Australia Needed This, ApparentlyMalcolm Fraser was the leader of the Liberal Party in Australia (the more conservative party in the American context) and one of the most influential figures in Australian history. He died on March 20 of this year.
While he had many accomplishments, perhaps his most import legacy is that he was a pivotal figure in bringing mass Muslim immigration to Australia.
He allowed thousands of Muslim Lebanese fleeing their country's civil war to live in Australia, despite official warnings many lacked the background to integrate successfully.John Menadue, head of the Department of Immigration under Fraser, fondly remembers conversations between the two leaders about "breaking the back of White Australia." (What is with open borders supporters and their violent fantasies every time they see a homogeneous country?) Menadue remembers,
Fraser believed in multiculturalism and established broadcaster SBS (Editor's Note: The Special Broadcasting Service is a government funded multicultural broadcasting network.)
He listened to Aborigines and wrestled with the states to implement his indigenous land rights legislation.
[The paradoxical Malcolm Fraser, Daily Mail, March 19, 2015]
I think the thing that I can remember most of all, and with gratitude to Malcolm, was his attitudes on race.Notice the typographical equivalent of the Freudian slip above. "White Australia" (capital leaders) refers to the policy of banning non-white immigration, "white Australia" refers to white people in Australia (i.e. "Australians") who evidently need to have their backs broken for the crime of existing and creating a prosperous society.
He wouldn't have a bar of racism in his own party or in anyone else and that showed up in so many ways and of course, particularly in ending White Australia and the Indo-China program.
Gough Whitlam and the Labor Party had formally abolished White Australia but the policy of ending White Australia was never put to the test because there were very few migrants or refugees coming to Australia.
But Malcolm, through the Indo-China program, broke the back of White Australia because it was not just a theoretical issue, people were living with people from very different backgrounds to themselves and that really put Australia to the test...
Malcolm just showed leadership and decided that it had to be done.
It wasn't an easy decision but I think we look back now and with gratitude for what he did.
He was fortunate to be supported in broad terms by Gough Whitlam and then Bill Hayden on the Indo-China program.
But it was his leadership and his courage that really turned Australia around. That will be the lasting legacy and a very proud one that Malcolm Fraser bears.
It was a sea change in Australian policy and Malcolm Fraser deserves great credit for doing it.
[Malcolm Fraser 'broke the back of white Australia': says former colleague John Menadue, by Kim Landers, ABC, March 20, 2015]
Of course, Fraser wasn't solely responsible for all of this. And to some extent, Australian politicians were forced to admit refugees because of pressure from the United States.
Fraser portrayed himself as a hero of refugees who welcomed people who came by boat and led the community to accept large numbers of refugees, whose virtues he always extolled. This is the opposite of the truth. Stevens identifies four phases of the debate. At the fall of Saigon and for two years after, the Americans accepted many more than 100,000 Vietnamese and Australia accepted several hundred. As she comments: “From 1975 to late 1977 the Fraser government showed little interest in resettling (Indochinese) refugees.”[Implying being a "saint" and simply being "decent" requires mass immigration]
In the second phase, leading up to the 1977 election, both major parties, including Fraser, emphasised tough border control and anti-boatpeople measures. In the third phase, from 1978 to 1980, under sustained US and Southeast Asian pressure, Australia greatly increased its intake.
The real bipartisanism was provided by unsung hero Bill Hayden, who succeeded Whitlam as opposition leader. Hayden did not have Whitlam’s visceral hatred of Vietnamese anti-communists. It was in this period that Australia started to accept significant numbers of Vietnamese, almost all of whom were processed in an orderly fashion in camps a long way from Australia.
As John Howard recalls in his memoirs: “Unauthorised boat arrivals occurred spasmodically, but not at a rate which caused any real public concern.” It was geopolitics within the US alliance, not humanitarianism, that forced Australia to behave decently.
[Malcolm Fraser was no saint for Vietnamese refugees, by Greg Sheridan, The Australian, March 26, 2015]
However it happened, it happened. Now that Australia is wonderful and diverse, let's check out the headlines.