On a personal level I appreciate her gruff, down-to-earth character.
I am also impressed with the quality of DIMA as a caring and responsible government department.
The Howard Government has done a good job of turning immigration policy from the cynical ethnic vote-buying exercise that it was under the Hawke-Keating Government (for discussion see Fred Gruen’s book with Michele Grattan, Managing Government: Labor's achievements and failures, Longman 1994) to a policy much more oriented to skilled migration. At the same time Australia has maintained a substantial per capita humanitarian and refugee intake. Australia has impressive credentials generally in this area – since WW2 more than 650,000 people have settled in Australia under this program.
And, indeed, over the past couple of years the humanitarian program has been expanded to 13,000 which is much higher than it was during the years of Labor Government. The hypocrisy of many on the Left is to unfairly tarnish the Howard Government with a Hansonite racist brush.
But it is Labor that has traditionally been the party in Australia that plays the race card. Most recently it has been Mr Beazley’s complaints about ‘temporary skilled immigrants’ – those ‘foreign workers’ from Bombay, Beijing and Beirut’ about whom Australian parents ‘are correct when they fear the humiliation of their children as they are dispensed with as apprentices, as foreigners are brought in to this country, prepared to work for virtually nothing’. It is encouraging to see Mrs Vanstone’s vigorous counter-attack in this morning’s The Age.
And her key question to those on the Left who dishonestly attack the Howard Government as racist need to respond to the following query from Vanstone:
‘Just ask yourself what would happen if John Howard came out and questioned workers coming here from Bombay, Beijing and Beirut. The Howard haters would swarm like killer bees. Philip Adams would fall out of his secular pulpit…’This is fair comment but I’ll bet the Phillip Adams of this world ignore her legitimate point.