Thursday, November 30, 2006

A century of "change"

A quote I saw at the Immigration Museum really jumped out at me, prompting me to think that our current Government's immigration policy and fear of "others" is really no different to that espoused by our first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton over a century ago:
"The doctrine of the equality of man was never intended to apply to the equality of the Englishman and the Chinaman. There is a deep-set difference, and we see no prospect and no promise of its ever being effaced. Nothing in their world can put these two races upon a equality."
Of course today's prejudice is less bluntly stated. Earlier Australian governments attempted to hide the racism of the White Australia policy behind the Dictation Test which draws an easy parallel with the proposed "Values" test proposed by current "leaders" (including the Labour opposition).

There are plenty of people who would easily pass such a test who I don't consider to be "Australian" in the positive sense of the word at all, our current Prime Minister for example, who has never been about the "fair go" that he bandies about so smugly.

Instead of establishing meaningful demographic policies (e.g. in the search for a sustainable, balanced population), we get ridiculous initiatives like the "baby bonus". Maybe I'm naive, but there seem to be an awful lot of people clamouring to move here already, who either have necessary skills or are willing to develop them. Unfortunately for potential immigrants, our education system overall is constantly being downgraded as a priority, and the avenues for developing skills such as spoken English are insufficient. Chances of gaining citizenship under such an arbitrarily focused test are minimal, except for those whose background most closely mirrors the current economic and political power players. While we're at it, we might as well use the IQ test instead, for all its validity as a measure of Australian-ness, or of a person's innate value.