BBC BLOGS - Nick Bryant's Australia
« Previous | Main | Next »

Making arguments on race

Nick Bryant | 03:25 UK time, Sunday, 19 April 2009

Researching a film on the end of the resources boom, I've been reading a little more of the history of the mining industry in Australia. Like those gold mines themselves, its a real treasure-trove of anecdotes, reminiscences and fables, many of which help make sense of the Australia of the present. As Guy Pearse notes in his recent Quarterly Essay, Quarry Vision, much of Australia's "cultural furniture" was put in place by the gold rush of the 1850s.

First off, Australia's population trebled. It "sowed the seeds multiculturalism," as he puts its, by attracting so many workers from so many different countries. The arrival of Chinese immigrants also led to a wave of xenophobia and nativism, encapsulated by the Bulletin's infamous masthead slogan, "Australia for the white man and China for the chow," and enshrined in the "White Australia" policy.

All of which brings us to the last blog on the surge in asylum seekers. Thanks for your comments, especially those which were so detailed, considered and insightful. Wollemi noted: "I don't buy the accusations that Australia as a society is xenophobic" - which is the subject I want to open up for fresh comment.

I suppose if you wanted to construct an argument that Australia was and is unusually racist and xenophobic then here is you where might start. You would remind people that the White Australia policy lasted until the late-1960s, and enjoyed bipartisan and popular support. You would raise the treatment of the Stolen Generations and the gap in living standards between black and white Australians. You might highlight the rise of Pauline Hanson, and note that John Howard won the 2001 election by arousing xenophobic fears after the Tampa and inaptly-named "children overboard affair" (no children were thrown overboard). The Cronulla riots would feature, and it's always easy to co-opt a sound-bite from daft people saying daft things - like the woman in Camden, New South Wales, who said she was opposed to the opening of an Islamic school in her neighbourhood because she was worried that local children would end up speaking "Islamic". You could make the argument that some of the commentary during the latest asylum seekers debate has been paranoiac and disproportionate.

And here's how you might begin to construct the counter-argument. Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, with a polyglot population which lives in relative harmony. Given the fast-paced demographic changes after the war, and the massive influx of immigrants, you could make the argument that the process of assimilation has been remarkably smooth and the backlash reassuringly weak. You would note that Hansonism was a short-lived political phenomenon and its one-time figurehead is now a figure of fun. You could argue that John Howard would not have remained a viable national politician had he not apologised for his comments back in 1988, during his time on the opposition benches, when he called for Asian immigration to be 'slowed down a little.' You would highlight the big-screen turn-out across the country and the scenes of big-screen joy when Kevin Rudd said "Sorry". And you could make the case that Cronulla was an aberration: one of the reasons it was so shocking was because it was so unexpected, the argument would run.

Over to you...


or register to comment.

  • 1. At 08:05am on 19 Apr 2009, youngwhateva wrote:

    If we were racists the boat people would lay dead - not having top treatment. Some accuse others of being racist but by sayig this and continuing on - the ones who accuse and point fingers are the ones who are being racist. I think to be kind and giving is great but to be stupid and walked over is self defeathing. We need not lose our nature - some dont want Christmas carols sung or to decorate homes at Christmas, some schools want to abolsih the flag and anthem. why are these people not racist. If anyone speaks up against these new ideals they get labelled racist. I like to know my heritage, I like to sing the anthum and to celebrate Christmas, am I a racist? No. Each to their own, but if you come to a primary Christian country respect that and integrate. Integrate doesnt mean convert. The same goes for the harder test to become a citizen, why not - other nations have even harder ways to become a citizen in their country - why should we be seen as the softest nation. If we dont repsect ourselves who will. And I have many friends of other religions and nationalities - some agree with the majority thats its gone too far. I have sleepovers at their homes and they sleepover at mine, we respect each other, our parents know that we are happy, and understand our friendships and have made their own, I have worshipped in different churches with my friends and their parents, and they come to our fammily christenings, birthdays etc as well. Thats not racist. Each person is a individual, and we all have our own choices. There will always been extreme people who take things too far, thats why we have laws and the police. Plus other individuals to keep things in perspecitve. There is racism yes, but overall I think its more important to see this as a world wide phenonimum, and all nations or peoples can put their hands up at one time or another and admit they have been racist. There are people who are racist against Aussies and they live here some second generation. There are people who dont like their own fellow nations - are they racist? - if I see a red P Plater and I think - slow down. Am I racist.....Racism doenst necessarily mean race - is can be agaist age, sex, education, religion. Now be honest how many out there think women are better drivers, or that group of young guys drinking might cause trouble, or their child is better at most things that others, or that Redfern should be bulldozed - are you racist. And no dont bulldoze Redfern. I am bias for Aussies and decent people YES YES YES, but no I am not racist.

    Complain about this comment

  • 2. At 08:07am on 19 Apr 2009, Floyd wrote:

    Your article captures both sides of our history on race very fairly; ie, we have a long history of xenophobia which is not over. We also have a tradition of tolerance, fairness and egalitarianism which in many ways puts the UK to shame.
    In my experience racism is by no means a thing of the past. Howard may have apologised for his comments as a backbencher, but by means of the 'dog whistle' approach, he signified to the electorate that he was very much on-side with Hansonism*. I went to school in Melbourne and remember other kids saying that the Vietnamese boatpeople of the 70s and 80s should be used by as target practice by the navy.

    *Howard did a lot by what he didn't say - ie his ostentatious silence about Hanson and by saying about Cronulla that he would never condemn anyone for wearing the Australian flag (not saying that in this context the wearers were trying to beat up Australians with Middle Eastern backgrounds)

    Complain about this comment

  • 3. At 08:57am on 19 Apr 2009, SomeGuy47 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 4. At 08:58am on 19 Apr 2009, wollemi wrote:

    Given I've been quoted, I feel the need to get in quickly here!
    Besides it's a drizzly Sunday afternoon here with not much happening

    I chose thw words carefully... 'Australian society'
    That doesn't mean individual Australians cannot be racist either by word or action nor that we don't get the odd racist pollie. It means that modern Australia has been at the forefront of a diverse immigration programme, melding a society which is 24% overseas born, with relatively little tension. I think the comparative stats of Western countries are that most countries of Europe are less than !0% overseas born, the US is 13%, Canada and NZ are closer to our experience, about 18% and 20% respectively. That really does not suggest Australia is a xenophobic society. It's just a totally different ball game here, and I would wonder therefore if the Australian experience can even be compared to these other countries (with the exception of Canada and NZ)

    A couple of comments, Nick
    The Gold Rush Chinese were mainly not 'immigrants'. Most were intending to return to China after 2 or 3 years making some money on the goldfields. So racism became rather mixed in with a nationalist identity which was evolving in colonial Australia - the perception that they were taking wealth out of the country at a time when the country was young and developing

    Secondly I think Aboriginal issues should really be treated separately to other race issues.. It's as much about dispossession as anything else. Colonial Australia had the worst beginnings imaginable - as penal colonies - and its successful transition to a nation was remarkable was built on the losses of Aboriginal Australia.

    Complain about this comment

  • 5. At 09:13am on 19 Apr 2009, campantman wrote:

    I think Australia is quite an unusual, even unique, country in this respect. Unusual/unique because it is a young nation, built entirely upon immigration which began when white men, largely from my home nation of Great Britain, began sending convicts over here. Thus the land was, without being dramatic, effectively stolen from the indigenous people...the true 'Australians'. Over time, despite a long period of a policy of 'white-Australia' (which only ended totally in 1978, incredibly) Australia has developed into a very multi-cultural society in which people of numerous heritages proudly describe themselves as 'Australian', which is slightly amusing when you consider that so very many of them (of all races/ethnicities) do not have Australian lineage at all; their own parents or at least their grandparents were born overseas. The degree of national pride displayed in Australia, whilst in many ways admirable and refreshing (especially to the eyes of a Brit, where national pride is taken as being synonymous with some form of fascism), is often misplaced and overly-militant. Over a third of Aussies'are basically English in their ancestory, yet they still like to be rude and sneering about 'poms' and 'pommys'. Sometimes one does wonder exactly who/what Australians think they are.

    Complain about this comment

  • 6. At 09:14am on 19 Apr 2009, musbook wrote:

    Nick, this is a topic which requires such careful use of both language and history; without which it can become either meaningless or dangerous, because on a superficial level evidence is available to support such a wide range of assertions--and usually ends up saying more about the commentator than about the country.

    For instance, take the 'White Australia Policy'. You are absolutely right that this was an immigration policy that attracted broad political support-indeed if anything it found stronger support on the Left than on the Right of political spectrum. But it is wrong to presume that this was a result of crude racist or tribal thinking per se (though no doubt there were many for whom the policy offered the cloak of respectability for more directly racist views). I'm sure readers in the UK today would recognise EU parallels with argument then that mass immigration of unskilled labourers was likely to damage the pay and conditions of local (who also happened to be, of course, primarily white Anglo-Saxon) workers. The example that was often used was the use of Polynesian workers on the cane sugar fields of Queensland--who had been themselves subject to conditions amounting to slave labour. And there were many in the labour movement in Australia who did try to solve this problem by simply calling for the fair treatment of the Pacific Island workers.

    Personally, as generalisations go, I like the view expressed by playwright David Williamson in 'Dead White Males', that the reason that multicultural Australia has by-and-large worked well is nothing to do with some (racist?) notion of the moral superiority of the average Aussie, but was actually down to '100% apathy'....!!

    Complain about this comment

  • 7. At 09:25am on 19 Apr 2009, campantman wrote:

    I guess what I'm saying is that I wonder if many Australians ever stop and remember that, when they sneer at 'poms', that it's very likely that their grandparents/great-grandparents were 'pommy-bastards' themselves. It's almost as if they are a nation in complete denial of their own history and inception.

    Complain about this comment

  • 8. At 09:26am on 19 Apr 2009, Eliza_nsw wrote:

    When will people move on from John Howard, he was around for along time yes, but if you keep bringing him up you are keeping the greatness recent. This is on racism not JH. He did good and has moved on to rest up and live out his life knowing all the good that he was involved with and did. So move on - Dudd is in now and what is happening now? As for racism I think we all have abit of that in us at some stage. Let face it as Youngwhateva stated Women are the best drivers..... any race or creed. The Tampa is gone, no kids went overboard. As for Cronulla that is a blot on our history, young, rash - some drunk, some "wound" up individuals putting on a violent show, but what gets to me is that it was members of our nation (some) who were 2nd or 3rd generation Aussies - educated and loving and lving our ways. The boy who burnt the flag at a Sydney suburb RSL was taken to the Kakoda Trail - trail and now he has matured. He seen things and heard things that these men went through, and he publicly apologised last year, and I give him credit for that. As I said it was a hoard of (mainly) young men behaving disgustingly. Same with the tennis brawl between Serbians & Croats (?)and the footy brawls at some of my beloved Bulldog games - its the young teens to mid 20's- its not indictive of how we feel overall. I think the term racism is too easily used. Theres also sexist. Women are the best drivers....

    Complain about this comment

  • 9. At 09:28am on 19 Apr 2009, Bren54 wrote:

    The "White Australia Policy" was an embarrassment to all Australians.

    Not least because of its name - perhaps if we'd just called it the "Chinese Exclusion Act" like they did in the USA (repealed in 1940s but quota was then limited to just 105 Chinese immigrants a year until 1965) and Canada, we wouldn't be labouring under the illusion that Australian xenophobia is somehow unique.

    Complain about this comment

  • 10. At 09:38am on 19 Apr 2009, xavierbloggz wrote:

    Australians have always been racist and will not change there are just too many targets to hit. You don't see many Ozzie Tee shirt wearers though in London carrying the usual anti Pommie slogans. They get somewhat reticent outside their comfort zone down under. I like em when they're not in their own land but to go to Oz to be insulted, no thanks.

    Complain about this comment

  • 11. At 09:38am on 19 Apr 2009, Brisbane-Lion wrote:

    I remember Enoch Powell making his famous (infamous?) speach about 'blood in the streets'. I didn't like him, or his party's policies, but he was right! Can you blame us for taking a leaf out of his book and not wanting the same to happen here? There are ways to get into Oz leagally and with no discrimination. To those seeking asylum, I say, try it, you may be surprised at what you get. If you don't, be prepared to put up with the consequenses, after all, Christmas Island isn't all that bad.

    Complain about this comment

  • 12. At 09:42am on 19 Apr 2009, woodsmen wrote:

    In the UK, there were racially-related riots not so long ago (2001 that made the Cronulla riots seem like a picnic. In Paris, there were similar troubles recently.

    In Denmark, the Queen addressed the nation about this sort of stuff:;f=6;t=005885;p=0

    I could go on, and on. My point is this: Every country has racist people and xenophobes.
    It's unfortunate that these narrow minded people's minority views and actions get the attention that they do.

    Does Australia have people who are racist and/or xenaphobic? Of course.
    Are they the majority? Absalutly not

    Australia is no different to any other country that allows free thought and free speech: people are allowed to say and think ridiculous things. It's up to the rest of us to educate those ignorant and stupid people.

    (By the way, I am an Australian)

    Complain about this comment

  • 13. At 09:46am on 19 Apr 2009, publicdecade wrote:

    As much as we like to think we are squeaky clean non racists there is not a doubt in my mind that unfortunately we all discriminate against other races,creeds,religions,countries and any other generic ideal I have omitted.

    Racism can be as "innocent" as swearing at a pommie ***** scoring against you're national team to using someones skin colour as a derogatory term.

    When I lived in England it was prevalent in all counties between cockneys,scousers,geordies etc again a type of regional racism.

    Lets be honest we all think our race, country, sex, religion, colour or indeed ourselves are the best thing in the lets not be hypocrites we have all said,used or thought racists statements at one time or another if you deny this then you're a bloody liar.

    Complain about this comment

  • 14. At 10:08am on 19 Apr 2009, SomeGuy47 wrote:

    Ok... So it seems that my first comment (no. 3) was censored because it offended someone...

    But what I basically said was that in 2006, 5,000 Australians protested the existence of Lebanese Australians... and terms such as "ethnic cleansing" were used. How is this not racist? Why was this group of people singling out? Because they have heritage that lies outside of the boundaries of the island? So do most (white) Australians.

    A country which is built on genocide will always be inherently racist because it was established at the expense of a whole people and their culture. Some of you above have proposed to ignore this aspect of Australian history, but thats exactly the problem. By ignoring the source of hate, you only set yourselves up to repeat your own history.

    Complain about this comment

  • 15. At 10:15am on 19 Apr 2009, Eliza_nsw wrote:

    Hey Publicdecade that reminds me, about speaking with a man on the train from ???? Yorkshire when I got on he asked me where I'd been - The man was from Lancashire - he soon changed in demeanor when I told him I liked Yorkshire - York itself. Then went on to speak about Aussies and Kiwis and asked me about that & why ect - when I reminded him that he was just lecturing about the (feral) Yorks. He could see no similarities - Yorks are just - well I wont repeat it. He acutally said there should be a border seperating the two. I had a smile on my face then when I went to buy a cuppa a man was talking about cricket and Sth Africans - very opinionated - that all on the way to London. Its world wide. Ive learnt about Scots, Welsh & Irish - soccer and traditions - I didnt have a clue or care too much about what the Welsh I told them that was all far removed from me..........over 200 years.

    Complain about this comment

  • 16. At 10:24am on 19 Apr 2009, campantman wrote:

    My rejected/censored remark (#7) was merely trying to point out that it's ironic that Aussies will commonly criticise/joke-about other countries when their own ancestory stems from those self-same nations. Any commonly used Australian expressions I referred to were placed in quotation marks. Disappointing, as I always explain my points rationally and thoroughly.

    Complain about this comment

  • 17. At 10:42am on 19 Apr 2009, Johan Kilstrom wrote:

    To those who are worried about the nickname Pom, it really shouldn't be mentioned in a blog about race. I can't think of any other 2 countries on earth that can get away with hurling the sort of abuse at each other that Britain and Australia do and yet sleep easy at night. It's all in the name of humor and we all give as much as we get. Often it's only the media which on occasions take it a little too far. And the British and Australian printed press are the worst in the world for stirring the pot on any issue.

    After all, I've just watched the Chinese F1 Grand Prix where Mark Webber an Australian driver has come second while driving for Red Bull, a British Team. That really will have confused the Sydney Morning Herald and The Times of London.

    Complain about this comment

  • 18. At 10:45am on 19 Apr 2009, Eliza_nsw wrote:

    Sorry No 14 if you are relating to Cronulla that was a two way street. And if you use the words or label Lebanese Aust - - well I cant understand - one minute you are Aussies then Lebanese Aussies - which is fine also -of course . Thats the point of some, what labels to use when there are so many (and why have labels), Italian Australian, African Australian, German Australians and in a different crowd if someone says these labels they get called racist. My dearest friend is Greek Cypriot - but an Aussie. 2006 was two and more sided. It was a disgrace for all of us - the young went wild. And if you really want to be honest and serious the (as you want to put it) Lebanses Aust ones went berserk, others retaliated. The WHOLE event just cant be justified. And if you want to insist on it being the fault of -other than those involved, then you are breeding so call racism. I personally dont want it stired up again. So yes have a say by all means but please see it evenly. The young of many different races, mainly born is Aust - went wild. That is Australian+ kids too - Aust Lebanses, Australian, Greek Australian any Aussie kids who wanted to have so called "fun". Peple got hurt, belongings destroyed and for what, those young ones have grown up and moved on its been 3 years. Some would be at uni now, or joining the police force or army, theyve grown up and moved on. Good luck to them. Living decent lives.

    Complain about this comment

  • 19. At 10:46am on 19 Apr 2009, AnonymousCalifornian wrote:

    Trying to boost the number of comments, huh? :-D

    I think Australia is like many majority white countries with either large non-white minorities and/or a history of racism. Thus Australia is no different than the United States, New Zealand, etc. Latin America still has rampant racism and a de facto caste hierarchy, with white minorities hugely over-represented in the political, economic, and media/culture leadership areas.

    Since racism is a relative thing--racism will not be stamped out in this world--I'll say that Australia is heads and shoulders above its northern neighbors in regards to race:

    • Indonesians generally would not consider having a non-Javanese for their President;
    • Burma directs huge amounts of racism toward its minorities--the Rohingya were recently mentioned on the BBC;
    • The Philippines has a society with Malay('Indian'/Indio)-Chinese-European mestizos and 'ethnic Chinese' on top, ordinary Malays ('Indians'/Indios) in the middle, and Negritos on the bottom;
    • Malaysia has practically codified racism with its positive discrimination towards Malays while discriminating against particularly the Indians (who, at least in the short term would benefit a lot from positive discrimination since they as a group are at a lower socio-economic level than the Malays), but also the Chinese.
    • Singapore is less racist than Malaysia (of which Singapore was once the capital), but tends to favor the majority Chinese at the expense of Malays and Indians.

    And Southeast Asia is generally considered among the most racially tolerant regions of Asia, if not the most racially tolerant. Northeast Asia is even worse:
    • China oppresses its own minorities; a small example was during the Beijing Olympics where the children supposedly representing the ethnic minorities were all Han Chinese, apparently because minority children weren't pretty enough to showcase (like the real child singer who sung the national anthem); a bigger one is towards the 'Stone Age' Tibetans and Uighurs.
    • Japan permits only a few foreigners to immigrate per year, and even then they try to select foreigners with Japanese ancestry.
    • Korea until recently insisted that its English as a second language teachers be white. Not from white-majority Anglophone countries, but white. A Latvian who barely knew English could theoretically become an ESL teacher while a native Anglophone who thoroughly knew the ins and outs of English would not be able to. I actually hold the view that having language teachers who teach a language that is not their native one tend to be better than those who are native speakers; the ideal ESL teacher for Koreans, in my opinion, would probably be a native Korean speaker who learned English, because that teachers thought processes of what is 'normal' would be similar to that teacher's pupils.
    • Mongolia has had some anti-Chinese, race-based murders recently.
    • The three main Northeast Asian countries: China (including Taiwan); Japan; Korea have plenty of racists who hate the other two ethnicities but view them as more-or-less equals. Southeast Asians are deemed inferior. As for the rest, well poor them. As demonstrated by a few of our Chinese comrades on the BBC blogs, there is a lot of extreme nationalism and racial superiority complexes prevalent in the region.

    So, in comparison to its neighborhood, I feel Australia is doing quite well in respect to not discriminating against people based on their ancestry and genealogy. Asia (Northeast, Southeast, and South) have a lot to learn from that continent-country down under.

    (Now lets see if this makes it through the mods, or if I've ticked them off too much :-o!)

    Complain about this comment

  • 20. At 10:55am on 19 Apr 2009, wollemi wrote:


    Firstly I think Australians, including Aboriginal Australians, are long past that debate about genocide of Aboriginal Australia - that's more the debate here in the 1970s. There is currently an ideological split in Aboriginal Australia between a 'rights' group with a focus on resolving historical injustices and a group interested in economic empowerment/individual responsibility and the Federal Government is caught between the two. It's a complicated issue which is not really relevant to this thread. I'm not avoiding the duiscussion, just it's a large complex subject

    Regarding your theory of inherent racism because of history then you would also have to include modern UK as a racist offshoot of Imperial Britain, given that the invasion of Aboriginal Australia was instituted by the British Government of that era and British troops manned the frontier for the first 50 years, then returned home to leave their descendants in the UK. So...

    Complain about this comment

  • 21. At 10:57am on 19 Apr 2009, istanbulite wrote:

    Australia has a very ethnocentric and insular society. We are in many senses ignored and forgotten by the rest of the world. Accordingly, we forget about and ignore the rest of the world ourselves to a certain extent. Our physical and psychological disconnection breeds ignorance, which is both self-imposed and imposed upon us by our media, goverment and education system. We also find it easier and safer to compartmentalise and de-humanise other peoples of our planet than to explore, except or embrace their cultures. I mean honestly Australia, if you actually accepted that refugees from Afganistan or any other war-torn or oppressed society were as equally "human" you are, then you wouldn't be making such a bloody fuss. "Lest we forget" should not only stand for the rememberance of those fallen in war or conflict but also should stand for the preservation our humanity and apathy towards others.

    Complain about this comment

  • 22. At 10:58am on 19 Apr 2009, AustGirl wrote:

    I can understand Kiwis being abit racist as we are the mainland..... Why do New Zealanders drink from mugs and saucers - because Aust hold all the (sporting) cups. LOL......

    Complain about this comment

  • 23. At 11:05am on 19 Apr 2009, AustGirl wrote:

    Someguy47 - there were wrongs on all- many sides that year. But I agree with above it was the youth who went crazy - not the everyday Aussie. Dont get the two mixed up. Parents of all pesuasions punished their kids after that happened - are you meaning Cronulla? And things were said by the two so called waring sides - things were said against Aussies as well, the chants were not good - all the chants were not necessary, And inflamitory to many - MANY....Not just one group.

    Complain about this comment

  • 24. At 11:21am on 19 Apr 2009, SomeGuy47 wrote:

    @ AnonymousCalifornian: There is a difference between Malaysians "codifying racism" and Australians threatening to ethnically cleanse Australia. Let's not forget that the genocide perpetrated by Australians is only matched by the genocided perpetrated by the Americans.

    @ Eliza_nsw: The fact that the majority of the people involved in Cornulla were young just proves my point - how do young people learn to hate to that extent unless they were taught to?

    Complain about this comment

  • 25. At 11:33am on 19 Apr 2009, oioioi2 wrote:

    Nick lets face it after 200 years of race based immigration policies controlled by anglophile politicians bent on creating a loyal anglo enclave (which still continues today, just look at the huge ongoing intakes of poms and south sea’s poms), its amazing that people can actually refer to Australia as being multicultural.

    Statistics show less than 30% of the countries residents ancestry coming from non anglo (+/-celtic) stock which in itself is not only mind boggling but a disgraceful waste of an immigration program particularly for an asia pacific country whose destiny is tied to this part of the world and the limited relevance of the mid sized european country located on the other side of the planet from where all these immigrants originate.

    So is the average (Anglo) Australian insular xenophobic and racist…of course, they are, they’re products of 200 years of institutionalized racism and xenophobia, backed up by a foreign flag and head of state to reinforce this bizarre notion of anglo’s having more rights to be here than any other immigrant groups.

    Complain about this comment

  • 26. At 11:40am on 19 Apr 2009, fencerjohn wrote:

    Notwithstanding Nick Bryant's lengthy instructions as to how to argue either side of this case, I'm not so sure. I used to be confused, but the passing of time and the reflections on the utility of rigorous thought seem to have changed me.

    I've lived for an appreciable amount of time in three countries - England (as distinct from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) the United States and Australia. As far as racist views, racism, etc. they're all pretty much of a much.

    There was probably less worry about indigenous races in England, but that was because most had forgotten about Hereward the Wake - who wasn't indigenous anyhow. But in other areas, it seems to be all the same.

    So . . . don't worry, be happy.

    Complain about this comment

  • 27. At 11:53am on 19 Apr 2009, moiecoute wrote:

    Sure we are racist but lets keep this in perspective.

    1) Cultural differences by new Australians are not respected.
    When some new migrants arrive to this country and don't try learn or speak the language, engage in cultural taboos such as spitting, snorting, pushing people out of the way and not using manners when dealing with others of course it creates an us and them mentality. It is not uncommon for me to go to a select few asian shops and be frowned upon or made to feel unwelcome because I am not from the same background as the owners.

    2) Unwillingness to fit in an isolation.
    Following on the above. Many suburbs now not just in Sydney where I live but other capital cities have become mini countries. That is there are areas that are predominantly on race, religion or culture. Some of these areas have become no go zones because of threats, jeering or intimidation to those not of that community. Even our sport which we pride ourselves on - Soccer in Australia had to be reformed because it had turned into one culture versus another. Aussies not welcome.

    3) To much change and unfair change - Political correctness.
    Shopping centres are not displaying nativity scenes because they don't want to offend. Crosses are being removed and symbols of Christianity are being dumbed down. I am not Christian and don't have a problem in fact I believe good Australians pride themselves on accepting differences. This is isolated to a small section of the community (Islamic). In a time when Westerners are eating Kosher foods, trying meditation, buying Hindu idols and reading Budhists books you can see that is reverse intolerance.

    4) One community is damaging Multiculturism in Australia.
    The cronulla riots were the climax of anger towards a small part of the Islamic community (Lebanese). Within Australian high schools there are gangs of 'lebs' who try dominate all others are refer to others as 'Aussie Dogs' and females as Pigs. This small community some 300,000 Australia wide dominate organised crime and predominantly feature in gang related violence including gang rape. It is not uncommon to hear from these communities strict views coming from the olders members, males in particular on evrything from not marrying outside your religion, not eating different foods, not mixing with other religions etc and how we are 'unclean' and 'will go to hell'.

    5) Social benefits and fair go.
    We are racist because we don't like economic migrants turning up on our shores. How common it is to hear migrants talk about how lucky they were to get into Australia with its unemployment and medical benefits over other countries they have tried. This means its not the culture, climate or people they want to live or be like it is just money. Needy migrants are welcomed economic migrants not welcomed. There is a difference. Especially in this day and age where jobs held by Australians either born or naturalised are being lost to 'cheap' labour being given a work visa.

    5) Multiculturalism can work.
    I am racist because I do not want any more Lebanese muslims to come to our country. I am not racist because my friends are made up of Chinese and other South Asian, Indians, Europeans, Africans etc and from all different religions. I will eat Chinese food, Indian food. I will read teachings of Budha and celebrate Hindu festivals with my Sri Lankan friends. I will watch french films. Go to Greek orthodox church for my freind. I will go Japanese with my work mates and social with 4 out 5 people who weren't born in this country. Of new migrants how many can or will do things like this. Very very few. That is why we are racist.

    Complain about this comment

  • 28. At 11:55am on 19 Apr 2009, Robert_ wrote:

    Thought I would go to Australia with my family. I am American my wife is Japanese. In March of 2009 we got off the plane in Brisbane. We rented a car and stopped at a super market, It was perhaps 10 am. We bought some groceries and sat down out side in a nice public space to eat some food.

    This immensely obese bearded lady, Said "Her nose is rather sloped." I am with my family and two boys. Let me be clear, I strongly feel that if you threaten my wife and children I have every right to dismember you and feed you to some pigs. But since the family was with me, and I didn't have easy access to a tow truck it seemed like it would take along time to execute justice. So I ignored her.

    She proceeded to hurl insults at my wife, who has a very good bi-lingual abilities. Luckily at the time, my wife was not aware of the exact meaning and that it was directed at her and my children. She knew that the Obese Bearded Australian Women was ranting about something, but with the accent and the extremely poor grammar patterns she did not catch the exact meaning. The Obese Bearded Australian Women left once and another retired aussie women told me that she was sorry. The Obese Bearded Australian Women came back and started up again. We finished and walked away, while she continued to hurl nasty, vile xenophobic bile.

    So in my point of view I have been to more than 30 countries around the world and this is the first time that I have ever encountered public, harassment. so it is very clear that in Australia some people are extremely xenophobic. It is too bad because I thought the land was captivating. But it is a very big world and there is no reason to ever go back to a place that breeds that type of human being. But if you like clinically obese bearded inbred white women I would recommended traveling to Brisbane....

    Complain about this comment

  • 29. At 12:18pm on 19 Apr 2009, brightSharon wrote:

    If nearly 30% of our ancestry is non-Anglo this surely indicates a huge change in the composition of our population in the past few years. Fifty years ago we were much more Anglo. Anyway it is surely just as racist to prevent Anglo migration as to favour it!
    Can I say, from the perspective of a resident of the Cronulla area, that binge drinking played a very sad role in that whole episode. Obviously there had to be underlying attitudes which resulted in the behaviour seen. However had the police had the power to close the alcohol outlets on the day, common sense may have prevailed. Not to excuse anyone involved!
    I live harmoniously near Cronulla with my Italian Australian partner, with immediate neighbours who are Chinese, Indian, English, Kiwi, Italian, and German Aussies. This is the norm in Sydney. Certainly racism exists in this country but exactly where is there none?

    Complain about this comment

  • 30. At 12:43pm on 19 Apr 2009, newsjock wrote:

    All Australia wants to do is to protect its "Australianess".

    Part of that policy is be to have restrictive immigration laws.

    There will always be some nutters, who will accuse such a country of being xenophobic or racist.

    Complain about this comment

  • 31. At 12:46pm on 19 Apr 2009, Soul News wrote:

    I have only visited Australia the once, and only for one month. So I can only post my impressions as a temporary tourist.

    I felt that australia somewhat resembles the situation in the US, where the population, views and lifestyles are polarised. Big City Australia felt multicultural, much like many other parts of the western world.

    Smaller town Australia was a lot harder to pin down. I can't say I saw any overt acts of racism, but I must admit that I did feel an undercurrent of it - though its hard to pin down exactly WHY.
    This was BEFORE I read anything about the issue and the past, so it can't have been just my imagination.

    On the whole, even small town australia was pretty welcoming and friendly. (at least to me as a white guy). But I guess the point is that a lot of australia IS very small town. and with that small town culture comes both pros and cons. Suspicion of foreigners and different lifestyle is very much a part of that.

    Complain about this comment

  • 32. At 1:01pm on 19 Apr 2009, RL wrote:

    Australian's society is xenophobic indeed. We all evident it.

    White Australian being insecurity has been playing a big part of every White Australian's physiologic path since White immigration took the land away from Aboriginal. If you stole from others, you always worry someone else will steal form you, how simple is that.

    Complain about this comment

  • 33. At 1:09pm on 19 Apr 2009, adarone wrote:

    I think alot has to be said for the part that ignorance plays in racism....take comment #1:"Racism doenst n'(sic)necessarily mean race - is (sic) can be agaist(sic) age, sex, education, religion". Yes, there are many forms of discrimination, of which racism is another form, however what distiguishes racism from these is that a person is treated differently because of their personal appearance or heritage.

    I am a proud Australian with a Serbian background, of which I am also proud, but I am not an ignorant Australian. I am well aware of the xenophobia in Australia, and I think it is bigger than any of us would care to admit. Ironically, however, it is in its everyday manifestations for Aboriginal people (the original Australians) that the true story emerges. Aboriginal people continue to have the worst health, employment, housing, life expectancy and educational qualifications in this country (some are level with third world/developing nations). They also remain HUGELY over represented in the Criminal Justice and Welfare systems. If we are to look at the far reaching effects of racism, and whether it exists in Australia, we don't have to look too far. Racism is so entrenched in this country that it has resulted in cultural and social genocide for Aboriginal people.

    From a human rights perspective alone, these life outcomes are the epitome of why racism is so reprehensible and unacceptable.

    Complain about this comment

  • 34. At 1:13pm on 19 Apr 2009, Studentofmelbourne wrote:

    I'm a naturalized Australian who were born and spent my childhood in mainland China. I study political science in my university but racism is always a topic that I'd vehemently avoid, not because of the sensitivity of the topic (its openness is demonstrated by how warmly the Aussie public has embraced Rudd's apology, and postcolonial discourse has featured strongly in the academia), but how I'd personally consider a lot of people being "racist" due to their loyalty to their home countries, and conscious refusal to integrate. I simply find it ludicrous that some Australians would deliberately demonstrate that their affinity with their home country is stronger than that with Australia, and I find it ludicrous that there are migrants of 25 years not being able to speak even reasonable English. There was a time when I was puzzled by Caucasian Australians' response of "I'm Australian" when confronted with the question of ethnicity. I thought, what arrogance! "Australian" isn't a race, you may be an English or Irish Australian as much as I'm a Chinese Australian. But as time passed I started to find such discourse wholly irrelevant. I was in a pub watching a Socceroos' WC qualifier recently when a Caucasian Aussie I was talking to suddenly asked me, if Australia plays China, who would you barrack for? "Australia of course. You wouldn't barrack for Scotland or England if we played them, would ya." I answered. He looked down in contemplation. And I've started to answer that I'm from "here" with my new status as an Aussie when people asked me where I'm from. Is it necessary for me to say "I'm from China"? Is it necessary for one to distinguish whether one is Serbian or Croation Aussie, and thus for that identify to become a fuse for confrontation? Due to my own experience I have a foreign heritage and thus I have practices that are unique to that heritage, but at the same time I'm Australian, do some stereotypical things an Aussie would do, say some stereotypical things an Aussie would say. I'm allowed so because of Australia's freedom and multiculturalism. I'm not going to discuss what being an Australian is about, because I gained it through my own willingness to integrate and fellow Australians' warmness in accompanying me to show what being Australian is about, through the process I've encountered little racism. If I start talking about things like liberal democratic values with mainly British cultural heritage on an rich aboriginal land (like that described in the citizenship booklet) I might cop accusation of Howard style racism. I think I've understood why some Australians are annoyed at some new migrants because I start to feel it too, if it happens that multiculturalism has reduced Australian citizenship to merely a legal status granting one access to Australian tax revenue then it's my personal view that we must change our approach. I was disgusted by the Cronulla riot, I was disgusted by the Serb-Croat brawl at the tennis, and I'm starting to think what some ethnic communities are practicing here is new age colonialism with their clear attempt to segregate themselves, and I'm mildly surprised when my half serious jest at how "Asians are the most racist here" was met with equally half serious laugh in concurrence. I never expressed these views of mine publicly in any seriousness because I consider it trivial, highly personal and of course, "racist", but if one is to approach this from the whole society and go one better at building a harmonious society there are barriers that need to be crossed that a lot of people are not aware of. There are structural orientalism, superiority complex from a majority, national image problem and backlash occidentalism. But to me racism is largely irrational and at the end of the day all the fancy words of rational academic discourse may have gone straight over the heads of those whom we truly require understanding from. So my quick take on this is that it's not a problem of just the "racist rednecks" or "jibberish speaking migrants", it requires the effort of all parties concerned, the Australia born Aussies need to loosen any strong grip on the "orthodoxy" of being Australian, and migrant Aussies need to integrate themselves into that "orthodoxy". The purpose of this is to stop the creation of an "outsider", who would remain an outsider if he/she is treated as such or he/she treats him/herself as such. In plain language it's just my selfish wish that my experience of wanting to become an Australian and Australians wanting me to become one of them, being emulated in every other migrant. It's as much sentimental as most racist feelings themselves. A culture of prejudice can only be defeated by a culture of tolerance whose proliferation can only be achieved by mutual understanding and mutual practice of tolerance, the starting point of which is a willingness to engage.

    Complain about this comment

  • 35. At 1:14pm on 19 Apr 2009, wollemi wrote:


    'A lot of Australia IS very small town'

    Very little. Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world. It's the desert geography, unlike many other countries the interior could not be settled so the population lives mainly in a few large coastal cities.

    The 'everybody knows everybody and their business' element of small towns takes some getting used to, I agree, but I wouldn't confuse noticing strangers with intolerance of different lifestyles

    Complain about this comment

  • 36. At 1:17pm on 19 Apr 2009, trrajesh wrote:

    If Australia is not truly rascist, every argument you have put forth for Australia being rascist wouldn't have happened. I'm not sure rascism is the number of rascist stuff against the number of nonrascist stuff. Either you are or you aren't. There seems to be overwhelming evidence that Australia is.

    Complain about this comment

  • 37. At 1:28pm on 19 Apr 2009, StickJackal wrote:

    Nick and the subsequent posters have it pretty much right. In summary, Australia is a mildly racist society which puts it in a better position than most other countries which are xenophobic in their own way.

    Australia has some unpleasant aspects to its racial history but to its credit has made an incredible transformation in the last 50 years or so, and its major cities are by and large models of multicultural tolerance that the world could learn much from.

    There is only regional country I can think of that Australia could bow its head to. That is little New Zealand to the south east which seems to have incorporated its indigenous people into its national identity in a way that Australia either cant do or doesn't want to. Maybe the topic of another blog

    Complain about this comment

  • 38. At 1:28pm on 19 Apr 2009, abellick wrote:

    One problem Australians have in addressing things like this is we are still so insular. Being multicultural or being less racist than we were 30 years ago do not mean we're not a racist society. I spend a lot of time in Europe and North America, and Australia has a way to go regarding racism - especially outside inner Melbourne and Sydney.

    A lot of racism is brushed off by Ozzie machismo - the old "can't take a joke" mentality. Non-white, non-anglo, non-English-speaking Australians are still too often seen as less Australian than the "average ozzie"

    Comparisons with the issue of race in other Western countries seem almost always to come down to "see that, see how Australia's better", rather than being open to learning anything. Does anyone consider how much of the urban unrest over race issues in Europe, which in Australian press and conversation is inevitably cited as evidence of greater race problems there, actually is a manifestation of an increased awareness on the part of the people in those countries of the importance of overcoming racial inequality?

    As a nation, we need to cut back on the nationalism and work on educating our population - not just in terms of learning about other cultures, but also about overcoming our national tendency to use brash, macho humor and resort to ocker stereotypes to hide any potential inadequacy or avoid any situation where personal feelings or sensitivities might come into the open. Because more than racist, we're overwhelmingly insensitive.

    Complain about this comment

  • 39. At 1:32pm on 19 Apr 2009, denbor6 wrote:

    Colonialism originating from Europe resulted in conquering peoples,resources, oceans and lands thousands of miles away from home. Amazing! resulting in Imperial superiority complexes; inculcated for generations to the extent that even white blue collar junior school drop outs, felt superior to hard working, non European immigrants, sheltered by this upper class sense of accompolishment. It's not racisim; just fear of the unknown.

    Human beings do learn things the hard way and European colonial superiority complex is no longer the main topic in a pub or country club. Now it's money; as much as you can get your hands on! The day that white led colonised/settled countries celebrate multiculturalism will see investment in billions of tax payers money in it! effectively putting an end to myopic denial and escapist pledges of tolerating "them". That's when chosing a CEO, judge, Prime Minister or President will have nothing to do ones heritage or ancestory, but leadership, integrity and competence in serving the nation and shape a peaceful eco friendly world; balance?

    If we can jump to invest billions in the hands of thugs that destroyed the well earned trust in Anglo American financial institutions and practices, maybe it's time to move that money to build a new society, based on merit, hard work and integrity. Folks like these were called "pioneers". where have they all gone? These days they look, sound and smell different, but they are landing on the shores with or without the right papers!just no oversized weapons.
    Deja Vu!

    Complain about this comment

  • 40. At 2:15pm on 19 Apr 2009, beijing_2008 wrote:

    #19 AnonymousCalifornian,

    It is a fact that ethnic minorities in China are not restricted to the One Child Policy.
    It is a fact that ethnic minorities in China are able to attend the best universities on lower grades.
    If Han China really oppressed its minorites then there would be very few of them left, which clearly is not the case (unlike the wiping out of the Aboriginal people).

    Complain about this comment

  • 41. At 2:29pm on 19 Apr 2009, stellarchandu wrote:

    I will keep it short. I am basing my opinion on facts and not trying to make any arguments here. Media has never portrayed Australia as a racist nation but its been the word of mouth that Australian society (there are others as well) is not friendly to non-whites. As an Indian, I have had my friends racially abused and they couldn't take it more so they left Australia and came back home. There have been other accounts of very rude behavior meted out to them at the airport as well. I mean these are the same people who have stayed very comfortably in the US, which by far is the only country I know that is mainly white but is very friendly to non-whites. So by comparison, for its own good or bad, Australia doesn't seem a place to go/visit for non-whites.

    Complain about this comment

  • 42. At 2:34pm on 19 Apr 2009, Thomas Delwood wrote:

    The title of this blog got up my nose a little. No doubt it will be used my Australia-haters.

    Australia is made up of over 20 million people, some racist without doubt. It's part of the human condition and it's not something that will be ever be eradicated from any human society. Those who think Australia is peculiarly racist can point out the societies that are less so. I think they would be hard-pressed.

    But a point I would like people to consider is if replacing a 'White Australia' immigration policy with a 'White Collar Australia' immigration policy is such an improvement. Is class and money really such an improvement from racial qualifications? Indeed, however inevitable both forms of exclusion sicken me.

    Complain about this comment

  • 43. At 2:39pm on 19 Apr 2009, Ocean_island wrote:

    It seems that not many, if any, comments are made by Australians with Asian background, and hence I feel compelled to balance the views.

    Australia does have policies supporting (but not promoting, in my view) multi-culture, and is trying to behave in an anti-racist way, though a bit too late. For this I think the nation as a whole should be commended. However, in the white dominated community, there is still a lot of fear towards Asian immigrants. I still remember clearly when my baby was born, a nurse (a white lady) in the hospital said that she was afraid that blue-eyed babies will eventually be a thing of the past. Apparantly she didn’t know that there were no blue-eyed people on the earth a few hundred years ago, and that blue eyes are actually the result of gene mutation.

    Despite the existence of multi-cultural policies, the result is disappointing when we look at the situation of the aboriginals who live 18 years shorter. If this is a key benchmark of success in anti-racial discrimination, China is doing even better than Australia.

    People naturally do not like other people and things that they are not used to, like people with a different appearance, culture, language, values, religion, etc. But as civilised people we should be able to suppress our irrational instincts. However, some educated politicians are not up to this standard. The examples I know are John Howard and Tony Abbott.

    I believe the best way to foster acceptance or even appreciation of another culture and race of people is to let every young kid immersed in another culture during the long summer holiday, and make it compulsory. When people get older and have formed their own view, everything is too late. I firmly believe this will lead to a safer world in future, and is much more effective than the so called anti-terrorism war and laws.

    I also want to respond to some of AnonymousCalifornian’s views which I believe are inaccurate. As an ethnic Han Chinese, I believe the majority of Han Chinese do not think other minority Chinese are not pretty in looking. To the contrary, many Han Chinese, including me, feel that the minority people, especially ethnic Uighurs, often look prettier. As for Tibetans, their skins are rougher due to the high UV level on high altitude. However, the tension between some Han and Tibetan people is due to the separatism issue, not racism.

    As for the claim that there are plenty of racists in China, Korea and Japan who hate the other two ethnicities, again this is incorrect. I don’t think there is any problem between Chinese and Korean people. The problem between Japan and the other two countries is rooted in the atrocities of the wars and colonisation in the 30’s and 40’s. I don’t agree that this is racism.

    Well, I am wondering how many are thinking that I am a “Chinese Comrade” or Chinese spy.

    On the topic of ESL teachers in Asian countries, the trend is teaching English by native English speakers. I wonder if Koreans would be so stupid to employ white non-English speakers as ESL teachers. Having native English speakers as ESL teachers can improve the standard of everyday English for Asian students so that they can communicate with English speakers. There is proven result in Hong Kong. There is also LOTE education in Australia. However, we all have an idea how many students are able to read or communicate in an Asian language. On the other hand, most Asian students can understand some English. This will only put Australia in a less competitive place in terms of trade.

    There is a problem of misunderstanding and sometimes misinformation because most people only know what he/she was told, what he/she can read, plus what he/she can think of, based on his/her cultural background.

    Complain about this comment

  • 44. At 2:42pm on 19 Apr 2009, lochraven wrote:

    I think racism is encoded in our genes just as it must be with the other animals of this world. It keeps the species separate and insures its survival. But unlike other animals who just naturally avoid each-other, mankind must live and work together and this causes misplaced conflict. Our genes tell us that we as a race (any race) must be dominate for its survival. This can be seen in countries where racism has been and is a problem. It can be seen as one race gains, others feel loose. This belief in lose can cause anxiety that can spill-over into racism. Of-course, there are people who have transcended these feelings knowing that there's enough to go around for everybody. Does any of this sound far fetched?

    Complain about this comment

  • 45. At 2:46pm on 19 Apr 2009, Studentofmelbourne wrote:

    #40 beijing_2008,

    Using your logic,

    If the Chinese government didn't oppress its minorities then there would not be any revolts and violence.

    If the Chinese government grants greater religious freedom then religious minorities would not feel oppressed.

    I don't consider what I wrote to be sound arguments and neither should you consider yours. You should not simply look at what a government has done but most importantly, what it has not done enough. At least that's how a liberal democracy with an opposition in the West works, one can be a cynical realist and dismiss that as futility but power is always projected through discourse, which the authoritarian regime has the best understanding evident through its splendid propaganda mechanism.

    Complain about this comment

  • 46. At 3:16pm on 19 Apr 2009, machetezombie wrote:

    Australia does have a chequered history, but I wouldn't say it was as bad as any other country- least of all the UK.

    But history is one thing, the present is another. The indigenous Australians and the Australian government's agenda and policies towards them need to be changed. It struck me frequently (although I was there in the days of Howard) that indigenous Australians weren't quite considered to be "Australian". They seemed to be viewed as the troublesome neighbours who everyone twitches their curtains to look at disapprovingly. Radical, cooperative solutions to deal with fundamental and dire inequality, cultural differences and try to heal the wounds of the past will take a long time to work. I think that all Australians need to have a cooperative discursive consensus on just where they want Australia to go in this regard, and then have the honesty to go for it.

    Australia also doesn't seem to have what the Daily Mail would refer to a "culture of political correctness" and observations and irritations about the idiosyncrasies of particular groups of people are more honestly spoken of in individual opinions. In a sense it's "freer" than the UK in that respect, however where you have freedom you have permission for disagreement and offence. That's part of the cost of freedom and why tolerance and patience from everyone is needed to temper this.

    With regard to asylum seekers, Australia has the same problem as the UK. I'm ashamed at the way we treat people with the assumption that they are malicious & here with a mission to somehow ruin us. But I do believe that it's an ignorant (or even stupid) minority that spoils things.

    Anyway opinion is free and I'm just an outsider looking in. I can take criticism and I probably am wrong about a lot of my own assumptions! But in the end I found Australians to be fair, honest, welcoming and down to earth and, with regards to the people I saw, less racist than the people here can be.

    Complain about this comment

  • 47. At 3:21pm on 19 Apr 2009, machetezombie wrote:

    Also just to follow on, the Australian media do exist in a world of tabloid journalism similar to the UK and racism and xenophobia are a part of that "style". But I'm not sure how far the people reflect this, certainly not the people who I came across anyway. Others' experience may be different though.

    Complain about this comment

  • 48. At 3:40pm on 19 Apr 2009, bascoz wrote:

    Well clearly Nick Bryant has succeeded in doing what he wanted to do. Getting so many comments on a, can we say "touchy subject " is always an active process.
    The interest always appears that "racist" comes from a white persons perspective. If another foriegn view point is given it is always viewed as tribal or ethinic or dare is say the word " religious ".
    The statement used "white Australia policy" is out of context when reviewing modern views of Australia.Clearly one can say that it has only been very recent in the countries small history (especially compared to many other countries of the world - 200 plus years in infancy)from 1970 that Australians became less isolated and a more cosmopolitan country.
    The mentality of Australians and this is also evident in the mentality that was reflected in the countries goverment when a position was available in Europe in the early 70's and the requirements where that a member of any parliment to apply they must be part of Europe. Well no surprise then when a member of Australian parliment applied for the position.
    Clearly this reveals that the mentality of Australians even in the 60's and to mid 70's was that Australia was not part of Asia (Pacific) but still part of British Rule.
    There are reasons for this 1. Australians relaited to Europeans more, especially the close bonds from WW1 and WW2, 2. Australia for many decades was not accepted into the National Asian community, Pacific region or otherwise.A view most vervent by a major Asian country and especially their leader who called Australians "recalcitrant"
    Regarding the issue with aboriginals (and this is clearly evident in many countries of the world ) the subject is not as simple as it appears. On discovery of Australia there was not a soverign body to be approached, not like New Zealand (which some other person used as a referance point) to which there was. I must make it clear that the resulting actions of the people that acted towards the Aboriginals was and is totally unacceptabe, referance to Tasmania or the mainland.
    However if one looks objectively at Australia's progress from its discovery by Cook to this day, there clearly has been a progress a paradigm shift and this is due to the acceptance of Australians towards others.
    Yes one can argue that over the years that intolerance ( why we would use racism is beyond me ) has been seen from various ethnic societies that make up this country are evident it was not all from the "white" mans ( is that politically correct ? )perspective but from an Australian one. What i mean is that if a society in Australia was a focus it was not just "white" people who commented but other foreign people who made up the society. In many ways it was always the NEW community. the indignation moved from one ethnisity to another. in the 60's it was the Brits, the 70's the Greek or Italians, the 80's the Lebanese, the 90's pick an Asian country and now it is anyone from a Muslim country. But is this now rascism or religious aggression. Is it now racism or intolerance?
    I have always found it intereting that a country that promotes freedom is generally racist yet one who is intolerant of any others freedoms albiet religious or political are held with an esteem that they are holding true to THEIR culture and beliefs.
    Australia is an isolated country but by distance not by cultures or culture itself.

    Complain about this comment

  • 49. At 3:41pm on 19 Apr 2009, evaninjapan wrote:

    Australian is a nationality not a race.

    I am confused by such a broad generalisation that all whites in australia are racist regardless of ethnenticity. ethnic groups around the world have another ethnic group which they undermine.

    I have yet gone to any country in the world and not met a racist.

    Australia still carries the union jack on it flag that I belive represents britain, there for any actions being undertaken by australia must be tolerated britain other wise they would remove it or place sanctions on us like zimbabwe.

    Maybe another question is has australia become inderpendant yet , for all those people who say australians commited genocide you are wrong . YES genocide was attempted in Tasmania BUT you have to answer the question was it done by british subjects or australians. What flag was it commited under and by whose orders.

    And finaly I think everyone has left out exactly who was the driving force for the stolen generation and the wiping out of the aboriginal culture .....the church and would one of these churches be the church of england?

    sorry about the spelling.

    Complain about this comment

  • 50. At 3:50pm on 19 Apr 2009, Bren54 wrote:

    +There is only regional country I can think of that Australia could bow its head to. That is little New Zealand to the south east which seems to have incorporated its indigenous people into its national identity in a way that Australia either cant do or doesn't want to+

    I've often heard this statement and it seems quite racist in itself.
    It assumes the white majorities of Australia and NZ are somehow different, whereas the "indigenous people" are the same, as if there was some ethnicity called "indigenous", a faceless mass who do not need to be considered separately by us.

    But, clearly, the complete opposite is the truth:
    The cultural backgrounds of white settlers in both countries were close to identical, whereas Maori culture was worlds apart from any of the plethora of Aboriginal societies existing in Australia at the time of invasion and settlement

    Complain about this comment

  • 51. At 4:06pm on 19 Apr 2009, coomare wrote:

    In the first place What is the need for this Mr. Bryant now?

    Complain about this comment

  • 52. At 4:11pm on 19 Apr 2009, coomare wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 53. At 4:42pm on 19 Apr 2009, That_Nonsence_Talker wrote:

    I have travelled widely and I have been living in the middle east for the last 5 years.

    There is racism in Australia, but it is far more entrenched, inherent and ingrained in other parts of the world. I could give lots of examples. I actually think that modern Aust is one of the least (possibly the least) racist countries in the world.

    Complain about this comment

  • 54. At 4:51pm on 19 Apr 2009, coomare wrote:

    very unidimensional view from mr. bryant. there are more issues within issues. and it is not only china/asia. that is all i got to say.

    Complain about this comment

  • 55. At 4:52pm on 19 Apr 2009, coomare wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 56. At 5:06pm on 19 Apr 2009, coomare wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 57. At 5:16pm on 19 Apr 2009, coomare wrote:

    if we go back to 10-12 generations then gypies are indian.
    and further if we go back to 20 generations then we all came out of africa...:)

    Complain about this comment

  • 58. At 5:17pm on 19 Apr 2009, coomare wrote:

    That_Nonsence_Talker :- oh yea and there is no racism in middle east...:)

    Complain about this comment

  • 59. At 5:33pm on 19 Apr 2009, Ayuko_comments wrote:

    The fact of whether Australia/ Australians are racist cannot be countered with the fact that other countries are too. It's a simple question in the sense that it requires a yes or no. I believe Australia is racist, due to the multiple race-based conflicts with Aborigines. Someone had said to disregard the Aborigines for this discussion, which is a perfect example of racism. My main argument is the decision that was made some years ago to ban pornography from the Aborigine community. Sure, there were numerous complaints about rape and I'm not belittling the situation, but stereotyping sales? Really? This is serious segregation.

    Complain about this comment

  • 60. At 5:36pm on 19 Apr 2009, coomare wrote:

    The RSA spinner "name skips me" said he has never seen a 6 year old curse like what he saw in Australia. And interestingly RSA crickters were given flak and so too were the indians who were called coolies. To those in all countries who are racist change or perish. No one is immortal.

    Complain about this comment

  • 61. At 5:50pm on 19 Apr 2009, Meggansa wrote:

    Of course its a racist and xenophobic society pure and simple. Never forget what they did to the indigenous people. If the asylum seekers arriving their shore weren't Afghans and Viets but coming somewhere from Europe or if they had been white South Africans or white Zimbabweans, there wouldn't have been a repugnant and obnoxious practice termed the pacific solution. A leopard never changes its spots, but I bet it might try.

    Complain about this comment

  • 62. At 5:55pm on 19 Apr 2009, Britontour wrote:

    Ive been to Australia many times over a period of 8 years on business,Perth,Brisbane,Adelaide,Melbourne,Canberra and Sydney to mention a few.In my own opinion the vast majority of australians ive met and worked with are the most self opinionated,racist,short sighted people in the modern world.In all the countries ive visited,which is 27 from europe,through asia and the americas,australia tops the league in racism.I visited the melbourne museum when they had an exhibition on indigenous people complete with videos etc.I thought i would take a look.Whilst sitting down,on my own i add,watching the video,3 australian families with young children simultaneously came into where the video was being shown and everyone told there children to "Cmon,we are not watching that".Great way to bring up your children,only showing them your own biggoted ways.The pom rubbish that every brit hears.Prisoners of mother england? Ask yourself this,The original prisoners of mother england are your ancestors,so does that not make you,the australian,the true pom?After all,the prisoners were your family.Even from state to state,they hate one another.Go to NSW,they keep on about kick a VIC.VICS hate those from SA.WA say the rabbit fence is up to keep Croweaters out.Australians seem to hate one another,let alone any foreigner.Australians need to realise,that they are not as big and clever as they think they are,they are as a victorian once told me about adelaide,a backwater.Every country has it racism and contempt for others,but australia is still to me the most modern racist country in the world

    Complain about this comment

  • 63. At 5:55pm on 19 Apr 2009, boils wrote:

    I lived in Melbourne for a long time with 3 Aussie mates. A great town. One guy was from down the coast and while a decent dude, was also a racist. He made a comment about comparing black people in the UK and aborginals in Australia. I was lost for words. However when I visited his folks place near Geelong, I suddenly understood. His old man was also a racist. He blamed every nationality in the world for Australia's problems. His heritage is Dutch.

    I lived in Fairfield in Melbourne, a very Greek area. The Greek blamed either the Italians or the Serbs. The Serbs blamed the Croats and Croats the Macedonians and Albanians. It went on and on like this until there was no one but the aborginals to blame.

    I also remember two other incidents which highlights the tolerance and pressures in Australian society. I went to a big kickboxing fight, a Greek against an Aussie. Huge support there and the 'Greeks' out-shouted the Aussies. And then there was the World Cup when Italy knocked out Australia with dubious methods. Carlton was full of singing ' Italians' and damn that annoyed the Aussies. But of course, they were all Aussies.

    One issue which has been addressed by education and time is simply which strata of society the immigration has come from. Generally, like the Turks in German, they have come from the poorer, less educated, more conservative levels in countries. That brings with it social problems. While modern Australians are a fairly sophisticated bunch, many of the newer immigrants are from the same parts of society as they always have been. The riots in Sydney a few years back can be traced to that.

    Complain about this comment

  • 64. At 6:21pm on 19 Apr 2009, MysticBox wrote:

    One thing which continues the racism is 2nd or 3rd generation Australians especially from non Anglo-Saxon ancestry never like to call themselves Australians and they hang out with their 'own race' only. Then there's the problem of others not trying to integrate with Australian culture at all, even though they came here. This is what increases the racism within the country itself as well, it's two-sided.

    Complain about this comment

  • 65. At 6:33pm on 19 Apr 2009, worldfamousartist wrote:

    Is Australia racist?

    I'm not sure.

    But what i do find interesting is how often we ask this question in modern times. We seem obsessed calling everything and anything racist.

    Not just Australia but Britain, the US, China, the UN, the world bank, the EU, the Queen, the Kiwis, the Indian cricket team, the Arab world, the African elite, the Muslims, the christians, the Jews, the Russians, the left, the right and every other type of organisation, country or people. Is this man a racist? Is this state racist? Are these people racist?

    Even Gandhi has been through the racist wringer.

    Racism has become the easiest slur in the world. Suggest a place, a person, a organisation is racist and you hit them with a body blow. A cheap punch that is hard to come back from.

    It has that same feeling of the red under every bed during the McCarthy era. If you didn't like someone or something, denounce it or them as a communist.

    The same way in the eighties sexism was the killer blow. You had a problem with a man, call him a sexist. No defense against that.

    Today, we do it with the term racist. Don't like the government? Call them racists. Don't like someone at work? Call them a racist. Want to really sink someone but have no real argument as to why they are bad. Suggest in a casual manner that they are a racist and Bam! Job done.

    The race card is the modern trump card. The ace up the sleeve. (Don't worry I've used it a few times too).

    I wonder what tomorrow's card will be?

    Probably something to do with the environment. We will be calling each other ungreen. Making snide little comments over our soy lattes that so-and-so is this or that and he may even be ungreen.

    What's the point? No idea!

    Complain about this comment

  • 66. At 7:02pm on 19 Apr 2009, Dubvibe wrote:

    I have no doubt whatsoever that ALL countries are racist and yes that certainly includes Australia.

    Complain about this comment

  • 67. At 7:03pm on 19 Apr 2009, userstrategy wrote:

    I'm an Aussie that's lived overseas for more than 10 years, mainly in Australia and the Middle-East. I would say my view is that this is not so much about xenophobia as just plain ignorance on the part of my fellow Australians.

    It is a funny thing being so far away from anywhere else and having a culture that is really created on TV these days. It wasn't that long ago when I was back in Oz that my brother in law threatened me with physical violence because I had his family in Dubai - a land populated by terrorists and women haters - according to him. A few years before that when I was living in Hong Kong, I visited Australia and was with my Uncle. I took a phone call from one of my HK staff and said a few words in Cantonese. After the call my Uncle, who knew I lived in Hong Kong said, "so how long have you been learning Japanese?"

    As long as most Australians take everything they hear on A Current Affair, Rove and such shows as gospel, and leave the rest to titillating discussions at the pub over a beer, there will be such cultural gaps.

    These days I feel like a foreigner when I return to Oz. Mainly because I have lived overseas and have educated myself on other cultures. There is no need to do this in Australia when it is almost a national sport to proclaim that Australia is the lucky country and why would you want to live anywhere else? As long as Australian's don't see the need to embrace diversity this gap will exist.

    Complain about this comment

  • 68. At 7:33pm on 19 Apr 2009, eds2103 wrote:

    As an Australian (of Indian descent) living in California, I feel that racism in Australia is moving towards a thing of the past. It is interesting that cultural assimilation in the United States is such that people here rarely asked me where I am from... whereas in Australia, I didn't always feel quite like I fully belonged. At school I remember being the only dark skinned student as was often the object of curiosity from teachers and parents alike. Since those days Australia has come a long way and hopefully, will continue to evolve into a truly multicultural society.

    Complain about this comment

  • 69. At 8:00pm on 19 Apr 2009, catval wrote:

    I think the article by Nick was a very fair overview. However, to go directly to the point. If the continued mistreatment and lack of acceptance of the Aborgines isn't racist, what is racism? Also many contributors try to palm off the treatment of for example the Boat People as exceptional. It is quite clear that some immigrants (eg of European descent) are more equal than others. Words like "Pommie" are not racist attacks. Preventing people from access to jobs, homes etc due to colour and religon are. The "Pommie" discussion is trying to avoid the real issue.
    anyway, the way Rudd seems to be accepting some of the problems suggests there is hope..well done there.

    Complain about this comment

  • 70. At 8:01pm on 19 Apr 2009, gordonbcross wrote:

    Its very interesting to me that the bbc try to focus the debate on racism amongst the countries who actually have been at the forefront of ensuring racism becomes a thing of the past .... to attempt to coin a phrase... 'is it cos we is racist' to try and parody the humour of Sacha-Baron Cohen ...

    bbc why don't your journos actually go to places where racism still means, massive prejudice and life/death decisions in large numbers... Middle East, Africa, India, China... instead of this pathetic focus on the dying embers of 'white mans guilt'... lets remind the world once again of the UK's (and its dominions at the time) contribution to slavery... WE ABOLISHED IT!

    Nick your looking very well on life down under, must be a great trip? ... its a great place... why don't you try going somewhere where there are real race issues if this is the debate you want us to have?

    Once again bbc, your tired old liberalism and lazy pseudo journalism will mean if you are not careful your considerable weight in world affairs will shift away from you as sure as ....... a fat and self congratulatory body loses the will to run and to fight.......

    Complain about this comment

  • 71. At 8:39pm on 19 Apr 2009, berns123 wrote:

    It is an interesting question about racism in Australia. May I throw a spanner in the works here? Is it possible to rather have a discussion on racism or rather intolerance towards people with different views in countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan? What about a minority right in any of these countries? There is constantly this one-way traffic of questions posed at Australia, UK or any other western nation but I fail to see discussions the other way around?

    Complain about this comment

  • 72. At 8:47pm on 19 Apr 2009, Kim147 wrote:

    As a pom who grew up in Oz from the age of 7 and left at the age of 32 I would have to say that Australia is a very multicultural , tolerant and egalitarian society . Having said that , though , you do get small minded minorities who are rascist - or just plain intollerant . In the case of some it's a rather usual misunderstanding and romantisicising of history . There is a strong mentality that has come about due to World isolation . There is also a certain amount of gutter crawlers - people who try to pull other people down . All in all , though , I would have to say that , when I returned to Britain , I was strongly aware how rascist \ race conscious Britain was . If anything I think that the Australians have handled the race issue far better than the British . Here you have the very poisonous New Labour \ PC crowd raising it's ugly head - causing problems rather than curing them . One of the things that has happened in Australia is that there have been multiple waves of immigration - different groups of British , for example , generating different reactions . Australia today is a different society from Australia of 20 years ago .

    Complain about this comment

  • 73. At 9:07pm on 19 Apr 2009, thirzalicious wrote:

    I lived in London for a time and in that time travelled the country. I am not White and was most often thought Spanish or Italian. Unfortunately, the only time I experienced any racism was from Australians visiting London. I also had some tremendous Australian friends, who had relocated to the UK. I hope things are different now and being a non-White person I also know how slowly things change.

    Complain about this comment

  • 74. At 9:54pm on 19 Apr 2009, pomnews wrote:

    Interesting. As an Australian living in the United States I believe that most white Australians are not racist. Rather, they are perhaps less open in addressing it than in the States or have had less experience doing so (Rudd's rather pathetic "we're sorry" a case in point. That, mixed with some of our detention policies, and the "Okker, Oi, Oi, Oi!" attitude makes the country sometimes appear weak in this area. Yet to listen to Eric Bogle's "I Hate Wogs" (a brilliant mocking of the the "real Austrailian patriot" and other songs and witings, one can grasp the sense of a healthy acknowledgement of this duality among the general populace. While we may still use the derrogatory term, I found, during my most recent trip overthere, a very tolerant socity. As seems to be the case as present: the media tend to listen to whomever is loudest. Check out my screen name "pomnews" - I'll use the derrogatory term for you lot but trust me when I say I wouldn't give up my afternoon tea and the BBC for anything; even if Churchill was ready to leave us to the Japanese in '41 (wink).

    Complain about this comment

  • 75. At 10:41pm on 19 Apr 2009, Ozcontributor wrote:

    It seems to me that these posts by Nick Bryant raise two distinct questions. The first relates to the assessment and the second relates to the issue itself.

    The job of any journalist is, of course, to report accurately what they see. Where things can go awry is the analytical framework that is applied to interpretation.

    While it doesn’t necessarily follow that the interpretations offered by Nick Bryant and others who have commented are incorrect (or correct for that matter), much of the analysis seems to contain familiar logical fallacies such as contained argument, circular reasoning, confusing cause and effect and causal pre-emption.

    And any English speaking journalist reporting on another English-speaking country is always at a disadvantage because they first need to deconstruct originating societal assumptions and then turn it back into a form that will be understood by the home audience that shares those assumptions. Alastair Cook did it wonderfully.

    As for the issue itself, there is nothing new or location-specific about ‘discomfort with strangers’. Captain Cook wrote of the people he encountered in Botany Bay that “all they seem’d to want was for us to be gone”. I imagine Commodore Perry might have made similar observations.

    Discomfort with migration (as opposed to the conquest and gunboat diplomacy of the 18th century) is in some ways similar to discomfort with trade or capital flows. People are rarely happy about change even though it may be beneficial in aggregate. It takes leadership to build acceptance and to manage dislocation. Branding resistance to change as ‘racism’ or ‘xenophobia’ unhelpfully turns the focus on the symptoms rather than on what is needed to build comfort levels. In that respect I think the government of the day correctly intuited how best to deal with the Hanson thing, even if the intent was misinterpreted and the execution poor.

    The costs of the current economic crisis are insignificant compared with the looming costs of the demographic deficit in Australia and elsewhere. There will be no alternative to higher levels of permanent and temporary migration and the logical source will not be ageing European countries unable to fund their pension schemes.

    Complain about this comment

  • 76. At 10:49pm on 19 Apr 2009, JoThoms wrote:

    As a black American, and not having read up on Australian history beyond that the land was populated by prisoners sent from England, I was flabbergasted to find out that the country had a non-Aboriginal black population with a history dating back to the first arrivals. It was flabbergasting because I'd understood that blacks weren't even allowed to travel to and/or settle in Australia for many years. Needless to say this has colored my opinion of the country also for years. Apparently the society is small as opposed to other societies that have been let into the country in recent years, but they are there and I've got to say that black Australians must be the biggest secret to be held of any country extant. And I pretty much figure that that's a fine example of racism that one could find.

    Complain about this comment

  • 77. At 11:11pm on 19 Apr 2009, Mark wrote:

    Probably the worst bit of journalism and writing I have ever witnessed... absolutely pathetic and to be honest, shame on the BBC for not actually realising how bad you truly are..

    Complain about this comment

  • 78. At 11:29pm on 19 Apr 2009, crytuf wrote:

    As a recent immigrant to Australia, (I have been here nearly two years) from London, I have really been taken back by the conservative nature of society here and the almost inherent racism I have experienced. While much is made of Australia's cultural diversity this is somewhat misleading. This is largely made up of Italian and Greek communities, and cannot be compared to the level of diversity to be found in many other countries. People are very touchy about Australias history of racism but as an outsider its shocking to see attitudes towards asylum seekers, especially those from africa. The Aboriginal issue is a complex one with no easy answers which I have found Australians to be very uncomfortable discussing, but racism towards them is deep, entrenched and permeates society here. Its like having a 3rd world country inside a 1st world one. Living in Melbourne you could be forgiven for not knowing an Aboriginal community even existed.

    Complain about this comment

  • 79. At 00:32am on 20 Apr 2009, gallantKanga wrote:

    No's 30, 53, & MysticBox well done. About time commonsense prevailed. As for these who keep harping that we are Brits from years ago - move on. Its nothing to do with it and in your logic Brits are racists. Our forefathers would be turning in their graves especially those who fought for Aust in the wars. I am proud (pride is a sin) of my heritage the hard work and what has become of it. I understand that others are proud of their heritage as well- of course but if you are 2-3rd generation Aussie (NOT OZZIE) then your heritage is here, most 2-3rd generation Aussies havent even been back to their so called homeland - is Australia being used by these people? When trouble happens are we just to lie down and take it, I am 7th generation and if someone crosses my path and bad mouths Australia, yet are born here and compares it to a land they havent been to- of course I am, either going to laugh or give the finger. Thats an isult to me.... and my heritage. And should be to them as well.
    As for the Aboringinals Benelong and another man went back to England and was treated very well, they were given land in Sydney had land named after them - Benelong Point & the Electroate of Benelong (Ryde area)to case point. So those who know little of our heriatge - please look things up before you comment. We learn this from a young age, abut our heritage. The Aboriginals are not hated alot are loved. But as with EVERY race or human being, some drink and dont get up to be constructive, and thats where alot of comments stem from. A drunk is a drunk no matter of colour or creed. A habitual welfare person is just that - regardless of race or creed. If a Aboriginal came into my home (and has done) I wouldnt give a hoot. I think Number 30 hit tje nail on the head and so did Mystic. As for others, move on. And for #24 I dont know if it was about hate - although you do have a valid comment. I think it was just the youth of today, being normal - violent and drunk. The hate angle well, they probably go to school together and shook hands the next day. If theres trouble theres the young. As for the hate angle point taken but it is two sided - those who are second third generation where did they learn to hate a country that is educating them and giving then a chance. Isnt that why their parent or grandparents came here. No they should be grateful ot full of contempt. Dont you agree?

    Complain about this comment

  • 80. At 01:22am on 20 Apr 2009, wollemi wrote:


    "Living in Melbourne..."

    You should have looked up the demographic data before you migrated, crytuf.
    Melbourne is not an 'Aboriginal city' East Coast Aboriginal demographics indicate the population scatter is from just south of Sydney around Jervis Bay and then continues up to Cape York. By comparison there are about 30,000 Aboriginal people in Victoria, 150.000 in NSW and 150,000 in Queensland, and mostly living outside cities.
    You also won't 'see' Aboriginal people in southern cities and not just because they're in a minority. It's because most have intermarried and are mixed race, they often resemble their European ancestors, unlike many Aboriginal 'full blood' people in the Centre, the Top End and remote communities

    As to Greek and Italian Melbourne, the postwar Greeks and Italians arrived in a stuffy city and breathed new life into it. Enjoy it!

    The bottom line though crytuf is that Melbourne does not represent Australia any more than London represents England, London has demographically 'seceded'. The stats are that percentage overseas born in Australian society is nore than double that in much of Europe, the UK and the US.
    So when the UK has caught up with Australia, then comparisons can be made
    IN the meantime countries with similar demographics like Canada and NZ have more relevant comparisons

    Complain about this comment

  • 81. At 01:24am on 20 Apr 2009, Eliza_nsw wrote:

    Number 35 Thank you for that comment as I have often mentioned I am from a country town and you haved wrapped it up perfectly.
    #24 - I have just read above and tend to agree - the young dont need much of a reason nowadays to "go off" NOT ALL mind you, but alot. Hate well maybe, but who taught the young ones who are here 2nd or 3rd generation to hate this land, the land that gave their foreparents a chance. That is why although, I understand where you are coming from but dont like to think of it as hate driven, because then we do have a problem and of course many will have the brissels on their necks stand up. And rightly so. Lets not forget that racsim is at time even against "your own" I mean civil wars are internal wars and agaist your own people, but something gets stired up and then whamo. I want to put a comment out there and see the comments back - IF IF there was unrest in a State what would happen, would it be a homeland thing or a loyality thing. I mean (as you put it), would the Lebanses Australians be angry with the Israeli Australians angry with the Palestinian Australians, angry with the Kurd Australians angry with the Iraqi Australians angry with the Turkish Cypriot Australians angry with the Greek Cypriot Australians angry with the Jewish angry with the Gentiles ..... where does it end. When we are all here living and then where do the 7th generation everyday Aussie fit in.....Who doesnt even have much of a clue about who bombed who as there are always two sides.... but it seems to reach our land. We are peaceful and love life, have a beer, have a bbq and watch the footy. I dont mind if I eat with a different colour or religion - respect my home, my bbq and my beer thats all that matters if anyone starts up and starts mouthing off well go home. Yes, No 24 I wonder where it all starts and why its here also.

    Complain about this comment

  • 82. At 02:01am on 20 Apr 2009, AustGirl wrote:

    I enjoy banter with my two (friendly) nemises - hey Paul & Jack - are you out there. Sincerely what do you two think on this subject.

    Complain about this comment

  • 83. At 02:27am on 20 Apr 2009, raoulm wrote:

    Anyone who thinks Melbourne has a well functioning public transport system must be from a different planet and is automatically disqualified from having an opinion on anything! ;-) The only time Melbourne trains run on schedule and sport no retards in the carriages urinating, vomiting and assaulting passengers is on the 30 Feb.

    Anyway; why does everyone these days have to pull out the racists card?

    How about we replace the notion of defining people along racial fault lines with the concept of "civilised behaviour"? I think whether you talk to Aussies or Brits or Yanks or Kiwis, we all are less concerned with "racialism" these days. Most of us don't give a rodent's rear whether someone is white, brown, black or yellow; but people are very much concerned with anti-social and criminal activities and a fundamental brake-down of moral and ethic values.

    I don't think people see much difference in being blown up, mugged, punched, spat at or king-hit either by black, white, yellow or brown perpetrators.

    The unsavoury fact is however, this fundamental change in our public climate goes very much along with increased migration from Islamic and African countries. I have no doubt there is a number of decent and socially adept folk coming out of the Middle East or Africa. Unfortunately the majority of those migrants or "refugees" is still caught in the mindset of medieval savages and sees our civilised judeo-christian societies as an "all-you-can-plunder" slug feast.

    As long as our politicians and judiciary system are paralysed by the high priests of political correctness and indoctrination from fascistoid multiculturalist, this will continue until a society implodes.

    Of course it is much easier to paint us all with the "you are racists" brush; but at the end that paraphrasing won't help the issue.

    This is not a question whether or not we have a "salad bowl" approach with the "special rights for special people" neo-apartheid the loony left dreams of; this is simply a very explosive dish with a lot of poisonous ingredients. The longer we disregard the real issue, or call it by furphy names, the deadlier the mixture will become.

    Complain about this comment

  • 84. At 02:43am on 20 Apr 2009, ColonialJones wrote:

    There are an interesting range of opinions in this thread but I think people are not accurately representing Australia's demographics.

    While it is true that Australia has the largest proportion of overseas born residents (at least in the anglophone world) the dominant groups have always been anglophone themselves (U.K. & New Zealand being the most dominant in almost every year on record) and this trend was only challenged by other European immigrants in the post war years. My point so far being that all of these people were of the same or similar racial group (remember we are discussing race not ethnicity). It is only in the last 5 to 10 years that racial groups from across Asia have grown to a level comparable to Anglo and European immigrants and the impact is hugely variable across regions and cities.

    I don't think that Australia is racist but many individual Australians are struggling to form a sense of national identity through a period in which some regions are seeing rapid changes to their racial make-up. Racism is a result of this and is linked to corresponding rise in strong nationalistic sentiment similar to the experiences of the British in the past. The only thing saving Australia from the greater levels of violence sometimes seen in other countries is the vast amount of space which enables communities to be socially disconnected from each other.

    Complain about this comment

  • 85. At 02:49am on 20 Apr 2009, campantman wrote:

    Indigosailor, writing in #17, suggests that reference to Australian use of the term 'pom' is not relevant to a discussion on racism within Australia. Mmm, well, yes, actually it is. The Brits do not sneer at the Australians in anything like the same way the Aussies do at the Brits. In fact, the Aussies sneer at all nations on a fairly regular basis, by which I mean it is part of their 'culture'. Aussies make jokes, quite unflattering ones, about so very many countries, but it just happens their favourite target is the UK, specifically the 'pommys'. An older chap I know here, who is generally nice enough I guess, can't get through a conversation that has anything at all to do with England or the UK without referring to 'pommys' with a tone that implies that he considers us Brits somehow sub-human. His own father was a Londoner and he related a story of growing up with poor quality stuff in the house because it was all 'pommy-s***'. I mean, I ask you. What exactly goes on this man's mind. His father was English, yet he dismisses all Englishmen as 'poms'.

    I consider this to be, sadly, reflective of the Australian attitude towards other nations. They are always inferior, less-intelligent, less-capable etc in the eyes of so many Aussies. Australians are highly patriotic and nationalistic, as Nick Bryant has mentioned on this blog in the past. Perhaps only the Americans rival them in this regard. But the Australian tendency to sneer at and mock other countries, usually without any factual foundation, is unrivalled.

    Complain about this comment

  • 86. At 02:50am on 20 Apr 2009, campantman wrote:

    And I must agree with raoulm, public transport in Melbourne is really awful. Late, slow and generally very dirty.

    Complain about this comment

  • 87. At 02:53am on 20 Apr 2009, Whitlamite wrote:

    From the Blog:

    "Wollemi noted: "I don't buy the accusations that Australia as a society is xenophobic" - which is the subject I want to open up for fresh comment."

    There's nothing fresh about this.

    Nick, I'm so dismayed at this blog post of yours. I think it's astoundingly ill-conceived.

    As expected, it's opened up a forum for people to make broad sweeping statements based on anecdotal observations about an entire nation of people. All and sundry have come out of the woodwork and ultimately have contributed nothing to any overall narrative on this issue. They've made many of the Australians here defensive or offensive, those same Australians have used this blog as an opportunity to highlight formally and informally sanctioned racism in other countries, a small minority have said 'que sera sera', and nothing has been achieved.

    Nobody has learned anything, no consensus has been reached, no credible conclusions made.

    As possibly the only respondent here of indigenous heritage I find myself horrified at the hijacking of our apparent legacy, opinions, social status, and history.

    And things were going so well in Rudd's Australia.

    In an earlier blog post of yours, Nick, I commented on a trend I've observed, in which British people make sweeping statements and judgements about foreign people and societies based on fleeting experiences and encounters.

    I feel that whilst you haven't done this, you've outsourced it. I think that's a shame. Britontour's incomprehensible yet self-contradictory ravings are a fine example.

    Turning to the actual responses to the blog post:

    Campantman wrote:

    "I think Australia is quite an unusual, even unique, country in this respect. Unusual/unique because it is a young nation, built entirely upon immigration which began when white men, largely from my home nation of Great Britain, began sending convicts over here."

    Not only is 40,000 years of history left forgotten in that statement, but to dismiss that completely in favour of a white history narrative is itself intentionally or unintentionally racist. Let alone the fact that you've swept away the legacy of native-born Australians as well as immigrants - the true builders of modern Australia.

    All this convict stuff may sound terribly romantic, but its legacy is over-emphasised (and that's an understatement).

    "Australia has developed into a very multi-cultural society in which people of numerous heritages proudly describe themselves as 'Australian', which is slightly amusing when you consider that so very many of them (of all races/ethnicities) do not have Australian lineage at all; their own parents or at least their grandparents were born overseas."

    Here's what you don't understand - we don't define nationality the way you do.

    Nor should we.

    You can't define an Australian based on their race, religion, heritage, social status, physical features, wealth, or political outlook. It's impossible. So what do we do? We define ourselves through a mutual obligation and respect for this country as well as through our values. Australians prize democracy, freedom, enterprise, and social cohesion. We share a connection with the geography of this country. People who hold these values and have Australian citizenship, and or have been born and or raised here, in some cases someone with permanent-residency status, and or someone who associates themselves strongly with our values is an Australian. In short, it's all about recognising a responsibility toward and a devotion to our land and its people.

    So snigger all you want, but you've exposed yourself as someone unable or unwilling to comprehend just what an Australian is.

    Meggansa wrote:

    "Of course its a racist and xenophobic society pure and simple. Never forget what they did to the indigenous people."

    So as an indigenous person, according to what you've said, I'm either racist or I'm not an Australian.

    Well done.

    Wollemi wrote:
    "Firstly I think Australians, including Aboriginal Australians, are long past that debate about genocide of Aboriginal Australia"

    We are?

    Oh of course! Genocide is so seventies. It's like flares or beta max or the blow-wave. Geez, aboriginal Australia - get OVER it!

    "There is currently an ideological split in Aboriginal Australia between a 'rights' group with a focus on resolving historical injustices and a group interested in economic empowerment/individual responsibility"

    There is?

    Well where on earth do I fit in? Because I believe both are inexorably connected. You can't expect an empowered an individual to maximise their utility if they're starting from a disadvantaged position in the same was as an empowered utility-maximising individual with all the inadvertent blessings of a family history free of the stolen generation, social dysfunction, cultural annihilation, and legal subjugation.

    "It's a complicated issue which is not really relevant to this thread."

    Oh, I think it's relevant. To discuss race in Australia without discussing the roles assumed by indigenous and non-indigenous Australians would be a ridiculous oversight.

    "I'm not avoiding the duiscussion, just it's a large complex subject"

    Couldn't have said it better myself, Wollemi.


    Complain about this comment

  • 88. At 03:05am on 20 Apr 2009, hubbletree wrote:

    I think racism is an individual thing - not a country thing. We all feel it's tug. We just have to keep fighting it.

    Complain about this comment

  • 89. At 03:15am on 20 Apr 2009, drwinston wrote:

    I was brought up in rural NSW and have lived and worked in many rural towns and two major cities. I have worked as a labourer, been to university, and now work in an office. In these times I have played four different codes of football. I tell you this not to underline my exposure to many walks of life when I say this. I do not believe Australia is overwhelmingly racist.

    There exist two levels of intolerant Australians: the un-silent minority whose prejudice stems from fear; and those who quietly dislike others because of their differences.
    In my view, the Cronulla riots and the Hanson affair is due to a snowball effect regularly seen around the world. A movement based on irrational passions such as fear and hate gather momentum. With the full support of tabloid hyperbole, they draw in the un-empowered and angry, gaining more popularity by the panic it creates. If these events where more than just a flash in the pan, then where are these groups now? I would suggest they have calmed and no longer feel as strongly as they once did.

    If you allow me an illustration:
    A friend of mine works in the banking sector; recently moving from Sydney to Hong Kong and intends to settle down there. He lives among many other expats and loves the lifestyle. Not many Australians would accuse him of being “un-Chinese”, or expect him to assimilate into that society. And why should he be expected to do so? So why do we expect people coming to our shores to become round eyed occers? Is it due to love of our country, or fear of others?

    Complain about this comment

  • 90. At 03:16am on 20 Apr 2009, StickJackal wrote:

    + I've often heard this statement and it seems quite racist in itself.
    It assumes the white majorities of Australia and NZ are somehow different, whereas the "indigenous people" are the same, as if there was some ethnicity called "indigenous", a faceless mass who do not need to be considered separately by us.
    But, clearly, the complete opposite is the truth:
    The cultural backgrounds of white settlers in both countries were close to identical, whereas Maori culture was worlds apart from any of the plethora of Aboriginal societies existing in Australia at the time of invasion and settlement+

    I agree that the identities of Maori and Australian Aboriginal peoples are very different. But the colonisation experience of Australia vs New Zealand seems to have been very different, despite both being colonised by the British.

    Firstly, New Zealand was colonised a generation later than New South Wales. British society itself had changed with the growth of the middle class and liberal values.

    Secondly, the Maori were offered a Treaty which recognised native title, and gave them the rights of British subjects. While certainly not always respected by the British side, it did give the Maori a legal framework that Aboriginal Australia never had.

    Thirdly the white New Zealanders were largely descended from English and Scottish protestant farmers. They didnt have the cultural baggage of the Irish Catholic convict elements in Australia who were the bottom of the British Isles caste system, and took that out on non European elements such as the Aborigines, Chinese, and Kanakas.

    And Fourthly the Maori put up a hell of a fight against the British empire for close to 40 years. While defeated in the end they established their credentials as a martial race (something the British respected) and were treated better as a result.

    The result, a century and a half later is a country that seems to be more comfortable with incorporating non western elements into its cultural indentity. Think of the All Blacks Haka, the Maori Koru on Air New Zealand planes, the Maori language used in Parliament, official occasions etc. Such symbolism would still be unthinkable in modern Australia.

    Complain about this comment

  • 91. At 03:20am on 20 Apr 2009, ColonialJones wrote:

    Whitlamite, I think you have taken some people's comments out of context and attached your own meaning to others. I think the issue of Aboriginal Australians and their relationship to this issue in full historical context is far too large and complex for this thread. Instead it is about how Australians of all backgrounds see and treat Australians of any other racial background.

    Complain about this comment

  • 92. At 03:29am on 20 Apr 2009, campantman wrote:

    Whitlamite, it's truly hilarious how you wrote, quoting an earlier piece of mine:

    " "I think Australia is quite an unusual, even unique, country in this respect. Unusual/unique because it is a young nation, built entirely upon immigration which began when white men, largely from my home nation of Great Britain, began sending convicts over here."

    Not only is 40,000 years of history left forgotten in that statement, but to dismiss that completely in favour of a white history narrative is itself intentionally or unintentionally racist. Let alone the fact that you've swept away the legacy of native-born Australians as well as immigrants - the true builders of modern Australia. "

    Talk about taking something out of context!! My very next sentence in my original comment was:

    "Thus the land was, without being dramatic, effectively stolen from the indigenous people...the true 'Australians'."

    What a surprise that you ignored that bit, because it wouldn't fit with you argument that ''40,000 years of history (is) left forgotten in that statement". Clearly, to anyone who actually reads thing properly, my comment was therefore not ''dismissing (indigenous Australia) in favour of a white history narrative''.

    In any case, this blog, like it or not, is discussing an issue pertaining to modern Australia, an era which, newsflash, began when with the arrival of the European settlers. Had they never arrived (which in my in actual fact entirely non-rascist view would have been a good thing for all concerned) we wouldn't be having this discussion would we.

    Don't try to win arguments by misquoting people and implying that they have voiced views that they blatantly haven't. It only serves to invalidate your own points.

    Complain about this comment

  • 93. At 03:40am on 20 Apr 2009, wollemi wrote:

    Your being mischievous, Whitlamite, extracting quotes of posts to assume an argument

    Firstly, I replied to this blog because Nick quoted me from the asylum blog. I direct you back to #4. where I said Aboriginal issues were not just about race but dispossession and therefore needed to be seen separately. I never at any point said they should not be discussed

    Secondly. I never at any point said that genocide did not occur in Australia, nor that Aboriginal people should 'get over it' as it was 'so seventies'

    There was a community debate on Australian history which ran through the 1970s and beyond, hence the substance of Paul Keating's 1992 apology.

    You have misconstrued my comments to suit an argument

    Complain about this comment

  • 94. At 03:43am on 20 Apr 2009, campantman wrote:

    "Whitlamite, I think you have taken some people's comments out of context and attached your own meaning to others."

    Well said, ColonialJones.

    Complain about this comment

  • 95. At 03:58am on 20 Apr 2009, AustGirl wrote:

    Whitlamite - Correction Firstly KRudd is a disgrace, secondly I often wondered if Whitlanite stood for Gough who well, as you did mention and have read of, some unpleasantries of the 70's - yet you may like Gough (as Im guessing) hmmm. Thirdly, I wouldnt bet the next meal that you maybe the only Aboriginal in this debate. Aboringinal Australian. Australian full stop. Educated, working and levelled shouldered meaning no chips.....

    Complain about this comment

  • 96. At 03:59am on 20 Apr 2009, campantman wrote:

    Whitlamite, it's obvious from the tone of your piece (attempts made to sound quite academic and superior) that you consider it to be very intelligently reasoned and written. If you aspire to this you should probably make efforts not to take people's comments (deliberately) out of context and make grand, smug statements about other posters being rascist when they have said nothing rascist whatsoever. Plus, the pomposity of your 'astoundingly ill-conceived' remark is, well, exactly that.

    Complain about this comment

  • 97. At 04:10am on 20 Apr 2009, Richard_SM wrote:

    What's the difference between an immigrant and an emigrant?

    Complain about this comment

  • 98. At 04:17am on 20 Apr 2009, AustGirl wrote:

    And I would go further as to say - I like my mod cons and wonder how others - like you - if you who say that The White man" took this or that, well Number 1- I wasnt born then, Number 2- I dont really want to go back to going topless or living in a humpy. Eating raw meat or bbqd what ever. If the "white man" hadnt colonised us where would we be? As has been mentioned earlier on other blogs The English beat the French to Sydney by a whisker, La Perous and Sans Souci are named after the French and there are monuments. The Dutch were the FIRST to notice Australia being Van Diemans Land back then. Public schools in La Perouse used to have an Bastille Day day for the French Revolution. So please as has been said earlier Move ON. Rape and child assult and how SOME Aboriginals and SOME OF ALL others portray themselves is the problem - As someone said earlier on - anti social. All human beings - all races all creeds.

    Complain about this comment

  • 99. At 04:33am on 20 Apr 2009, Jehenna wrote:

    Whitlamite - I found your comments quite thought provoking, thank you.

    With regard to racism, I think many of us have difficulties in seperating racism from other forms of prejudice. It is difficult to simply look at colour of skin without considering the other aspects to a person which may make us uncomfortable.

    For example - can we look at someone who exhibits the same skin tone and facial features as a person from Iran, without assuming that they are also a muslim? Are our prejudices based on the fact that they are middle-eastern, or that they are muslim? I think most of us just roll culture, religion, race, economic status and education in together and then our prejudices are based on that.

    I am a white Australian (5th generation here) but I am not Christian, but rather from a religion which originates elsewhere. So are my parents and grand parents. When people assert that the values of Christianity are Australian, this excludes me. When people assert that 'English' based values are Australian, this excludes Aboriginal people who have been here a lot longer than the English influence.

    The expectation that migrants will leave their values at the door, and espouse ours, does not, as someone else said, match what we expect of Australians living overseas. We expect them to stay Aussie. This is because many Australians believe that our values and culture is better, and that they should be embraced.

    The race debate is about more than just skin colour, but about values and culture. This is why we value immigrants who embrace 'Australian' values and culture, and devalue those that don't, regardless of their skin colour.

    To argue that you have friends who are Chinese or that you eat Chinese food and this proves you are not racist, is not accurate. I know people who have friends from different countries and skin colours, who are still incredibly racist when it comes to a different ethnic group. Racist towards Aboriginal people, tolerant towards Arabs.

    It is my opinion that we need to look at racism as a far more complex issue than simple skin colour. But the complexity of the debate should not deter us from exploring it further. Thanks to everyone who has already posted their thoughts.

    Complain about this comment

  • 100. At 04:35am on 20 Apr 2009, jmswalsh wrote:

    They still play "spot the Aussie" around Sunshine. Visit Alice and see how they treat the aborigines there (likewise up in Cairns). Scratch the surface and it really is appalling.

    Complain about this comment

  • 101. At 04:45am on 20 Apr 2009, gallantKanga wrote:

    I think some should read - Morgans Run by Colleen McCulough(?) this book was excellent and educational based on fact. FACT. It was abit dulsome at first but then portrayed a convict who is real and is written in history of Norfolk Island. How the French ships were spotted in the bay, and how they had been sailing so long, not even knowing about the revolution back home. AustGirl is 100% correct -I dont know if schools still do the Bastille Day - today but they did. French Polynesia is only a crows fly from us here, so why is it hard to believe the English may not have had a monopoly on the ocean. Not all of the ships carried convicts, some were free people. And WA was Dutch, the English didnt have first option to Australia, yes they pushed in and colonised it but no Captain Cook did not discover us. What a pleasant change, thank you AustGirl. What you wrote was a pleasant change. Based on truth. And to those who may be stuck in the racise rut - I personally dont care who I sit next to, but if they behave anti social of course its rude, if they are of (coincedentally) another race - does that make me racist. NO. It make them anit-social.

    Complain about this comment

  • 102. At 05:07am on 20 Apr 2009, pciii wrote:

    Nick, I don't really know how you'd measure racism, so as others have said, of course Australia, just like everywhere else, is racist to a degree.
    It's easy to confuse the seemingly insecure attitude of some Australians when it comes to national identity with racism, but if you talk to people and live in Australian cities you soon find that it's no worse a problem than anywhere else (and a lot better than some places).

    I guess there've been a few surprises for me on this score though - supposedly educated people who turn out to be veryracist, set against small country towns where you might expect 'foreigners' to be viewed with mistrust but aren't. Go figure.

    Complain about this comment

  • 103. At 05:40am on 20 Apr 2009, vinvangough wrote:

    Unfortunately under John Howard, who took Pauline Hanson's policies to the polls along with the "children overboard" (A proven blatant lie),his quote "we will decide who comes to our country," it is quite easy to brand Australia a racist country.Having travelled to Asia,Europe and the UK OOPS!sorry UK is now part of Europe. I believe that it is fair to say,"What country does not show some racist tendencies?"

    Complain about this comment

  • 104. At 06:07am on 20 Apr 2009, sydneycynic wrote:

    From my understanding the definition of a racist is someone who has some antagonism to a different race. It appears as though you have no entitlement to have any antagonism to any particular group regardless of the experiences you have encountered. By this definition I suppose I'll have to confess to being prejudiced against Lebanese muslims. I have had a friend bashed up by a group of five Lebanese men who continually referred to him as "Skippy". I also won't go to a Bulldogs game because of the fights that have gone on. Before the riot I use to go to Cronulla and saw girls being harrassed by Lebanese youths. I also should remind people that the Cronulla riot followed a white youth being bashed up whilst he was taking a shower. The heroin scene in Kings Cross is run by Lebanese since the 1970's. They are now branching out into the amphetemine scene whilst setting up their bikie gang which is called "notorious". I've also been involved in the insurance industry since the 70's and my first job involved handling workers compensation claims. At that time recent Lebanese immigrants submitted a large amount of extremely suspicious claims and the condition was commonly referred to as "Lebanese back". Also, when their senior clerics refer to Australian women as "uncovered meat" who are partly responsible for being raped, I will admit to feeling antagonism towards these members of our community. If I had my way this group, and only this group, would be disqualified from migrating to Australia. It seems to me that this makes me a racist and the examples given above should not be taken into account. In other words, for me to remain politically correct, I must not let anecdotal evidence affect my judgement. Also, the question of racism appears to be a criticism of the white members of the community i.e.if the anglos/celts stick together this is racism/segregation. If another group chooses to stick togther they are "maintaining their cultural heritage". I'd also like to confess to being BBCist. It appears to me that there must be some kind of average quota of responses required for these blogs. Whenever a large number of responses are wanted the racism,sexism,environmentalism and all the other isms are trotted out.

    Complain about this comment

  • 105. At 06:38am on 20 Apr 2009, Whitlamite wrote:

    Here goes.

    ColonialJones wrote:

    "I think the issue of Aboriginal Australians and their relationship to this issue in full historical context is far too large and complex for this thread."

    But the issue of race in Australia is suitably narrow to be discussed here? Who on earth gets to decide such a thing? Indigenous and non-indigenous experiences are part of the exploration of race in Australia. I don't see why it should be intentionally excluded.

    Campantman wrote:

    "Talk about taking something out of context!! My very next sentence in my original comment was:

    "Thus the land was, without being dramatic, effectively stolen from the indigenous people...the true 'Australians'."

    No, I saw you said that, and I take issue with that too. You said earlier that the nation was started by convicts and went on to say that indigenous people, the 'true Australians' (what an incredibly divisive thing to say) had had this purged from them.

    You are implying that Australia was not a nation on January 25th 1788, but was on January 26th 1788. The nation was 'started' by the British simply due to their arrival. Can you not see the inevitable conclusion that is to be drawn from what you've written? Can't you see implication?

    But perhaps I've jumped the gun. Perhaps you're not really suggesting that the racial superiority of the British was such that they 'reset the clock' on the Australian nation. Perhaps you don't believe that the mere presence of the British constitutes a national beginning, the dawn of an era still resonating today.

    Oh! wait...

    "In any case, this blog, like it or not, is discussing an issue pertaining to modern Australia, an era which, newsflash, began when with the arrival of the European settlers."

    It's this demarcation between a 'modern Australia' (which, extracting from what you've written began in 1788), and the indigenous land that came before that has enabled racists, bigots and the generally ignorant to assert that Australia's national character, history, and culture is almost uniformly European, and that indigenous Australians are 'the others', not quite Australian but unfortunately here nonetheless. I think it would be great if the ability for that attitude to be broadcast and inherited was deactivated.

    "Had they never arrived (which in my in actual fact entirely non-rascist view would have been a good thing for all concerned) we wouldn't be having this discussion would we."

    That is a bit fascinating. Why do you think that Europeans should never have come to this continent?

    Wollemi -

    "I said Aboriginal issues were not just about race but dispossession and therefore needed to be seen separately."

    What?? You don't think racial tension in this country has anything to do with possession, dispossession, a sense of ownership and theft over land and culture and tradition?? Wollemi, what on earth do you think the Cronulla riots were about?

    I don't think you can separate race relations in Australia from the notion of dispossession, whether its real or imagined.

    "Secondly. I never at any point said that genocide did not occur in Australia"

    I never suggested that's what you said.

    But you did say that indigenous Australians were 'long past' the debate about the implications of cultural and literal genocide. I don't think that's the case at all. I know that what Keating did was significant, I also know that what Prime Minister Rudd did was even more significant - but neither eliminated the debate, nor the sadness, rage, frustration, and determination.

    Campantman wrote:

    "Whitlamite, it's obvious from the tone of your piece (attempts made to sound quite academic and superior) that you consider it to be very intelligently reasoned and written. If you aspire to this you should probably make efforts not to take people's comments (deliberately) out of context and make grand, smug statements about other posters being rascist when they have said nothing rascist whatsoever. "

    Heh, playing the man.

    I'm just responding to exactly what you and others have written, campantman. If you wanted to be read according to 'tone' and not your words then you should have said so (or 'toned' so).

    And I've noticed you've spent three replies affronted at this apparent misrepresentation (which I think is nonsense) but not one actually arguing against any of the points I've raised.

    It's up to you, but I think that perhaps this entire discussion could be turned into something interesting and ultimately constructive.


    Complain about this comment

  • 106. At 08:35am on 20 Apr 2009, wollemi wrote:


    Whitlamite, you are a serial offender

    I referred you to my post #4 from which you quoted. I'll now give you the paragraph and will put in upper case the phrases you missed
    'Secondly I think Aboriginal issues should really be treated separately TO OTHER RACE ISSUES. It's as much about DISPOSSESSION as anything else. Colonial Australia...was BUILT ON THE LOSSES OF ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIA'

    Is that so difficult? Race and dispossession in our history since 1788 are intertwined wrt Aboriginal issues in a way they're not with migrant issues

    Secondly, where did I say that Aboriginal Australia was long past the debate about 'implications of cultural and literal genocide' in post #20 I said nothing about 'implications' at all - that's your add on. I said that it was more a debate of the 1970s then went on to discuss currently an ideological split in Aboriginal Australia between a rights group with a focus on resolving historical injustices and a group interested in economic empowerment/individual responsibility with the Federal Government caught between the two
    If you don't agree that's the tenor of the current debate then we differ. Go argue the latter with Noel Pearson, Warren Mundine and Marcia Langton and Wesley Aird

    Complain about this comment

  • 107. At 08:56am on 20 Apr 2009, londonOz wrote:

    Firstly, xavierbloggz. I resent the fact that you call me a racist even though you have never met me. Yes I am Australian! I know of no Australian, or infact any Brit, that gets offended by the banter between us as two nations with historical ties or with or competitive sporting history. I have lived in London for the last 4 years and quite often have a joke with friends about being pommy ba**ards or for me being and Aussie Bum. Its also seems to me that you judge a whole nation on maybe a few individuals you have met or from what you have seen on the TV. I'll give you a free bit of advice...actually go to Australia and experience it before you brand us all racists!

    On the point of me being called and Aussie. To me, its just an abbreviation of the word Australian. Is it not? So does anyone else find it quite strange that in general this is accepted, yet if we are to call someone a Paki or a Leb we would be labeled as a racist, even though the words themselves just abbreviations? Weird!!!

    Onto the point of Australians as a whole being branded as racist. This is so not the case and it is unfair to say otherwise. I think what you will find with most Aussies, and in fact alot of Brits, is the fact that our way of life is changing to accommodate immigrants. How you say? As I said I have lived here in London for 4 years now, and I see the same things happening here as in Australia. Schools not singing Christmas Carols so as not to offend others is one of the big things that stick in my head. When I was just starting High School when I was 12 I had to do cooking in my first year. I absolutely loved it. But, due to the fact the we had a few Muslims in Ramadan, we couldn't cook! By all means, let people come and live in Australia or Britain and let them practice there various religions, but I see no reason why we should change the way we live to accommodate them.

    I'm going to finish with a quote. Some of you may or may not have seen it before. I think it sums up what alot of Aussie and Brits think about immigration as a whole.

    "IMMIGRANTS MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali , we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.

    We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society . Learn the language!

    Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.

    We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.'

    This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, 'THE RIGHT TO LEAVE'.

    If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country you accepted."

    Enough said!

    Complain about this comment

  • 108. At 11:23am on 20 Apr 2009, Whitlamite wrote:

    Wollemi wrote:
    "Is that so difficult? Race and dispossession in our history since 1788 are intertwined wrt Aboriginal issues in a way they're not with migrant issues"

    But Wollemi - this is a blog discussion about race! It's called: "Making Arguments on Race".

    I think that posession and disposession, as with ownership and loss are key factors that unite race tension in this country, indigenous or otherwise.

    "Secondly, where did I say that Aboriginal Australia was long past the debate about 'implications of cultural and literal genocide' in post #20 I said nothing about 'implications' at all - that's your add on."

    In post #20 you said...

    "Firstly I think Australians, including Aboriginal Australians, are long past that debate about genocide of Aboriginal Australia - that's more the debate here in the 1970s."

    If you weren't talking about a debate on the impact and the resonance of the genocide of indigenous groups and culture, then what on earth were you talking about??

    And I do dispute your characterisation of these debates around indigenous life. I think it's infinitely more complicated. Within the category you described that is focused on 'economic empowerment/individual responsibility', for example, there are marked differences over the Northern Territory intervention. I think the situation is more complicated than two divided groups.

    Overall, don't you agree that posession and ownership are the two factors that have defined race relations and race debates (disputes, fights, arguments, disagreements) in this country? It's this need to 'covet', and it's been the same way for hundreds of years, ever since the original Australian ethos of 'use only what you need and share it' died out in the late 18th century.

    Complain about this comment

  • 109. At 12:55pm on 20 Apr 2009, wollemi wrote:


    I think Aboriginal issues go beyond race, Whitlamite

    The debate in the 1970s, was whether the word 'genocide' was even accurate in the Australian context.It had long been stated in Australian history books that the sharp decline in Aboriginal numbers over the 19th Century was inadvertent, the consequence of introduced diseases and that violence was negligible
    That view probably resulted from Australia's peculiar colonisation history and that for the first 50 years it was more a set of military/penal outposts, rather than civilian settlements, but also because Aboriginal people had lacked a 'voice' in presenting their experience of history.

    I think there was a confluence of 2 different themes in the 1970s - there was more public interest in Australian colonisation and convict history and the Aboriginal rights movement had moved beyond the civil rights issues of the 1967 referendum to focus more on indigenous rights, and that's when the Aboriginal experience of colonisation was heard.

    There was more open debate about why Aboriginal people died, and violence on the frontier. There was also more debate about cultural genocide - that might seem obvious now but I don't think back in the 1970s the concept of cultural genocide was known about as an entity (?)

    I realise this is a ramble buit I just don't think that's where Australian society is now, Whitlamite, and I don't mean by that that Aboriginal Australians should 'get over it'. I think the current dilemma is that Australian history is littered with failed policies wrt Aboriginal issues, there are some really difficult problems especially in the remote communities and the way ahead is far from clear and there is no consensus view

    I'm not sure what you mean by the original Australian ethos of the late 18th Century, If you mean Australian as in 18th Century Aboriginal, it was undoubtedly a communal culture. If you mean Australian as in 18th Century convict, they spent a lot of time nicking things from each other.

    Complain about this comment

  • 110. At 1:08pm on 20 Apr 2009, boils wrote:

    What is interesting from some of the responses is what a touchy subject it is. The fact that it is a question posed within and outside Australia tells some story. And when this question is about posed in the States, it is a socio-political question up for debate. When the same question is posed in the Australia, it is merely an insult from a foreigner and un-Australian coming from an Aussie.

    It's a great country, full of great people but let's not pretend it's perfect.

    Complain about this comment

  • 111. At 1:25pm on 20 Apr 2009, Daxiongmao wrote:

    Beijing_2008 wrote:

    "It is a fact that ethnic minorities in China are not restricted to the One Child Policy."

    One Child Policy? The only people adhering to the 'One Child Policy' are a few government employees in the urban areas. The rest of the country carry on having more than one child so it's hardly an exclusive right reserved for ethnic minorities.

    Complain about this comment

  • 112. At 1:28pm on 20 Apr 2009, andrian007 wrote:

    Great article, Nick, you made many good points there. May I just add a few things as a recent immigrant of the UK...

    First things first, it is very important to discuss immigration directly and openly regardless of whether the person is going to be branded as racist or not. It is exactly because we sweep this debate under the carpet that extremist parties have become stronger and stronger over the years.

    Also, I agree that there needs to be some control to immigration. When I say control, I don't mean putting an arbitrary quota on the number of immigrants coming in every year. But we need to understand whether

    1) We can provide housing, schooling, healthcare for the new citizens
    2) The job market has vacancies that need to be filled by non-British
    3) The new citizens can assimilate and integrate into their new environment

    At least for the first two points, it is the job of government to conduct the relevant studies and understand whether the answer is Yes or No. The last point though is a lot harder to quantify and I hope we can all find the answer to that one day.

    Complain about this comment

  • 113. At 2:12pm on 20 Apr 2009, londonOz wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 114. At 3:38pm on 20 Apr 2009, Whitlamite wrote:

    I think you're right, wollemi - this notion of cultural genocide didn't really take effect until after the genocide itself had stopped in the 1970s. This was the point when the federal government changed its policy and recognised that indigenous children perhaps might do better with their parents than being forced into institutions or private homes where well-meaning but ultimately destructive practices systematically wiped out indigenous languages, traditions, and families.

    And by the 'late 18th century Australian ethos', I do mean that of the indigenous variety.

    londonOz wrote:

    "As I have already said, what has happened to the Aboriginals in the past are somewhat regrettable..."

    Here we go.

    "Here is my apology to the Aboriginal people of Australia.

    We apologise for giving you doctors and free medical care, which allows you to survive and multiply so that you can demand apologies."

    We managed pretty well for 40,000 years without smallpox and the bubonic plague, thanks all the same.

    "We apologise for helping you to read and teaching you the English language and thus we opened up to you the entire European civilisation, thought and enterprise." the same time as you were banning indigenous languages, not so much adding to the cultural landscape but annihilating and replacing.

    "We feel that we must apologise for building hundreds of homes for you, which you have vandalised and destroyed."

    Due to mental illness, drug addiction, and alcohol abuse brought about by forced social policies that destroyed societies and family units. Well done again.

    "We apologise for giving you law and order which has helped prevent you from slaughtering one another and using the unfortunate for food purposes."

    The same law and order system that oversees an incredibly disproportionate number of deaths in custody. Nice.

    And for you to suggest that indigenous people were/are cannibals reflects disgustingly upon you, Ms Hanson.

    "We apologise for developing large farms and properties, which today feed your people, where before, you had the benefits of living off the land and starving during droughts."

    Ha! Farms are drought proof are they? Thousands of years ago there was no farmer assistance, no irrigation. My ancestors managed to eat, drink and be merry perfectly well, thank you. WITHOUT government handouts.

    "We apologise for providing you with warm clothing made of fabric to replace that animal skins you used before."

    A cultural affectation that arrived with the very empire that set about quietly destroying the world's oldest continuously existing civilisation.

    "We apologise for building roads and railway tracks between cities and building cars so that you no longer have to walk over harsh terrain."

    Yeah, thanks for transportation. It brought us wonderful things - growth, prosperity, the cane toad, the rabbit, rats....

    "We apologise for developing Ayers rock and Kakadu, and handing them over to you so that you get all the money."

    Before you came along we didn't even need money.

    "We apologise for giving you $1.7 billion per year for your 250,000 people, which is $48,000.00 per aboriginal man, woman and child."

    You broke it, you bought it.

    "We humbly beg your forgiveness for all the above sins. We are only too happy to take back all the above and return you to the paradise of the ?outback?, whenever you are ready."

    If this means you leave the country - then be our guest.

    Complain about this comment

  • 115. At 4:46pm on 20 Apr 2009, RL wrote:

    to londonOz at 113. At 2:12pm on 20 Apr 2009,

    I do not feel you are apologizing at all, you listed how generous a White Australian government is, but end of the day, White stolen the Australian land from Aboriginals, nothing you can buy from the fact. The only thing you can face up, is against racism not deny it, or paint yourself into a god.

    Complain about this comment

  • 116. At 5:21pm on 20 Apr 2009, QinGuangWang wrote:

    There are legal ways to enter a county. The problem of illegal immigration is that it undermines the system that is in place. Those on a waiting list are not encouraged that others can simply wash ashore and achieve entry. Good thing the aborigines didn't have such laws.

    Complain about this comment

  • 117. At 5:56pm on 20 Apr 2009, londonOz wrote:

    Whitlamite, although you make fare points against my apology to Aborginals, its seems to me that you still want to dwell on the past. You did well without money, doctors house etc but im afraid this is what we call change. This is part of moving into the future and this is also what one could call opportunity.

    I take my hat off to the Aboriginals that go to school, get an education and make something of their lives. I have no pity for those that sit back and complain about how how their ancestors were treated and expect everything to be handed out on a silver platter.

    I went to school. I got a good education. I have travelled the world. I took the opportunities that were given to me and did the best I could. If I had of failed at that I would have no one to blame but myself. It's about time people started taking responsibilty for the way there lives turn out and look a bit closer to home for a solution.

    Although I am living in the UK at the moment, Australia has and always will be my home. When I decide I want to return, I will return just as proud as I was when I left. So your invitation to leave is politely declined.

    Complain about this comment

  • 118. At 01:13am on 21 Apr 2009, Whitlamite wrote:

    "Whitlamite, although you make fare points against my apology to Aborginals, its seems to me that you still want to dwell on the past."

    Excuse me?

    After your incredibly offensive and bigoted diatribe I don't think you can point the finger at me for 'dwelling on the past'.

    You haven't got a clue, have you?

    You don't understand that the past is still with us, that the policies that destroyed indigenous societies, cultures, and families left an impact that is with us today. Imagine if two generations ago a foreign culture had scattered your family across the continent, banned you from speaking english, forced you to believe in a different religion, treated you in a separate legal category that didn't even include you in the census. Imagine growing up with that kind of family history, where a civilisation has to get its bearings, work out what it is and who its people are and at the same time successfully raise a new generation in that environment.

    Those indigenous people that are asking for "everything to be handed out on a silver platter" are basically after help. They need help finding a job, or addressing mental health issues, or getting off drugs, or alcohol. Many of those indigenous people grew up in families with several generations of people who were seriously traumatised by what government policy did to them. And so they didn't help their kids with their homework, they didn't insist they go to school, they didn't introduce them to competitive sports, or consider the importance of a university education for their children.

    So their kids miss out. And because they look aboriginal, they find it harder to get rental accommodation, or a job because they lack the social skill their parents and grandparents would have passed down to them had they not been reeling from the systematic destruction of their family unit.

    And so the destruction goes on for another generation, and another, and another. If we do nothing it will continue on and on until indigenous culture and indigenous people have literally died out.

    For you to say that indigenous Australians left with the lasting impact of the stolen generations and other policies should just 'take responsibility for themselves' is a bit like telling someone with a broken leg to stop limping and go for a jog. They need help, and as Australians surely it's in everybody's interest to give them that help.

    You may well still call Australia 'home', but the resentment you feel for the least fortunate and most disenfranchised in your own country makes me wish you called another country home.

    You are the antithesis of a patriot, and your opinions are ugly and destructive.

    Complain about this comment

  • 119. At 03:03am on 21 Apr 2009, oioioi2 wrote:

    Nick lets face it after 200 years of race based immigration policies controlled by anglophile politicians bent on creating a loyal anglo enclave (which still continues today, just look at the huge ongoing intakes of poms and south sea’s poms), its amazing that people can actually refer to Australia as being multicultural.

    Statistics show less than 25% of the countries residents ancestry coming from non anglo /celtic stock which in itself is not only mind boggling but a disgraceful waste of an immigration program particularly for an asia pacific country whose destiny is tied to this part of the world and the limited relevance of the mid sized european country located on the other side of the planet from where all these immigrants originate.

    So is the average (Anglo) Australian insular xenophobic and racist…of course, they are, they’re products of 200 years of institutionalized racism and xenophobia, backed up by a foreign flag and head of state to reinforce this bizarre notion of anglo’s having more rights to be here than any other immigrant groups.

    Complain about this comment

  • 120. At 03:50am on 21 Apr 2009, Bill wrote:

    Of course we're racist and if the rest of world's 6 plus billion people were hones, they'd find they're rasist too.

    Complain about this comment

  • 121. At 04:22am on 21 Apr 2009, raoulm wrote:

    LondonOz, you're spot on.

    Assuming we're talking about the actual indigenous people and not this recent "tribe" of self-declared professional pseudo-victims, were the great-grandmother may have been kissed an actual indigenous Australian:

    Why do so many holier-than-thou zealots feel so orgasmic about ruminating the same old "let's all feel guilty about everything" nonsense?

    Do they not realise their blubbering creates AND perpetuates this divisive neo-apartheid approach the professional victims thrive on?

    Do they not realise they create division, separatism and apartheid with those ideas of "special rights for special Australians" and "special laws for special Australians" and "A special flag for special Australians"?

    Let's see that we stop this multiculturalisic apartheid nonsense and work towards a harmonic and fully integrated Nation for all Australians.

    Complain about this comment

  • 122. At 06:21am on 21 Apr 2009, AustGirl wrote:

    Whitlamite - Move on. This is just embarrasing. So many of you are so based on Aboriginals - its this kind of ideal that gets us more attention then wanted or needed. I can tell you that the everyday rellie who lives out bush would not have a clue about this site. So pull you heads in and worry about your own backyards - or jobs- or finances or whatever. I am just so sick and tired of this subject. We are here, I dont think its racims - more bigotry, or ignorance. Move on Nick-Get another subject, these ones are wearing thin. And to these commenters how many Aborigninal peoples do you know, go to lunch with, come on. Theres more to us then Redfern. Whitlamite, you are self serving or I feel that is the way you are coming across. Dont think of yourself alone, move on. Im above this - an example - do you give help to those poor living is Central Aust, or in the NT. And do you enjoy people going on and on about Pol Pot or Idi Amin - or Hitler. Its the here and now- and there are more serious pressing problems then this worn out subject. Move on.

    Complain about this comment

  • 123. At 06:41am on 21 Apr 2009, AustGirl wrote:

    London Fair enough comment - but I will say that in my travels I have come across many different forms of so call racism. I know that some people think Abroiginals steal, or similar and wont hire them- yes, When I was on a train from Budapest to Krakow - a Korean girl sat opposite me and the conductor who took her ticket almost, well it was obvious that he thought his hand would fall off if it touched hers. This girl and I discussed this and she'd seen a fair amount of this behaviour. At the hotel in Budapent - two Asian looking men from Cambodia walked up to the next floor where I was waiting for the elevator - they told me that the people in the lift would not allow them on - it was subtle but they missed 3 lifts. When it opened I seen the faces of some of them in the lift and yes, they too thought that may be their skin would drop off if they touched these men. I wont allaborate on what nationality the bulk of the people were from - it was Europe. The same Korean girl told me that her mum married a Japanese man - her father but her grandfather wanted it kept quite, as the two nations - well are biased against each other. Her father had to become a nationalised Korean before he could marry her mother. Its world wide. And I hope you do come home to Aust. Some times it just rumor milling - I mean all this about Aboriginals, yes some are sad sorry sights but as I said before prior thats human beings also. There is worse, I feel when a women cant show her face in the main street of Sydney because shes been beaten or the man says she can't or children being sold this is alot worse. Alot of people have welfare, alot of people have generation after generation who dont work. Theres nothing new there. To take Aust for credit and laugh about our kindness or laws that boils my blood. Have respect for where you are. But I admit I dont have one idota of respect or like for KRudd.

    Complain about this comment

  • 124. At 08:05am on 21 Apr 2009, londonOz wrote:

    Whitlamite, you said, quote "Imagine if two generations ago a foreign culture had scattered your family across the continent, banned you from speaking english, forced you to believe in a different religion, treated you in a separate legal category that didn't even include you in the census. Imagine growing up with that kind of family history, where a civilisation has to get its bearings, work out what it is and who its people are and at the same time successfully raise a new generation in that environment". Did this in part not happen to the convicts that were first dumped in Australia all those years ago? Being taken from their families back in England because they stole a loaf of bread to feed them? Having to start their lives again in a foreign country as criminals etc etc. Do you see the descendants of these people still complaining about how their ancestors where unfairly treated? NO

    Here are a few names. Albert Namatjira, Ernie Dingo, Lionel Rose, Cathy Freeman, Nova Peris Kneebone
    Michael Long, Gavin Wanganeen. I assume you know most, if not all of them. These are they people I take my hat off too, they have taken the opportunities that were handed to them and made something of there lives. I suggest you do the same and stop blaming history for how there lives are now.!

    Complain about this comment

  • 125. At 08:57am on 21 Apr 2009, T-Bear2 wrote:

    The stumbling block for all arguments that Australia is not a racist nation lies in the Australian Constitution, which came into effect on 1 Januray 1901 and gives the national governement an express power to make racist laws. The offending section of the Australian Constitution is s51(xxvi), which remains on the books and has been frequently (and recently) used to enact laws that treat the Australian Aboriginal population in ways that the general population could not subjected to. To be clear about it, s51(xxvi) gives the Australian national legislature a power to make laws with repsect to: `The people of any race, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws.' This makes Australia the only `liberal democracy' on Earth that retains an express constitutional manadate for racial laws, personally embarrassing as that is - I being from Sydney. There is also no doubt that for greater part of our `modern history' (the past 250 years)Australia has been one of the most racist nations about; see for example Encyclopedia Brittanica's general article on `Racism' which ranks Australia with pre civil-war USA and pre-Mandella-released South Africa as one of the 3 most racist nations in modern history. So, and acknowledging all of the genuine points about Oz having become (since about the mid 1980's, in my estimation) a quite tolerant, multicultural country where diverse migrant populations get along well (and have greatly enriched each other's experience) there remains the problem of that damn `race power' in our founding document, that permits ongoing dealing with the Australian Aboriginal people in ways that the general population could not be subjected to.


    Complain about this comment

  • 126. At 09:32am on 21 Apr 2009, wollemi wrote:


    You've got this back to front

    You've misunderstood the 1967 referendum to change section 51 of the constitution
    The original 1901 statement in section 51 of the Constitution gave the Federal Government the capacity to make laws for any race - except Aboriginal

    The 1967 referendunm was to strike out the 'except Aboriginal race' in other words to give the Federal Government the capacity to make specific laws for Aboriginal people. It was strongly lobbied for by Aboriginal leaders, community organisations, had bipartisan government support and was passed with a whopping majority of over 90% by the electorate

    The 'race power' was to be used for eg land rights in the Northern Territory, and other specific indigenous rights

    You've also forgotten about the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 which precludes racist laws

    Complain about this comment

  • 127. At 10:02am on 21 Apr 2009, T-Bear2 wrote:

    Wollemi ... You are half wrong and half right.

    The striking out of `except aboriginal race' was done to cut the direct borrowing of that wording in the original s51(xxvi) which was taken from the Kansas-Nabraska Act - that controversial little piece of legislation which left the question of slavery to state governments east of the Kansas-Nebraska line in pre-civil-war USA with slavery in new territories west of that line to be regulated by Federal law, which could abolish slavery.

    So, although, yes, the spirit of the 1967 referendum in Australia was that it should be for the benefit of Aboriginal people nationally, the actual change made to the Australian Constitution gave the national government its current power to make racist laws, which has been used to the detriment of Aboriginal people on many occasions since then - changes in politic climate of the ensuing 40 years being as they were ...

    So, yes, though idea behind the 1967 Referendum was laudable, the outcome is an example of a road to `hell' (racial laws, discriminating against Aboriginal Australia) being paved with good intentions. In particular, the Racial Discrimination that you correctly say disallows racist laws is currently overridden to the detriment of Aboriginal people only and under s51(xxvi) in the so-called `Northern Territory Intervention' laws. This, Mr Wollemi, illustrates the overriding force of bad constitutional law over well-meaning legislation, such as the Racial Discrimination Act.

    There's just no doubt about it, Mr Wollemi, we have an emabarrassing racial consitution.

    Complain about this comment

  • 128. At 10:08am on 21 Apr 2009, budgiesmuggler wrote:

    I grew up in the country where EVERYONE was Anglo saxon, including every student in my 1000+ high school. Were people racist? Yes, probably a little bit. But it wasn't too bad because we had no one to be racist towards.

    When I go back there now I see a distinct change in people's attitudes. This has come in part due to increased immigration, so there are now non anglo families living in the area who are included and welcomed into the local community. Its also in part to travel, as country people head to Asia more frequently for their travels. So I really do think things are changing for the better.

    Now my friends tell me I'm the only Australian they know who has all their parents and grandparents born in Australia.

    In terms of treatment of aboriginal people - yes, wrongs have been committed in the past, but I think all governments now are genuinely trying to help. However I think it needs to be recognised that aboriginal people are in all parts of Australian society, from those that are fully integrated to those who still live traditionally, this means it is difficult to target specific polices. Some live in remote areas which means providing education and health care is difficult.

    In terms of justice system, governments are also looking at new ways to sentence aboriginal people so the punishment for crime is more targeted. This is having an effect. It is difficult to prosecute some aboriginal people for theft, when they have little notion of what ownership is (ie. having grown up in communal societies).

    My own legal history take on the situation is that when the Brits went to NZ, they could identify a "chief" in the Maori tribe, akin to a king, that they could negotiate with. Coming to Australia they could see no similar position, no buildings or other sort of society that they could recognise. Of course Aboriginal people had all this but it was communal and a different system to what they were used to. This led to terra nullius (ie. that Australia did not have people living there, Aboriginal people not being seen as people as having no civilisation). The Maoris on the other had got a legal treaty which enshrined their legal rights and gave them a basis for negotiation.

    In terms of the constitution - it also did not give women the vote,

    So I think we should also look to the progress that has been made and that how we are actively trying to improve things for the future.

    Complain about this comment

  • 129. At 10:25am on 21 Apr 2009, wollemi wrote:

    Just plain Wollemi, is fine T-Bear2, I'm female

    There is no easy way around this.
    Aboriginal people themselves in 1967 lobbied strongly for the Commonwealth Government to be given 'the race power' of Section 51 THe electorate supported them. In part it was that Aboriginal people wanted the Commonwealth Government to take over Aboriginal affairs from the states (particularly Queensland)

    So we are left with this seeming paradox that the Commonwealth Government cannot discriminate against a race (Racial Discrmination Act 1975) but can make laws for a race under the Constitution. The intent of this is to allow positive discrimination for Aboriginal people.

    I agree there is a risk in this and there is always going to be tension between these two when the Commonwealth Government enacts the race power but, without it Whitlam/Fraser would never have got land rights in the Northern Territory off the ground, Keating would never have had the power to initiate the Native Title Act, Then there was the Aboriginal Legal Service, cheap government housing loans...

    How else could it have been managed? I haven't heard of any Aboriginal people wanting section 51 repealed and it's only there for them now

    Complain about this comment

  • 130. At 11:04am on 21 Apr 2009, T-Bear2 wrote:

    Hi Wollemi,

    Here we go round the prickly pear at 4am in the morning ...

    No one doubts the good intentions and good works that you refer to but I (and many others) shrink at the idea of any government in any country having an express consitutional power to enact discriminatory laws aimed at particular racial groups. No other modern democracy has a constitutional power of the type which is legally unnecessary to the task of enacting social progressive laws aimed at assisting disadvantage minorities, such as certain aboriginal communities.

    Anyway, enough from me on this point. You are welcome to hold the opposite view.

    T-Bear2 is exhausted!

    Complain about this comment

  • 131. At 1:19pm on 21 Apr 2009, wollemi wrote:

    If you are still awake...

    You have to think historically about just how anomalous Australian colonisation was in 1788

    Other countries had treaties. Australia didn't. Under treaties, indigenous peoples in other similar countries - NZ, Canada, US - had rights to land. The treaties weren't always honoured, sure, but there was nevertheless an acceptance that these indigenous people owned the land before the newcomers arrived

    Australia had nothing like that. It was colonised as terra nullius with no Aboriginal legal right to land. So that was why it was so important the Commonwealth Government had a race power in 1067 - to have the power to return land which should really have been theirs anyhow under a (non existent) treaty. Hence the NT Land Rights and Native Title Act

    In its original meaning there is no need for that part of section 51 in the Constitution after White Australia ended in 1973. It's a relic from 1901. The only reason for keeping it is that it was given a completely different meaning in 1967 and gives the Commonwealth Government the power for positive discrimination wrt Aboriginal people. If they don't want it any longer then we can get rid of it at another referendum


    Australian women did get the vote at Federation and were already voting in SA and WA in the 1890s

    Terra nullius probably resulted from Aboriginal people not having agriculture (unlike Maori) To 18th Century Europeans agriculture implied ownership of the land. It was a Colonial Office cock up.

    Perhaps the next blog, Nick, could be on who invented the pavlova. That should create a Trans Tasman stoush

    Complain about this comment

  • 132. At 10:24pm on 21 Apr 2009, boils wrote:


    Nice comments about racism in Europe and Asia and of course they are most likely true even if perception is also at play too. The difference is they aren't legally enforced like the constitution and continue to run through broken communities today.

    'Albert Namatjira, Ernie Dingo, Lionel Rose, Cathy Freeman, Nova Peris Kneebone
    Michael Long, Gavin Wanganeen. I assume you know most, if not all of them. These are they people I take my hat off too, they have taken the opportunities that were handed to them'

    I think they would argue they most the most of opportunities they created (rather than handed to them) like any good Aussie would say.

    The fact that this debate has run on and on and most people on here are a sensible, thoughtful bunch says its own story. Its a debate that runs on and on between my Aussie mates too.

    Complain about this comment

  • 133. At 11:26pm on 21 Apr 2009, wollemi wrote:

    i think the problem here is that people don't know just just how aberrant the colonisation history of Australia was compared to eg Canada NZ and the US. Particularly to do with indigenous rights to land

    Britain was an extremely delinquent colonial power wrt to Aboriginal Australia
    Terra nullius came on the First Fleet. Aboriginal people did not have any rights to land, Zilch. They were then put in a Catch 22 situation as London regarded them as British subjects. They were expected to use the courts for any disputes (which were chiefly over land). However they could not give evidence as they were deemed not to understand the rules of evidence.
    So the outcome was that they had no indigenous rights to land, no treatries like Canada, NZ and the US, and could not use the system set up as British subjects. The frontier conflict in Australia - which was initially between British troops and Aboriginal people - was treated by London as a civil conflict involving British subjects

    There were attempts to challenge these land rights in the 1830s which failed Federation in 1901 should also have sorted this out but failed to address the issue.
    THe 1960s ( beginning in 1958) was the time to insert the potential for an Aboriginal right into the Constitution via section 51. At the time of the referendum in 1967, no one knew what this race power given to the Commonwealth Government would mean. It was subsequently used to return land. something that should have happened in 1788

    There must be a problem with the British education system. When did Imperial history drop off the school curriculum?

    Complain about this comment

  • 134. At 00:33am on 22 Apr 2009, AustGirl wrote:

    Dont forget Stan Grant - CNN and also in past local tv presenter. He Aboriginal also.

    Complain about this comment

  • 135. At 07:51am on 22 Apr 2009, londonOz wrote:

    Boils, "opportunities handed to them" may have been the wrong choice of words by myself. Maybe "opportunities presented to them" would have been a better way of putting it? And yes, you could also say opportunities they created. The whole point was that they could of turned the other way, blamed others for how their lives were or had been like in the past because of how there ancestors were treated but they didn't, they made a go of it.

    You are correct in saying that this argument/debate could go on for quite sometime. Racism and racial issues aren't, i don't think, as clear cut as some people would like to believe. If you look back at one of my points earlier, I asked should I be classed as a racist because I called someone a Leb or a Paki? It seems some believe I would be but to me, its only an abbreviation of Lebanese and Pakistani, the same as I am an Aussie.

    My last point before I leave this debate is this. And this is my personal view so I others may not agree. Alot of so called "Racism" ,to me, comes from people just wanted it to be known they have been victimised or racially slurred. Why should an individual really be bothered by what a total stranger might say to them about where they come from or the colour of their skin? If your lack of self confidence, or whatever it may be, allows you to be offended by someone elses meaningless words, then I think it may be you that has the problem.

    p.s I thought this website was British, not American. I say this because when typing the word 'colour' it is flagged up as a spelling mistake! Opps, I hope that wasn't racist. Hehe :-)

    Complain about this comment

  • 136. At 08:31am on 22 Apr 2009, chrisonthego wrote:

    Robert (#28)

    Being from Brisbane, and having spent several years living in Europe (currently Germany), I find it interesting that based on an encounter with one person in a city of 1.2 million, in a country of 20 million that you are so easily put off. This is the kind of encounter one could have anywhere, at almost anytime. If this would put you off an entire country then I suspect you won't be travelling much further than your front door from now on.

    Complain about this comment

  • 137. At 11:09am on 22 Apr 2009, budgiesmuggler wrote:

    Wollemi - it was the Francise Act 1902 (Cth) that gave women the vote. So short after Federation.

    Complain about this comment

  • 138. At 2:18pm on 22 Apr 2009, TrnOvrANwLeaf wrote:

    I hope this entry is still a live thread.

    This topic on race is very close to my heart as my family originated from Hong Kong so I'm not a White Australian. But I'm an Australian.

    I grew up in both Hong Kong and here in Australia and have spent a little more than 8 years in Hong Kong. Hong Kong, being a somewhat less multicultural society, never made me become aware of the phenomenon of racism the way Australia has.

    Although I have been lucky enough to experience only scarce encounters of in-your-face racism, at times I do find myself being treated differently than my Caucasian peers. Those are the times which I dread most. It confronts my sense of belonging. It makes me feel despised just for being me, for something that I cannot change, not that I am ashamed of who I am. I just can't understand why anyone would think of me as any less of a human being because of my colour.

    Don't get me wrong. I have met so many wonderful people(my best friends) and sometimes factors such as family influences, educational attainment and geographical demographics (rural vs urban) do play a role. I think it is the minority, those who believe they are more of a human being than others, who are eroding the best of Australian values, the idea of everyone have a fair go. In that respect, I am more Aussie than they are. No doubt.

    Complain about this comment

  • 139. At 2:37pm on 22 Apr 2009, TrnOvrANwLeaf wrote:

    lochraven #44

    FYI, if we were separate species, Obama would be infertile.

    Scientists have discovered that there is no single gene that distinguishes one race from another. We are all descendants from people in Africa and have been mobile and mixing genes ever since. Human beings haven't been around that long to evolve into species, nor do the human condition permit this.

    Complain about this comment

  • 140. At 12:57pm on 23 Apr 2009, MostonHead wrote:

    I think its duisgusting these white immigrants are trying to justify why they are racists in an aboriginal country! i say get them out or get every white aussie to learn aboriginal customs before they start turning others away from their borders!

    Complain about this comment

  • 141. At 01:03am on 24 Apr 2009, prettyjust-us wrote:

    We are here in australia for about 3 month, and we don't really agree with the impression that australia is racistic. of course we know every country has rasistic people, but you cannot judge a whole country because of those people.

    Complain about this comment

  • 142. At 01:11am on 24 Apr 2009, mostyn23 wrote:

    I've been in Australia for two months now, as a foreigner I haven't experienced any kind of racism. Im staying in a popular tourist city however, so the locals are used to, and open to foreign people. Its hard to give an overall opinion whether or not Australia is a racist country. From what I know on a local level, its not.

    Complain about this comment

  • 143. At 01:14am on 24 Apr 2009, alphoei wrote:

    yeah, my personal meaning about the topic is, that australia is not racistic. but to be honest, i'm here since 5 weeks now and i think, that i'm not really capable to make a general judgment about it. i only can admitt, that i've never seen a situation or been part of one, when australian people were racistic. they seemed always very relaxed and as they don't care very much about different skin coloures or different races. in the future time of my stay here, i will see if my opinion changes or if i will go back with a positive attitude about down under.

    Complain about this comment

  • 144. At 01:16am on 24 Apr 2009, fabrizio1969 wrote:

    Hey guys, I'm here since the 1st of December, in my opinion Aussie people are very friendly, open-minded and hospitable, I like your land and your culture. As a foreign I respect your Social Cultural Rules as everybody should do that's for me an education matter! Afterthat, for sure, in Australia like in every contry of the world racism exists, that's unfortunately human nature!

    Complain about this comment

  • 145. At 01:17am on 24 Apr 2009, supacamille wrote:

    Im french and i have been living in australia for 7 month . to be honest , i dont have a vision of australia as racist , in fact i think if one country is submerged by racist people i dont think we will be so much people from so different nationalities to come live in australia . however i noticed that australia is really communautarist , i mean there isnt a big mix of nationalities when its question to live together but finally isnt it like that all over the world since the begining ?! . the only fact than people can see as an act of racism is how is the situation with arborigen people but if think its more as imcomprehension from both part which will need much more than an apologize and some money or house or whatever but rather heaps of discussion and time between arboriginal and government or arboriginal and white population .
    but as i said i have been living here for a few month ...

    Complain about this comment

  • 146. At 04:56am on 24 Apr 2009, TrnOvrANwLeaf wrote:

    I think Australia is more tolerant than most other countries in that there is virtually no 'racism' based on nationality, but ethnicity-based racism do exist.

    Complain about this comment

  • 147. At 1:54pm on 25 Apr 2009, cookiechopra wrote:

    Australia is the last bastion of wasp racism. It has come a long way since my first visit in 1967, but it still has an even long way to go before it cleans up its act to the level of what Canada has done in the same period. In 1967 immigrants from erstwhile Yugoslavia were isolated in small camps their work comprised doling out food to students in University canteens. Immigrants from India (Anglo Indians) were screened on the basis of their relative "whiteness". Even today all they want from non wasps is their money and labor, while pretending that they don't exist.

    Complain about this comment

  • 148. At 4:58pm on 25 Apr 2009, TrnOvrANwLeaf wrote:

    #104 sydneycynic

    This is the correct definition of racism. Note the essential qualification of 'by nature'.

    1. The belief that human races have distinctive characteristics which determine their respective cultures, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule or dominate others.

    2. Offensive or aggressive behaviour to members of another race stemming from such a belief.

    3. A policy or system of government based on it.

    Complain about this comment

  • 149. At 5:01pm on 25 Apr 2009, TrnOvrANwLeaf wrote:

    I forgot to mention that I sourced the above definition from The Macquarie Concise Dictionary.

    Complain about this comment

  • 150. At 9:10pm on 25 Apr 2009, beastflow wrote:

    I think it would be very informative when discussing racism to define what is meant by the term. People often have conflicting ideas of racism and, as such, it's important to define. The most common dictionary definition is essentially, "The belief that genetics determining skin colour correlate with genetics that underpin intelligence, behaviour or personality".

    My own views on the matter of Australia are:

    Yes, some people in Australia are racists (given the definition I have provided). However, when talking about any issue it's important to have a sense of proportion on the matter. In this regard I don't think it's useful to criticise Australia for falling short of some engimatic and impractical utopian world in which racism is presumed to have been eradicated.

    Instead, it's far more practical to way up, in practical terms, the choices and fates that people face in everyday life when moving to a new community or country. In this light the important question to ask is: to what extent do government policies provide a platform for people to integrate and to voice their concerns in any given country? And, how does this compare from one country to the next?

    The irony, by my observation, is that those countries that have the most progressive legislation for voicing concerns over racism are those countries which paradoxically receive the most blame for racist policies.

    To illustrate my point: A friend of mine, who works in Qatar, was shocked to discover upon his arrival that the name for "slave" and "black" were the same. The hurt that this term may cause black people was not a topic of discussion within the native community of Qatar, despite the fact that there is just as strong a legacy of slavery there as in the Western world (In fact, the history in Qatar and many other arab countries is significantly more brutal than that of the West: Slaves were castrated upon arrival to insure that their genes did not pollute the native pool - which is why there is no black population in Arab states). Qatarian society does not tolerate debate about such matters and neither does the legal and political framework. The result is that nobody complains about racism or discrimination or prejudice because neither the populace nor the political system will tolerate it.

    To labout the point: migrant labourers in Qatar are housed in ghettos and are not eligible for passports. They are there to work, and after they have worked they are expected to return home. There are no avenues to combat this and no media or lobby groups to represent their cause.

    This situation is not unique to Qatar and, indeed, the majority of countries (particularly in the middle east) have social and political systems that bare significant similarity to the Qatari one.

    The very fact that allegations can be made in Australia about racism, and the very fact that people listen and debate topics concerning human rights is reason to believe that, on balance, racism is a minor issue in Australia compared to many other countries, paticularly those in the middle east where many of the migrant communities are escaping from.

    Unfortunately, and frequently, all sense of proportion, context and history is lost when debating this topic. The result is frequently a hysterical comparison of western liberal democracies with utopian standards which, almost by definition, can never be reached.

    Complain about this comment

  • 151. At 01:32am on 28 Apr 2009, friendlycharni wrote:

    I just spent my first ever week in Australia (I'm from New Zealand),speaking as a completely ignorant outsider the only time I thought I suspected racism was in the angry works and comments of fashionable aborigine contempory artists (I'm not saying I can't identify with them, from my youth as an anarchist especially).

    Anyone of any culture is potentially racist, 100 years ago the orthodoxy was that if your race was the conquerer/ colonialist you were unquestionably superior, today the orthodoxy invariably is that "indigeonous" people are victims, hence morally superior (in particular).

    The origin of this ideology is well intended, the indigeonous people seem to have low self-esteem lets raise it. The top psychologist on good and evil, R Baumeister has bravely pointed out that such projects can produce dangerously elevated self-esteem or narcissism whether racial of based on some other trait. Life is never simple!

    High paid, cloistered policy-akers around the world don't even seem to be aware excessively high self-esteem is possible, I wonder why!

    Complain about this comment

View these comments in RSS


Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.