Australia: Politicians warned not to generalise migrants in final push for multicultural seats

Same applies in Canada with the exception of the more complicated Australian voting system:

Australia’s culturally diverse electorates are set to play a key role in determining the outcome of the 2019 federal election on Saturday.

That’s because they are often the most marginal seats, with candidates forced to pay particular attention to language barriers, and a wide range of issues important to migrant communities.

The 10 most marginal of the more multicultural seats, based on languages spoken at home, are all in New South Wales and Victoria.

Six are held by Labor, while the Liberals held four but lost Chisholm when Julia Banks defected and is now running as an independent candidate.

To try and tap into culturally diverse communities, politicians from both sides have had campaign posters and how to vote cards translated into different languages and lobbied Chinese Australians on WhatsApp.

They have also lobbied hard for cultural and religious leaders to back them.

But with Australia home to 300 different ethnic groups, it can often be hard for politicians to get traction on issues specific to the different backgrounds, say academics and those working with migrant groups.

“It’s very difficult because there’s great differentiation among and within migrant communities in Australia,” Jayana Nadarajalingam from the University of Melbourne’s School of Government said.

“And this differentiation is across many different interrelated dimensions, such as race, culture, religion, language, class, just to name a few.”

Ms Nadarajalingam told SBS News it was important to remember issues and concerns also change with time and across generations.

“For these reasons, unless politicians properly consult members of migrant communities and ensure that the consultation is a two-way process, it would be near impossible for them to properly ascertain the complexities of the issues migrant communities face.”

With almost half of Australians having at least one parent born overseas, Ms Nadarajalingam said there have been concerns about politicians and media outlets risking generalising the issues facing people from migrant backgrounds.

“Not all of these issues are internal to Australia and their lives in Australia. Many also have concerns that are to do with ties that they have to countries that they left or in many cases fled,” she said.

“There are some generalisations that you can draw, but because we live in a complex society and there’s economic institutions, social institutions that have to navigate, I think there’s great differentiation, within specific migrant communities and also across them.

“We have to be careful about not being too broad-brushed about how we perceive migrant communities and voting patterns.”

Conservative leanings

Even if there are common issues that many members of migrant communities face, the way they might want to respond may be different. This stands in general contrast to the 2017 same-sex marriage survey, which illustrated how conservative the multicultural vote can be.

The result was a clear ‘yes’ victory but 12 of the 17 seats that voted against same-sex marriage were diverse ones, in Sydney’s west.

Could those more conservative views see left-leaning seats swing to the right in the federal election though? Ariadne Vromen from the University of Sydney says it is unlikely.

“The marriage equality plebiscite was kind of a distinct event,” the professor of political sociology told SBS News.

“It’s true that in western Sydney they were more likely to vote no in those particular electorates. Whether or not that translates into a conservative vote for the Coalition will depend on how campaigning happens in those areas. But those are pretty safe Labor seats.”

‘Proud’ to be voting

The 18 May poll marks the first time 18-year-old fashion student Geraldine Kaburakikuyu will be allowed to vote. It’s the first time for her family too after they migrated from Kenya in 2010.

The issues that Geraldine says will sway her vote, though, are different from her mother’s.

“Probably education and public transport,” she told SBS News.

“Just because I got to uni and always catch the public transport. That’s probably what affects me most, but I feel like for my mum it’s more about housing.”

Geraldine says she is proud to cast her ballot, a feeling shared in her suburb of Mortdale in south-west Sydney, by other overseas-born voters.

“I feel good considering everywhere election is a big issue, and most people don’t enjoy the privilege. So I’m pretty lucky to be here in this country,” said one voter who migrated to Australia from Malaysia more than 50 years ago.

Temporary resident Tehmoor Rasheed says he’s passionate about Australian politics. And says he dreams for the day when he’ll get to vote here.

“Every vote counts,” Mr Rasheed said.

“Nowadays democracy comes from every vote, so of course I will be really happy whenever I will be eligible to vote.”

‘Most confusing electoral system’

But according to Dr Jill Sheppard, a politics lecturer at the Australian National University, voting can prove a difficult process for many migrants.

“We have about the most confusing electoral system in the world, so for a lot of people if you’re not from an English speaking background, or if you’re not very literate in Australian politics, voting in Australian elections can be a bit of a nightmare,” she said.

And Professor Vromen believes there’s another issue yet to be fully addressed by the major parties – and that’s a lack of diversity in political candidates. She says this could hinder many migrant’s chances to connect with the parties vying for their vote.

“There are very few politicians from diverse cultural backgrounds in Australian politics, and that’s what we kind of need to focus on more into the future, that younger communities do see themselves reflected within our politics.”

Dr Sheppard agrees.

“The Anglo vote, the native Australian-born vote, is still very very strong, and we have research for instance from Australia that they don’t really like ethnic minority candidates,” she said.

“As long as there’s still that overwhelming Anglo-Australian vote, they will continue to demand candidates that look like them and it is increasingly hard for ethnic minority voters to find candidates who will represent them culturally.

Source: Politicians warned not to generalise migrants in final push for multicultural seats

Australia: Foreign-born voters and their families helped elect Turnbull in 2016. Can they save ScoMo?

Interesting overview of the upcoming Australian election and ethnic votes. Some similarities to Canada but with greater polarization and more extreme views:

At the 2016 federal election, a small but significant vote cast by foreign-born Australians and their families helped elect the Liberal Party. The voters backed conservative minor parties in typically Labor-leaning electorates, and their preferences flowed to the Liberals.

Electoral pundits made little of this phenomenon at the time, and the media were not particularly interested. But in the wake of a similar voting pattern in the same-sex marriage plebiscite in 2017, the search is now on to find the elusive “ethnic vote”.

Who are these voters and where do they live?

The two largest collectives of non-English speaking groups are Chinese-Australians, and people from the Indian subcontinent including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. These “ethnic groups” are already multicultural, multilingual and politically diverse.

Pockets of Chinese-Australians concentrated in key swing seats in NSW and Victoria were mainly responsible for the surprise outcomes in 2016. That included Reid, Banks and Barton in NSW and Chisholm in Victoria. Three of the four went to the Liberals, but on demographic grounds and political trends at the time, all could have been delivered to Labor. (While Barton stayed Labor, the swing to the Liberals was significant.)

In 2019, we could see a similar pattern emerge in these seats again, as well as in Moreton in QLD, Hotham in Victoria, and Parramatta, Greenway and Bennelong in NSW.

Australia has over 300 ancestries, 100 religions and 300 languages, so invoking a category like “ethnic” does not lead in a particular direction – especially given the divisions and diversity within cultural groups and language communities.

And this population diversity has been shifting as newer groups have accelerated their presence, and older groups have passed on. The foreign-born population now have a growing number of Australian-born children, although many may not yet be able to vote.

How are the parties targeting them?

The main ethnic communities lobby group, the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA), has produced a policy wish-list and is seeking responses from the parties.

Among the majors, only the Greens have a clearly articulated multicultural policy, having put a proposal for a Multiculturalism Act with subsequent implementation and rights machinery to the Senate over a year ago.

The ALP still sits on its hands on the legislative option, possibly fearing that supporting such a move might trigger negative reactions from the working class and more racist voters.

Their policy now includes a “body” named Multicultural Australia, with a string of commissioners across the country. It will probably come under Tony Burke as Minister, focusing on citizenship and access issues. In this, it is a variant on the 1990s Office of Multicultural Affairs. This was once part of the Hawke/Keating prime minister’s office but was abolished by John Howard as soon as he could.

Labor has committed more funds for community language schools and criticised delays in processing citizenship applications, as well as the high level of English required to pass the test. Former Senator Sam Dastyari has argued that opening up parental reunion is a major offer to a range of ethnic groups needing older family members to do caring work. This move, as one of this author’s informants, said, would really “win the Desi’s heart”, and probably many other ethnic groups as well. The idea has prompted a hostile response from the Coalition.

While Liberal leader Scott Morrison reiterates the old Turnbull mantra of Australia being the most successful multicultural country, the government’s lacklustre Multicultural Advisory Council no longer seems to have a web presence other than one which promotes integration and Australian values.

The Liberals propose a system of aged care “navigators” to help people with limited English survive the aged care system, while also injecting funds into start-up businesses run by migrants.

Conservative think-tank the Institute for Public Affairs retains as its second policy demand of any Liberal government that Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act be abolished. The Liberals took this into 2013 and 2016; Morrison has said it’s not on for 2019, though the right of the party is still committed.

What role will they play in the election?

Ethnic communities are not necessarily either cohesive or unanimous in their political viewpoints unless something particularly touches on their “ethnicity”.

The recent anti-Chinese sentiment reflected in media headlines about the alleged corruption of Australian political parties by wealthy Chinese residents may be doing that among Chinese communities. Many Australian Chinese think that Labor is much more sensitive to these issues than the Coalition, and Liberal Party Chinese figures have voiced these concerns in public gatherings.

Although they can be very interested and involved in politics, Chinese Australians have tended to hold back from active political engagement in the past. Indians, by contrast, bring some knowledge of English and, coming from a Westminster democratic system, tend to be more directly engaged – as party members for example. The Greens are particularly open to south Asian members; so, it seems, is the Christian Democratic Party (CDP).

While there are many conservative and religious parties across the country, only NSW has the CDP. It’s offering a “multicultural” array of candidates and directing preferences to the Liberals. The party was key in funnelling support from East Asian intensive electorates in 2016.

After unsuccessful discussions over a number of elections as to whether a socially conservative alliance might be formed between Muslims and Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Daoist and non-religious groups, something like the alliance appears to have been launched in Sydney. Reportedly “targeting Labor seats that had a high no vote in the same-sex marriage survey”, it could put some further some punch behind the Christian Democratic Party even though it’s not directly affiliated. The CDP is also targeting the Pacific communities in its campaign of support for Christian footballer Israel Folau.

Meanwhile, parties of the far right are competing to present their anti-multicultural agendas. In Lindsay, neo-Nazi Jim Saleam represents the Australia First Party, while across the country, right-leaning parties tussle for the xenophobic vote. That includes Rise Up Australia, Shooters Farmers and Fishers, Australian Conservatives, Australian National Conservatives, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and United Australia Party.

Although these parties may preference the Coalition, they may prove to be one force that drives ethnic communities towards the ALP.

Election day and beyond

Election day will provide the proof for many of the claims about ethnicity, voting, influence and ideology. It’s highly likely that the senators elected from the right will run a unity ticket against multiculturalism in the new Senate.

This year may well prove the last flash of a mainly White Australian election, with its defenders doubling down on the right, while the centre takes on a multi-coloured hue, and the left is ever more rainbow. A lot of the knowledge that we may glean from the election process will only be learned in its aftermath, picking through small details and trying to form a pattern of explanation.

It has taken the Australian public sphere the best part of three years to work out what happened with cultural diversity and its complexities in 2016. We may well have just as long to wait this time around.

Source: Foreign-born voters and their families helped elect Turnbull in 2016. Can they save ScoMo?

Australia: High court to rule on whether Indigenous people can be deported from Australia

Can’t resist following this absurd argumentation by the Australian government:

The federal government’s attempts to deport two Indigenous men have gone before the high court, examining what lawyers for the two men have said are “absurd” circumstances.

The two men in the separate cases, Daniel Love and Brendan Thoms, were both born overseas to at least one parent who is Indigenous and holds Australian citizenship. They both have Indigenous children, and Thoms is a native title holder.

However, neither formally applied for Australia citizenship and, after being convicted of “serious” crimes and given jail sentences of 12 months or more, both had their visas cancelled under the government’s controversial character test provisions.

The law firm Maurice Blackburn is now asking the high court to determine if an Aboriginal Australian in the men’s circumstances is an “alien” for the purposes of the constitution.

It is the first time the court has been asked to rule on the commonwealth’s use of its alien powers in this way, and the lawyers now representing the two men argue the term must be defined by the court, not parliament.

“Historically we are a nation of immigrants and our ancestors come from other places, except for Aboriginal Australians,” said Claire Gibbs, senior associate at Maurice Blackburn, who is acting for the two men, before the hearing. “The importance and significance of that should be reflected in the common law.”

Love and Thoms are not the only Indigenous people who have faced deportation under the character test provisions. Guardian Australia has previously reported on the case of Tim Galvin, and it is believed there are a number of others.

Love was born in Papua New Guineain 1979 to a PNG citizen mother and Australian citizen father, and automatically acquired PNG citizenship.

The family travelled back and forth until they settled permanently in Australia when Love was five and he was given a permanent residency visa. Love is a recognised Kamilaroi man.

Thoms was born in New Zealand in 1988 to an Australian citizen mother and New Zealand citizen father. He automatically acquired New Zealand citizenship at birth, and was entitled to apply for Australian citizenship, but never did.

He has lived permanently in Australia since November 1994 under a special category visa. Thoms is a recognised Gunggari man, and a native title holder under common law.

In 2018 both men were separately convicted of crimes and sentenced to 12 and 18 months respectively. Both had their visas cancelled under the government’s controversial section 501 of the migration act, relating to character, and were taken to immigration detention.

Gibbs said being put in immigration detention had taken a devastating toll on her clients’ mental health. Gibbs said bringing the case before the court was not seeking to interfere with the government’s power to deport people who were “genuinely non-Australian”.

“What we think is wrong is the government using the power to detain and deport people who, on any commonsense measure, are Australians, like my clients.”

Love was given his visa back under ministerial discretion but Thoms remains in immigration detention after more than seven months.

Gibbs welcomed the return of Love’s visa but said there there were clearly “inconsistencies” between the two cases and that was why the high court needed to determine if the government was using the power lawfully.

In submissions to the court, the men’s lawyers argued that Indigenous people “cannot be alien to Australia” and were “beyond the reach” of that constitutional power.

Indigenous people are known to have inhabited Australia for as much as 80,000 years and are “a permanent part of the Australian community”, they said, and the two men “do not, and have never, owed allegiance to a foreign sovereign power”.

“The statutory definition of citizen is distinct from, and does not control, the constitutional definition of alien and, therefore, that the plaintiffs are not Australian citizens pursuant to Australian citizenship legislation does not automatically mean that they are aliens.”

In defence, the Australian government submitted that whether the men were Indigenous or native title holders was “irrelevant” to the question of their alien status.

“Acceptance of the proposition that Aboriginal people, as a class, were not and are not ‘aliens’ does not entail the proposition that any particular Aboriginal person is not an ‘alien’,” the government’s submission said.

It said certain principles, which were “fatal” to the plaintiffs’ case, “ought now to be regarded as settled”. They said it was an agreed fact that neither plaintiff was a citizen, and “non-citizen” was the same as “alien”.

Numerous cases supported these findings, the submission said, and the plaintiffs had not sought to reopen those cases.

Legal arguments began on Wednesday, with the government citing the high court’s section 44 ruling on MPs, and the men’s lawyers citing significant cases including the Mabo decision, and the high court ruling on Amos Ame, a Papua-born man who was an Australian citizen by birth but who could be treated as an alien.

The government’s push to deport an increasing number of people under the character test provisions has raised numerous complications, including for Indigenous people and those born in PNG before its independence in 1975.

A complex web of citizenship laws and successive changes to them in both PNG and Australia has threatened to leave some people stateless, as both countries assumed people had citizenship of the other and revoked their own, but failed to properly communicate it to individuals.

Source: High court to rule on whether Indigenous people can be deported from Australia

Muslim Australians found to suffer the ‘most disturbing’ experiences in public among all faiths

Not surprising and not unique to Australia:

A four-year study into faith communities in Australia and the UK has found Muslims experience acts of violence on an individual basis like no other religious adherents, leading to calls for better early education in religious awareness.

Key points:

  • The Interfaith Childhoods project has already spoken to 340 people from religious communities in six cities across Australia, Great Britain
  • The lead researcher has found difficulties of religious life in Australia is felt most strongly by Muslim women
  • The study will form the basis of a large-scale public art program discussing social values in relation to different faiths in young children

In the midst of conducting her research, RMIT University’s Professor Anna Hickey-Moody said she was disturbed when she heard the experiences of Muslim Australians, prompting her to lead the call.

“The mosque [where] I spent most of the week in Adelaide has had young men, white men, driving around the mosque in a car with the windows rolled down pretending to shoot it. I mean, that’s terrifying,” she said.

Since 2016, 340 people from religious communities have been interviewed in six cities across Australia and Great Britain for the Interfaith Childhoods project.

They included lower socio-economic communities in Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, London and Manchester.

Professor Hickey-Moody brought together children and their parents, asking the children to create art about their identities and then interviewing their parents in-depth about their experiences of living in Australia.

Ending in 2020 and funded by the Australian Research Council, it will be the first Australian study to create a large-scale public art program discussing social values in relation to different faiths in young children.

“One child in south-east London drew a globe where he pinned where he began, as in where he was born in Somalia, and then the flight around the world and the different places where he’s been and where he ended up. It was his story of home,” Professor Hickey-Moody said.

But it was when she interviewed the parents, particularly the Muslim women, when she heard the full extent of difficulties of religious life in Australia.

a child painting of a mosque in a city landscape “She was talking about how complicated that is to experience as a mother. She wants her daughter to have a religious life, but she’s also scared to teach her daughter a way of life that might allow her to be vulnerable.

“One story that stuck in my head … [a woman] and her sister were in town in Adelaide and they saw an older woman that was struggling with her walking frame and they went to try and help her because they realised she wasn’t going to make it across the lights.

“When they got to the walking frame to try and help her, she looked at them with this visceral hate and said ‘get your hands of me you bitches, I’m just coming for you, I’m coming to tell you to get back where you came from’.

“Her sister burst into tears because she was so shocked, and she [the older woman] burst into laughter.”

Adelaide seen to be the most unaccepting city

Across all of the cities involved in the project, the researchers found stories from Adelaide to be the most distressing.

“It has a less multicultural community, it’s a less international community, and I think there’s not the kind of cosmopolitan consciousness that requires understanding social difference,” Professor Hickey-Moody said.

One Muslim woman in the Adelaide focus group burst into tears as she recalled the moment another women came right up to her face and yelled at her to “get out of here”.

Source: Muslim Australians found to suffer the ‘most disturbing’ experiences in public among all faiths

Populists Are Dragging Australian Politics to the Right

Too early to say whether Bernier’s PPC will have a similar impact on the Conservatives:

In the crucial Australian state of Queensland, Arthur Plate says he’ll turn his back on mainstream politics when he steps into the ballot box later this month. Instead, the retired miner will pick between a pair of right-wing populists.

The major parties have lost touch and are just out to “line their own pockets,” said the 76-year-old, taking refuge from the searing 100-degree Fahrenheit heat in Clermont, a small mining and farming community.

It’s a refrain heard frequently in the district — one of a handful of closely-held constituencies across the northeastern state that Prime Minister Scott Morrison must retain to stop the left-leaning Labor party from ousting his center-right Liberal-National coalition.

The growing tide of support for populist, single-issue parties in Australia has already reshaped the political landscape, dragging both Labor and the coalition further to the right over the past two decades. Voters like Plate could prove decisive in determining the outcome of the May 18 election, and affect the next government’s ability to pass laws, ranging from proposed tax cuts to curbing greenhouse-gas emissions.

“Right-wing populists have taken advantage of major parties’ failure to come up with policies that appeal to white voters on low incomes who aspire to the middle-class but feel they’ve missed out due to negative impacts from globalization and multiculturalism,” said Jo Coghlan, a lecturer at the University of New England and co-author of The Rise of Right-Populism.

Queensland has long been a solid base for Morrison’s coalition, which currently has 21 of the socially conservative state’s 30 seats. But eight of those are held by a margin of less than 4 percent, making them key targets for Labor. The main opposition party is leading in opinion polls and favorite to win office.

But it’s not just a two-way fight between the coalition and Labor. The state is also home to the strongest populist forces in Australian politics — the anti-Muslim immigration party One Nation led by Pauline Hanson, and mining magnate Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party.

Hanson and Palmer are both tapping into disaffection among voters who feel left behind despite almost 28 years of uninterrupted economic growth. While recent scandals have seen support for One Nation slip, a Newspoll released on Monday showed support for Palmer’s party more than doubled in the past month to 5 percent.

Adding to the Morrison’s problems is that regional voters are becoming increasingly disenchanted with his junior coalition partner, the Nationals. The rural-based party has been damaged by infighting and disquiet over its support for coal-mining interests on agricultural land.

While Hanson and Palmer are unlikely to win lower house seats, the pair may take spots in the Senate and together with other fringe groups hold the balance of power in the upper house — giving them crucial influence over the legislative agenda.

Populists and single-issue parties have frequently wielded such power in the Senate, with One Nation and other minor parties in August banding together to kill off planned company tax cuts. In February, four independents helped pass a bill against the government’s wishes enabling better medical care for asylum seekers kept offshore.

Hanson, a former fish-and-chip shop owner, rose to prominence in the 1990s with her outspoken attacks on Asian immigration. While she served less than three years in the lower house before her party collapsed, she left an indelible mark on politics as she shaped the immigration debate and dragged both Labor and the coalition to the right.

That’s created bi-partisan support for the nation’s controversial system of transferring asylum seekers arriving by boat to Pacific island camps, with no right to be settled in Australia — a policy opposed by the United Nations and human-rights groups.

The 64-year-old returned to parliament, this time in the Senate, in 2016 and campaigns against Muslim immigration, multiculturalism and free trade. She has another three years before she has to re-contest her seat.

Her party’s brand in this election has been tarnished by revelations One Nation officials last year sought cash donations from the National Rifle Association in the U.S. in exchange for a pledge to help water down Australia’s gun-restriction laws.

Despite winning four upper house seats in 2016, One Nation is now down to two Senate seats due to defections. The party has often under-performed at the ballot box and polls show support may be bleeding away to Palmer’s United Australia Party.

Palmer, 65, is self-funding a $30 million advertising blitz for his party. Hundreds of yellow “Make Australia Great”billboards have popped up across the country, while advertisements have flooded television screens. His thinly articulated manifesto includes cutting taxes and warning that the Chinese government plans a “clandestine takeover of our country.”

Like Hanson, his first foray into politics imploded. He served just one term in the lower house from 2013 to 2016, and two of his three senators in the then Palmer United Party defected. He’s also now embroiled in legal action brought by the government over the collapse of his Queensland Nickel project that left hundreds of workers unpaid.

Nevertheless, Palmer is gaining enough traction for Morrison to take him seriously. The billionaire announced a deal this week that will see the coalition and United Australia back each other’s candidates on how-to-vote cards. That could prove decisive if Morrison continues to close the gap with Labor. The deal may also help catapult Palmer into the Senate.

Australia’s upper house was branded the home of “unrepresentative swill” in 1992 by then-Prime Minister Paul Keating. The most notorious recent example of a fringe populist winning a Senate seat is Fraser Anning, an independent who defected from One Nation. He’s riled mainstream lawmakers by claiming he wants a “final solution” to Australia’s “immigration problem” and blaming New Zealand’s mosque massacre on the nation’s intake of “Muslim fanatics.” Polls show he’s unlikely to retain his Senate seat this month.

If Palmer does win an upper house seat, he’s unlikely to form a voting bloc with One Nation. He and Hanson have often criticized each others’ policies and personalities.

Compared with the populist sentiment that swept Donald Trump to power in the U.S. or delivered the Brexit referendum in the U.K., the power of fringe parties remains muted in Australia by a lack of organizational skill and competence, according to University of New England’s Coghlan.

But their influence remains pervasive.

“The faces in right-wing populism may come and go,” she said. “But the changes they’ve made to Australia’s social agenda seems permanent.”

Source: Populists Are Dragging Australian Politics to the Right

Australia High Court to Decide if Aboriginals Without Citizenship Can Be Deported

Odd case for the Australian government to be defending:

Australia, a country taken over by white colonizers after the Black indigenous population had lived there for 65,000 years, will now determine if Aboriginal people without Australian citizenship are aliens who are subject to deportation.

There is a case before the High Court of Australia that will establish whether an indigenous person can be considered an alien under the nation’s constitution. Two men, Daniel Love and Brendan Thoms, have filed a lawsuit in which the court will determine whether an Aboriginal Australian with at least one Australian parent — one who was born in another country, came to Australia as a young child and has only left the country briefly — and is not an Australian citizen is an alien under section 51 (xix) of the Australian Constitution. That section allows the Parliament to enact laws concerning “naturalization and aliens.”

The answer the plaintiffs have gotten is no. “For descendants of Australia’s first peoples, an indelible part of the Australian community, to be ‘aliens’ for the purposes of Australia’s Constitution, is antithetical to their indigeneity and to the social, democratic and political values which underpin and are protected by the Constitution The concept of Aboriginality is inconsistent with the concept of alienage,” the men say in their filing with the court.

Under a 2014 federal immigration law, known as a “bad character” law, deportation is mandated for people living in Australia with visas who are sentenced to at least 12 months of imprisonment. The Australian government wants to make their immigration laws even more draconian by broadening the government’s power to revoke visas of people with criminal records. The policy has increased the deportation of people who have lived in Australia most of their lives to countries such as New Zealand, Papua New Guinea or other islands in the Pacific, even when those people have no ties to the country to which they are returned. One third of the 1,300 people in immigration detention are there based on bad character, and in New Zealand, where the Australian deportation plan has been criticized, 600 people were returned in 2017.

Daniel Love, 39, is a member of the Kamilaroi people who was born in Papua New Guinea to an Aboriginal Australian father and a Papua New Guinean mother. Love is also a common law holder of native title —traditional land rights claimed by Aboriginal Australian people under the original ownership of the land.  He has been a permanent resident of Australia since the age of 6, but his parents did not complete the necessary paperwork to obtain his Australian citizenship.  Last year, Love was sentenced to 12 months in prison on an assault charge. The government canceled his visa and Love was placed in immigration detention. After spending seven weeks in detention, Love was released and the government revoked the cancellation of his visa.

Love sued the government for AU$200,000 (US$142,920) in compensation for false imprisonment, claiming the government illegally detained him and that he has suffered loss of appetite, sleep deprivation and anxiety. He was unable to see his five children, all of whom are Australian citizens, and feared for his safety with the prospect of being sent to a country with which he has no family connections.

Similarly, Brendan Thoms, 31, is a Gunggari man born in New Zealand to an Aboriginal Australian mother and a New Zealander father. Thoms was entitled to Australian citizenship by birth but has not acquired it, and has lived in Australia since the age of 6. He was sentenced to imprisonment of 18 months for assault causing bodily harm, and his visa was canceled because he was deemed an “unlawful non-citizen.” Thoms, who has one Australian child, remains in detention.

In its own court filings, the Commonwealth of Australia claims that whether Love or Thoms is an Aboriginal person or is a common law holder of native title is irrelevant in determining if they are aliens. Rather, the government argues that what is important is the men are not citizens and they owe allegiance to a foreign country, and that having an Australian parent or deep ties to the country is irrelevant. “Accordingly, as persons who are not Australian citizens, the Plaintiffs are, and always have been, aliens,” the government argues, adding “it was recognised that the effect of Australia’s emergence as a fully independent sovereign nation with its own distinct citizenship … that the word ‘alien’ in s 5 l(xix) of the Constitution had become synonymous with ‘non-citizen’.”

The state also claims that “Aboriginality does not prevent a person from being an alien,” particularly when that person is a citizen of a foreign country. The citizens of Papua New Guinea, the commonwealth claims, may have traditional and cultural associations with the Torres Strait Islands of Australia — which lie between Papua New Guinea and Australia — yet they are still regarded as aliens.

This case comes in a country that granted citizenship to indigenous people only relatively recently, with a 1967 referendum to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the national census for the first time. Prior to that time, Black people were rendered invisible and treated like animals, supposedly “discovered” by the British in 1788, although they had lived on the land for millennia. Now there is cruel irony in the fact that indigenous Black people would be regarded as aliens on land stolen from them.

Source: Australia High Court to Decide if Aboriginals Without Citizenship Can Be Deported

Ethnic media are essential for new migrants and should be better funded

Given my work with MIREMS matching riding-level data with ethnic media election coverage (, found this article regarding Australia of interest. Did a quick check on the Canadian Heritage site for information on the situation in Canada, where it appears that the main source would likely be the Canada Periodical Fund:

The fact that the community ethnic and multicultural broadcasting sector didn’t receive additional funding in the latest budget reflects a misunderstanding of the important role of ethnic media in Australian society.

Ethnic print and broadcasting have a long history in Australia, dating back to at least 1848 with the publication of Die Deutsche Post.

Early foreign language broadcasting featured on commercial radio in the 1930s, and throughout the middle of the 20th century. This was before the boom days of the 1970s, when both the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) and community radio were firmly established.

Today, along with SBS, more than 100 community radio stations feature content in over 100 languages. There are also ethnic media organisations that broadcast or print content in English.

How ethnic media are funded

Much like mainstream print, ethnic newspapers receive little if any direct government funding. They rely on advertising dollars, as well as occasional small grants.

Ethnic broadcasting is primarily funded through two streams:

  • government funding of SBS
  • funding of community ethnic broadcasters through the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF), which is itself funded federally.

According to the peak body of ethnic community broadcasting in Australia, the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council (NEMBC), an annual indexation freeze in funding introduced by the Liberal government in 2013 has cost the sector almost A$1 million. That’s approximately 20% of their total support.

A significant fund of A$12 million over four years has been granted to the community broadcasting sector. But this is generalist funding rather than aimed at ethnic broadcasting specifically. It’s directed towards assisting community stations to transition to a digital signal, the production of local news in English, and management training.

The NEMBC is also in its third year of a new competitive grants process introduced by the Community Broadcasting Foundation.

According to the NEMBC, many ethnic broadcasters are facing a precarious funding environment. This is due to the lack of specialist funding, the costs associated with transitioning to digital broadcasting, and the complexity of the Community Broadcasting Foundation grants process.

Why it’s important

The difficulties facing ethnic broadcasting impact the unique contribution it can make to modern Australia. And it’s a problem that extends beyond policy – media funding for public service, community and ethnic broadcasting is regularly under siege. It’s also a broader social issue.

Ethnic media are often thought of as either quaint services for nostalgic migrants, or as dangerous sources of ethnic segregation. For many, the role of ethnic media rarely, if ever, extends beyond a specific cultural, ethnic or linguistic community.

What’s missing from this image is the role of ethnic media in facilitating successful migrant settlement. Research shows that ethnic media can facilitate feelings of belonging and social participation among first and subsequent generation migrants. Ethnic media connect migrants and culturally and linguistically diverse Australians with other social groups, as well as with their own local communities.

On a more practical level, ethnic media are important sources of information. When advice is needed on a range of issues, from health care services to migration law, ethnic media play a vital role.

This is not a case of migrants staying in their linguistic “ghettos” and building separate ethnic economies. Rather, it involves seeking sources of relevant, and culturally and linguistically appropriate, information in order to live and thrive in Australian society.

That might be providing advice on voting or taxation to migrants from Sudan. Or informing elderly German migrants of changes to aged care services. Ethnic media provide information that is attuned to the particular needs of their audience.

This is a service that mainstream media are largely unable to provide, with their focus on a broad audience. But without it, migrants potentially miss out on important information.

These are also services that benefit both recent migrant groups, such as those from Africa or the Middle East, and more established communities. For elderly Germans in South Australia, information today comes in the form of German broadcasting in Adelaide, with presenters and producers who understand the needs and histories of their audience.

Essential sources of vital information

Ethnic media may also be valuable allies to relevant government departments and settlement service providers. My own ongoing work with ethnic broadcasters and community leaders indicates a level of dissatisfaction with the way government services are communicated to migrant groups from non-English speaking backgrounds.

Ethnic broadcasting is often able to capture the subtleties and nuances that one-size-fits-all government communication campaigns cannot. They are therefore in a unique position to effectively communicate government initiatives at a local, state and national level.

It is no surprise that what would become SBS Radio was originally designed to inform migrants about the introduction of Medibank health insurance scheme.

It’s important that the services provided by the ethnic media sector, particularly those that cannot be measured in purely economic terms, are understood and supported.

Source: Ethnic media are essential for new migrants and should be better funded

Why Has Australia Fallen Out of Love With Immigration?

A reminder just how different Australia is to Canada, despite some similarities in terms of more opposition in rural areas with relatively few immigrants compared to urban centres. And very few Canadian immigration critics have focussed on crowding issues (save perhaps Grubel) and more on values or irregular migration:

Five days after 50 Muslims in New Zealand were killed in an attack attributed to an Australian white supremacist, Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, unveiled a plan he said would address a fundamental challenge to the nation.

But it was not a proposal to combat hate groups and Islamophobia. It was a cut to immigration.

The government’s plan, which had been in the works for months, is a potential turning point for a nation that has been shaped by newcomers since its days as a British penal colony and that has presented itself in recent years as a model of how immigration, properly managed, can strengthen a country.

Now, amid a global backlash against immigration that has upended politics in the United States, Britain and much of Europe, even Australia is reversing course, turning away from a policy of welcoming skilled foreigners that helped fuel decades of economic growth — and transformed a nation once closed to nonwhite immigrants into a multicultural society.

Mr. Morrison presented the move as a reaction to crowding in the nation’s largest cities, which has led to congested commutes and costlier housing. “This plan is about protecting the quality of life of Australians right across our country,” he said.

Such concerns are widespread as views in the country have turned sharply against population growth over the past year. There is worry, though, that these “quality-of-life” complaints have been amplified by — or perhaps have masked — a deeper ambivalence about a new wave of non-European immigration, especially from Muslim countries, along with Africa and Asia.

There’s no denying the rapid pace of change, nor its benefits. Australia’s population has grown by nearly 40 percent, from 18 million to 25 million, since the 1990s, and economists argue that the nation’s record-breaking 27 years without a recession would have been impossible if not for surging immigration.

Most of the 4.7 million foreigners who have arrived since 1980 have been skilled migrants, especially since 2004, when an average of more than 350,000 students and skilled workers arrived each year, according to government figures.

According to the 2016 census, more than one in four Australians were born overseas, compared to 13.7 percent of the population in the United States and 14 percent in Britain. And six out of the top 10 source countries are now in Asia, with immigrants from China (509,558 people) and India (455,385) leading the way.

Many Australians say it is time for these trends to end. In one recent poll, more than two-thirds said their country no longer needed more people. As recently as 2010, a majority of Australians disagreed with that statement.

Mr. Morrison and his Liberal Party — which has often used anti-immigrant sentiment to stir its conservative base — clearly believe that immigration will be a winning issue for them in the national election on May 18.

The government has slowed visa approvals, and plans to cut annual immigration by 30,000 people, to 160,000 a year, a reduction greater than any since the early 1980s, according to archival data.

Mr. Morrison also plans to shift work visas to steer newcomers outside the big cities, requiring recipients to live in those regions for three years before they can secure permanent residency.

ICYMI: Australia – Multicultural programs get $71m investment

In contrast to some of the anti-immigrant language and more restrictive immigration policies:

The federal government is putting $71 million towards ensuring multiculturalism blossoms across Australia.

Immigration Minister David Coleman announced the scheme on Wednesday as part of the government’s migration plan.

The money will go towards various programs to “promote, encourage, celebrate multicultural Australia”, the minister said.

Religious tolerance education charity Together for Humanity, chaired by retired teacher and former Liberal Party president Chris McDiven, will receive $2.2 million.

“It is so important as a society that we are cognisant and accepting of our differences,” Mr Coleman told reporters in Canberra.

“Religious freedom is so fundamental to this nation.”

Mr Coleman said $10 million will be provided to community languages schools, with grants of up to $25,000 on offer to help young Australians connect with cultures.

“It helps to enable them to learn more about the culture that maybe their parents or grandparents have come from,” the minister said.

“Of course, there are other kids who learn languages that are not their background culture but also enable them to learn more about the diversity of our nation.”

Source: Multicultural programs get $71m investment

Australia: Scott Morrison moves to insulate looming cut in immigration intake from Christchurch fallout

Interesting that no mainstream political party in Canada has talked about urban congestion as an immigration issue. Nor has it been prominent in questions ongoing increases immigration levels:

The Morrison government is clearing the ground for a major shift on immigration policy ahead of the April 2 budget by insisting the debate over congestion must not be “hijacked” by racial and religious fears in the wake of the New Zealand terror attack.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison slammed a growing “tribalism” in public life that distorted debate over issues like immigration and multiculturalism.

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush has confirmed there was only one attacker in the mosque shootings

“The worst example being the despicable appropriation of concerns about immigration as a justification for a terrorist atrocity,” he said.

“Such views have rightly been denounced. But equally, so too must the imputation that the motivation for supporting moderated immigration levels is racial hatred.”

The government was preparing to release a new statement on congestion and population this week, ahead of a fall in permanent migration to be revealed in the budget, but held off after Friday’s assault on two mosques triggered a debate over far-right extremism.

Mr Morrison moved to separate the new migration policy from the political argument over extremism by saying a discussion about the annual migrant intake was not a debate about the value of migrants.

“It must not be appropriated as a proxy debate for racial, religious or ethnic sectarianism,” he said.

“Just because Australians are frustrated about traffic jams and population pressures encroaching on their quality of life, especially in this city, does not mean they are anti-migrant or racist.”

The budget is expected to show a fall in the annual intake of permanent migrants from about 190,000 to about 160,000, in line with Mr Morrison’s comments last year about making the growth more sustainable.

While the permanent intake does not include hundreds of thousands of overseas students and temporary workers, the official cut is likely to lead to a fall in projected tax revenue to be confirmed on budget day.

The government is also finalising measures to encourage migrants to work in regional areas after months of debate about sponsorship programs with regional councils.

Mr Morrison warned that the “mindless tribalism” of political debate could undermine practical work on migration and was fuelling a wider hatred in public life that could lead to immense costs.

“We cannot allow such legitimate policy debates to be hijacked like this,” he said in a speech to the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce in Melbourne.

“Managing our population growth is a practical policy challenge that needs answers – answers I will continue to outline as we approach the next election.”

He said this would include road and rail investments as well as setting the migration programme to meet the needs of the economy as well as the “capacity of our cities” and the needs of the regions.

The warning against an “us and them” debate triggered a swift response from Mr Morrison’s critics, who blamed him for fuelling anxiety about migrants and refugees.

“This is the same man who has built his career on scaremongering against people of colour and asylum seekers,” said Tim Lo Surdo, founder of activist group Democracy in Colour.

“Scott Morrison is a professional fear-monger whose desperate scapegoating of the Muslim community over many years has normalised the kind of hatred that was at the root of Friday’s terrorist attack. He has no moral footing to talk about a better standard of public debate.”

Labor frontbencher Ed Husic said Mr Morrison and other Liberals and Nationals shared responsibility for failing to speak up against racism in the past.

Mr Husic said he had been targeted by Liberal opponents who raised his Muslim faith against him during the 2004 election campaign and he did not see Mr Morrison, who was NSW Liberal Party director at the time, express any concerns at the tactics.

“I think there is a need for leadership in political and media circles to be exercised at the right point of time – not some time later when you’re trying to airbrush what’s gone on, but to deal with in the public space,” Mr Husic said.

“People should not be victims of terrorism or extremism regardless of what background or faith they are. We all have a responsibility to speak up and deal with it.”

Mr Morrison’s speech comes at a time of incendiary debate over the responsibility of conservative politicians and some parts of the media, such as conservative commentators at Sky News, for fuelling racial hatreds, even if the same politicians and media outlets express sorrow at the killings in Christchurch.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott dismissed the problem of Islamophobia less than two years ago, while Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was subject to strong criticism from the Muslim community for questioning the contribution of Lebanese Muslims to Australia.

Mr Morrison used his speech to announce $55 million in new funding to offer grants to mosques, churches, synagogues, Hindu temples and religious schools to protect against attacks.

The grants will range in size from $50,000 to $1.5 million and will be made available for safety measures such as closed-circuit television cameras, lighting, fencing, bollards, alarms, security systems and public address systems.

“When I say I believe in religious freedom – and I am one of its staunchest defenders in Parliament – I know it starts with the right to worship and meet safely without fear,” Mr Morrison said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also called for caution in public debate but focused his remarks on the media and, especially, the social media platforms that spread the live-streamed video of the first Christchurch attack.

“The traditional media – newspapers, radio stations, television – they have to exercise caution before they publish stories. Now with the new media, with the new social media platforms, we haven’t seen that same caution before something is published,” Mr Shorten said in Perth.

“And after the event, eventually, despicable, dangerous, vile, perverted things get taken down.

“That’s really shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.”

Mr Morrison pointed to a growing extremism in some debate as people interacted only with those they agreed with and showed no respect to those with whom they disagreed.

“As debate becomes more fierce, the retreat to tribalism is increasingly taking over, and for some, extremism takes hold,” he said. “This is true of the left and the right.”

Source: Scott Morrison moves to insulate looming cut in immigration intake from Christchurch fallout