Letter in today's South China Morning Post , from yours truly...
Greg Barns ("Rudd's U-turn on refugees a mixed message to Asia", October 27) laces his piece on refugees with pejoratives: Australia is a "closed Anglo-European society", "inhumane and xenophobic" and, for good measure, "a selfish, xenophobic European outpost in Asia". In Barns' view, taking any account of public opinion is to be dismissed as "pandering" and "populist".
Australia is not a closed Anglo-European society at all, but open, vibrant, multicultural and tolerant. To suggest there is some kind of "mixed message to Asia" is to ignore the large number of Asian migrants from China, Vietnam and Southeast Asia (China is the third-largest source of Australians born overseas).
If Australians are concerned about Afghans, Iraqis and Iranians seeking entry to Australia, their concern is clearly not because they are non-Anglo-European, as Barns suggests. It is because the Australian public has the common sense to note that they come from Muslim societies; and that the lessons in Europe are that such immigrants have not - unlike those from Asia - assimilated or even integrated well into their host societies.
In Britain and Europe, around 30 per cent of all Muslims, in poll after poll, express support for sharia law with its draconian punishments of women, homosexuals, non-Muslims, adulterers and social drinkers. What is there to suggest Muslim attitudes in Australia would be any different? It is not intolerant, selfish or xenophobic to be concerned about that, as most Australians clearly are.Note: the only bit cut out of my original, was the rather politically correct bit I included, quoting the Australian government:
As the Australian government says [*]:
“Since 1945, around 6.9 million people have come to Australia as new settlers. Their contribution to Australian society, culture and prosperity has been an important factor in shaping our nation”.