The Decidedly “Un-multicultural” Australian Multicultural Council

The Daily Telegraph’s Miranda Devine highlights the new Muslim heavy Australian Multicultural Council.

With little fanfare last week Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced her new Multicultural Council. But a curious feature of an advisory body that is supposed to be a “socially inclusive” representation of multi-ethnic Australia was the fact that at least five of its 10 members are Muslims, and not one member has a Chinese or Indian background.

This glaring oversight is despite the fact that China was Australia’s largest source of migrants in 2010-11, comprising 17.5 percent of the total intake. And Indians made up 12.9 percent of migrants. There are no representatives from the indigenous community, either.

New council members said they had been told not to speak to the media. But others in the multicultural community expressed surprise at the heavy Islamic presence, while pointing out the Muslim members could not be said to be monocultural, being drawn from such diverse ethnic backgrounds as Lebanese, Sudanese, Bangladeshi and Turkish.

All the new council members have significant CVs. But to have allocated half the spots to a religious group which represents just 1.7 percent of the Australian population seems peculiar. As does excluding the largest ethnic groups in the country.

Each State has their own state version also.

According to the Department of Immigration, the top 10 countries of overseas born 2009 are:

UK (20.4%), NZ (9.1%), China (6.0%), India (5.3%), Italy (3.8%), Vietnam (3.5%), Philippines (2.9%), SA (2.6%), Malaysia (2.2%) and Germany (2.2%) – total 58%

 

Andy Semple

Follow him on twitter @Bulmkt

My Villawood experience

CIMG4328

Darren Hassen reflects on his visit to the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre;

On Monday the 18th of March I was lucky enough to be invited to visit 3 Iraqi men detained in Villawood Detention Centre whilst accompanying the Iraqi hosts we stayed with during the filming of 'Go Back'. News crews from around the globe have been able to enter war zones and even Guantanamo Bay, but have been denied access into our taxpayer funded detention centres. How is this acceptable? Whilst I maintain many of my views on immigration and asylum seekers, it must be pointed out that the veil of secrecy on detention needs to be lifted. Given that I don't belong to any media outlet I am happy to share my recollections of that few hours spent at the VDC. It has been almost 5 months since the visit, and my diary notes from the documentary are minimal, but I will do my best to walk you through the visit as best as I can.

After we walk the lengthy driveway to the Reception we enter the Visitor's Office which resembles a grubby bus station waiting area. Metal lockers line the walls, rows of chairs and pamphlets sit on a bench much resembling your typical government building waiting area. One could be mistaken for being in a Centrelink office or something similar.

The guards are friendly enough and we wait a short time in line with other decidedly foreign visitors. Our Iraqi friends bring bags of gifts in the form of food and soft drinks to share with their detainee friends which are casually searched by the Guards. We are asked to remove our belts, phones, wallets and anything that may be dangerous and are given a key to secure them in the lockers.

We go through a metal detector much like an airport and are told to wait just near the door through to the actual detention area. I feel a little nervous, wondering what lies ahead.

The guard opens the entry door and we proceed to a cyclone fenced gate which is opened by another guard. So far, none of the guards seem intimidating and are certainly not armed. There are no burly thug looking Officers to be seen anywhere, which is a relief.

In the outdoors area on the way to the Visitors Common Room are several gazebos designed to offer privacy and they are spaced reasonably well apart. I see no razor wire although there is a double fence clearly designed to minimize escape attempts. 

Having served in the Army, I almost feel that I am in a Barracks and not a detention facility. I had visited people in prison years before and Villawood did not have that same ominous feeling that jails tend to have.

I see groups of different ethnicities sitting at tables in the gazebos and on benches scattered throughout the outdoor area. They seem relatively relaxed and no guards are looming over them although the gate guard mans his post throughout .

We reach the Visitor room which has maybe 30 people which include detainees and guests. People speak softly and openly, an Asian group are enjoying a bucket of KFC and soft drink, 2 young Middle Eastern men sit on in a corner on the floor and are engaged in a gloomy looking discussion. Another Asian group eat Soup Noodles whilst talking to their loved one who is detained. The room itself is of reasonable size and surprisingly quite modern. A huge plasma TV sits in the middle of the room and is playing news of the Christmas Island Riots (more on that later!) Modern couches are at either end and there are tables and chairs which we sit at.A disinterested Guard sits behing a desk, much like any other reception area. The door between the visiting room is locked but I can see the accomodation building through the the windows. 2 African men casually chat outside a room and others are walking around quite casually.
We meet our hosts who are 'M', 'R' and 'H'- all Iraqi boat people who have been in detention longer than a year.I am introduced to the men and sit down with 'H' while Adam Hartup & Gleny Rae speak with the other men via translation from our Iraqi hosts.

H tells me that he has been in detention for more than a year and once held a TPV which allowed him to work, own a car and gave him freedom. He left Australia to visit his family and upon his return by boat was re interred in detention and had to go through the claims process again. There are only a couple of years difference between us, but he looks much older. His demeanour is that of a tired and beaten man. I feel for him and we talk openly about his case and his family. We share quips about our children and our lives in general. He tells me the food is OK and that they are given 50 credits (equivalent to $50) per week for things like cigarettes, phone cards etc. They are allowed an hour of internet use daily and although I understand they are prohibited in detention, he has a cell phone that he uses to call the outside world. 'H' is a nice man and we exchange email addresses, vowing to keep in touch. I have since found out that he has now been granted a visa and is in the community. Good on him.

We chat with the men several hours and during the discussion one of the men notices the News report on Christmas Island & indicates that it will occur there quite soon. I feel uncomfortable about this and politely point out that it may affect their processing. 'H' agrees and changes the subject.During our time there people were free to move around in or out of the visit room.

I had forgotten that I was at a detention centre until it was time to leave. We said our goodbyes and head back to the gate guard who lets us out back into the Reception area. During the 5 minute walk back down to the front gate my mind is spinning about what had just occurred. The waiting film crew immediately ask for our reactions and I decide to hold out and process a little longer whilst Adam & Gleny speak on camera.

My impression of Villawood is not one of a Gulag nor a concentration camp although I believe that the length of time people spend there is what is having psychological effects on them. Yes they lack the freedom to be in the wider community, but they are safe, fed, housed, clothed and have access to health care which is better than many Australians doing it tough. It is a lot better than any UN camp, Jordanian slum, Malaysian refugee dwelling or homeless squat here in our own country. 

My thoughts are that whilst we should have mandatory detention to conduct character health & security checks particularly for undocumented arrivals, it should definitely be limited to no more than say 6 months with one appeal process then immediate action whether that be release or deportation. I don't condone the method in which these people have come here whether by boat or overstaying etc, but I also don't think we need to drag the process out. Immigration detention should have no chance of permanence, ever!

Darren Hassan was a participant in SBS' 'Go Back' series and has an interest in Politics. He is currently studying a Masters of Business Administration. 

 

A real solution to illegal immigration

CIMG4328

Darren Hassen, a participant in the SBS documentary 'Go Back To Where You Came From' explores the immigration debate: 

Giving an opinion on National TV doesn’t make anyone an expert, but my recent experiences on the SBS documentary ‘Go Back To Where You Came From’ have certainly given more of an insight into this divisive ‘energizer bunny’ issue yet it seems to be constantly going round in circles.

My stance on the issue is clear and remains the same- come through UN channels or don’t come here. Sounds harsh? Absolutely! But lets call a spade a spade.

My reasoning is one of firstly principle and then practicality.  We agreed to the UN’s mandate on refugees and although I believe we could be doing more to get people out of the camps/transit areas and resettled sooner, I believe also that we truly need to prevent boats arriving on our shores. The same tired accusations of racism & xenophobia can be thrown at anyone who thinks in this way but those same accusers rarely offer a tangible alternative. It’s time to come up with an answer instead of personal attacks, people!

One of the main arguments is that ‘it is not illegal to seek asylum etc’, but it IS illegal to forum shop according to the same UN that sets the rules on refugees.

One thing we hear very little about from the refugee advocates is the ‘Safe Third Country Rule’. Simply put, refugees are not permitted to pass through a country deemed as safe in order to get to another country. A safe country is one that affords protections from persecution and does not need to be a signatory to the UN Charter. Refugees that reside in said countries for more than 7 days aren’t allowed to move on to another country. This is referred to as ‘forum shopping’.

See the article by Monash University, which details the clauses relevant to this

Most Australians are in fact welcoming when it comes to refugees but take a harder line on those that have been labelled ‘queue jumpers’. Yes, we all know that there is no existing ‘queue’ as such, but there is a systematic agreement that we are signatory to and these people who bypass safe countries are abusing our sovereignty, creating a class system for refugees, as well as putting their lives and the lives of Australian people (Navy, Customs, Coast Guard etc) at risk. Even the genuine resettled refugees I know agree that this is the case, but not one bleeding heart would dare to label them as racist!

My thoughts are that these people that self select Australia know that they are more likely to force an immigration outcome on our weak, insipid government and will keep doing so until our border protection policies return to the Howard era’s tough yet more humane Pacific Solution. Christmas Island would not have occurred and those lives wouldn’t have been lost. Anyone who supports the current ALP policy are effectively advocating that people should engage in people smugglers and take that risk even if it means death on the rocks of a remote island. YOU who oppose the Liberal Party’s border security policies heart must share responsibility for those deaths. You wanted it, you got it!

The Pacific Solution must be reinstated if we are to get a hold of this situation and stop unnecessary deaths. It sent a clear message and that message was never clearer in the mind’s of those low life people smugglers- you have no business here!

Darren Hassan was a participant in SBS' 'Go Back' series and has an interest in Politics. He is currently studying a Masters of Business Administration. 

 

Islamic Culture Wars and Immigration

Tim-HumphriesLiberty, democracy and freedom will prevail, writes Tim Humphries.

In response to the recent Daily Mail article regarding Anjem Choudary and his call for Muslims to 'rise up', I must say I feel very uncomfortable about this.

It's almost as if he is a Muslim version of Pauline Hanson, perpetuating a reactionary Muslim agenda of hate. This is bad politics. If history has taught us anything it has explicitly extolled the virtue of pluralism on both religious, cultural and economic freedom. It doesn't mean however that you have to like everything all the time.

The recent uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere across the Arab world are indicative of a broader push of a younger generation who see their future tied to a wider involvement and shaping of a Liberal Democratic system of government. A Democratic system that is based on these same ideas of rights, responsibilities and the rule of law that came about through the English conception of Democracy and Common Law.

The breakout push for Democracy is also a wider front in what I would describe as an "Islamic Culture War" that is on-going in that region and elsewhere between those that embrace the notion of Liberal Democracy, Free Press and Cultural Freedom, against the hardline view that espouses a vision of an Islamic state tied to strict religious adherence. 

If anything the philosophical foundations of the recent uprisings point directly to George W Bush's agenda on Democracy in the Arab world. Whilst I was never directly enamored with W myself, I have to say the connecting thread between his views on the War on Terror and the wider philosophical and practical push for Democracy, seem at least recently to be verging on the prescient. Whether it goes further remains to be seen.

Which brings me in this discussion of the Islamic Culture Wars to the issue of Immigration in Australia. It has always puzzled me, the contradictory nature of Immigration in this country. As population growth continues to put upward pressure on Infrastructure, the imperative is to manage something that seems every day to be getting worse.

On one side of the coin you could temporarily slow population growth to allow private sector infrastructure investment to catch up. On the other side of the coin, it would seem the open door policy seems to be the only classical liberal way to drive forward in the quest for creating new opportunity for all Australians. The contradictions continue to roll on.

As was well articulated by by John Izzard in Quadrant on February 20, 2011:

On the February 14 this year The Australian reported that in the 2009/2010 financial year 5,209 illegal immigrants had arrived who had paid a people-smuggler for their journey from Indonesia towards somewhere in Australia. The paper reported, quoting the Department of Immigration, that people-smugglers were paid “in exchange for permanent residency in Australia”. These payments to people-smugglers were made in either cash or jewelery and ranged from $10,000 to $15,000 per person in many cases.

Where Asian Immigration was once the issue that most dogged the minds of Australians in the late 19th and into the 20th Century, the new version of this revolves around 'Muslim Immigration'. Choudary and other groups who consistently spur on the idea of rising up against Western Democracy are explicitly misplaced in their articulations and by doing so fuel mistrust that redirects efforts aimed at harmonization. The need here is for illegal arrivals to be dealt with humanely but with a clear understanding that breaching Australia's sovereignty is not going to be tolerated.

Tony Abbott's 'Stop the Boats', whilst successful as a slogan, must be developed into a sophisticated and cogent policy that demonstrates 'real credentials' that the Coalition can reclaim on National Security.

Australia remains a juicy destination for people that come legally and illegally and for good reason. We are after all the grand Island settlement that brought with us a British inheritance that remains relevant and enriching for all who come to our shores.

The linked nature of these issues has a long way to run and will be an ongoing project of generational change. I am confident however that Liberty, Democracy and Freedom will prevail. If recent events in the Arab world are anything to go by, there is reason for real hope.

Tim Humphries is a graduate journalism student and writes from Brisbane, Queensland Australia.

Reference List

1. Izzard, J 2011, Open borders, Quadrant Magazine, accessed 25 Feburary 2011, <http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/qed/2011/02/cash-for-residency>.

2. Anjem Choudary to lead white house protest calling for Muslims to rise up 2011, accessed 27 February 2011, <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1358792/Anjem-Choudary-lead-White-House-protest-calling-Muslims-rise-up.html>.

3. Anjem Choudary to lead white house protest calling for Muslims to rise up 2011, accessed 28 February 2011, <http://www.menzieshouse.com.au/2011/02/anjem-choudary-to-lead-white-house-protest-calling-for-muslims-to-rise-up-mail-online.html>.

Should We Have Taxpayer Funded Funeral Expenses?

By now, you would all be aware of the most recent contraversy within the ranks of the Parliamentary wing of the Liberal Party. Following the recent tragedy of SIEV 221, debate has erupted as to whether or not the Australian taxpayer should foot the bill for the relatives of the victims of this tragic occurance to attend their funerals.

We all feel empathy for those affected, and recognise the pain that family members must be feeling. Nevertheless, the question does remain: ought the taxpayer pay for family members of the victims to travel to the funeral. And, if so, what sort of precedent does this set? Should the taxpayer then, by logical extension, pay for all funeral travel expenses?

On one hand, Scott Morrison, the Opposition Immigration Spokesman, made the argument on behalf of the Liberal Party that "Australians attending funerals around the country were not entitled to taxpayer-funded transport costs". Yet, it would seem, Joe Hockey decided to oppose the Liberal Party's position, and say that this is indeed something that Australian taxpayers should pay for, arguing " "I would never seek to deny a parent or a child from saying goodbye to their relative." (although I remain slightly unsure as to why he he conflates 'denying' with 'being paid for by the taxpayer').

So what do our readers think? Is Joe Hockey right in deciding to oppose the Liberal Party line? Do you agree with him that taxpayers ought foot the bill? Or do you think he is simply an opportunist who is using this attack on the Liberal Party to divert attention from his own poor performance in the last few weeks?

Write your thoughts in the comments field! 

(TVA)

Detoxification of Immigrants

Mark-SharmaThe politicisation of ethnic organisations has damaged Australia's international reputation, writes Mark Sharma.

Ever wondered why most immigrants side with left leaning organizations like Labor and the Greens? Why despite numerous attempts for reconciliation, the allegations of Australia being a “racist” country from Indian press never goes away? Why despite Australia largely being a “fair go” country never gets any positive publicity in the international arena?

If you have ever thought about these things and never found the answers then I suggest reading the rest of this piece.

Nobody understands these complexities better than someone in my own position. I came to Australia as an overseas student to get a Higher Education and decided to stay back. With a deep love and interest for politics, it was only natural for me to study and understand Australian politics from different perspectives. I still consider myself to be a student of Australian Politics; the only difference is that I’m an active student. I don’t just learn Politics but I apply what I learn in real life by contesting elections and engaging with the public.

Taking an active part in Politics has allowed me to expand my circle of acquaintances. These people have a lot more knowledge about what goes on in this country. Many of these people are willing to share important information with me for the betterment of the society. It’s like a mini “wikileak” but with a twist.

The twist is that unlike Wikileaks this is not about diplomatic cables. This is about what goes on in various ethnic communities across Sydney and how that affects our democracy.  It is no secret that Western Sydney is a stronghold of the Labor Party. Just have a look at seat by seat comparisons and you will find Labor everywhere. From Balmain in inner city to Blacktown in the west, everything is dipped in Labor red.

Another interesting fact about Western Sydney is that it is home to a very large immigrant population. Chinese, Indians, Koreans, Arabs, Muslims, Vietnamese and hundreds more non-white ethnic communities reside in Western Sydney. It is also no surprise that a majority of them vote Labor. We all know that the NSW arm of Labor party is big on spin when it comes to real issues. Unfortunately for immigrants this same spin gets even bigger when it is directed towards them.

From the day new migrants arrive in Australia, the Labor PR wing and its various extended arms get into the job of disseminating propaganda to them. We are told by ALP hacks that “only they care about immigrants”. We are told directly or indirectly that “the Coalition is a racist organization” and only “the left cares about us non-whites”.

Clearly these claims by Labor are NOT true and I’m a living proof of it. If Labor truly cared about immigrants then it would have not matched Abbott’s promises of cutting down on immigration. If Labor truly believed in equality then today there would have been at least two dozen ethnic MP’s on Labor seats instead of none. This doesn’t mean that the Coalition is a messiah for immigrants. All it means is that the Coalition doesn’t lie to immigrants. They don’t make big promises and so there is not a lot that can be expected of them.

Having taken a shot at the Coalition, I do accept that things are getting better within conservative parties and they have started reaching out to immigrant communities.

It has been widely reported that NSW Liberal leader Barry O’Farrell will make it to the Premier’s office come March 2011. With 15 years of neglect and almost the same number of scandals, it is an impossible task for Kristina Keneally to overcome this Mount Everest. In fact, the latest MP to feature on the “ALP Scandal Tally” is the premier herself.

Whether the Labor party even makes it to double digits is anybody’s guess, but it is important that the priorities of the incoming Government are in the right direction. In my opinion, the detoxification of various ethnic associations should be right on top of the agenda. Let me clarify what I mean by detoxification.

My extensive study in this area has made me conclude that most of the ethnic associations are actually being run by Labor party hacks at the behest of ALP. This is widespread and is happening in most ethnic associations. This is how it works. Say if you belong to Korean community and live in an area like Strathfield with a high Korean population, then the local ALP members of Korean background would most likely control Korean associations that operate in that area. The idea of ethnic associations is to improve the situation of those who belong to such groups. Ethnic associations are not there to further the cause of particular political party unless it explicitly states that. But in Sydney these groups are being used as PR machines to further the Labor cause. This is exactly how things have gone on for the last 15 years and the time has come to stop it.

The situation is even worse when it comes to Indian organizations. When attacks on Indian students took place, it was very important that the government was able to liaise with the Indian community in Australia to resolve these issues.  But the reality is that these issues never got fully resolved and they will never be resolved because the Labor government in power has got it all wrong. Many of you might be shocked to find out that most of the so called “Indian representatives” in Australia are NOT even remotely Indian.

Despite that, the Labor government continues to recognize them as legitimate Indian organizations and provide them a platform. The real reason why Labor is doing this is because these organizations are led by pro-Labor people who have no interest in the Indian community.

In the end the real issues are never properly dealt with and when something goes wrong it directly hurts Australia’s reputation. There is talk going on that when the government eventually changes in March 2011 these same organizations might change colour and start barracking for Liberals. But once again that will not solve the problem. The only way we can get lasting solutions is if the incoming Coalition Government is ready to take this issue head on.

Are you willing to clean up Labor’s mess Barry?

Mark Sharma is an Independent Conservative politician who stood as a candidate in the electorate of Watson in NSW. He writes regularly for various Indian-Australian Newspapers and on his blog Voice of Strathfield

In sinking the people smugglers, Abbott is back on song

Terry-Barnes Terry Barnes thinks that Tony Abbott is back on the track to success with his recently announced asylum seeker policy.

Conservative politics is all about standing up for what works.  That’s exactly what Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison have done with their decisive response to the insidious and evil people-smuggling trade.

By reverting to the successful anti-people smuggling measures of the Howard years Mr Abbott and Mr Morrison are reverting unashamedly to what works.  The flood of boats that threatened to swamp us before 2001 was staunched only by decisive action by John Howard and Philip Ruddock.  Offshore processing, removing incentives to manipulate appeals to avoid or overturn final decisions, Temporary Protection Visas and tough direct action against those evil men who trade in the misery of others send a very clear message: Australia is no soft touch, no open door you can just ram your shonky way through to the cheers of the trendy inner-city latte sippers – many of whom treat refugees as curiosities to patronise in the same way that two centuries ago European salon society treated indigenous Australians.
 

What’s more, the Abbott policy improves on the Howard original by allowing reasonable flexibility in the actual length of TPVs to remain sensitive and compassionate in relation to conditions in the asylum-seekers’ home countries, and by imposing mutual obligation on asylum-seekers in return for welfare.  We do it for Australian residents seeking unemployment and other benefits: it’s fair and right to expect those wanting acceptance to our society to do the same.
 
Each new boat arrival, as well as the Oceanic Viking fiasco that fast-tracked through our system the unfortunate clients of the people-smugglers whom she rescued, shows that the Rudd Government has got it woefully and tragically wrong.  Each flimsy boat that struggles to stay afloat on the high seas, each person whose life is tragically threatened or lost from trying to reach our shores in those leaky sieves (or is that SIEVs?), is an avoidable black mark on our government and the misguided good intentions of the intellectual Left. 
 
There will always be some people uneasy with hard but humane policy decisions of this nature, within the Liberal Party as much as without.  Those who were expected to oppose it did come out and do so, and agree with them or not their views should be respected as being legitimately and sincerely-held on a pew in the Liberal broad church.  Indeed their concerns should ensure that the policy, as it’s applied by the next Coalition government, will always give humane regard to the unfortunate victims of the people-smugglers’ evil trade.  But it’s also clear that Mr Abbott, Mr Morrison and the shadow Cabinet respect the wish of middle Australia that, while our country should welcome and embrace our immigrants from wherever they come, queues are not for jumping.
 
For Coalition supporters, it was also pleasing to see Mr Abbott back on song, clearly having learned from the avoidable political reverses of the previous week.  He was confident, strong, decisive and self-assured.  He was not only looking and sounding like a leader but he was acting like one.  Like it or not, Mr Rudd, you’re up against a bloke who stands for something. What do you stand for, Prime Minister?

Terry Barnes is an editor of Menzies House.

Patrick McGorry’s views on asylum seekers are counter productive

James-Darby

Patrick McGorry has his immigration priorities all wrong, argues James Darby.

Professor Patrick McGorry, newly appointed Australian Of The Year has said asylum seekers had experienced severe torture and trauma in their home countries and that people in detention needed to be processed quicker and while living in the community.

Professor McGorry is concerned about the mental health of Asylum Seekers and will lobby the Australian Government to release these persons into the Australian Community to be processed for settlement here. He wants to close Christmas Island.

My view is that these kind and unrealistic views expressed by The Professor are extremely counter productive to the future well being of Australians.

The Professor could have served the interests of Australia better by naming the countries from whence these tortured and traumatised Asylum Seekers have come.

What are their occupations, their language and their religions?

How many of these invaders does the Professor expect Australia to release into the community?  Can The Professor tell us how many would come to Australia if the solution for processing illegal refugees, Asylum Seekers, boat people, queue jumpers, is to "release them into the community for processing"?

Because the Professor wishes to be so generous at someone else's expense it is surprising that he has not suggested that these people are flown into Australia as the boats that they intend to arrive on often sink.

The Professor has not named the Countries from which these people come or the numbers of people who would come. You work it out. Indonesia hosts citizens of many Countries whose populations dream of escaping to Australia. Then you have virtually every Country from Viet Nam to Turkey. Then just about every African Country. There are about 15 million Philippinos who will come to Australia tomorrow.  Let's not start on the Red Chinese.  The poverty, the religious fanaticism, the torture and the trauma created by the various forms of socialist Governments is not the responsibility of Australia.

I do agree with the Professor that detainees should not be 'kept' on Christmas Island.

They should be returned to the last port of departure and their boats seized and scrapped.

Accepting that Australia has entered into international obligations to accept refugees, let us allocate all those places to Christians who are suffering persecution.

James Darby is a former farmer, sales trainer and PR Consultant. He is currently a mortgage locator based in NSW.

Full House

Nick-Adams

Councillor Nick Adams argues that increasing Australia's population simply isn't realistic.

No more people. The tide is turning. Ten years ago, talk of limiting Australia’s population meant you were a mad, anti-capitalist greenie. Today, the feeling in the cities and out in the bush is that we’re full and we don’t need anyone else.

The population debate is a debate Australia must have. Now the emergence of a new political party funded by businessman Dick Smith that is seizing on this new sentiment, means that it appears likely that finally one of the most suppressed issues will have its day in the sun.

Vested interests in the business community (as Bob Hawke famously stated: “the bigger the population, the better in economic terms”), as well as the elevation of economic management as the ultimate credential in the Australian political system have primarily ensured that the population question be avoided.

The collective efforts of the politically-correct elite to instantly brand population concerns as racist have not helped either. As absurd as it sounds to those on the left, population management is an issue for all Australians, wherever our ancestors were born.

But with a renewed focus on green issues (however misdirected they are with anthropogenic climate change), the disappearance of the Australian dream of owning a home, as well as growing consternation with illegal immigration and a flawed policy of multiculturalism, as well as a resistance on the part of recent immigrant communities to adapt to mainstream Australian culture, Australians are beginning to deal with some of the realities of the population question.

Australia is large and it is mostly empty, but for good reason.

A lack of fertile land, a lack of water, diminishing marine resources, dwindling biodiversity, and the fact that we have one of the world’s most unproductive soils cannot be overlooked. And for those who haven’t noticed, Australia is mostly desert. Throw in an erratic climate, salinity problems, limited rainfall and a particular susceptibility to drought, and it is clear to see that one of the greatest myths promoted and perpetuated is that Australia is somehow an under-populated country.

In fact, there is an argument to say that we are over-populated as it is. Having water police and being restricted as to how you use water is testament.

The simple fact of the matter is that Australia cannot sustain a population greater than the one that it has at the moment. Does that mean we have to curb immigration? Absolutely. Does it mean that we need to look at natural growth? It does. Does it mean that we need to keep sending the boat people back? Yes.

While this debate will involve all, there is a great opportunity for the conservative elements of Australian politics to embrace the population debate, and use it to spruik legitimate green credentials, while capitalising on a changing sentiment.  

The population debate in Australia is the most important “green” issue facing Australians, not the hoax that is climate change that seeks to re-distribute the wealth.

Our Prime Minister claims that climate change is the “greatest moral challenge of our time”, yet proclaims proudly that he wishes to see a “big Australia” in excess of thirty million people. It will occasion no surprise that as with everything else, on the subject of the environment; our Prime Minister is a dud.

It will also be captivating to see the Greens in action. After years of silence on such a pressing issue, they will be forced to walk the walk. Just how green are the Greens? Or will they continue to be a socialist front, using the green agenda to conceal their true intentions? Or maybe it is just that it presents too much of a conflict with the Green’s so-called ‘humanitarian’ positions and open-door immigration policies?

The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, began well last week, saying that “any population needs to be sustainable”. Whether the Federal Opposition sees it or not, in terms of ideology and constituency, to be on the side of the population restrainers is logical. In a situation where natural resources are limited, government intervention is inevitable, something that should chafe the libertarian impulses among some of the more ideological. Not to mention the positive effects the stabilisation of the population would bring: unity, comfort, and an end to the dilution of old-fashioned common sense; and hopefully, a dilution to the political correctness that has gripped our already over-populated country.   

And what about Dick Smith’s words: “Double the population, halve the wealth”?

It is the Opposition’s chance to turn the environmental debate on its head.

Apart from Kevin Rudd, who wants a Shanghai lifestyle?

Nick is currently elected to Ashfield Council, in Sydney's Inner West and runs a public affairs consultancy firm.

[Editor: For an alternative view on population policy, see Stephan Knoll's article here]