In the Interest of Clarity

By Denis McCormack
Published in The Social Contract
Volume 8, Number 2 (Winter 1997-1998)
Issue theme: "Australia's identity crisis"

Readers of The Social Contract may recall the Winter 1996-97 articles relating to the beginning of the Pauline Hanson phenomenon in Australia (Vol.VII, No.2, p.101). One line in her first speech to Parliament (10 Sept. 1996) precipitated an intensification of the immigration/race debate in Australia "...we are in danger of being swamped by Asians." Every day since there has been some reference in the Australian media to Hanson, her speech (which she didn't write), her book, The Truth, (which she didn't write), or the prospects and goings on of her One Nation political party.

MEDIA RELEASE - December 3, 1997


Graeme Campbell, Parliamentary leader of the Australia First Party, will be leaving on 7 December to undertake a goodwill mission around Asia and will be accompanied by Denis McCormack. Their itinerary covers Jakarta, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Hong Kong.

Mr. Campbell said, "In this time of increasing regional instability, it is in Australia's national interest to more accurately inform Asian governments and media outlets on the background of the so-called race/immigration debate; only then will they understand Prime Minister Howard's dilemma.

The recent ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) publication, What Figures..., which showcases its data sets, states "...people born in Asian regions have made up about 40% of the migrant stream to Australia over the last ten years." Asian ethnic strength has rapidly increased from 2% in 1978 to 9.6% 1997 according to Dr. Charles Price, Emeritus Professor, Demography, Australian National University (Canberra Times, May 18, 1997). He also stated that the real "immigration" figure for 1995/96 was 130,000 rather than Immigration Minister Ruddock's figure of 70,300. This is planned discrimination against the Anglo-Celt-European Australian majority which anyone is capable of understanding.

The valid concerns of the Australian majority relating to the irreversible environmental, economic and socio-cultural impacts of immigration numbers have been discounted through bi-partisanship and denigrated by the media whose shrill accusations of racism and xenophobia seem intended to cast mainstream Australia in the worst possible light internationally. Even professor David Flint, chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Authority and past chairman of the Australian Press Council recently commented on the role of the Australian press through its own "feeding frenzy ... indulging its own fantasies ... until the English language newspapers finally took notice." Mr. Campbell said that he feels obliged to do all he can to correct the problem through polite, frank discussions with the various regional governments on the forthcoming trip. The Australian media's domestic and international campaign in response has become obvious to all to create, promote and denigrate Hanson in the hope of breaking the national psyche on immigration, multiculturalism and Asianization. Within Asia, over 2,000 articles have appeared in English-language newspapers. These, for the most part, have been only too happy to further foment the issue with distorted reports from Australia, which are then dutifully bounced back here by Australian media stringers around the region. It was this campaign that Rep. Graeme Campbell (Independent - Kalgoorlie)and I hoped to short-circuit on our recent trip through Asia. A rushed twelve days through five large, crowded, polluted Asian capitals is not undertaken without good reason.

We were accorded a good hearing within all the relevant government foreign offices. We furnished them with much documentation in support of statements made in the media release. [See the accompanying box for that text.] The standard diplomatic response was "Our government's view, naturally, is that the Australian immigration/race debate is an entirely Australian internal matter that will be resolved by Australians." We indicated our appreciation for that sensible position. In several "The Malaysian Foreign Affairs people

had no trouble understanding our

concerns relating to Dr. Mahathir's

‘inundate the West' scenario."countries, however, we tempered that appreciation by furnishing examples of unbalanced, uninformed commentary by some of their own prominent government representatives. We expressed the hope that the stance of their government, as it has been related to us, would be made clear within their own administrations in order to ensure that further misrepresentation can be avoided. The Malaysian Foreign Affairs people had no trouble understanding our concerns relating to Dr. Mahathir's "inundate the West" scenario. [See excerpts from Dr. Mahathir's speech on pp. 89-90.]

We met with more mixed response, however, at the offices of the various English language newspapers. Some (such as the Jakarta Post, the South China Morning Post and the Hong Kong Standard) were genuinely interested in receiving evidence of the other side of the story while lamenting the fact that, prior to our arrival, they were reliant exclusively on mainstream Australian media. Some newspapers in Asia followed through with fair and balanced reporting of our visit. Others, however, (such as the Bangkok Nation and the Singapore Straits Times) displayed from the start a clear agenda to "get whitey." Their logic appears to have run thus since the Australian elites insist on flagellating themselves on race issues in their own media, why not give them a hand? Race is a touchy issue everywhere, and it sells newspapers.

It was interesting to note that all the diplomats and journalists we spoke with were aware of Pauline Hanson and the immigration/race debate in Australia. By contrast, our discussions with ordinary people during our travels revealed very few who had heard of Hanson.

Hopefully, regional governments and media now have a better understanding of the situation in Australia, and access to alternative sources of information. It remains to be seen if their future presentation of the debate is more temperate.

A complete set of the materials we presented at each of our destinations - including the 1996 Avebury Press hardback Immigration and the Social Contract and "The Grand Plan Asianization of Australia" (reviewed on pp. 109-110) - has now been catalogued with the Federal Parliamentary Library in Canberra. TSC

Denis McCormack is Australian correspondent for The Social Contract and an immigration reform activist.

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