Thursday, September 14, 2006

Labor's race credentials

John Quiggin has posted a critical assessment of Senator Amanda Vanstone at his blog. I think, to the contrary, she is quite a good Minister for Immigration which is a tough ministerial portfolio. Inevitably the Minister ends up having to play God with people’s lives. In some cases, issues of life and death are involved. I know Mrs Vanstone is a compassionate person who takes her job seriously.

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.


Anonymous said...

Its funny you should believe that. I can't think of a single decent thing she did as minister for education, employment and training, which I think is much easier to evaluate than immigration.

I therefore think it reasonable to hold her at least partially responsible for the hopeless state of education and training in Australia (and hence partially responsible for Australians becoming the trash of their own country) -- something that declined over the time she was minister (see e.g., the TIMMS cross-country survey for school stuff, a hundred different sources for trades stuff, or just walk down the corridoor for university stuff).

hc said...

How many good education Ministers have we had since John Dawkins?

I agree the policy mix a total mess but why pick on Amanda? It wasn't entirely her.

derrida derider said...

" It wasn't entirely her [fault]."

Now that's what I call damning with faint praise.

She stuffed welfare-to-work pretty comprehensively too.

Geoff Robinson said...

Really? Labor holds 20 out of the 20 electorates with the highest population of non-English speaking background migrants. Labor doesn't need to buy their votes it has them. Why does the Anglo commenteriat elite resent so Labor responding to people who vote for it? Perhaps because they want to see themselves or their mates as Labor MPs rather than people with funny accents and life experience.

hc said...

Geoff, Hawke in the Gruen-Grattan book is cited as explicitly saying they needed to sow up the ethnic vote - often Greek. They were dependent on it for electoral survival. Gruen & Grattan were ALP supporters not critics.

The Australian immigration policy was debauched by the ALP.