reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 12 March this year, the projected 1991-92 figure was on line to be overshot by about 4,000 anyway'. He stated that this was "despite claims by senior Government Ministers that the recession would act as a natural curb on immigration by reducing Australia 's attraction to overseas applicants". This has been the oft repeated theme of the head of the BIR. Dr Nieuwenhuysen - that the market will naturally adjust the intake. It is a totally facile and incorrect claim. No matter what our economic condition many family reunion migrants can earn more on the dole than they can in their home countries and will continue to come to the country if they can. As Millet states: "The blowout is due to an oversubscription of family reunion cases" mainly in the concessional part of the programme.
Concessional family reunion includes brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces and is one section of the programme which should be scrapped entirely, not just cut back as Mr Hand has done in the announcement of the 1991-93 programme.
As for the blowout in the 1991-92 figures, Mr Hand is firm that the programme will come in at 111,000. This will no doubt be achieved by merely deferring the settlement of several thousand of the migrants until the next intake.
Our population growth rate of about 1.45 per cent is still the fastest rate of population growth in any western nation. As our population would continue to increase naturally for many years, why do we have to supplement it with the current immigration rate? Who benefits? Certainly not the majority of the host population. Our rate of population increase has, in recent years, been closer to India than to comparable western nations.
Australia's immigration increase, combined with the Third World base of our export income, namely unprocessed raw materials, must be confronted over the long term if Australia is to maintain a First World standard of living and quality of life. The national interest must be taken as our guide and not the appeasement of select pressure groups.
This appeasement. in the past has meant that immigration and multiculturalism have spawned massive and complementary industries and are very powerful articulate lobby groups with ready access to the media. This is quite apart from the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs which has grown into a monster Department. The bigger the intake. the bigger the empire of the Department. As has been seen, the Department established the Bureau of Immigration Research as a supposedly independent body. but in practice. it acts as a propaganda unit for high immigration rate.
In fact, it is interesting to examine who the BIR commissions to assist it in its research. In the 1989-90 years, Katherine Meikle of Monash University and the National Institute of Labour Studies, Flinders University were given external grants and both were connected with the CEDA report. The Centre for International Economics, whose work in the past has been used to justify high immigration rates. received two separate grants totalling $64,000. Dr James Jupp of the ANU, who has made a speciality out of multiculturalism and favours high immigration rates received two individual grants totalling $50,000 and a third in conjunction with two other ANU colleagues totalling $57,120. He has been commissioned by the BIR to write a book on the politics of immigration.HEALTH PROBLEMS
In the most recent annual report of the Immigration Department, the listing of grants by the BIR are deliberately obscured. Instead of naming individuals, as was done in the past, institutions are named. This is to make it more difficult for those who bother to check to pin down precisely where the grants go, but the type of pattern listed above has been repeated.
There is an old saying that you should never commission a report unless you know what's going to be in it. Given the past opinions of the great majority of the people the BIR commissions, it seems that they need not be too concerned.
Another example of the BIR's approach occurred at its National Outlook Conference of Immigration held in Melbourne in November 1990. Of the 94 invited speakers. only one was pro-moderate and only 3 pro-low immigration. The remainder favoured high immigration. It is interesting to note though, that immigration critic Dr Bob Birrell has been offered and has decided to accept a position on the BIR advisory committee. His approach is to try to offset the influence of the high immigration advocates from within, as he has attempted on the National Population Council, where he has certainly had some success.
Apart from the contributions of Dr Birrell though, the NPC is another example of a publicly funded organisation which postures as an independent advisory body to Government. The members of the council are appointed part time by the Minister for Immigration for a period of two years. The composition of the council shows how disgracefully the Government has stacked the deck in favour of the multicultural ism industry and proponents of high immigration in general.
Of the 18 current members only Dr Bob Birrell strongly favours low immigration. The other members are: Professor David Cox, co-Chair of the Settlement and Ethnic Affairs Committee; Professor Glenn Withers, [a consistent advocate for high immigration]; Mr Maan Abdallah, Community Development Worker, Lebanese Community Council; Professor Stephen Castles, Director, Centre for Multicultural Studies. University of Wollongong; Ms Christine Choo, social worker; Ms Paula Cristoffanini, Director, Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission; Dr Robyn Iredale. research, Fellow Centre for Multicultural Studies, Wollongong University; Ms Joanna Kalowski. Co-ordinator, Community Relations, NSW Anti-discrimination Board: Mr Alan Matheson, ACTU Ethnic Liaison Officer; Dr Kenneth Rivett. involved in refugee work, but also favours high immigration intake; Ms Thu Linh Sam, social worker; Mr Ross Tzannes, Chairman of the Ethnic Communities Council; Mr John Scomparin, solicitor; Ms Georgina Carnegie, Managing Director. Market Intelligence PTE Ltd; Dr Graeme Hugo, Reader in Geography and Population Studies, Flinders University and Mr Phillip Toyne, Executive Director of the ACF, who, as has been noted, has improved, despite previously avoiding the population issue, at least in public.
This scandalous imbalance speaks for itself. Yet this group advises on issues which affect all Australians, not just professional multiculturalists. Of this group, seven were selected to advise on a population strategy for Australia. They were Professor Withers [Chair], Professor Castles, Ms Cristoffanini, Dr Iredale. Dr Hugo, Mr Toyne and Dr Birrell. Dr Birrell, as the only Australian nationalist in the group. was the only one among them who could be relied upon to voice the concerns of the great majority of Australians. This group issued its discussion paper in April last year and submitted its final report, following consideration of public submissions, in February.
Extraordinarily enough, before the final report was issued there had been some positive signs emerging from this group of seven. Dr Birrell had been a very powerful influence and to an extent, had offset the influence of traditional high immigration advocates within it, with the support of Phillip Toyne. The Sydney Morning Herald of November 4, 1991 indicated that at least the effect of immigration on Sydney and Melbourne was firmly on the NPC agenda, and also the need for a wider view of the effects of immigration. There was also talk that some significant recommendations might be made.
But strong pressures were placed upon the group to tone down the final report. Also, pro-immigration elements were added to the report at the last moment by Professor Withers. Incidentally, high immigration champion, Professor Withers, was created an Officer in the General Division in the Order of Australia in the 1992 Queen's Birthday Honours list for "services to applied economics, particularly in the areas of immigration and population research". It is interesting to ponder whether anyone who was in favour of low immigration could have received such an award for such a reason.
At any rate. as a result of the watering down, the NPC recommendations are of little moment, with the exception of the one calling on the Government to develop a population policy. In the text of the report however, Dr Birrell had some success and the problems facing Sydney are emphasised.
However. the general trend of creating more multiculturalist power bases has continued. On March 25 this year, Mr Hand announced the formation of a Settlement Advisory Council. The stated role of this council "comprising of community representatives" is to "provide the .Minister with a view of Government settlement services from the perspective clients". As if enough bureaucracies in this area did not exist already! This group is just another opportunity for multiculturalists to expand their empire.
The membership speaks for itself: Mr Paris Aristotle. co-ordinator with the Victorian Foundation for the Survivors of Torture Inc; Ms Hurriyet Babacan of the Victorian Ethnic Affairs Commission; Mr Peter Einspinner of FECCA and the Ethnic Communities Council of NSW; Ms Marina Garcia-Ruivivar, described as "involved in settlement issues, particularly relating to the Filipino community; Ms Carmen Harrison, has worked in "ethnic child care" and researches in the area of migration and Multiculturalism"; Ms Sophie Matiasz, involved in Multicultural Education and Ethnic Communities Council of South Australia; Ms Leah Nichles, developing an information strategy for NESB people for the Queensland Department of Housing and Local Government; Ms Rita Prasad, involved in organisation focused on the needs of NESB women"; Mr Carolyn Reeve, "works in the North West of W.A. with NESB women who have come to Australia to marry"; Mr Victor Rebikoff OAM, President of the ACT Ethnic Communities Council and convenor of FECCA's Media Network; Mr Wasili Salewski, training programmes with NESB migrants; Ms Debbie Stothard, "has worked on issues affecting women, education, youth, Aborigines and anti-racist campaigns.
Earlier, on 28 February this year, Mr Hand had announced a $5 million package of grants to ethnic groups "to help with migrant settlement". The month before, on 10 January. Mr Hand announced a financial grants scheme to "assist immigration advisory service organisations". A number of these organisations had been financed in the past by the Immigration Department, but this announcement upgraded the grant procedure. The role these organisations play is basically to assist applicants who apply to have their temporary status changed to resident - in other words, they came to Australia as a temporary entrant and decided they wanted to stay. In effect, the Immigration Department funds these advisory organisations to work against it. All of these are of course part of the immigration/multiculturalist network.
The Law Reform Commission headed by Justice Elizabeth Evatt handed down a report in May this year suggesting that the law should take more account of so-called multicultural considerations. Her report recommends an increased role for all the old favourites - the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Bureau of Immigration Research and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission.
Each group in the network supports the other getting increased powers. There are also State Anti-discrimination Boards and an Equal Employment Opportunity and Programmes Unit in the Federal Public Service Commission which link with the network.
As has been noted. in the Universities there are a number of immigration and multicultural units which churn out propaganda and act as power bases for the policy and the immigration programme. Churches also fund their own similar bodies, which link in and also obtain government funding. At the fringes are a host of other groups which get government funding and are connected with the immigration/multiculturalism industry. This is quite apart from immigration agents and lawyers who use legal aid to contest immigration cases.
So in the midst of Australia's economic difficulties the immigration/multiculturalism industry continues to be lavishly funded, while deserving causes are overlooked. Stephen Rimmer puts the direct cost of the public subsidy of multiculturalism at $2 billion and the overall cost to the country of the multiculturalism at $7 billion.
Mr Rimmer has also pointed to significant failings in health monitoring of immigrants at point of entry and beyond, which have obvious implications for public health. This is particularly so in the cases of Hepatitis B and Tuberculosis.FAST BUCKS AND EDUCATION
Of these two, Hepatitis B is the major concern. One of the founders of Australians Against Further Immigration [AAFI], Rod Spencer. is a doctor who has tried to bring the problem of Hepatitis B to public attention. In the AAFI manifesto, Dr Spencer provides the following information, cleared for use by Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital in Melbourne.
"Hepatitis B is endemic in Africa and Asia. Over one billion people have been infected. This results in two million deaths per year and a carrier population of 200 million people. ie one in six. Carriers, though being healthy themselves, are as infectious".
The mode of transmission of Hepatitis B is similar to that of AIDS, but is one hundred times more infectious, and spreads in a non-sexual fashion with families, between children in situations where oral spread is likely and to non-immune individuals in close contact with large carrier populations.
Ten years ago. Hepatitis B was a very rare disease in Australia, but it is now estimated that 20,000 occur in Australia every year.
Acute deaths per year are less than I per cent of the total number of cases, probably 20 to 100 deaths per year, but later deaths occurring over the next 40 years are in the order of 500. ie 520 deaths will result from the 20,000 cases of Hepatitis B which have occurred this year.
As AAFI states: "the Government is now morally obliged to test intending immigrants and begin a mass immunisation programme of those at special risk in the Australian community, especially children of school and pre-school age".
It is better late than never, but. according to the Sydney Age of 10 May, the working party of the National Health and Medical Research Council - HMRC] apparently now wants to propose a mass immunisation programme for Hepatitis B. This follows a recent World Health Organisation recommendation that all countries phase in mass immunisation. The United States has already decided on such a programme. The NHMRC however. is obliged to delay making its proposal. Why? A lack of funds. Though public money is readily available to the multiculturalist industry, health funding is another matter. The NHMRC does not have enough funds to arrange airfares so the members of the working party can meet to finalise its recommendation. It is a farce. However, the recommendation is clearly on the way, though. once the recommendation has been made it will take several more months to finalise. Action is finally on the way after the public has been exposed for over a decade to this health risk.
As for Tuberculosis, it had been virtually eradicated in Australia, but it is clear that, due to inadequate screening of migrants, it again has the potential to pose a significant hazard to public health.
It is certainly a problem in other countries, even one as wealthy as the US. which has developed a poor and malnourished underclass, which virtually acts as a laboratory for the disease. According to the National Centre for Disease Control, as reported by Reuter on 19 May this year. the TB upsurge is linked to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. immigration and the "transmission of TB in institutional settings such as gaols and other confined spaces".
New, more virulent and drug resistant strains of TB have developed in the US because the schedule of prescribed drug doses for the disease are often not completed by sufferers. This is because TB symptoms fade quickly when the prescribed drug is taken. As the symptoms fade, many sufferers stop taking their medicine before time, but they still have the disease which later reappears, this time much more resistant to the drug and so the cycle can continue.
Worldwide, according to the American Lung Association [ALA] more than one third of the world's population carries TB bacteria and TB kills more people than any other infectious disease.
As the Sydney Morning Herald reported on October 30, 1991 "Tuberculosis .... may be making a comeback in NSW new figures from the Health Department suggest". The article cited by the Public Health Bulletin and stated, that, as in the US, "The spread of AIDS and an increase in migrants from TB endemic countries is thought to be responsible for the upsurge". The article goes on to states that TB-control systems were dismantled in the mid-I980's.
The Australian approach now taken is as follows: if a potential migrant is identified as TB positive. he or she is required to sign an undertaking that treatment will be sought before departure for Australia. This procedure hardly inspires confidence. Other migrants have only been detected as TB positive on arrival in Australia. While it is true that TB is considerably more difficult to contract that Hepatitis B, and that 90 per cent of people will not contract TB when coming into contact with a sufferer, if a person is weakened in some way, perhaps due to another illness, poor diet or old age they will be in danger of contracting the disease.
In spite of reports such as the one in the Sydney Morning Herald and the clear inadequacy of medical monitoring of migrants, there are pressures to lessen health monitoring requirements coming from, in particular, those who wish to foster "Education for Export" services. The Industry Commission noted in its August 1991 report on such services that "There have been claims by institutions that medical checks impose unnecessary delays on the processing of student applications in some countries", and the Immigration Department stated that there was scope to reduce such medical checks.
It fact, just the opposite is true, there is considerable scope to improve medical checks. Because students are often confined in spaces with other students, checks should be as strict as possible otherwise diseases could be spread to the host community particularly infectious diseases like Tuberculosis and Hepatitis B.
The former Deputy Secretary of the Immigration Department, Tony Harris was the author of the Industry Commission report. and he stated "if the Australian Health Authority has assessed the risks correctly, the benefits of waiving tests would accrue principally to the industry, while the resultant costs "would principally be borne by the Australian community".
There are worrying signs that agents pursuing foreign students for the money they provide are prepared to put the health of the Australian community at risk, in order to maximise profits. In the immigration programme in general, there can be little doubt that, for reasons other than profit, medical screening and follow up have been inadequate and the Australian Government has deliberately put its population at risk.
The Industry Commission Report, while bringing this important health aspect to light. was, in general, disappointing. It advocated a continuation of the free market, less regulation approach to Education for Export, in spite of the severe problems this approach has already caused.
Education programmes not connected with the Education for Export scheme can also pose problems because of lack of medical surveillance. Dr Damien Meagher, a clinical haematologist from Townsville, warned on 17 May that there was inadequate medical surveillance of Papua New Guinea students who came to Australia to study in Townsville, Charters Towers and Ingham. He had no objection at all to them coming. but had stressed, without apparent success, to relevant authorities, that their health should be closely monitored.
This is because the students come from a malaria infection area. They rapidly lost their immunity to malaria after arriving in Australia as they were no longer being continually exposed to infection. This meant the latent disease they carried developed. Dr Meagher warned that the disease could readily be spread to the host population because Townsville had the vector for malaria - the Anopheles mosquito. Dr Meagher said that malaria had existed in North Queensland in the past and could easily be re-established. He stated that 50 cases of malaria were diagnosed in Townsville last year and six cases were diagnosed in one week alone earlier this year.
It should also be noted that - as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 18 March this year - the World Health Organisation has announced that a deadly new strain of malaria, which is resistant to drug treatment has developed and is now common in the Thai-Cambodian border region.
So it is clear, far from lessening medical screening, it should significantly tightened in all immigration and education-immigration procedures.
Apart from pressures to ease testing coming from the Education for Export area, there are also other general pressures to ease the conditions of migrant entry into Australia. the Joint Standing Committee on Migration Regulations, in its own words, "is to inquire into and report to the Parliament on the feasibility of allowing migration to Australia, within existing categories, on a conditional basis". Such cases would, for example, relate to where people from overseas wanted to come to Australia to seek health care.
A sub-committee was delegated to examine aspects relating to migration and health care. Mercifully. it did not include Dr Theophanous. The Chairman of the subcommittee is former ALP Immigration Minister, Mr Clyde Holding. Others include Opposition Shadow Immigration Minister, Phillip Ruddock and Western Australian ALP Senator Jim McKiernan, who last year called for my expulsion from the ALP for my statements and particularly for distributing the first - March 1991 - version of "Immigration And Consensus".
I have criticisms of all three of these people relating to their past handling of immigration matters, but to their credit on 11 March this year, they tackled some hard questions on immigration, which were long overdue, for official consideration.
In the course of their inquiry on that date, they established that illegal immigrants and others with no entitlement were fraudulently gaining access to Medicare. An official of Medicare, a Mr Karling, told the sub-committee, "in the year 1990-91, Immigration handed back to us a number of cards of people it had deported". The number was 74. This supports the contention that Medicare cards are readily available to illegal immigrants, as Bob Bottom's earlier research indicated. The Medicare officials defended their administrative system and said the only way abuses could happen was by fraudulent means.
The Medicare officials said that $43,000 had been recovered from these illegals who had used the cards, but that this was not the full cost of the services incurred using the cards. The Medicare officials had no idea of the full extent of the expenses run up on the cards. at taxpayer's expense. A very conservative estimate might be double the amount which was actually recovered. Clearly. given the numbers of illegal immigrants in Australia. and the ready access they obviously have to Medicare cards. the cost to the Australian taxpayer of this sort of fraud could extend into the millions of dollars. There are clearly problems with the Medicare accreditation process which have to be addressed.
Although illegal immigrants and others are not legally entitled to Medicare cards, they have full access to the public hospital system. Further, as the Chairman of the subcommittee. Mr Holding asked one of the medical witnesses, Dr Frost, Deputy Chief Health Officer of the NSW Health Department [though this area is clearly a Commonwealth responsibility] " it is possible to obtain a visa entry based upon (he fact that you are requiring medical treatment in Australia, and that will be granted, but there is no requirement given as to the security or capacity to pay for that treatment? " Dr Frost: "It would appear so".
In other words, people from overseas can use Australian hospitals for quite expensive treatments and yet not pay for the service. Many clearly have taken advantage of the opportunity to have their health services met at the cost of the Australian taxpayer. Dr Frost stated that he had figures from a major Sydney hospital showing outstanding amounts of $249,000 incurred by non-Australian residents and people who are Medicare ineligible. He said that at least half of that amount was unlikely to be recoverable. This is just one hospital! Dr Frost said that the total amount across the health system was likely to be many millions of dollars.
Dr Frost also stated that "there are good grounds to believe that currently some 55 persons - 10 per cent - receiving treatment in TB clinics in NSW are Medicare ineligible". Again, it must be assumed that much of the expenses incurred by them will not be recoverable. It can also be assumed that while some of these people may be legitimate travellers, illegal immigrants are among these cases. Also, they possibly represent a small sample of illegal immigrants in the wider community affected with TB and not seeking treatment in public hospitals.
Dr Frost stated that the initial screening for TB and its administrative arrangements were not perfect. He said there were lengthy delays in passing on x-ray film and reports, and by the time people were identified as TB carriers, many of them have arrived as migrants and '~disappear[ed]" into the community. Dr Frost states: "The NSW Health Department [by Commonwealth law] has no access to immigration data specifying these individual persons".
So, though the Immigration Department has information on live TB cases which have not been properly treated due to lengthy delays in passing on information - delays caused by the Immigration Department itself- the Department cannot by law make the facts known to State authorities. The Immigration Department is thus confounded by its own incompetence.
This is in spite of the fact, as Mr Ruddock pointed out, that the Immigration Department requires migrants to sign a form indicating that information relating to health may be passed on to other Departments. The Australian community bears the consequences. Also. even though those who have been screened and passed can develop or have the disease reactivate, at a later date.
As for Hepatitis B, which we have already considered, the position as it now stands is as Dr Frost states: "screening for Hepatitis B is not commonly undertaken". People from high risk countries are offered" screening where "appropriate" - "and certainly their children, who are likely to be at high risk and therefore mothers are offered immunisation generally at birth". Only three groups were routinely checked -pregnant women, a child for adoption by an Australian resident and an unaccompanied minor refugee child. There is, in short, no safe system which can identify Hepatitis B carriers before they arrive. For years now, Australians without their knowledge, have been subjected to the risk of Hepatitis B infection, because the Government abdicated its responsibilities. While, as we have seen, mass immunisation is to be recommended, no doubt in years to come negligence cases will be launched by Australians who have been infected by Hepatitis B because of these lax screening procedures. Again the costs will be borne by the taxpayer.
Dr Frost had earlier recommended wider screening of people from countries where Hepatitis B is prevalent. AIDS screening is already in place, and Dr Frost stated that it is "extremely easy" to also test for Hepatitis B while doing an AIDS test. Why then has such testing not been carried out? Why has it taken so long for health authorities to act?
Clearly, rather than any relaxing of migration provisions, they need to be significantly tightened. The much-vaunted idea of gaining foreign exchange by importing foreign fee-paying patients is likely to go the same way as the Education for Export fiasco. Apart from the abuses of the system and the rip off of Australian taxpayers by illegal immigrants and others, rich foreigners may end up being given preference over locals. The Australian community will lose coming and going. This is precisely the pattern of the Education for Export programme. On one hand we have the financial and social liability of the Chinese student fiasco and on the other, locals are missing out on educational opportunities to rich foreigners.
At University level in general, it is clear that qualified local students are losing places to full fee paying foreign students in prime courses, This is because, while local student numbers have expanded greatly due to Government policy, per capita funding has not kept pace. Institutions have been under considerable financial pressures and have been allowed by the Government to have discretion over how funds gained from foreign students are used. These foreign students pay full fees and so the institutions have far more to gain from accepting them than accepting subsidised locals.EVOLVING PARTY POSITIONS
In education policy, the Government claims to be creating the conditions for a 'clever country" and has targeted specific courses as important in its approach. These courses include engineering and computing and business courses. But as has been noted by Dr Bob Birrell and Prof. Vice Chancellor T.F. Smith in their paper, "The Implications of Selling Educational Services to Overseas Students", "we find the highest concentration of full fee overseas students in precisely these priority courses, especially at well established colleges where there is a surplus of local applicants".
In fact, the Government has allowed institutions to set quotas for local students in priority courses which are well below course capacity so that they can take more foreign students. From the point of view of these foreign students, they often have to pay more fees than they anticipated and some have complained of being treated as milking cows by local institutions. Australian institutions are in danger of developing a reputation for voracity and greed. As was noted in an article in The Bulletin of 14 April this year, a survey of the attitudes of senior officials in Singapore to Australia's education export scheme was conducted by two university researchers. Some of the descriptions of the scheme and its marketing were "crass"; "shabby and impoverished; inhuman incompetent and financially gouging". That seems like an accurate assessment.
At the same time as debasing themselves and their country in this way, institutions risk compromising their quality. With these students paying such fees, lecturers are very reluctant to fail them. in spite of the poor communication skills of many.
In the past, Australia's subsidised schemes for foreign students not only ensured quality and the overwhelmingly return of these students to their homelands but were positive means of promoting good relations in the region. The present approach is cynical and short term. Australia will lose out in the end, both locally and abroad. Clearly, qualified locals are missing out in their own universities in the very courses which are supposed to hold the key to our economic future.
As university marketing networks based overseas spread and compete there will be increasing pressures for them to take whatever full fee paying, foreign students they can get, with consequent implications for university standards, opportunities for locals and immigration. There is a clear danger of the fiasco with the Chinese students being repeated. Already TAFE Colleges are showing interest in recruiting full fee paying foreign students - the NSW Government has already begun - and even some schools have made noises of interest.
It was announced in late May, that educational institutions in the Australian Capital Territory had established an office in Thailand to attempt to entice students to study with them. This announcement came just after the Bangkok massacre. There are already 3000 Thai students studying in Melbourne and Sydney, and the ACT institutions want to compete. Clearly, it does not matter to such institutions if there are problems with over-stayers, so long as they make their quick money.
In fact, on June 11, Mr Hand and Employment, Education and Training Minister, Mr Beazley announced an easing of visa requirements for certain foreign nationals coming to Australia to study under the 'Education for Export" scheme. This is in line with the recommendations in the Industry Commission Report previously mentioned and also in line with the pressure applied by the English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students [ELICOS] Association. There will be no pre-visa assessment of applicants from Thailand, Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong or Papua New Guinea. This is supposedly because the level of over-stayers has dropped in the last 12 months, but in the past there has been considerable problems with nationals from some of these countries abusing the visa process. It is highly likely to happen again. Thailand will no doubt become an attractive exit route for people from neighbouring countries ready to try their luck abusing the system. The implications for public health already raised are obvious.
It was also announced that people on visitor's visas and entry permits will not have to pre-arrange courses in order to study. In other words, they can just turn up in Australia and choose a course of their liking. Dependents of foreign postgraduate students will be able to work while in the country and the Government will act to entice these students to stay in Australia by making it easier for them to change their immigration Status. This is an attempt to overcome a projected shortfall in academic staff, itself largely caused by the ill-conceived and executed expansion in the tertiary system under Mr Dawkins. This stop gap approach can be expected to continue because it is harder to make the commitments to encourage the training of locals.
The powers that be no doubt believe they are projecting an image of responsible international citizens, but their bottom line is the quest for a quick buck and the embracing of the easy option. They think they have found a perfect milking cow in education and are prepared to run down the system, compromise its standards and allow locals to miss out in prime courses, and in the longer term, in academic positions.
Rather than institute a long-term strategy to train locals, overseas students studying as postgraduates in Australia are to be effectively poached as academics for our universities. This is not only stealing from countries that can ill afford the loss, it means that the gap between the academic class - many of whom have little commitment to Australia as it is - and the bulk of the Australian population will further widen.
There is no substitute to encouraging locals, whatever the country. Locals are far more likely to have a commitment to the country and to identify with its general population. They have an understanding of local conditions and most fundamentally understand the language and can generally communicate far more effectively than imports whose command of the local language is shaky. Obviously, it is not a bad thing to have some imported academics, but the Government should actively promote the careers of Australians, themselves of different racial backgrounds, who have shown in the past that they can match the best in the world.
In short, it is high time that the Government puts the interests of the people who pay the taxes first.
From the point of view of the institutions, no doubt they will claim and many will believe that they are being humanitarian and helping our integration with, and understanding of the region. Within the institutions they will not be short of propaganda backup on this line.
In every university there is a section which acts as a propaganda unit for both immigration and multiculturalism. and is well funded by the Government multiculturalists are clearly one of the country's privileged elites. All of these bodies can be said to duplicate the function of the BIR and OMA. Where there is any fault to be found in immigration matters, such bodies invariably find it to lie with the host population. Where education is necessary, it is of the hosts and not the newcomers. Funded at the taxpayers' expense. these bodies continue to stereotype and attack Australians of Anglo-Celtic descent and other "old" Australians, who regard themselves as Australian first and foremost.
An example of this general tendency was seen in the report of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission into racist violence in Australia. This report was clearly framed to target the "old" Australian population and no other. This inquiry was originally conceived as an inquiry into racist violence against Asians. but as there was not enough meat in that, the inquiry was extended to cover Aboriginals. It merely duplicated earlier inquiries and allowed the inquirers to feel morally superior in one of the world's safest and most tolerant countries.
The media, as usual, displayed a lack of genuine critical appraisal and generally used the report as a basis for vacuous moralising. Commissioner Irene Moss was the principal influence behind this report, which cost the Australian public $280,000. Of this money, $18,300 was directed as a "research consultancy" to the Centre for Multicultural Studies, Wollongong University.
Another of Commissioner Moss's reports, claiming discrimination against foreign doctors, has been described by Paul Gerber, Honorary Reader in the Department of Social and Preventative Medicine at the University of Queensland, as being of such poor quality that it was "fit only for the shredder".
Though local Australians, who make up three quarters of the population, are in the main, more tolerant than the migrants we import, local Australians as taxpayers are unwillingly subsidising professional multiculturalists to insult them in the most bigoted of terms. The barrage of insults and threats, the stereotyping, comes in the main from the supposedly educated elites. The majority of these people are of Anglo-Celtic descent themselves, but seem to bear a deep aversion to their own people, particularly the working class. At the very least, these elites are not prepared to be fair, while indulging in fairytale delusions regarding other people and cultures. Others benefiting from the immigration industry are of course lawyers, such as those who widely advertise their services in the tabloid press.
There is an ever increasing number of bureaucrats, lawyers, former officers of the Immigration Department. who know the loopholes and have set themselves up as private immigration consultants in order to exploit them. and professional multiculturalists with a vested interest in maintaining both multiculturalism and the high immigration levels. Combined with big business interests. real estate agents, property developers. the bulk of the media and the trendy middle class left in general they constitute a powerful force cutting across both left and right.
At the ALP National Conference in late June 1991, the Minister for Education, Employment and Training, Mr Dawkins circulated a proposal, among his centre-left faction, calling for the immigration intake to be halved with cuts of 50 per cent coming for each category. Because of other diversions, this proposal was not debated. It was leaked to the press however. [In March that year I had circulated a separate paper 'Immigration Policy Proposals" which advocated that the intake be cut to 50,000 with cuts coming from the skilled and family categories]. This was a courageous move by Mr Dawkins, who was later to emphasise the problems with lack of English in the workplace and insist upon the primacy of the English language in the face of those professionals who questioned it. So, in immigration matters, Mr Dawkins has very much of a mixed record.
Later, Mr Dawkins was highly critical of the "wimps" among the ALP leadership who were not prepared to debate the tough issues; like immigration, at the Conference. There had been indications that Paul Keating would be prepared to significantly cut the immigration intake if he were Leader. In fact, during his first leadership challenge in early June 1991, Mr Keating substantially agreed in a private conversation with me that immigration needed to be cut and he mentioned a figure of 70.000. He gave a commitment that it would be substantially cut. His first leadership challenge of course failed, but at that stage there was no reason to suppose that Mr Keating had changed his mind on the issue.
Later though the ground shifted. It appeared as though he had made a deal with high immigration advocate, Dr Theophanous, who was certainly a strong Keating supporter in the second successful, challenge in December. For that matter Dr Theophanous had wanted to vote for Keating in the first challenge, but was prevented by bully-boys in his left faction. So it appeared as though Mr Keating was backing away from his commitment to be decisive on immigration cuts.
This seemed to be confirmed, when, as Prime Minister, soon after his successful challenge, he made what I described in a press release as an "appalling blunder". He attempted to smear both the Leader of Opposition, John Hewson and Liberal Industrial Relations spokesman, John Howard as racists for the Liberal immigration stance, which was imprecise, but which spoke of the need for significant cuts.
The Minister for Immigration, Gerry Hand, distanced himself from the comments and Mr Keating's attack was widely condemned in the press, even among enthusiastic immigration proponents.
Since then of course. and the release of the One Nation economic package in February, Mr Keating has attempted to take on the mantle of an Australian nationalist. He has attacked past attitudes to Britain and has claimed that Britain abandoned Australia over Singapore in World War II. However, his approach is essentially hollow. For all his talk of independence, he redirects the colonial cringe to Asia. and for all his talk of national unity. he does nothing to confront the policy of multiculturalism, as I stated in an open letter to the Prime Minister on 4 March.
The last three paragraphs of that letter read as follows:
"The disaster in Singapore was also due to our own complacency. We wanted to believe the fortress was impregnable, so it became impregnable. The British were hopelessly over-extended, yet our entire defence strategy, such as it was, centred on impregnable Singapore. We put all our eggs in one basket.Paul Keating, through his sound and fury, gave the illusion of independent nationalism, but in fact, in its essentials, his position is no different to that of Bob Hawke. The substance is the same, only the style is different.
The irony is that your strategy for Australia's future is a latter day version of the Singapore strategy'. The fashionable belief behind it is that by grafting ourselves to Asia, our future will be assured. Once again we will be putting all our eggs in one basket. Once again we will be locked into an inflexible position This, just at a time when the world is changing rapidly' and flexibility of response is essential for future survival.
So, while we should endeavour to maintain good relations with the region, we must lake a world view. Australia's only sensible option is to take steps to ensure its own unity, train its own population, put its' resources to best use and seek out trade with the world. Australia must be flexible. Who knows, the time may return when Britain becomes a bridge to a greatly increased trade with Europe. Our exports to Europe have increased significantly in recent years. While we should, of course, stress our independence, this involves tackling the hard questions, rather than taking cheap shots at Britain, a country which poses no threat to our nationhood".
At about the same time as Mr Keating's attack on Britain, Mr Hand gave a ringing endorsement of the policy of multiculturalism, and Mr Keating has since referred to Australia's "multicultural triumph". Clearly, the ALP wants to keep the professional multiculturalists on side, a number of whom, including NSW State ALP Politicians, Franca Arena and Paulo Totaro, who is something of a specialist in ethnic affairs, are leading lights in the Australian Republican Movement.
For its part, the Opposition still officially supports the policy of multiculturalism. Shadow Immigration Minister, Phillip Ruddock in particular is a strong supporter of the policy and has close contacts in the professional ethnic industry.
Mr Ruddock is essentially uncomfortable with cutting the immigration programme particularly the family reunion section. He has, though, persistently stated the need for Australia to maintain the integrity of its borders and has been an effective critic of the Government's administrative failings in immigration. particularly recently. He has also pointed out that some new arrivals are receiving the pension, when they clearly have no entitlement to it. Immigration administration is clearly a shambles and it is in this area where he has largely confined his attack.
However, during an attack by Mr Ruddock in Parliament on 7 November 1991 on the Government's lack of control over illegal immigration, an interesting exchange occurred. Mr Ruddock stated that the Government was sending mixed signals and encouraging people to rort the migration process. He gave, as an example of the Government's slackness, the number of residency places granted to visitors or students had risen from over 14,000 to 18,000 in a year.
Mr Ruddock: We have seen a 28 per cent increase in the number of people successfully applying under the old system for grant of residency Status or under, the new systemOn 26 May, answering a question from Mr Ruddock in Parliament in the wake of the Marshall Islands Affairs, which itself revolved around a dubious business migration proposal by a private businessman, and led to the resignation of Senator Richardson, who had signed a reference on his behalf, Mr Hand said of Mr Ruddock, "The Honourable Member for Dundas would probably break every record in the book" when it came to the number of times he had made immigration representations on behalf of individuals. All Members of Parliament have made such representations and as Mr Hand states it is a legitimate role for a Member of Parliament, but some clearly do it much more than others.
Mr Hand: "Some of them are your cases. Some of them are the ones you came knocking on my door to get accepted. Some of them belong to you".
Mr Ruddock: "It happens to be the case that it has gone from 14,000 to 18,000".
Mr Hand: "You promoted them. Is that correct?"
Mr Ruddock: "If the Minister thinks that I have tramped to his door with 18,000 special cases, he has a much more active imagination than most.
Mr Hand: "They know they can come by... and you will come and see me".
Mr Hand also indicated in Parliament that Mr Ruddock changes his approach to suit his audience and butters up the ethnic groups. Dr Theophanous also indicated in Parliament that he had been given assurances by Mr Ruddock on immigration over a period of time which he clearly interpreted as being in general agreement with his own position - namely in favour of high immigration and the policy of multiculturalism.
In spite of Mr Ruddock's representations on behalf of on-shore applicants for change of status, and his great reservations about the position of his Party, he has gone along with it. Though as stated, the Liberal Party has refused to be definite, it has indicated in broad terms and will particularly cut back in family reunion. Its Leader, Dr Hewson, though has indicated that he believes in high immigration in the long term. The National Party has gone along with this short term strategy, but if anything the National Party [full as it is of real estate agents] is more enthusiastic than the Liberals for high immigration in the longer term. Its Leader, Tim Fischer, has made it clear that he only supports cuts in the short term and has strongly advocated a much larger population for Australia.
The Australian Democrats, under their Leader, Senator John Coulter, have announced a policy to cut immigration to 70,000 gross per annum in the long term. This is a positive step in terms of the numbers and long term approach advocated, but the Democrats advocate the intake being tightly confined to family reunion and refugees. It is clear that the present preferential family reunion programme is not working in the country's interest and must be confronted. It can no longer be treated as a holy cow. Also. Australia should take its share of refugees, the procedure for taking those refugees should be strict and crack down on rorters, who should be promptly deported.
CONSULTATION, REVIEWS AND RACE LAWS
Dr Theophanous clearly believes that he is a king-maker, if not the pretender to the throne when it comes to Australia's immigration programme. In a press release of 16 January 1992 he stated: "with respect to the programme of 1992-93, we, that is the Government, the Minister of Immigration, will be holding extensive consultations with community groups, the union movement, the business sector, etc with a view to making a decision in April this year".1991-1993 INTAKE ANNOUNCED
In this manner, Dr Theophanous announced the Minister's progress. A person not familiar with the circumstances might assume from such a statement that Dr Theophanous was the Minister. At any rate, community consultations did take place but at that time it was far from certain that Mr Hand would make significant cuts to the programme.
Since then, Dr Theophanous has announced that immigration procedures should be reviewed. He has presented his own proposal to make immigration "fairer", based on zones and quotas. It is clearly an attempt to facilitate the entry of people he prefers to Australia, while claiming to be non-discriminatory. As part of his system, Dr Theophanous proposes to award marks to each ethnic group on the basis of "the numerical contribution to the immigration programme which that group has made since the inception of the programme in 1945". This, he says, would result in a greater weighting being given to "larger, older" groups, such as Dutch and Italians [and Greeks]. who he says have been severely disadvantaged in the last few years under the present system. This, in spite of the fact that Greek and Italian professional ethnics have been largely responsible for the way it has evolved.
While Dr Theophanous's system also contains a zonal element which he says is based on "the equal right of all regions of the world to contribute people to Australia", the clear intent behind his proposals is to favour select ethnic groups, something he has condemned in others. It is particularly ironic because it seems mainly to be a matter of status and wishful thinking. Very few Greeks and Italians, in fact want to come to Australia these days.
The greater irony of his approach however, is that the US quota system, on which his proposals are partly modelled was introduced in the 1920's in order to restrict the entry of Greeks and Italians to the US. Dr Katharine Betts notes that a considerable number of Italians and Greeks who migrated to Australia before the second world war did so because they had been denied entry to the US because of the quota system - a system which was overhauled in the mid-60's because it was considered racist.
In Dr Theophanous's own electorate of Calwell in northern Melbourne, ethnic politics have surfaced in a battle between Greeks and Turks for control of the ALP branches. The Sunday Age of 10 May notes that there has been a massive upsurge in membership of the Coolaroo Branch. The branch used to contain only 29 members, but on April 21, 204 new members with Turkish backgrounds joined. ASIO apparently believes the branch stacking is part of a move by people connected with the Turkish Government to attempt to unseat Dr Theophanous after his critical comments about the Turkish Prime Minister, when that Prime Minister was in the country last year to receive an award from the Government. The stacking has brought a counter reaction from supporters of Dr Theophanous, 215 of whom were recently signed up in two Broadmeadows branches. A senior supporter of Dr Theophanous reportedly said, "If they want a visa, we'11 give them one". It will presumably be a war to determine whether the foreign policy of the Greek or Turkish Governments should be given precedence in the electorate.
Another politician in the mould of Dr Theophanous, is NSW State ALP Education and Youth Affairs spokesman, Mr John Aquilina. Mr Aquilina is the Secretary of the NSW ALP Parliamentary Ethnic Affairs Task Force. Franca Arena is the Chair. Mr Aquilina will contest a safe Labor seat at the next Federal election, and so will probably join Dr Theophanous in Federal Parliament. Mr Aquilina has already indicated his desire to get involved in immigration matters and is not slow to make accusations of racism.
In the wake of the furore over police and Aboriginal relations caused by the ABC film "Cop it Sweet"; and the video of police officers mocking hanged Aboriginals, also shown on the ABC, The Sydney Morning Herald of 16 March this year reported Mr Aquilina as saying an attack at about the same time on shops and his own office was racially inspired. This was contested by other shop owners, themselves migrants. As The Sydney Morning Herald noted, "The Aussie World Air Travel office, which Mr Aquilina said was left unscathed because it was Australian, was run by a Malaysian.
The manager of a real estate office which was also attacked, Mrs Maree Baran, stated. I believe we are being branded as a racist community, and it's just not correct".
Such branding by Mr Aquilina and others however, is likely to incite resentment and certainly is more likely to cause problems than to solve them. When that happens. no doubt he and others will call for increased legal sanctions and greater bureaucratic control.
Both he and Dr Theophanous should take note of an excellent letter published by The Age on 27 February this year about the Creek speaking branches of the ALP, which were mentioned earlier. The letter. written by a man of Greek descent states, "For Australia to become a strong nation with a united purpose, people of all ethnic backgrounds must put the national interests of Australia above those of their nations of origin
On 27 February, Mr Hand announced the formation of a committee to, in the words of his press release, "oversee the two-tiered system for review of migration decisions."
This is a very cumbersome review process which had come about largely due to the pressures of vested interests. Mr Hand appointed the lawyer, Ian MacPhee, the man who as Liberal Immigration Minister in the Fraser Government introduced the concessional family reunion category, to head the committee. Others on the committee include the lawyer, Julian Disney of ACOSS, the principal member of the Immigration Review Tribunal, Ms Pam O'Neill, a senior officer of the Department of Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs and a nominee of the Attorney-General. Mr Duffy.
This two tiered system is in urgent need of review. It is a confused mix of legal and administrative measures. The best thing that can be done is to get lawyers as far as is possible out of the immigration system. Unfortunately, given the make-up of this committee, that seems to be a vain hope.
Aside from the difficulty in getting lawyers out of immigration matters, there is also the problem of the increase in laws relating to racial vilification. Such legislation is totally unnecessary and likely to be counterproductive. It is a dangerous and insidious development pushed by select pressure groups and has ominous implications for freedom of speech.
Already, NSW and WA have such legislation on their books and Victoria has followed. However, the legislation in NSW doesn't go far enough for the NSW Ethnic Affairs Commission. A report in The Sydney Morning Herald on 12 June states that in a submission to the Premier, the Commission "expressed concern that no cases of serious racial vilification, including threats of physical violence, have so far been referred for possible criminal prosecution". Surely this indicates that the problem has been overstated, something the Commission could not bear to stomach. The Commission is clearly lusting for a witch to burn, it must have its show trial. It wants the legislation to be made tougher and a network of bureaucrats set up around the State to receive initial complaints. This publicly funded organisation along with its counterparts in other States and Federally, seems determined to create conflict. When it has, it will no doubt feel that it has been vindicated.
The Commonwealth does not have such legislation as yet. but has given. in principle. support to such legislation in its response to Irene Moss's shoddy Inquiry into "Racist Violence", which recommended the introduction of a number of such laws.
Though professional ethnic groups and select bureaucracies strongly support such laws. they mainly rely on the problems in white-Aboriginal relations to justify them. The Moss Report into racist violence and the report of the Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody have been repeatedly referred to as reasons why restrictive racial vilification legislation should be introduced. Both of these reports basically revolved around Aboriginals but they are used to justify the expansion of bureaucracies which have nothing to do with Aboriginals.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Robert Tickner has backed proposed racial vilification laws. He is reported as saying in The Sydney Morning Herald of 16 March: "The report on racial violence took a strong stand on that issue, as did the Royal Commission ReportIinto Black Deaths in Custody, and I do believe it is an" issue". He neglects to mention the shoddy quality of the Moss Report and the fact that the Royal Commission, for all its value to lawyers and its moralising, found that the proportion of whites who died in custody was actually higher than Aborigines. What was disproportionate was the Aboriginal-arrest-rate, yet the impression is still deliberately given, and widely believed, that proportionally more Aborigines die in custody than whites.
All that has happened as a result of the Government's response to the Royal Commission's findings is that even more money will be diverted to bureaucrats. It is unclear how this will help address the underlying problems of Aboriginal people.
On 12 May this year, the Minister for Immigration. Gerry Hand, announced a projected immigration intake of 80,000 for the year 1992-93. This represented a cut of over 30,000 on the intake of the 1991-92 year of 111.000. The 111.000 figure itself represented a minor cut on the year before, but had been made with heavy qualifications. At the time the 1991-92 figure of 111,000 was announced. the Government signalled its intention to increase the intake in the following two years reaching 128,000 by 1993-94.THE NEED TO ORGANISE AND BE VIGILANT
Bob Hawke, a self-proclaimed "high immigration man" desperate to keep ethnic pressure groups on side, was Prime Minister at the time. Also, at the time, Mr Hand stated that he saw no reason to cut the intake further in the future. Clearly, he has changed his mind fundamentally. He said that it was his community consultation which convinced him that immigration should be cut. But there is doubt that the continuing criticism of immigration levels from a number of sources played its part in his change of mind, as did the general economic conditions.
The immigration cuts will be made in the concessional family and independent categories. Both of these categories have, in practice, been skills tested, but in reality. as Bob Birrell and others have pointed out, no account has been taken of demand for skills in Australia. Many of these skilled migrants have added to the oversupply of \various skilled areas, such as engineers.
Also, specifically in the concessional family category. among the chief users were Filipino brides sponsored by Australian men, who appeared to use this entry point as a way of progressively sponsoring other relatives. This seems to have been a predetermined manipulation of the immigration system by people who would not otherwise have been accepted. Dr Birrell issued a report at the "Fatal Shore or a Workers' Paradise?" immigration conference conducted by the Evatt Foundation in Sydney on 24 April which highlighted this approach. As reported in the Weekend Australian of 25-26 April, Dr Birrell's report stated that of 10,~70 brothers and sisters brought out by sponsors under the concessional category, I ,902 or nearly 20 per cent were from the Philippines. Most of the sponsors were Filipino women who 'had married Australian men, including, but not exclusively, through the "mail order bride" system".
Another report has since been issued which highlights the violent treatment some Filipino women have received from the men who sponsored them. Some of these men were alleged to have sponsored several women, which further calls immigration procedures into question. The report was co-released on 20 May by the NSW Ethnic Affairs Commission and the NSW State Minister, assisting the Premier on the Status of Women, Ms Anne Cohen. It is called: "Filipino Women: Challenges and Responses" and among other things, calls for checks on the men sponsoring the women. That is a sensible idea, if long overdue. It would be a better one to discourage the mail order bride practice altogether, but then again, the Philippines Government itself is heavily involved in it and actively promotes the practice.
As far as the skills supposedly gained through the concessional and independent categories go. the skills are often not up to local expectations and the lack of local knowledge has been a handicap in seeking employment. As Michael Dack of the Institution of Engineers, Australia, wrote in a letter to the Australian Financial Review, on 15 May, skill selection has been slack. He noted that in the past "A person qualifying as a professional engineer 20 years ago, for example, who has been driving a taxi for that period and has no English, would still be classified as an engineer for migration purposes, even though he or she could not possibly function here as one.. Mr Dack commends Mr Hand's introduction of compulsory English testing for skilled immigrants as a step in the right direction of ensuring workplace competency.
However, in the past, the fundamental skill of English language competency has been largely self-assessed by the migrant. As a result, migrants have overstated - at times considerably - their English language ability. A number of those in the independent category who have assessed themselves as "excellent" in English in order to maximise their points, can hardly speak English at all. Many are now attending English language courses at public expense. As far as English classes go, Mr Hand is to seek a contribution from migrants to the cost of teaching English.
Though the changes announced by Mr Hand give greater emphasis to English assessment in the remaining concessional and independent areas. the record of the Department in the past means that adequate testing cannot be taken for granted. If the testing is only stricter in theory, and not practically enforced, it will be worse than useless.
Not only should such testing be practically and competently enforced, it should be extended across the entire programme, with the single exception of refugees. There are no plans for English testing of the preferential family reunion category under Mr Hand's new arrangements, or any cuts to this component. In fact, Mr Hand increased immediate family reunion numbers by 2,000 to 45,000. This section should be cut right back and the remaining places subject to English tests. The concessional family category - first introduced by Ian MacPhee in 1979 - which will provide 6,000 migrants in next year's intake, should be abolished.
It must be said though, that Mr Hand's revised programme, as well as his tougher stand on so-called refugees are positive and welcome steps. As indicated, there is still a long way to go however. Immigration has to be held down in the long term and the parasite industry which feeds off it, broken up, so that the many millions of dollars it absorbs can be directed into productive investments.
This will entail confronting the policy of multiculturalism, which the Labor Party under Mr Keating seems unprepared to do. While the Liberal Party says there is scope for deeper immigration cuts and greater emphasis on the skills and the English language it still refuses to be definite. It also still supports the policy of multiculturalism, particularly, as noted, through its Shadow Immigration Minister. Phillip Ruddock who in the past has put out press releases attacking Stephen Rimmer for his criticisms of the policy.
It is interesting to note that, even after the cut in the immigration programme announced for 1992-93, a Morgan Poll was released showing that almost three quarters of respondents thought there were too many migrants settling in Australia. Opinion polls have consistently shown large majorities of the same mind. It is high time for the Government itself, not only to give the people a say, but to act upon the wishes of the great majority on this issue.
In a press release of August 26 this year, I suggested going directly to the people. I suggested that they be asked in a census what they think about the policies of immigration, multiculturalism and integration with Asia. If we really believe in democracy, the people should be given the chance to express themselves on these vital issues. If Australia's elected representatives don't put the interests of their own people first, then nobody else will. I now go further and also call for an independent inquiry into immigration and the policy of multicultural ism, with particular emphasis on the operations of migration agents.
While Mr Hand introduced legislation in May this year supported by both parties. to regulate the activities of migration agents, it would be much better to get rid of them entirely and - as the Independent Member for North Sydney, Ted Mack suggested in Parliament on 2 June - make immigration advice the responsibility of the Immigration Department. The whole area of migration agencies has been one which has stunk to high heaven for some time. Although the industry will have some regulation, it will continue to be a problem area, and as Mr Mack states, essentially a parasite industry. A general inquiry into immigration should look at how immigration procedures could be made simpler, and how lawyers and immigration agents - a number of whom are lawyers - could be removed, as much as possible, from the system. In the meantime though. the legislation introduced by Mr Hand is at least a step in the right direction.
All this of course, should be done in the context of cutting immigration right back. The opponents of immigration and multiculturalism among the general public have the numbers, but not the organisation or the funding. They are the working class and middle class people of the general public, both migrant and non-migrant who want to see their country united and want prosperity and a good quality of life for their descendants. There is more common sense to be found among them than among all the much vaunted elites combined.
Those people who regard themselves as intellectuals and have been resentful of the lack of respect afforded them by the general public, should not be surprised if they come increasingly to be held in suspicion and contempt, as their practices come to light. The majority of them, with a few honourable exceptions, have shown themselves ever ready to undermine freedom of speech they deliberately distort the truth and shout down their opponents. In this they have been ably assisted by the majority of the so-called free press. The ends have justified the means.
It is not true that Australians do not respect people of learning. They do respect them, but the supercilious arrogance and self-righteousness of many of the educated who are prepared to be critical of anyone else but themselves, is not deserving of respect. Not only is a little education a dangerous thing, but education without wisdom and common sense can be a potent weapon of destruction.
So many of these educated have acted as nihilists, demanding rights, but not speaking of responsibilities, attacking and stereotyping people in the most violent of terms and then accusing the attacked of violence. They are thieves of virtue, seemingly incapable of honest introspection and utterly convinced of their moral superiority. They run inquisitions at public expense, demanding prohibitions and severe punishments. Rarely ever do they speak with the voice of a moderate. They, along with an unrestrained big business sector, are prepared to sell off the country for profit and the Politicians who appease both, and not the people they claim to be fighting. are the biggest dangers to our freedom and our sovereignty.
It is up to concerned people to organise, not only in opposition to these nihilists and opportunists. but also with a positive vision of the Australia of the future - an independent and united Australia which relies upon its own people and resources. High on the priority for that vision is ridding ourselves of the millstones of multiculturalism and mass immigration and the delusion that we are part of Asia.
While that contention may have been useful once to force us to recognise our proximity to Asia it has become one of the big lies of the elites. We are no more part of Asia than England is part of Africa. Our continent is unique in the world and our history and culture are unique. We have to have the courage to accept that and we have to learn our history to understand more about ourselves, in order to value the country more. If we take Australia for granted, it will be taken from us. We should be proud of our heritage and be prepared to stand up against those who would efface it for illusionary gains.
Unfortunately. there has been an attitude that immigration matters are only for 'ethnics'. Immigration matters are for all of us as Australian. regardless of our ethnic background. We must live with the consequences, and we can no longer allow immigration policy to drift or be the captive of vested interests. It must be closely scrutinised.
We also have no need for quick fixes, such as the Multifunction Polis and other get rich quick schemes of big business and the banks. For the general public, these schemes are Trojan horses which will cause far more problems than they solve.
We need to invest in ourselves and the downstream development of our own resources, looking outward, but with a strong sense of national purpose and unity to our region and the world. The clever country? Let's try a bit of common sense for a change:
Stephen Rimmer's book "The Cost of Multiculturalism" can be obtained by sending $10 to the author at PO Box 1094, Belconnen. ACT. 2616.
"Immigration, Population and Sustainable Environments: The Limits to Australia's Growth" edited by Joseph Wayne Smith can be obtained by writing to the Editor, C/- The Philosophy Department. Flinders University of South Australia. Bedford Park. SA. 5042. The cost of the book of 487 pages. which includes 27 separate articles on different aspects of immigration, is $40 including postage and handling.
Dr Smith has also written an excellent book under the Kalgoorlie Press called "The Remorseless Working of Things, AIDS, and the Global Crisis: An Ecological Critique of Internationalism". This book consists of four essays underlining the problems of internationalism, the first of which deals with its implications for the spread of AIDS. The book is available from my Parliament House office for $10, which includes postage and handling.
Note: The first version of "Immigration and Consensus" was put out in March 1991. Since then it has been updated a number of times. The November version of the paper was published in full in Bob Bottom's "Insight Bookmagazine" along with another paper first put out in March - "Immigration Policy Proposals". The policy proposals paper was published in Mr Bottom's magazine under the title "Time to End Multiculturalism".
Since this paper has been finished I have published a book, in conjunction with Mark Uhlmann, called "Australia Betrayed". Copies of this book can be obtained by writing to PO Box 1098, Kalgoorlie. W.A. 6430 and the cost is $24, which includes postage and handling.