One of the production team behind The Political Sword
regularly attends a trivia night at a local pub. Recently the host (who runs a company that hosts multiple trivia nights every night of the week — so he’s pretty good at finding obscure facts) made the claim that 49 percent of Australians are either immigrants or one/both their parents are immigrants.
You may have noticed over the years that we at The Political Sword
like to check claims presented as facts regardless of the origin, so we did. As it turns out, the trivia host was right — 49% of Australians are either first generation (they immigrated) or second generation (one/both parents born overseas) Australian. It’s one of the facts that has come out of the much maligned 2016 Census (remember the one we were supposed to do on-line, until the website crashed). The remaining 51% of us have Australian born parents — although the Grandparents’ country of origin could be a different discussion.
When this data was released half way through 2017, The Guardian reported
As of 2015, Australia had the ninth-largest number of overseas-born people of any country, and the highest proportion of its population, at 26% — ahead of New Zealand (23%) and Canada (22%), the bureau found.
article also has a lot of other population related statistics that are interesting — and who knows may help you win a trivia night somewhere, sometime.
Given the distances between the homes of the production team behind The Political Sword
, most communication is done by email. Apart from ‘business related’ discussions we also discuss the usual things that people discuss — the weather, politics (strangely!), and various events that happen in the lives of the co-conspirators. The same week as the trivia host made his 49% of Australians are either first or second-generation comment, another member of the production team wrote about an example of blatant discrimination that he had recently seen.
Some ‘very lovely’ ladies who are recent immigrants turned up at a local computer club, eager to learn, gain some additional skills and fit into their adopted community. There was also one attendee who was considerably older and also an immigrant (from the UK in the era of the ten-pound Pom). Apparently the older English ‘gentleman’ was offended that the ‘very lovely’ ladies, who were from an Islamic community group, would be furthering their understanding of computers at the same time as he was and started to verbalise his thoughts at full volume. Fortunately the Community Co-ordinator was able to diffuse the situation before it really became heated.
In a nutshell, an older ‘gentleman’ who immigrated to Australia around 50 years ago finds it objectionable that others have immigrated to Australia more recently, with different cultural beliefs. Oh, the irony! You’d have to wonder if, 50 odd years ago, the ‘gentleman’ had different cultural values to those around him when he arrived in this country.
Many years ago, Bruce Woodley from The Seekers
and Dobe Newton of The Bushwackers
wrote a song that claimed
We are one
But we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We'll share a dream
And sing with one voice
I am, you are, we are Australian
You might recognise the words — they have been recently appropriated by ABC as their network identity jingle. Pity there are pockets where the reality is somewhat different from the lofty ideals.
So what would our ‘older gentleman’ have us do with his ‘very lovely ladies’ — send them back? If we are going to send immigrants back to where they came from, do we only send the 26% of the population who are first generation Australians away, in which case the UK immigrant is out too? Do we deport the 49% of first- and second-generation Australians which might be a problem if for example Mum comes from Ukraine and Dad comes from Russia? Do we send all immigrants away in which case Australia reverts to being a terra nullus of 60,000 or thereabouts years ago; or do we just agree that the ‘gentleman’ is a bigot rather than a gentleman and welcome the ladies from the Islamic community group while telling the bigot his rant is not welcome?
The reality of immigration to Australia over the last 60,000 years is this country is a blend of cultures from ‘all the lands of earth’. It is a far more pleasant place than the cold, narrow minded monocultural vision offered by the followers of the ultra-conservative bigots spewing hatred such as the likes of Hanson, Bernardi and the ‘alt-right’ poster children who occasionally tour (or try to tour
) the country promote. Assimilating parts of different cultures presents solutions to seemingly intractable problems, gives us benefits as mundane as pizza and fried rice as well as demonstrating that ‘Anglo’ culture doesn’t always offer the ultimate solution to the problem.
Where else in the world will you see kids of African background pestering their parents for sushi in the local food court or young girls of Middle Eastern, Asian and European backgrounds all performing together at the local dance school concert? And that’s just how it should be.
What do you think?