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Debate on immigration and racism should not be confused!

Racism is:

1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race, and that one’s own race is superior, and has the right to rule others.

2 : racial prejudice or discrimination, hatred or intolerance of another race or races

3: a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.

(photo: from Wikimedia commons: Australian Government poster — "The Southern Cross, the call of the stars to British Men & Women" issued by the Overseas Settlement Office to attract immigrants).

Racism is a global phenomenon which is influenced by a range of historical, social, political and economic factors.

It takes different forms in different contexts and as a result has been defined in many different ways. In Australia, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (1998) defines it as:
Racism is an ideology that gives expression to myths about other racial and ethnic groups that devalues and renders inferior those groups that reflects and is perpetuated by deeply rooted historical, social, cultural and power inequalities in society.

Institutional racism (or systemic racism) describes forms of racism which are structured into political and social institutions. It occurs when organisations, institutions or governments discriminate, either deliberately or indirectly, against certain groups of people to limit their rights.

Historical perspective

In May 1901, the Australian parliament met for the first time. Its first major act was to pass the Immigration Restriction Act. Under this policy, people from Asia and other "non-white" people were systematically kept out of Australia. The "White Australia" policy was the product of decades of racist agitation against Chinese immigration.

Henry Parkes, now venerated as the "father of Federation", was often at the head of anti-Chinese laws restricting where they could live. In 1857 his newspaper Empire railed: "Total exclusion of the Chinese from the goldfields should be the law”.

The first identified threat by white settlers was from thieving, dispossessed Aborigines, who were placed in the same category as Australian fauna. Racism included the removal of Indigenous children from their families and the denial of full citizenship rights to Indigenous people.

People with similar backgrounds naturally like to be together. The ideals of multiculturalism were welcome here in Australia when most people were Anglo background, and Prime Minister Bob Hawke promoted it well. Most people embraced it, and we have benefited from immigration both economically and culturally. However, in recent years, the numbers of immigrants has risen so high, a twist of racism has seeped in.

Immigration today

The Australian government, acting on behalf of their mates in the real estate industry, is effectively inviting foreign populations to move in and colonise parts of the country.
Australians are forced to carry the costs. They have to compete with rich foreigners for housing in a country already facing a chronic housing shortage. They have to pay their taxes just so that wealthy foreigners can simply move in and make use of Australia's public services and infrastructure.
(Eye on Immigration: selling Australia)

The Howard government left behind a robust immigration program of more than 120,000 net immigrants a year. The Rudd Government set a target of 190,000 migration places in 2008-09, a 20 per cent increase over the previous year's target. It increased the working visa program to double its size four years earlier. Not a word was said about this during the 2007 election campaign.

Racism phobia

Are we so terrified of the R-word, racism, so brainwashed by the thought police, that no dares mention skin colour any more? Not even the cops when seeking a
crime suspect?
Surely skin colour is just as objective as hair colour?

Hey Hey It’s Saturday ratings success has been marred by accusations of racism after a skit on the Red Faces talent segment featured a group of doctors in black face paint re-enacting a Jackson 5 song. Would a similar skit about ABBA have been racist if they painted their faces white?

Racism today

In the UK, Pakistanis are twice as likely as Indians to be unemployed. Two years ago, their government’s research showed almost half of British Asians and blacks arguing that there are too many immigrants.

Particularly following the September 11 attacks, both Muslim and Arab Australians have experienced a significant rise in Islamophobia and racism.

More recently we have witnessed race-based confrontations in Cronulla and now fears have grown over the perceived violence and gang culture of Sudanese immigrants.

There was a backlash against Sudanese immigrants and a move by our Government to attempt to justify a freeze on our African refugee intake.

Kevin Rudd scrapped the "Pacific Solution", abolished temporary protection visas, and let illegal arrivals get more lawyers. The Federal Police warned that this may increase the number of attempted arrivals to Australia. The dismantling of the Howard government's border protection policies has led to a surge in boats. 255 Sri Lankans asylum seekers, now bobbing off Java, are refusing to leave their boat. They now face detention in Sumatra rather than Nauru. Is it not surprising that Australia is their choice of refuge, knowing that we have the highest migrant intake in the developed world?

Our heavy intake of well-educated and well-off immigrants is a stark contrast to those that are turned away or places in detention.

The recent attacks on Indian students have thrust the issue of racism in Australia into the mainstream news bulletins.

Over populating Australia

Australia's population is forecast to surge from 22 million to well over 35 million in 40 years. . Our population this year grew by 439,000, or 2.1 per cent, the highest in the developed world.

In the past anyone questioning immigration to Australia risked being labeled racist. But now there's a new accusation leveled against anyone speaking against the massive surge in immigration to Australia. Now debate is being shut down by economic and political ‘correctness'.

Modeling by the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University shows each additional one million people adds 25 million tonnes of pollution to Australia’s greenhouse accounts.

“An increase in population to 35 million by 2050 would mean 325 million tonnes of additional pollution, costing us at least $10 billion a year in extra carbon pollution costs alone,” Mr Berger of Australian Conservation Foundation said.

GDP ignores the cost of the environmental damage done by immigration. Head hunting skilled workers from developing countries roughly doubles their greenhouse gas emissions, in the process making it all the harder for us to achieve the necessary reduction in our emissions. Our greenhouse gas emissions are rising, contrary to Kevin Rudd’s climate change commitments.

Immigration-fed growth in the economy is good only if it raises the real average incomes of the existing population. If it doesn't, we're running a high immigration policy mainly for the benefit of the immigrants who are able to earn more in our country than they were in their own country. Sharing finite resources means an erosion of the quality of life.

ABC's Four Corners program
recently ran a piece on the 'new homeless'; families that couldn't find an affordable house to rent.
What do you do when you've lost your job, lost your home and you have three kids to feed? You end up in a motel cooking, eating and sleeping in one room at the taxpayer's expense. These are Australia's new homeless.

The narrator failed to mention one of the causes of the homelessness - the increased demand for housing fueled by high immigration levels.

Time for debate on immigration

It's time to drop the political correctness that for years has meant anybody who questioned immigration levels was labeled racist, or a supporter of Pauline Hanson!

One Nation was anti-immigration, anti-economic liberalization party. According to their web site, “One Nation is not, nor has ever been, a racist party. We are however a fiercely nationalistic party that puts the well being of Australia and it's people before anything else. It is obvious by the tens of thousands that came out to support us that there is a ground swell of ordinary people in this country who are sick of the self serving, on both sides of politics, that has been passed off as leadership for so many decades.”

There was no hint of racism, just a questioning of our high immigration and how it serves the interests of Australians. Racism was muddied by an immigration debate!
The issue now is not about race.
This is about numbers, and the future. (Herald Sun)

Capitalist leaders have always known immigration was a great way to permanently weaken unions and culture in favour of economics. Are our leaders deliberately diluting Australian-ism, patriotism, so we are accommodated into a global market? Already our real estate, many industries, tertiary education, job markets, consumer items and our population are being quietly globalised.

THE Rudd government must urgently rein in migration or tens of thousands more young Australians will miss out on their first jobs , a new report warns. (The Australian)

Already, 15- to 24-year-old Australians are bearing the brunt of burgeoning migration levels, their unemployment rate rising from 8.8 per cent to 11.7 per cent in the year to September, the study by Monash University academic Ernest Healy reveals.
Cut migrants to aid jobless:

India as a nation is faced with massive problem of unemployment. Unemployment rates for women are higher than those for men. The incidence of unemployment among the educated is much higher than the overall unemployment. If our definition of unemployment is defined to include any job which does not move an individual to living wages within one year, then India’s unemployment is not the official 7-9% but about 26%!

If our unemployed, or underemployed, or students went to India to access their tertiary education system and raided their limited casual or professional job opportunities, surely there would be a "racist" backlash!

Let's get back to some basic good old-fashioned Australian patriotism instead of all the globalisation that is being inflicted on us. Tertiary educational institutions should be funded to educate primarily Australian citizens, not internationals, and jobs should be for Australians, not outsourced overseas or for opportunist students hoping to stay here.

Australia’s population growth has been historically driven by immigration. Now we need to be stabilized and established as a distinct but multicultural entity.

The abuse of the word “racist” is manipulating us into silence and being used to enforce policies that were appropriate and beneficial in past decades, but are not appropriate for Australia in the 21st century.



I agree.

Australian media should report on the 99% problem not the 1% refugees. The thousands of Tamils fleeing Sinhalese persecution, in terms of immigration impact, pales in comparison to economic immigrants encouraged by Rudd's undisclosed massive but miguided immigration agenda. But the humanitarian crisis is globally more significant, yet dispicably ignored under Rudd government's priorities.

Federally, Australia is engaging more with India and it is the economic immigrants from India that are part of Australia's immigration wave (numbering in the hundreds of thousands each year) and overloading our public infrastructure - health, housing, public transport, etc.

The federal government's secret immigration policy is imposing an unsustainable burden on mainly NSW and VIC state governments which chronically fall short on providing their existing population with adequate health, housing, public transport, etc. Rudd's secret obsession for record immigration is undemocratic. It has has no transparency, no target and no mandate.

Meanwhile, the Rudd government follows Howard's racist anti-humanitarian policy of not only rejecting our region's refugees (numbering in the hundreds each year), but is complicit by not taking a humanitarian stand against the regional dictatorship of Sri Lanka.

Gray reports suggest there is a mini Rwanda genocide equivalent taking place in our region with the Sinhalese persecution of ethnic Tamils and yet Australia stands by.

A stalwart beginning on covering some very big issues!
There are a number of things which should generate more detailed discussion and, in some cases, refining of definition, but that is the nature of such a big subject.

1. I will start with the use of the term 'illegal arrivals.' I think I am right in understanding that you are referring to people arriving here to seek asylum. In that case they are not illegal if they are seeking asylum under the terms of the Geneva convention, "... the signatory state of the Geneva Convention must respect the prohibition of expulsion or return (refoulement) in accordance with Art. 33 of the Geneva Convention. This is understood as a prohibition of extradition and expulsion or of – at the border – rejection of a refugee forcing him/her to return to a state in which they are at risk of political persecution. Expulsion or rejection to a safe third state it is however not intrinsically opposed." (Source).

They are therefore not illegal until and unless, after their application has been assessed, they are found to be non-refugees and then remain in the country without permission.

I know it sounds like a detail but use of the term, 'illegal' has been the source of national division in this country, with protracted hostilities at grass-roots level and in government.

2. Racism and One Nation. From memory: Pauline Hanson's maiden speech, which was written for her by her then manager/mentor, whose name as I recollect was Pasquale, expressed concern that Australia was about to be swamped by Asians. If she had only said that Australia was about to be swamped by immigration numbers, it would have been difficult, even for the big-populationnists, to have muddied her reputation. Pasquale claimed to have written her speech and I believe that it has been suggested (possibly even by him) that she did not understand the importance of those words or the impact it would make. I got the impression from his book that Pasquale was a supporter of high immigration, in the style of Menzies, wanting British immigrants. So my impression is that One Nation was not anti-population growth or high immigration; it was anti-immigration from particular areas of the world or of particular ethnicities. Whether its stance on this was racist or had some other basis, I am not aware. And, whether the party acquired that policy as a reaction to Hanson's first speech attracting so much attention, or whether it started out with that as an important policy, I am not aware. It seems clear that media-manipulated reaction served to radicalise the party. The issue of racism took the limelight off the activities of the entrenched political parties and their mainstream media marketers. The ongoing conduct of our big political parties and the mainstream press together seems to indicate that they will seek any opportunity to reduce and destroy any opposition because it will threaten entrenched vested interests. Our incumbent press and politicians are not in favour of robust politics, just the managed appearance of such. So, we need more discussion of these issues.

3. The White Australia Policy. See also Overpopulation, immigration, multiculturalism and the White Australia policy.The exclusion of Chinese etc was more complicated than 'racism', although racism was the reason the elites used to justify slavery. From the point of view of the ordinary worker, the White Australia policy was part of an industrial agreement which involved negotiating with the Colonial Sugar Company (an old slaver from the time of the 18th and 19th C trade wars between Britain and France) to drop slaving in Australia (which consisted mainly of abducting Kanaks from Polynesia as I understand it). Another objective was for Australia's immigration policy to exclude immigrants from countries with 'slave labour wages' who might undermine Australians' capacity to negotiate wages. In return business was offered some protection from free trade and labour was offered training and protection from exploitation in the form of 'conciliation and arbitration where disputes extended across a state boundary' in the National Constitution (See the Harvester Case below). [That is why Prime Minister Howard's recourse to corporations law in the same clause of the constitution was important, since corporations may arguably be excluded from that labour protection agreement - cannot remember details.] The stuff about immigration and slaving was argued out with Deakin and others around the turn of the 19th-20th century. It also involved an inquiry into the decline in the birth rate of NSW and laws to stop people using contraception or having abortions. These last were linked into the desire of business, notably banking, which had sunk too much into property development and therefore was trying - like our government now - to get more immigrants and raise the birthrate. (Property had crashed as the SE states ran out of gold, there was a drought and a bunch of other catastrophes. The problem was not so much that the birth rate had declined, but that all the men in the SE states went to QLD and then to WA looking for gold there and few new immigrants arrived. The Colonial Sugar people and various people on boards of banks and sundry institutions were all on the immigration board as well, trying to turn up the numbers there.) I went into this in some detail in chapter 6, pages 102-110 of The Growth Lobby and its Absence.

"A Fair Go Economy - Events

The Harvester Judgement
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The Harvester Judgment, as it is known in shorthand, was the result of a case in the industrial courts, fought between a powerful industrialist and social ideologues, that paved the way for the establishment of the principle of the 'basic wage' in Australia.

The Harvester judgement is often referred to as a founding story, from which arguments and debates can hang, rather than a story in its own right. It has also become shorthand for what it was not: it was not about equal pay for women, for example. But here, we draw out the story of the judgment itself, the characters behind it, the workers behind it and the material objects themselves; the 'harvesters' and their significance.

In 1906 the Protectionist Party and the Australian Labour Party were united in an effort to introduce measures that would guarantee workers the right to fare and reasonable wages and working conditions. It was called 'New Protection'. The Constitution did not give the Commonwealth direct power to legislate on these matters. So, in order to sidestep, the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act was established. It created an excise on locally made machinery that would be waived if workers were paid 'fair and reasonable' wages.

In 1907 Melbourne based manufacturer and owner of the Harvester Company, Hugh Victor McKay applied to the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court for a remission of the excise duty established under the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act. He claimed that his workers already received 'fair and reasonable' wages. The Agricultural Implement Makers Society, the union that covered McKay's workers, opposed the application.

Hugh Victor McKay was well known for his anti-union attitudes and discouraged union membership. In evidence the union revealed:
"About 5 months ago (probably April or May), a meeting of men employed at McKay's was held during lunchtime, in protest against having to work overtime for ordinary rates, at Braybrook. George Bishop was deputed to wait on McKay and state the case. George McKay said that the firm had given a bonus to employees at the end of last year and therefore it was not fair to expect extra pay for overtime. Overtime was abolished for a while. McKay did not mention that the bonus was paid mostly to the foremen and others whose duty was to extract the greatest amount of work from the men ... "
Noel Butlin Archives, Canberra, Harvester File, 1906

Reasonable And Frugal Comfort

The Harvester hearing took place in Melbourne from October 7 until the November 8, 1907. The Arbitration Court's newly appointed president, Henry Bournes Higgins, heard the case.

"... (Higgins had) courtly manners and a scholarly mind with ultra radicalism, almost priggish lofty principles and quixotic independence- he had a deep compassion for the under privileged."
P.G. McCarthy, 'Justice Higgins and the Harvester Judgement' in Jill Roe (ed) 'Social Policy in Australia 1901 - 1975', Cassell, 1976

A definition of a 'fair and reasonable wage' had to be established. Higgins employed Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum Novarum, establishing that remuneration "must be enough to support the wage earner in reasonable and frugal comfort". He heard evidence from workers and their wives. Following, he accounted for light, clothes, boots, furniture, life insurance, union pay, sickness, books, newspapers, alcohol, tobacco, transport fares and so on.

Higgins settled on a figure of 2 pounds and 2 shillings per week or 7 shillings a day as a minimum wage. This was higher than what McKay's employees were receiving. McKay was ordered to pay 20,000 pounds in duty.

In his judgement, Higgins stated:
"I regard the applicant's undertaking as a marvel of enterprise, energy and pluck…he is allowed - if my view of the Act is correct - to make any profits that he can and they are not subject to investigation. But when he chooses, in the course of his economies, to economise at the expense of human life, when his economy involves the withholding from his employees of reasonable remuneration, or reasonable conditions of human existence, then, as I understand the Act, Parliament insists on the payment of the Excise duty."

McKay responded:
"The maximum price that they could charge customers was fixed by statute, and the rates for labour were left to be determined by the whim of the arbitration Court. The only parties considered were the consumer and the worker. The work of the Arbitration Court was entrusted to a newly appointed judge of the High Court, who came equipped with admirable ideals, and a high resolve to achieve them, but whose previous career and associations were not of the kind to fit him for dealing with such involved problems. No question as to his desire to do what was right is raised, but he allowed the predilections he had nursed for years to follow him to the Bench, and without regard to consequences, he set up new standards and conditions of his own. The results of his decision were momentous ... "
Hugh Victor McKay, Museum of Victoria, Old Mckay Archives, B6/81

Opinion Divided

Media was divided over the Higgins judgement. On November 14, 1907, 'The Worker' declared the Higgins Judgement "momentous'. The Argus of November 11, 1907 was less supportive.
"In practice, Commonwealth regulation of wages was bound to do injustice and grave injury to industry - the 7 shillings per day for unskilled labourers - will be used as a justification for demanding higher wages over a wider industrial are than that which it actually applies."
'The Argus', 11 November 1907

McKay refused to pay the duty demanded of him. He appealed to the High Court in a challenge to the constitutionality of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act.

The High Court ruled in McKay's favour, 3:2. Justices Higgins and Isaacs dissented. Higgins asked,
"Why should the Commonwealth Parliament be able to levy taxation with a view to the benefit of the manufacturers, and not be able to levy taxation with a view to the benefit of their employees?"
Gary Souter, 'Acts of Parliament', Melbourne University Press, 1988, p.101

In response to the High Court decision, McKay stated:
"The Excise Act was declared to be ultra vires - The Federal Parliament had gone beyond its powers, all the ingenuity and eloquence spent on the measure, all the litigation devoted to its practical enforcement, and all the elaborate conditions laid down by the Arbitration Court and by the Customs authorities, crumbled to nothing."
Hugh Victor McKay, Museum of Victoria, Old Mckay Archives, B6/81

Despite his victory in the High Court, Victor McKay spent the next years of his life defending his business actions. The Harvester judgment had made an impact.

In 1913 he said:
"Although I have given employment to many thousands, and though I have retained the goodwill of those who worked for me, I in some way incurred the hostility of labour organisations. I was made the target for their combined artillery, and through their kind offices ... I claimed the right to employ whom I pleased, without reference to the question whether my workers were unionists or not ... There was no dispute about wages, hours or other conditions. The only question was my right to employ non-unionists ... "
1913 Election Statement, Museum of Victoria, Old McKay Archives, b7/4

In 1922:
"I do not believe with the basic wage for the Commonwealth. In other parts of the world it is a minimum wage for the minimum man and a maximum wage for the maximum man - each man according to his ability and capacity. God did not make men equal - it is no use trying to pretend He did, or to make laws as though He did, or to pay people according to their requirements instead of according to their services."
Letter to William Morris Hughes, 10 March 1922, Museum of Victoria, OMA, B/5/25

Higgins was the ultimate victor. He regarded the minimum wage as sacrosanct and applied it to subsequent judgements in his long and distinguished career as president of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court.

"The Harvester judgment and Higgins are foundationally important. The philosophy was so right and so in tune with the Australian ethos that it spread. And not just through federal jurisdiction - it became embraced by various state jurisdictions. I think it is impossible to overstate the significance of both the judgement and its author, Henry Bournes Higgins."
Bob Hawke in Paul Kelly, 100 Years- The Australian Story, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 2001, p.107. From interview recorded for TV series '100 Years: The Australian Story'"

Sheila Newman, population sociologist
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Thanks Sheila, it was hard to avoid some heavy issues when dealing with a topic like "racism", and I was careful not to fall into preconceived potholes. The use of the term "illegal arrivals" is what the media calls them, and how they are regarded - guilty until proven innocent! The great majority are shown to be genuine refugees. A great many allies were saved from persecution and death when the Nazi's occupied Europe by "people smugglers" - now these people are vilified as "scum"!
If our economic immigration was not sprawling our cities and impacting on our environment, on our living conditions and hip-pockets, we could afford to treat asylum seekers with compassion and be more generous with humanitarian assistance, but our so-called Christian MP, Kevin Rudd, is so obsessed by materialism and commerce that he is turning away the impoverished and the needy who come to our shores for help.
As for One Nation, their website didn't mention "Asians" or any particular race. A pity that Pauline Hanson failed to treat the topic of immigration objectively and with integrity.