Is it a great thing that our nation has become so culturally, ethnically and religiously diverse, that our very identity appears set to dissipate?
Some may think so but in my personal view, this trend has been an unnecessary and undesirable development.
However, the ambitions of many for the prevalence of Australian culture and people within our own borders, should not be confused with relentless and unhinged racism.
Regardless of this perspective, fundamentally, Australia has been a welcoming nation to people of all walks of life and from all corners of the globe. Throughout much of our history, we have aspired to grant newcomers a ‘fair go’ and this genuinely well- intentioned nature has been validated by the millions of migrants who have made this country home.
These facts are contrary to the claims of those who perpetually shame us for our ‘racism’ and ‘intolerance’. Further, when such illogical assertions are compared to the reality of modern Australia, their true face as self- loathing propaganda is swiftly exposed.
“Racist? We’re anything but”, The Australian, 16 September 2016″:
When the 2016 Census results are released next year, I will look for a single figure. It is a figure that speaks to a cultural truth about the Australian people. No other nation on Earth owns such a figure: the percentage of the population born overseas and living in our largest cities. This single figure is this nation’s greatest social triumph. Did you know that 42 per cent of urban Sydney residents were born overseas? That other big capital cities are in the low 30s, and that Perth reaches 41 per cent?
No overseas cities compare with this level of migrant integration. According to the local census authorities, the proportion in New York, that great melting pot, is 29 per cent. In Paris it is 22 per cent; in Berlin, 13 per cent. In Tokyo it is two per cent; Shanghai, less than one per cent. The only place that compares with Australian cities is Toronto with 49 per cent, but that’s because they’re mostly Americans living just across the border.
Why is this important? Because I don’t see how anyone could credibly make the claim that Australia is a fundamentally racist nation when migrants form such a high proportion of our communities. Our nation has not just tolerated the arrival of migrants, we have morphed to absorb them and now celebrate their contribution. It is true that in the 1950s Australia was a white Anglo colonial enclave but today it is an aspirational, energetic, multicultural community. I suspect that today, even The Castle‘s Darryl Kerrigan would have a wok burner on his barbie.
Over the generations since the postwar immigration scheme kicked off, Australia has been catapulted to the forefront of the world’s most profoundly reshaped migrant societies. Australia’s migrant influx washes across the entire continent. Take Horsham, in Victoria’s Wimmera region, a town of 16,000 residents. As white-bread a community as you could get, you might think. Actually, 11 per cent of the population was born overseas. The proportion in Pittsburgh, a mostly white working-class US city, is four per cent.
Around seven million out of 24 million Australians were born overseas. Add in those born here with one parent from overseas and the number with strong links to another culture is close to 10 million.
Australians have proven themselves to be tolerant and welcoming of migrants over generations. There is no rioting in the streets.There are tensions, as there are in any community, but not on a socially or politically disruptive scale. Sure, there’s work to do in better supporting the indigenous and refugee communities. But point to a nation that has more successfully delivered large-scale immigration over the decades.
Australia’s rich migrant culture has given far more to this nation than a diverse cuisine. Migrants measure their success through the success of their children. Social mobility and economic success vindicate a migrant’s decision to come to Australia. Migrants have to want to come here. They don’t just wander across a border.
The postwar immigration scheme is in many respects the greatest contributor to Australian prosperity in the 21st century. It was an extraordinarily prescient initiative that could have gone horribly wrong. It didn’t.
We are good people, we are fair people, willing to give anyone a fair go. Sure, there are things we can do better. But we should never allow our proven generosity and tolerance over generations to be diminished.