At a minimum, active citizenship
in liberal democracy depends upon the acquisition and extension of a legal status.
Historically, immigration policies have aimed to control the inflow of migrants
to a country and thereby restrict the numbers and types of people who could
have legal access to various citizenship rights. Once they are living inside
a country, however, migrants, whether citizens or permanent residents, have
often made claims on government for rights and resources to enable them to participate
fully in a democratic community. This week's study examines the problem of the
rights of immigrants and cultural minorities in Australia with reference to
debates about multiculturalism. In particular we discuss the problems associated
with extending cultural rights to immigrants in Australia and the civic responsibilities
that are required in return. The objectives of this weeks' study will be:
- to understand the general principle
underlying multiculturalism as a governmental policy;
- to gain knowledge of the application
of the policy in Australia since the 1970s; and
- examine debates over its implications
for questions of citizenship and identity in the Australian democracy.
Last week you studied the question of
military conscription, and considered the demands that a nation might legitimately
impose on its citizens for the sake of its own defence. You also considered whether
such demands might legitimately be resisted by individual citizens on grounds
of conscience. At issue here was the problem of a potential conflict between one's
civic duty and a claimed higher moral duty. Difficult questions about conflicts
of duty and loyalty inevitably arise in times of war. For instance, if some members
of a nation have strong ethnic or religious ties with those in an enemy country,
a government must choose whether to treat them as ordinary, loyal citizens or
as potential traitors. In the past, racial attitudes have played a part in making
such decisions, as they did in the United States during World War II. For example,
in 1941 Japanese-American citizens were interned for the duration of the war,
whereas German-American and Italian-American citizens suffered no similar official
The pressures of war and external conflict
merely intensify debates about the integration of groups within a multi-ethnic
or multicultural society. The problem arises in the context of the 'nation-state'.
This hyphenated term seems to assume that a nationusually regarded as a
people defined by a common ethnic, linguistic and political heritageis coterminous
with a statelegally defined as a territory with agreed borders, settled
population and stable government. Yet, most historical states have not been ethnically
or linguistically homogeneous.
If a particular ethnic or language group
is dominant in a state, then the further question arises of what citizenship rights
resident members of other groups are to be given. It is also necessary for the
state to decide whether people of ethnicity other than the dominant one are to
be allowed entry as immigrants, and if so under what conditions. Alternatively,
if a state decides, as Australia did in the 1970s, that it will be 'multicultural',
we must ask what this means for government policies and citizenship more broadly.
In the following pages you will encounter certain important questions including
It is important to see that the theory
and practice of multiculturalism takes different forms and presents different
problems in different historical contexts. Answers to the questions above therefore
require us take a comparative and historical perspective.
- Does multiculturalism requires
liberal democracies to extend their traditional recognition of rights from
individuals to groups?
- Does multiculturalism within a
multi-national state means something different from multiculturalism within
an immigrant state like Australia?
- What were the motives for establishing
multicultural policy in Australia, and how Australian multiculturalism compares
to that of other countries?
- What is the difference between
strong and weak multiculturalism?
Comparative Historical Perspective
Some states contain within their borders
several national, ethnic or religious groups with substantial populations. As
conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, in many of the states of Africa and in Northern
Ireland demonstrate, maintaining even a semblance of peace between different groups
can sometimes be extremely difficult. A single nation, on the other hand, may
have no state of its own but be divided among several states. The Kurdish nation,
for example, is distributed across Turkey, Iraq and Iran, creating peculiar and
enduring problems for all three countries. 'Immigrant nations' like Australia,
the United States and Canada have usually been formed by displacing indigenous
peoples. The question of how these people are to be treated in the new state are
usually quite different from how the various immigrant groups are to accommodate
one another. These differences must be kept in mind when we address what multiculturalism
means as a political ideal. Alternatively, when trying to apply the ideal, we
must take into account the historical background of the particular country.
When we examine the case of Australia,
we must also take account of the historical context in which the policy of multiculturalism
arose. Australia is a nation of immigrants, initially from Great Britain, who,
over the course of two centuries, displaced an indigenous population and founded
a liberal-democratic state. From the early days of the nineteenth century Australians
were concerned with the question of 'ethnicity' (or rather with 'race' as it used
to be). Religious differences between Catholics (of mostly Irish descent) and
Protestants (of mostly English descent) were successfully accommodated in Australia
without much conflict (see Hirst 1990). The inclusion of peoples of 'colour',
however, was widely believed to be far too dangerous. Under the influence of the
so-called scientific racialist theories of the nineteenth centurywhich placed
whites at the top of a hierarchy of 'superior' and 'inferior' racesthe founders
of the Commonwealth of Australia decided to exclude non-whites. Their way of achieving
this objective was to implement a highly restrictive immigration policy, commonly
known as the White Australia policy (see Kane 1997).
For over half a century, Australia solved
part of its 'ethnic problem' with a policy of exclusion. Under pressures to increase
its population after World War II, Australia began to change this strategy and
finally abandoned it in the late 1960s. In such a context, the adoption of a 'multicultural'
policy in the 1970s was a historical departure from previous policy. In essence,
multiculturalism not only reflected and recognised the increasing ethnic diversity
of the nation but also attempted to accommodate and shape it. The main principles
underlying Australian multiculturalism are evident in the quotation from the following
We are convinced that migrants
have the right to maintain their cultural and racial identity and that
it is clearly in the best interests of our nation that they should be
encouraged and assisted to do so if they wish. Provided that ethnic identity
is not stressed at the expense of society at large, but is interwoven
into the fabric of our nationhood by the process of multicultural interaction,
then the community as a whole will benefit substantially and its democratic
nature will be reinforced. ...
We reject the argument that
cultural diversity necessarily creates divisiveness. Rather we believe
that hostility and bitterness between groups are often the result of cultural
of Australia. 1978.
Migrant Services and Programs: Report of the
Review of Post-arrival Programs and Services for Migrants.
Canberra: AGPS, pp. 1045.
These policies have not received universal
approval in Australia. The historian Geoffrey Blainey, for example, has strongly
voiced his criticisms of multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism is an appropriate
policy for those residents who hold two sets of national loyalties and
two passports. For the millions of Australians who have only one loyalty
this policy is a national insult.
'Australian Australians must begin to shout loudly.'
The more emphasis that is placed
on the rights of minorities and the need for affirmative action to enhance
those rights, the more is the concept of democracyand the rights
of the majorityin danger of being weakened.
Weekend Australian 23 July, 1988: 22.
Latham Memorial Lecture.
Cited in Australian 29 April, 1993: 3.
Criticism of multiculturalism was also
evident in the political rhetoric of the One Nation Party which strongly opposed
multiculturalism in general, and Asian immigration in particular. Indeed, One
Nation's immigration policies intentionally recalled the values of White Australia,
and were quite explicit about their fear of the 'Asianisation' of Australian culture.
The Australian art critics Robert Hughes takes up a number of these historical
and contemporary issues to argues in support of a multicultural republic.
|Read:Hughes, R. 1996.
How we'll be an ethnic republic. Australian 2 December: 11.
We will return to the significance of
historical context as we proceed. In the next sections we will approach the topic
principally through a reading taken from a book by Will Kymlicka who asks fundamental
questions about the idea of multiculturalism. Later we will examine multiculturalism
in Australia through an essay by James Jupp.
Individual Rights versus Group Rights
In the introductory pages of Multicultural
Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights, Will Kymlicka sets out the
historical problem of minorities in nation states and the answers that have been
successively given to it. He also gives his reasons for thinking these answers
|Read:Kymlicka, W. 1998.
Multicultural Citizenship, pp. 16.
The key terms in Kymlicka's introductory
discussion of multiculturalism are minority rights and human rights. The central
points he makes in his brief historical analysis of the problem of the protection
of minorities are as follows:
Note the word 'polity' here. This refers
simply to the ordered relations of government and citizens which, taken altogether,
define the form of a state. It has often been assumed that a well-ordered polity
requires that the citizens be culturally homogeneous. That is, all citizens ought
to come from the same ethnic group with common traditions, language and religion.
Kymlicka points to three more or less brutal policies that governments throughout
history have pursued in order to preserve homogeneity:
(a)Despite the fact that multi-ethnic
states have existed for a very long time, governments throughout history have
tended to pursue the ideal of a culturally homogeneous polity.
Few countries today can be regarded
as culturally homogeneous to any marked degree. Until comparatively recently,
the Australian polity held to the ideal of homogeneity. Exclusion was adopted
in Australia partly, and somewhat ironically, to safeguard political equality.
Many Australians believed that granting political equality to people who were
allegedly unequal by nature would inevitably lead to further inequalities and
social conflict. The only result that could be expected from an influx of large
numbers of coloured people, would be an unequal society of masters and servants,
divided on racial grounds. Colonial Australians often pointed to the prominent
examples of South Africa and the United States to argue that such racially divided
societies were prone to destructive conflicts. However harshly we may now morally
judge the arguments of our forebears, it can scarcely be denied that the danger
of conflict in ethnically divided societies is often significant.
From the perspective of the dominant
group, the question is usually seen as one of how to preserve its own interests
and values from contamination by 'alien' cultures. From the minority group perspective,
the question isand this brings us to Kymlicka's second pointof how
to prevent the dominant group from threatening the interests, and even the lives,
of its members.
- physical elimination by genocide
or expulsion (today's 'ethnic cleansing');
- forced assimilation to the ways
and customs of the majority; and
- treatment as resident aliens,
sometimes involving physical segregation as well as economic and political
Kymlicka illustrates this point with
the example of pre-war Poland and Germany, who granted reciprocal rights and privileges
to each other's resident national minorities. Nonetheless, he observes that this
method of protecting minorities depended on them having a 'kin' nation close by.
He also notes that, far from preventing conflict, bilateral treaties, when inadequately
upheld, provided a cause (or at least an excuse) for nations to go to war. After
1945, the problems that had arisen between Germany and Poland encouraged liberals
to search for a different approach from that which emphasised the rights of minority
Note the word 'liberals' in the previous
sentence. People who describe themselves as (small 'l') liberals are generally
at the forefront of any argument to do with rights. In Week 3, we discussed the
liberal tradition and its concern with protecting individual rights, especially
the right of individuals freely to pursue their own lives and goals without interference
from others. Because of their insistence on the importance of individual rights,
liberals have tended to be uneasy about solutions for protecting minorities that
stressed group rights. For this reason, they welcomed and promoted a post-war
shift of emphasis toward the individual, which brings us to Kymlicka's third important
(b) In the twentieth century, up
until the Second World War, potential conflicts between majority and minority
cultures were often regulated by bilateral treaties between states that contained
substantial numbers of each other's nationals.
Liberals advanced the argument that
adequate protection of basic human rights of free speech, association and conscience
would make the specific protection of particular groups unnecessary. So long as
basic human rights were safeguarded for everyone equally, individuals would be
free to maintain their own particular ethnic attachments and to pursue their different
cultural practices unhindered.
Part of the appeal of this view for
liberals was that it strongly resembled the solution applied to the religious
conflicts of the sixteenth century. Instead of granting special rights to particular
religious minorities, this political solution had been to separate church from
state (that is, to exclude churches from any share in the state's worldly authority)
and to recognise legally an individual's freedom of religion. Extending this model
to ethnic conflicts strongly implied that, given adequate human rights protection,
it would be not only unnecessary for a group to demand 'facilities for the maintenance
of their ethnic particularism' (Kymlicka 1995: 3), but illegitimate for it to
do so. In other words, the state's role did not extend to the support of particular
groups. Its only responsibility was to provide the secure civil conditions under
which individuals could freely maintain their ethnic traditions, if they chose
to, while respecting the rights of others to do the same. On these liberal principles,
governments could provide social security programs for migrants, for example,
but only on the same conditions that applied to other disadvantaged citizens and
(c)After World War II, a new emphasis
was placed on individual human rights rather than on minority group rights.
Cultural groups were to be protected, not directly by granting them rights
and privileges as separate groups, but indirectly by guaranteeing the civil
and political rights of all individuals.
Kymlicka's point here is that affirmative
action on behalf of ethnically identified groups is not to be regarded as a means
of preserving ethnic diversity. Rather it is regarded by those liberals who defend
it as merely a temporary, remedial measure to raise groups which have been discriminated
against in the past to a level that will allow their full integration within a
truly 'colour-blind' society. Its rationale is exactly the same as that which
supports the separation of church and state, for its goal is to achieve the genuine
separation of ethnicity and state. That is, the goal is to ensure that the state
is not under the power or influence of any one ethno-cultural group.
Although 'left' and 'right' liberals
strongly disagree about the merits of affirmative action as a remedy for past
discrimination, there is no disagreement among them that the ultimate liberal
goal is to make people less conscious of group difference rather than more conscious
of them. Maintaining permanent differences between the rights or status of the
members of particular groups is no part of liberal intentions. They claim that
there is no need to propose group-specific rights in order to accommodate enduring
cultural differences. Kymlicka (1995: 5), however, is one liberal who disagrees.
Human rights alone cannot solve all
the most important and controversial questions about the protection of minorities.
Traditional human rights principles need to be supplemented with a theory of minority
Kymlicka lists several important questions
which, he says, human rights doctrines are quite unable to address. These include
questions about: the chosen language of officialdom; public support for education
in minority languages; the desirability of drawing electoral boundaries to ensure
local majorities for minority groups; distributing political offices on a principle
of ethnic proportionality; homelands for indigenous people; and the degree of
cultural integration that should be required of immigrants and refugees before
they are granted full citizenship.
Kymlicka draws attention to the violence
that such questions have caused among the countries of Eastern Europe and the
former Soviet Union. He also notes that the international response to this has
been to return to some notion of group-specific rights. These responses have been
controversial, however, and have more often resulted from an attempt to appease
belligerent minorities than from the application of a clearly articulated principle.
Kymlicka argues that it is essential that such a principle be worked out. Justice
in a multicultural state, he says, requires not only universal rights which are
granted to individuals regardless of group membership, but also certain kinds
of group rights that give special status to minorities.
(d)Affirmative action programs
are 'the exception that proves the rule' in the liberal human rights approach
to ethnic protection.
If group rights are not to become an
excuse for one group to dominate another, or for members of a particular group
to suppress internal dissent, then a liberal has to explain how they may be compatible
with human rights. He or she must explain how such rights are necessarily limited
by those other values that liberals hold, such as individual liberty, democracy
and social justice.
Kymlicka (1995) goes on in Chapter 2
of his book to distinguish and defend three different sorts of minority group
(e)There are, however, obvious
dangers in recognising minority rights, not least because the language of
minority rights has been so used and abused by the Nazis, and by apologists
for racial segregation and apartheid.
Kymlicka makes an important distinction
between national minorities, such as French Canadians, who regard themselves in
some degree separate from the state they are in, and immigrant groups who, whatever
their ethnic origins, intend to be fully part of it. The demands of the former
are usually for some form of self-government that makes them at least partially
independent of the dominant state. Further examples include the Scots Nationalists,
the Basques, and many indigenous peoples including some Aboriginal Australians.
The demands of the immigrant groups, on the contrary, are invariably for full
inclusion in the dominant state, though they may argue that real inclusion requires
proper respect for, and protection of, their right to maintain their own cultural
The minority rights that Kymlicka defends
are often called collective rights as opposed to individual ones. Although the
intention of collective rights may be to protect minorities from unfair majority
decisions, the liberal anxiety is that they will be used by minorities to limit
the liberty of their own members in the name of group solidarity or cultural purity.
Whether Kymlicka succeeds in alleviating this fear is something we will not attempt
to address here. Kymlicka's work, however, indicates a number of the problems
that confront a state which attempts to pursue a multicultural policy, as Australia
has done in recent decades.
- self-government rights (the delegation
of powers to national minorities, often through some form of federalism);
- poly-ethnic rights (financial
support and legal protection for certain practices associated with particular
ethnic or religious groups); and
- special representation rights
(guaranteed seats for ethnic or national groups within the central institutions
of the larger state).
Multicultural policy in Australia has
always attracted staunch defenders and trenchant critics. Nevertheless, it is
not always clear that the protagonists share the same view of what multiculturalism
really is with respect to Australian citizenship and identity. Let us consider
therefore what we mean when we say that Australia is now a multicultural society.
One view is that, as a result of the immigration of ethnically diverse groups
to Australia over the years, we may describe the country as demographically and
culturally 'multicultural'. But this says nothing about the governments' views
or intentions about the ideal social composition of Australian society. That is,
we also need to know whether governments want to respect and preserve diversity
or, whether they want to encourage 'assimilation' into the majority culture. When
governments make the former choice, they can be said to have a multicultural policy.
Multicultural policy generally begins from an acceptance of the fact of diversity
and then attempts to respond to it symbolically and with specific practical programs
aimed at assisting ethnic minorities.
The motive force behind Australian government
commitments to multiculturalism has been quite different from the need to solve
longer term problems of unassimilated minorities. In recognising this historical
point, it is worth considering the political background to the shaping of multicultural
policy in Australia. In recent times, multiculturalism has become associated most
strongly with the Labor Party. Indeed, it was the Labor minister Al Grassby in
Gough Whitlam's government of 19721975 who first borrowed the term from
the Canadians and applied it in the Australian context. Nevertheless, the policy
was first extensively implemented by Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser's Liberal National
Country Party coalition government of 19761983. Fraser had two main political
objectives. The first was to attract a substantial portion of the 'migrant' vote
from Labor, and the second was to continue reductions in government spending by
shifting the burden of migrant social welfare away from state agencies and onto
the communities themselves.
These Liberal influences explain Labor's
distrust of the policy when it came to office in 1983. It preferred its old social-welfarist
stance, though it tolerated for a while the multicultural programs already in
place. But when it reduced these programs in the budget of 1986, it set the scene
for a vigorous critique of multiculturalism both within Labor and from a Liberal
Party led by John Howard. The policy changes, however, did not last. They evoked
such strong criticism from ethnic communities that the Labor government was obliged
to make partial restorations of programs, and to set up an Office of Multicultural
Affairs in the Prime Minister's Department. In a number of electorates there were
a large number of ethnic voters who were attached to multiculturalism, and who
had to be placated. Accordingly, Labor began to rethink its policy, and in 1989
launched its own multicultural policy in its National Agenda. Multicultural rhetoric
thereafter became a strong feature of the HawkeKeating governments, and
became increasingly linked to the promotion of a fresh national image and identity
abroad. Internationally, multiculturalism was intended to show that we had overcome
our racialist past, and thus to send a strong signal of welcome to south east
Asian neighbours and trading partners who had become such an important part of
national economic policy.
Let us examine an account provided by
James Jupp who, in 1986, wrote an influential Review of Migrant and Multicultural
Programs and Services for the then Labor government.
|STUDY EXERCISE 10.1
Read:J. Jupp, 1997. Immigration
and National Identity: Multiculturalism. In G. Stokes ed. The Politics
of Identity in Australia, pp. 13244.
Answer the following questions:
- Jupp describes multiculturalism
as a political ideology (or ideal) intended as a contemporary answer
to an enduring question about national identity. In what two ways
does he say that Australian governments have traditionally sought
to shape and reshape national identity? Answer
- Australia's move from
a monocultural immigration policy in 1947 to one which admitted a
plurality of cultures inevitably eroded the 'national identity' that
it had historically developed since the 1820s. What, according to
Jupp, were the 'contradictory objectives' on which the national identity
debate settled thereafter? Answer
- What official definitions
of multiculturalism were offered in the 1970s and 1980s, how were
these modified to take account of conservative criticisms, and what
in the end became the 'accepted core' of national identity? Answer
- Outline the various objections
to multiculturalism that Jupp lists from conservative, left-wing,
feminist and liberal critics. Answer
- How does Jupp attempt
to reassure the critics that their worst fears are unfounded? Answer
Jupp is no doubt correct in his assessment
that the alleged dangers of multiculturalism have been greatly exaggerated. Note,
however, that his defence of multiculturalism, is a rather negative one. It seems
to put the case that multiculturalism is fine so long as the majority culture
remains numerically dominant and minority cultures remain many and fragmented,
and thus incapable of mounting a serious challenge.
Citizenship, as Jupp and others like
Donald Horne (1994) have said, now depends not on cultural identity but on a commitment
to core values of the Australian polity. These core values have changed very little
since the foundation of the nation. What has changed is the range of persons,
and of cultural groups, deemed fit and entitled to share in these values. The
scope of Australian egalitarianism and tolerance have been officially extended.
Where once it was argued that these values could only be defended by a policy
of exclusion and enforced homogeneity, multiculturalists now argue that these
same values can bind together a heterogeneous society composed of many different
5.Weak and Strong
Now consider Jupp's brief account of
multiculturalism in Australia with respect to the argument that we read in Kymlicka.
Recall that Kymlicka claimed that justice in a multicultural state requires both
universal rights that are granted to individuals regardless of group membership,
and certain group rights that give special status to minorities. How does the
Australian version of multiculturalism compare with Kymlicka's view?
Kymlicka recommends a strong form of
multiculturalism. He advocates state protection for, and legal and material support
of, distinct cultural communities within a country. This includes even the right
of a cultural group to a degree of autonomy and independence. The main qualification
he offers is that universal human rights ought to be protected within each separate
community. By comparison, Australian multiculturalism should perhaps be regarded
as relatively weak. Its strongest formulation was probably in the Fraser government's
Galbally Report cited earlier, but whose key principle is worth reviewing here:
We are convinced that migrants have
the right to maintain their cultural and racial identity and that it is clearly
in the best interests of our nation that they should be encouraged and assisted
to do so if they wish (Galbally 1978: para 9.6).
The 'strength' of this multiculturalism
depends on the practical meaning of 'encouraged and assisted'. In Australia, this
encouragement and assistance took the form of a restructuring of the welfare system
towards more 'ethnic specific' services, such as the funding of ethnic schools
and various community self-help programs. Other measures included the foundation
of the Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs, and the inauguration of
a television and radio service, Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), with a specific
charter to serve Australia's ethnic communities.
Labor's 1989 version of multicultural
policy combined the party's traditional, social democratic objectives of equal
treatment for all with a new emphasis on cultural identity. As befitted an era
of economic reconstruction, it also asserted a pragmatic dimension. Labor stressed
the efficiencies to be expected from utilising the skills and talents of all Australians.
Partly in reaction to conservative critique (as you saw in Jupp's article), this
version indicated more strongly the liberal-democratic limits that had to be observed
by ethnic groups in maintaining their traditions. Of the group rights that Kymlicka
defends, the Labor government only recognised certain rights, such as financial
support and legal protection, and these went little further than the delivery
of the type of ethnically-targeted programs that had previously existed. There
was no question of offering self-government rights (such as some indigenous groups
might demand) or special representation for minorities in parliament.
Many critics have argued that Australia
does not need a strong multicultural policy. Although there are a number of Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander people associated with the Aboriginal Provisional Government
who advocate sovereignty and self-determination, Australia currently does not
have the strong ethnic tensions associated with Bosnian Moslems, or a separatist
6.Critics and Advocates
Critics of multiculturalism in Australia
focus upon two main kinds of issues. The first concerns how migrants are to be
treated when they arrive in the country, while the second concerns the nature
and composition of the migrant intake into Australia. For some, limiting the numbers
of certain kinds of migrants will help solve the problems raised by multiculturalism.
Regarding the treatment of migrants,
multiculturalism in an immigrant society like Australia is, as Kymlicka argues,
essentially an inclusive policy, one that tries to provide an answer to the difficult
question of how people of different languages, cultures, religions and histories
may live together equally as citizens within a democratic state. At a minimum
it must extend the traditional liberal principle of individual toleration to groups.
Some argue it should go a great deal further, to a kind of 'celebratory' multiculturalism
in which the interaction of different groups is welcomed as enriching. At any
rate, it necessarily implies the separation of cultural identity from issues of
national citizenship and political participation.
But if a state tries to pursue a policy
of inclusion by recognising the validity of the many different cultures to which
its citizens belong, may it not reinforce existing differences and therefore enhance
the risk of disunity and conflict? This is a fear that has been expressed by many
of those unsympathetic to the multicultural project. The question for the state
is how far it should go in 'respecting' the values and practices of different
groups. Should it pursue policies which enable groups to maintain their separateness
or should it leave them to fend for themselves as best they might, giving only
those protections that it extends to all individuals within its jurisdiction?
Australia has been on the side of a
rather weak version of multiculturalism. As thin as it is, it has nevertheless
aroused opposition and hostility, to the extent that the very word 'multiculturalism'
has been rejected even by its former proponents. Jerzy Zubrzycki, one of the principal
architects of the policy in Australia, has argued that multiculturalism was a
good idea at the time but has outlived its usefulness. He suggests dropping the
term and substituting 'Many Cultures, One Australia' (Zubrzycki 1996).
1996. Cynics woo the ethnic vote. Australian 15 October: 13.
Zubrzycki's new position is, in fact,
indistinguishable from the Labor Party's 'welfarist' policy of old, in which help
is directed toward ethnic minorities simply as one category of the needy.
The economist Helen Hughes, herself
a migrant, takes a somewhat stronger line of criticism Although Hughes acknowledges
that multiculturalism has brought great benefits to Australia, she argues that
the policy undermines 'essential democratic values'. Hughes also claims that migrant
women are often the 'principle victims' of a policy that encourages the maintenance
of 'traditional' cultural values.
|Read:H. Hughes, 1995.
Migrant policy must leap language barrier. Australian 23 February:
For many other Australians, however,
and especially the supporters of the One Nation Party, both the alleged inequalities
generated by the policy of multiculturalism and its threat to the older images
of Australian identity have caused alarm. Even a weak multiculturalism necessarily
meant breaking the old link between Australian citizenship and a particular ethnic-cultural
identity. This was something not all Australians appeared prepared to accept,
especially when economic uncertainty and insecurity provoked the temptation to
seek scapegoats among recent immigrants.
The historian John Hirst (1996) takes
up the issue of whether the term ought to be retained but argues that multicultural
policy contains (valuable) elements of assimilation. His criticism of the term
is that it 'conveys diversity very well, but not the unity of commitment to core
values and institutions.' In this he agrees with Helen Hughes that respect for
migrant culture must be tempered by respect for 'democratic governments, the rule
of law, tolerance and English as a common language.'
|STUDY EXERCISE 10.2
Read:J. Hirst, 1996. Unity
in a tolerant diversity. Australian 18 October: 15.
Answer the following questions:
- Despite the fact that
the current unpopularity of the word 'assimilation', Hirst argues
that it would be madness to conduct an immigration policy which did
not have assimilation as one of its aims. What reasons does he give
and how does multicultural policy, according to him, presume this
as one of its goals? Answer
- Why does Hirst think 'multiculturalism'
is a poor word to describe both current policy and the situation of
ethnic groups in Australia? Answer
- What does he perceive
as the disadvantage of the term for 'old Australians'? Answer
- Why was Hirst first hostile
and later ambivalent about multicultural terminology? Answer
- With what term would Hirst
like to replace the term multiculturalism, and why? Answer
Hirst acknowledges a link between multiculturalism
and the second issue of the character of Australia's immigration policy. He argues
that the two kinds of policies must be kept separate and claims further that rejecting
multicultural policy and its terminology does not mean abandoning a non-discriminatory
In the following reading Chandran Kukathas
takes up the issue of migration and defends an open immigration policy.
|Read: C. Kukathas,
1997. Migrants add strength to the mix. Australian 5 June: 11.
Returning to the original issue of Australian
multiculturalism, there is another way of looking at the 'weak' nature of such
internal policies that might point to a larger problem in the Australian political
system. This problem lies in the relative lack of significant opportunity for
democratic participation by any citizen. The One Nation Party has touched racialist
chords from the nation's past, but much of its attraction for sections of white
Australia has been less its alleged racism than its appeal to feelings of citizen
alienation from, and disillusion with, the political process. The final reading
from a young New Australian (as she describes herself) makes this criticism quite
|Read: Tan Le. 1998. Excluded from the system. Australian
8 May: 13.
Tan Le's article demonstrates the tension
between the two kinds of democracy that were outlined in Week 3. With her claim
that democracy is not an end in itself, Tan Le understands it in liberal and instrumental
terms. Nonetheless, by advocating more informed participation, she takes a more
civic republican view of democracy. Tan Le's contribution also suggests that the
issue of how different peoples can be guaranteed equal citizenship in Australia
may be less important than the question of the value of that citizenship to people
generally. It may be that a stronger notion of citizenship in a democracy would
imply more participation and self-governance of groups of every kind than is presently
the case. This would cast the entire question of multiculturalism in a different
In this week of study you have examined
the issue of immigration and multicultural citizenship in Australian democracy.
The emphasis has been upon certain kinds of citizenship rights for migrants within
Australia. With this focus, you have seen how 'multicultural' rights enable migrants
to participate as members of an Australian democratic community, but also a few
of the limits to these rights. You will also have seen how such rights become
part of a national political heritage and also the subject of intense political
dispute and debate in Australia. More generally, the topic of multiculturalism
demonstrates the range of issues that emerge in attempting to reconcile the apparently
conflicting values of national unity and cultural diversity within a liberal democracy.
The Australian experience to date, however, seems to indicate that reconciling
these conflicting political imperatives is not an impossible project, even if
the accommodations reached are always imperfect and evolving.
| Review for Week 10
Before proceeding, you ought
to review your understanding of this week's topic by:
(a) checking your responses
to the Study Exercises against those supplied in the Study Guide,
(b) reading again the documents for this week and completing the related
Study Questions in the Workbook, for which there are no
Blainey, G. 1988. Australian Australians
must begin to shout loudly. Weekend Australian 23 July: 22.
Commonwealth of Australia. 1978. Migrant
Services and Programs: Report of the Review of Post-arrival Programs and Services
for Migrants. Canberra: AGPS, pp. 1045.
Hirst, J. 1996. Unity in a tolerant
diversity. Australian 18 October: 15.
Horne, D. 1994. A civic identityNot
a national identity. In M.A. Stephenson and C. Turner eds. Australia Republic
or Monarchy? St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, pp. 3449.
Hughes, H. 1995. Migrant policy must
leap language barrier. Australian 23 February: 9.
Hughes, R. 1996. How we'll be an ethnic
republic. Australian 2 December: 11.
Jupp, J. 1997. Immigration and national
identity: Multiculturalism. In G. Stokes ed. The Politics of Identity in Australia.
Kane, J. 1997. Racialism and democracy:
The legacy of White Australia. In G. Stokes ed. The Politics of Identity in
Australia. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, pp. 11731.
Kukathas, C. 1997. Migrants add strength
to the mix. Australian 5 June: 11.
Kymlicka, W. 1995. Multicultural
Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights. Oxford: Clarendon.
Tan Le, 1998. Excluded from the system.
Australian 8 May: 13.
Zubrzycki, J. 1996. Cynics woo the ethnic
vote. Australian, 15 October: 13.
Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee
on Migration. 1994. Australians All: Enhancing Australian Citizenship.
Birrell, R. 1995. A Nation of Our
Own: Citizenship and Nation Building in Federation Australia. Melbourne, ch.
Davidson, A. 1997. From Subject to
Citizen, pp. 11324 and 13642 and ch. 5.
Hirst, J. 1990. Australia's absurd history:
A critique of multiculturalism. Overland 117: 510.
Jordens, Ann-Mari 1995. Redefining
Australians: Immigration, Citizenship and National Identity. Sydney: Hale
Kukathas, C. 1993. Multiculturalism
and the idea of an Australian identity. In C. Kukathas ed. Multicultural Citizens.
Sydney: Centre for Independent Studies, pp. 14557.
Rubinstein, C. 1996. Australian citizenship
and multiculturalism. In S.R. Davis ed. Citizenship in Australia. pp. 11341.
Theophanous, A.C. 1995. Understanding
Multiculturalism and Australian Identity. Melbourne: Elikia Books.
Internet and On-Line Resources
Below is a list of web-sites relevant
to this week's course material. These sites should be of use in completing the
study and research exercises for this week.
of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs:
Steps to Becoming a Citizen: