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(generated from captions) as Australian territory. worked as Professor of Geology For the rest of his life, Sir Douglas and was involved in forestry, farming at the University of Adelaide the unique wildlife in our oceans. and the conservation of He died in 1958 at the age of 76. has contributed Sir Douglas Mawson's research to our knowledge of the world. His life has taught us something of the human spirit.' about the strength Nazneen Reehman Closed Captions by CSI - *

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Good morning - Julia Gillard's

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to Big Ideas Extended Mix. Hello, and welcome I'm Tony Jones. On today's show, really is as tolerant a debate exploring whether Australia as we like to think we are. of the White Australia policy It's hard to deny the racist blemish

on our history, boat arrivals, dog-whistle politics, and our current obsession with of racially motivated bashings plus allegations in our major cities in the collective unconscious. linger uncomfortably

hosted by the St James Ethics Centre, In this high-class IQ2 debate, opinion makers and personalities leading academics, has not escaped its racist past." take on the premise "Australia to answer the question, If I had been asked 15 years ago its racist past?" "Has Australia escaped to answer, "Yes". I would've been inclined In the mid 1990s, was committed the Australian Government

with the Aboriginal people. to the process of reconciliation or school of history There was no political tendency of Aboriginal society that denied that in the destruction a terrible injustice had been done. the rate of Asian immigration Arguments for slowing had been successfully resisted. in politics. There was no asylum seeker issue about border control. and therefore no talk against anti-racism exploded. In 1996, a populist backlash as political correctness. Anti-racism was now re-described of Pauline Hanson argued The One Nation party many special privileges that Aborigines were being accorded of ordinary Australians. at the expense was being swamped, It argued that Australia first by Asian immigrants and later by Muslim asylum seekers. These views were very popular. was able to gain At its height, One Nation in Queensland nearly one-quarter of the votes in Australia as a whole. and fully 10% of the votes the emergence of One Nation The Howard government watched and not a little sympathy. with keenest interest towards reconciliation. The government abandoned the movement to the stolen generations. It refused to apologise emerged When a revisionist school of history dispossession, of the injustice of the which denied the depth it sympathised. of anti-Aboriginal contempt Old, apparently banished feelings were now once again openly expressed. dramatic and melancholy return. The repressed had made a rather

shared One Nation's nostalgia The Howard government might not have for White Australia but it did share its hostility asylum seekers. to coloured, mainly Muslim, had a smaller asylum-seeker problem, Even though Australia as it was put, than almost any other Western nation,

became strangely obsessed Australian politics with the question of border control. disproportionate response In the government's grotesquely's of asylum seeker boats - to the arrival and then military repulsion - first incarceration, of White Australia the shadow still cast by the legacy could unmistakably be seen. If the asylum seekers had been white, say white Rhodesian, have been treated with such cruelty. it is inconceivable that they would all talk of multiculturalism. The Howard government abandoned to incite anti-Muslim feeling Following 9/11 it began for political gain. the loyalty of Muslim citizens, Gratuitously, it questioned settled in Australia some of whom had been successfully as long as 40 years ago. it tried to win the 2007 election In the Dr Haneef affair, in part, and linking Muslims with terror. by stirring anti-Muslim feelings at Cronulla in 2005 The anti-Muslim riots about the return of racism provided a clear warning and its near cousin, Islamophobia. or hooligans, The riots were not the work of hoons middle Australian appearance. but of young people of what I call not by isolated bigots They were incited but in part by Alan Jones, one of the pillars Australian establishment. of the conservative John Howard's most revealing to Cronulla and characteristic response that his country was not racist. was his declaration to be said. That was the most important thing Denialism again. will show, As my colleague, Gautam Gupta, the evidence is compelling that the recent sequence of vicious attacks on Indian students perpetrated in the poorer northern and western suburbs of Melbourne, were in large part motivated by racism,

an existential fact of life about which many of those living in the affluent inner suburbs of the capital cities still seem blissfully ignorant. The Rudd government has not been able to undo the profound cultural movement towards the normalisation of racism, that exploded 15 years ago. It now faces a Liberal Party that has returned, with popular support, to the most punitive brand of asylum seeker policies. It now governs in a society where unapologetic anti-Aboriginal and anti-Muslim discourse is provided by talkback radio hosts and the columns of the right-wing commentariat.

Such discourse now forms a part of many citizens' daily diet. In the present atmosphere the remarks that saw Pauline Hanson removed... BELL DINGS Liberal Party candidate in 1996 would scarcely raise an eyebrow. Middle-class Australians seem surprised when Cronulla erupts, when Indian students are brutally attacked, when a drunken footballer bashes and then pulls the turban from the head of an Indian taxi driver, when the arrival of a small number of non-white refugees

is deemed a national crisis

and when a celebrated rugby league player nonchalantly describes an opposition Indigenous player as a black CCC. The time for surprise is over. I ask you tonight to join the dots. Many Australians of goodwill have struggled valiantly for 40 years so that their country might escape its racist past. There has been progress but there has also been retreat. It is a dangerous delusion to claim that we have yet succeeded. The struggle must continue. I urge you to vote tonight with this in mind. Thank you. APPLAUSE Today I will be debating my very passionate belief that Australia has moved away from its racial past and has become a dynamic multicultural nation where everyone deserves a fair go. When I migrated to Australia in 1972, I was only one of the five turbaned Sikhs in Victoria. Here I will say a few things. The turban was never a hindrance to me in getting a job in the hospital. Outside, when I was not known as a doctor, the people became very friendly. Sometimes I wondered whether it was my turban or it was my good looks that they became so close to me. But in any case I was very welcome amongst them. And when I arrived here, I was completely unaware that only five years previously the White Australia policy had been abolished. I'd prefer to label this as open-minded rather than being ignorant and receptive to what a new culture and a new country had in store for me. There are several incidents that I have encountered in the past 37 years which I believe clearly demonstrate that nation's advance in combating racism and accomplishments in creating an equitable and just society, and here are a few of them. Simon did mention about my experience at the Australian hospital. I was to towards the end of my cardiology training. I was a cardiology registrar. I was called to the office of the medical superintendent. In his office were the professor of surgery and the professor of medicine and they told me that they considered that I was highly skilled and they considered that I would be a very good candidate

for the role of the director of emergency services. That position had been vacant for the past 18 months and they would consider it an honour if I would apply for the position. At the same time I was told that there were no other applicants except for myself. However, after the interview I was then called back to the office of the medical superintendent. They had a very solemn, grim look on their face and they told me that my - that I had been unsuccessful in my application. And as if it was a justification or it was remorse feeling they told me that one of the members of the interview panel was a local member of parliament who said that if this prestigious position was given to an Indian doctor he would have no choice but to cut the funding of the hospital. And in a situation like that, they really could not do anything about it. It made no difference to me -

my cardiology training was coming to an end and after I finished my training I opted to go into private practice and did not look back. However, I think the guilt feeling in those three individuals persisted for a time because in 1977 I was in the hospital cafeteria when Professor Austin Doyle met me and said, "Gurdip, you will be very pleased to know that we have righted some wrongs that were done to you, and you will soon be hearing that there has been established a board that will now make sure that the discrimination that you faced will never happen again." And this was the establishment of the equal opportunity anti-discrimination board. Now, you be the judge here - three important - the most important people of the hospital fighting for me to make sure that no other person in a situation like me would ever come across or would be subject to do such a discrimination as they did and the establishment of the Anti-Discrimination Board. I... ..I was very happy to continue on with that and the Anti-Discrimination Board was set up and then while this was going on some other issues appeared and the issue was that of the immigration of professionals from overseas countries. They were coming here as professionals but there were no bridging courses, they were having difficulties in getting jobs because they had no local experience and so when we raised the issue with the minister of immigration he came up with the establishment of what we call as the Council on Overseas Professional Qualifications.

This body, in response, set up on a four-year plan for a very bold and innovative development of fair, unbiased and non-discriminatory procedures for the assessment and recognition of professional and technical qualifications and skills gained overseas. And this saw the establishment of the Department of Education, Employment and Training. It was a very big step for the overseas-trained individuals to now get this training, which was lacking. Is this not a movement away towards racism.

Then there was the famous Dr Arumugam case. He was a renowned psychiatrist and he was officiating as a director of psychiatric in a very large hospital in Melbourne.

He believed he was passed over for a top medical position for no other reason than his race, and that he had been a victim of racial discrimination. He won the case in the Equal Opportunity Board but later lost in the Supreme Court and was ordered to pay $70,000 in costs. The High Court refused to hear his case. The Supreme Court judge, Justice Fullagar, found that even though the Equal Opportunity Board had found in favour of Dr Arumugam, believing him to be more suitably qualified than his opponent for the job, it was not their role, it was not the role of the board, to infer race discrimination. The Supreme Court judge said the fact that the occurrence of racial discrimination

may often be difficult to prove cannot justify convicting on anything less than proof. We consulted the judgment of Justice Fullagar with the International Court of Justice and they gave us some very sound advice. With this advice, I approached Caroline Hogg, who was the state minister for health, and Andrew McCutcheon, the attorney-general, and as a result of this advice, we argued that it was absolutely impossible to prove conscious discrimination, and the Arumugam decision seriously undermined the effectiveness of the Equal Opportunity Act. BELL DINGS

The Health Department and the Attorney-General's Office wrote off the court costs. Later the federal and state governments tightened laws, making it difficult to discriminate on racial grounds. Simon had already told you about the legislation effecting the Sikhs. Legislation was introduced to ban the carrying of knives which affected the baptised Sikhs, who carry a traditional sword, or a kirpan, then there was a legislation introducing the wearing of helmets. I went and saw Mal Sandon, the police minister, explained to him that I have a turban I can't wear, and there and then he got his press secretary and put in a press release that the turbaned Sikhs would be exempted from such laws. These examples are indeed testament to the sound advances

BELL DINGS in multiculturalism and social equity and that we, as a nation, have accomplished and evidence that we have escaped our past. Thank you. APPLAUSE MC: Hanita Deen. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We argue that Australia has not escaped its racist past. We are not saying that Australia is a racist society we are arguing that there is a connection

between the racism of the past and the resurgence of tensions that are being played out around Australia today. We see this in attitudes and behaviour towards asylum seekers, the attacks on Indians, and a hostility to any suggestions that we are not the people we think we are.

Many Australians are either unaware of these problems because of where they live or the circles they frequent, or choose to ignore them. Some people have definitions of racism that set the bar higher than I or many of you in the audience do. In the eyes of some, the colour of your skin, your willingness to assimilate and even your religion make you more Australian than others. Sometimes it's couched crudely, sometimes it's dressed up in gentrified language. To me, part of being Australian means not conforming to a mythical, ethno-centric view of who we are. Professor Jerzy Zubrzycki once said, and I quote him, "Multiculturalism is a voluntary bond of dissimilar people sharing a political and institutional structure." The foundation for many of our attitudes and ways of behaving towards other races go back to the invasion and colonisation of what was blithely called "terra nullius", when it was nothing of the sort. Then we have the first immigration act in 1901 with a dictation entry test borrowed from South Africa. The White Australia policy didn't suddenly appear in 1901, it took hold in the 1850s, when Chinese were vilified and treated abominably.

It intensified in the 1890s against the Afghans and Indian cameleers. Dark turbaned men were strangers and excluded from our self-portraits. They were ridiculed. White women who married them were outcasts. The Afghan problem, as it was then known,

was as hotly debated in Australia at the time as the subject of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants is today.

Then the Australian working class wanted protection from cheap Asian labour, but how were those feelings expressed? In crude, racist language, as I discovered last year, when I was trawling through the Australian National Archives, looking at this period. They reminded me of the hate speech blogs on the Internet today. Agitators travelled from town to town making fiery speeches, working on people. They didn't invite them to join unions, any of the Afghans and Indians, of course. Today we have shock jocks and talkback radio hosts using similar jingoistic language, carrying out the same function. And when politicians and the tabloid media fan our fears the old ugliness comes back, it emerges,

and we show little empathy towards people who are visibly different to us. People with problems become problems. In our name, desert gulags are built to handle asylum seekers. We even swallow lies that parents would throw their children overboard. Indian students, taxi drivers being attacked? (SARCASTICALLY) Well, it's just opportunism. Get over it. There have been times in our history in the 1980s and early 1990s when we had pride in our cultural diversity. It ran high - there was energy, belief and commitment. We stood and cheered Nicky Winmar

confronting the redneck elements in the footy crowds. International researchers came to Australia to study our programs, our policies. We were getting it right. Some people didn't like it, of course,

but in the cities, we were proud of our cosmopolitanism.

We laughed at Wogs at Work - we'd stopped laughing at the wogs, we were laughing with them. But one day we stopped moving forward. Politicians pushed buttons and the old gravitational pull began working again. Our policies were watered down, major institutions downsized. We fell into the old ways of fearing ethnic and cultural difference. A new manual on how to win elections was written, code words used by the Howard government - "Go home." "Australian values." "Be frightened of Islam." Recycle the myth of invasion by sea, not the Yellow Peril this time, but more boat people - no, not the Vietnamese, but another mob. I wonder if they'd been white, how we would have treated them. But of course, white illegals arrive at airports well dressed with designer luggage. Multiculturalism became pushed to the edges and a chauvinistic nationalism took its place. Some people try to escape by rewriting history or by developing a culture of denial. There's a popular belief some people are more Australian than others. That your loyalty as a citizen and attachment to this country is measured by how long you've lived here. Adolescents who drape themselves in the Australian flag, believe that their behaviour transforms them

into an Australian uber-Mensch, defending their homeland, as played out in the Cronulla riots of 2006. "We grew here, you flew here," they chanted. And Australia Day is showing similar signs today. We're still insecure about our national identity. Exclusionary ID policies are popular at the moment. We still have a pecking order of racism. All we've done is shuffle the cards. Aborigines are still on the bottom, but we've made way for African communities and Muslims. We all have multiple identities that we juggle. I'm Australian,

but I also belong to a tribe that's very unpopular at the moment, it's the Muslim tribe. It's my clan in the good times and the bad times and believe me, like my footy team, The Eagles,

we're not doing so well at the moment. We have the annual Hijab debate. We have the call to ban babes in Burqa.

Suddenly a number of male politicians have become feminists overnight. Anti-Muslim prejudice did not occupy much public space before the first Gulf War in 1990. But 9/11 marked that watershed in how Australian Muslims were perceived. Academics speak of the racialisation of religion as a kind of new racism.

Skin colour, Hijab, beard, the cap, accent - they are the markers of Muslim-ness. It's physical criteria used to operationalise racism. If a group of thugs accost you verbally, insult you, humiliate you because of your race, they bash you - that's a racist incident. It's more than opportunism. Later, the young thugs justify it to their mates. They sniff the wind of popular opinion and start to see themselves

as vigilantes with a mandate. If police ignore the cries for help of an Aborigine dying trapped in the back of a police van in oven-like temperatures in north-west of WA, that is a racist crime because if that was a white man in the van, you and I know that would not have happened. Children from an Islamic primary school, 8- and 9-year-olds are out with their teacher for an end-of-year outing at the zoo, an elderly couple confront them, yell and abuse them. Freedom of speech or racial harassment? The sad thing is that none of the onlookers intervene or say anything. One of my favourite authors, Mark Twain, of the great Huckleberry Finn which was a great social novel of racism in the deep South,

Mark Twain once said, "I have no race prejudice, I think I have no colour prejudices or caste prejudices, nor creed prejudices.

Indeed, I know it, I can stand any society at all that I care to know. What I want to know is that a man is a human being. That is enough for me. He can't be any worse." Thank you. APPLAUSE MC: Professor Bob Birrell. Good evening, everyone. Please excuse the crutch - it's caused by a hip replacement, self-induced by too much running.

Now, we do agree that some of the starting points of our opponents, there's no question that we do have a racist heritage. But where we draw the line is the argument, that fundamental policies of our Australian government are driven by racism. We draw the line at that argument. I think it's an inherently implausible proposition. Let me start with a few facts that will illustrate this point. Currently, the Australian government is running the largest per capita migration programme in the developed world. Most of the migrants coming in that programme, are from Asia and the Middle East. Currently, about 24% of all persons living in in Australia are born overseas. And the majority of those are from non-English speaking background countries. More than 10% of the population of Melbourne and Sydney is Asian born. Now, in the face of these facts, if the legacy of racism pervades our thinking about migration and related public policy issues, surely there'd be profound protest in Australia. But there is not. We have innumerable opinion polls asking people about their opinion of immigration

and until recently,

only a minority have said

that they want the migration program to be reduced. Now, that has changed in past couple of, the past year or so, as the great debate about population has come alive. Now, around 50-60% of Australians, when polled, say they'd like to see the migration reduced, but when asked why, they say it's because we should be paying more attention to training more Australians, we should be worried about the environmental impact of rapid population growth. Very few say that we should slow immigration because there is too much ethnic diversity or cultural diversity in Australia. There's the notion that one man, one woman is as good as another,

everybody deserves a fair go.

This form of identity is accessible to migrants.

It's not exclusionary.

A person for Japan, China, India can be in Australia is he or she seeks to integrate into this conception of what it is to be Australian. By contrast, you and I go to China or Japan and seek to become a Chinese or a Japanese - not possible. We don't have the immersion in those particular cultures, we don't share the same skin colour or the genetic inheritance. Now that's not to deny that Australians embrace all people's ethnic backgrounds. Those ethnic communities which seek to establish separate communities in Australia, seek to develop their own institutions, and reproduce them across the generations, and remain excluded from the mainstream, are not welcomed. But that is basically because of this concern, that most Australians, as I said, want to be one community. Now despite all this, our opponents are telling us that racism is the core for understanding Australians' un-welcoming response to illegal boat people seeking asylum when they arrive on our shores. Now it is a very convenient argument for them because it puts them on the moral high ground and anybody who opposes their proposition is, ipso facto, a racist. Not a very good position to be arguing from. But I suggest to you that it's not plausible. True, the majority of Australians when polled do say they are opposed to the arrival of illegal boat people seeking asylum here. The great majority. Now, true again - there is a small number of Australian who are racist but to suggest two thirds, three quarters of Australian are racist and that is what is animating their concern about boat people is ridiculous. Where's the opposition to the humanitarian program? Very little. Nobody's objecting, to my knowledge. Well, there is no campaign to reduce the humanitarian program of around 14 or 15,000 a year.

What is objected to is this particular group of asylum claimants. But what is distinctive to them is that they have chosen to come here.

We didn't chose them. And I think that is the key to understanding why most Australians are not supportive of boat arrivals. As a people who value their sense of community, they want to make the choice as to who belongs to our community, not let others make it for them. And again, I suggest to you that if a leaky boat of Scotchmen arrived in Christmas Island claiming persecution from the English we would get much the same reaction as we're seeing with boats arriving with Afghans and Sri Lankans. Now, my final point in arguing the case that the racist legacy in Australia is limited, has to do with the most intimate aspects

of social integration in Australia,

and that's intermarriage - partnering. That is the most intimate of all relationships. People do not marry or partner with people whom they hold hostile, negative stereotypes about their cultural racial origin. In Australia, we have so far passed this test. The first big test was the integration of southern Europeans. As you know, hundreds of thousands of persons from Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia came here in the '50s, '60s, '70s. By the third generation, the vast majority of those persons have married out. The negative stereotypes that undoubtedly did attach to Greeks and Italians, when they first came here, have faded. They are, they are one of us. And the Greeks, perhaps the most ethnocentric of all, by the third generation, about two thirds married out. Now, third generation means persons with parents born in Australia

but their parents were born in Greece. I think this success is partly because of upward mobility on the part of southern Europeans. But again, it endorses the picture that Dr Aurora has painted, that people by and large, people from different cultural backgrounds have been encouraged to integrate. BELL RINGS And that is what has facilitated the dropping of negative stereotypes and intermarriage. A final test case is what has happened to Australian Indigenous persons. If you want to see race in action go to The United States. There you will find that only 10% of blacks are out-married to non-black persons. The 'one-drop rule' prevails. Racism prevails in choice of marriage partner. In Australia, the majority of Indigenous women are partnered to non-Indigenous men. The majority of Indigenous men are partnered to non-Indigenous women. This experience is not consistent, with the maintenance of racist stereotypes in Australia. I think what it is telling us rather, is that racism is in decline. BELL RINGS Look, I do admire the commitment of our opponents

to the cause of refugees but I do not think it is advanced

by incorrectly labelling their fellow Australians as racist, nor do I think it will be advanced if you vote for the same proposition. Thank you. APPLAUSE MC: Gautam Gupta Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Well, I agree with the opposition that Australia has made progress. Yes, since the last couple of decades we have stopped institutionalised killings and stealing kids. However, racism still exists,

and it exists in every nation, so to argue that Australia is 100% racism free, is baloney.

The fact that today we are even discussing whether a long-established multicultural society like Australia is racist, shows how much the political leadership of this country has dropped the ball on the fight against racism. In 2009, The Age claimed Victorian crime statistics showed that Indian born citizens were twice as likely to be victims of street crimes. But the main impact of the racial street crimes, was felt by the 50,000 born Indian students and not by the more affluent, established Indian-born migrant community.

Which is also why established Indians could say that they felt safe. How nice for them. The shocking reality was that Indian students were over 400% more at risk that the general Victorian population. According to police, just in one suburb of Maribyrnong, 46% of all victims of armed robberies were Indian students. Few believe the Premier when he tells us that Victoria is the safest state in Australia. With assault levels at 400% greater than ordinary Victorians, How can Indian students and their parents have any faith in Victorian claims about racism or crime? I'm proud that I spent every waking hour of my life making sure the world heard the stories of these victims of violence and racism. And I fought for the emotional and medical support that they needed. By standing up for these voiceless victims, I had been labelled by some powerful people as public enemy number one. It's a pity. It's a pity that the public figures did not turn their anger towards the criminals who terrorise and victimised innocent students from Asia. The police response in such cases shocked the world. The police was busy trying to prove how these cases were not racist, while suggesting that Indians should not speak in their native tongue and to look as poor as they can. The police in Melbourne got tangled in a war of words with victims and failed to demonstrate the scientific and clinical precision in crime solving that is expected of a professional police force. The incidence of street crime and the indifference of our institutions was communicated directly to the relatives of the victims via SMS messages and YouTube videos. It is no surprise that thousands of angry young people protested around Australia and worried Asian parents stopped sending their children to Australia. Furiously denying these attacks while all of Asia watched the video evidence was pure stupidity. At the time, community leaders like myself were also racially attacked for speaking out -

on websites, and personally attacked by government officials.

But shooting the messenger solved nothing. This was just another symptom of obvious racism.

It is very damaging for Australia's Asian-dependent economy that across Asia,

Australia is now seen as returning to its racist ways. This perception in Asia is largely due to our government's erratic treatment of Asian visa holders and potential migrants and its denial about the recent surge in racial attacks on international students from India. This is not a nicety of political correctness that requires us to make amends in Asia for our treatment of the students, it is a question of economics. Asia is now both our main banker and our link to economic growth. The fortress mentality of Europe has proven to be a path to stagnation and debt. We have escaped the shackles of European and Anglo economic stagnation because of three Asian factors. Number one - we have in place a huge public spending program

underwritten by Chinese capital. Number two - we have a massive current and future export trade, assured by being locked into supplying the big four Asian trading partners, that is China, India, South Korea and Japan. We have secured a cheap and highly educated source of migrants to repair our fast aging society. It should be noted that we have used the massive cash cows of international students, international education, and discounted labour guest-worker schemes, like 457 visas, to do this. It is understandable that, given this stark economic reality that our current political and media elite want to deal in such absolutes, is that is Australia racist or is now free of racism? The reason that Australia is being called racist today in Asia is largely because of a monocultural establishment - the police, the judiciary, the media and the political elite. These lily-white institutions have resisted Asian faces and Asia accents for 40 years even while we opened our door to Asian migrants. As Professor Bob Birrell suggested that we are letting Asians in but letting Asians in and treating them as equals are two distinct things. Asians can be award-winning heart surgeons and like Dr Gurdip Aurora here - he is a very qualified and a successful doctor but can he be a political leader or a police? Can Asians be accepted as political leaders or join police and get into media at that level? We will need to find courage we found 40 years ago to end the White Australia policy on immigration and reform our institutions to reflect the new reality

where both Indian and Chinese-born

outnumber traditional migrant communities like Italians and Greeks. Our media and politicians do not thank Asia for saving Australia from recession, rather they blame Asians for everything from dodgy sushi to rising house prices. The only thing Asians have not been blamed for are the bushfires

but I'm sure some journalist is working on that.


The ever-tactful Chinese have called Australia an ungrateful kangaroo. This is their way of expressing their deeply hurt feelings about the rise of racism in our politics, media, and even in international business. Instead of sledging and demeaning Australia's best and brightest who have called Australia home

or who seek to make a bright future here we should welcome Asia and lock Australia into a bright future.

After all, as our national anthem says, we have boundless plains to share. We must ask ourselves as to why do our aged and elderly have to wait over a year for hip replacement surgery when we have easy access to millions of Asian professionals. For the sake of our children,

we must have the moral courage to confront our racist past and current racist attitudes. We have to work harder and smarter to alter the Asian viewpoint

that still thinks that England stole a continent from black people, put a fence around it, and for 200 years had a sign, "Whites only". Saying that we are no longer a whites-only colony, and actually re-engineering our key institutions to be multi-racial is not easy. We are still waiting to see an Aboriginal as an Australian head of state. Let us have someone as inspirational as Cathy Freeman

to be our first president. She, to many, represents the hope of the Indigenous of this country.

Let us demonstrate the courage to see Asians, Indigenous, Muslims, and Africans in parliament. Australia is uniquely placed to tackle this issue as, unlike most of our politicians, ordinary Australians are honest. Even when we are racist, we admit it. That's the best part. In a 2003 study done by the University of NSW over 83% of respondents recognised that there was a problem with racism in Australia. Unfortunately our politicians continue to deny it. Now denying the new racism in Australia is pointless. In fact, denial of these nasty pockets of hate in our criminal youth and in our police media and political elite, betrays the majority of ordinary Australians citizens who have embraced our Asian future and embraced fairness for all as a way of life. Hence we are seeing this massive acceptance and acknowledgement that there is an Asian immigration program, and we accept it. BELL DINGS In January 2010, former defence force chief, General Peter Cosgrove, said, and I quote, "The number of incidents against Indians seem too many to be coincidences. If you didn't suspect a racial strand you'd be mad." Today I repeat the call he made to all Australians to deal more openly and directly with race issues than many political figures have been willing to do. Let's not have someone like Timana Tahu, who's a celebrated Indigenous player, give up his jersey just because he was racially attacked. Why are we sitting here silently? Why aren't we angry? Why didn't we get upset? How come we did not write to the Attorney-General or to our Premier or to our local politicians that this is unacceptable? That is what we need to do. Let us be strong and stop Australia's retreat back to the 1800s. Let us all advance Australia fair. Thank you for listening. APPLAUSE MC: Tanveer Ahmed. APPLAUSE Now, I know it wasn't through the active management of the organisers, but I guess I complete the trend of elderly white male academic being flanked by two Indian-looking people. LAUGHTER I vividly remember a scuffle on a cricket field

as a university student. A bowler mumbled something to a batting partner who was a burly Sri Lankan. He was incensed. He dropped his bat and started walking threateningly to the bowler. "You called me a black prick," he shouted. This energised everybody. My teammates started walking out onto the field in support. The bowler stood firm defensively, shook his head and retorted, "Don't call me a racist. I didn't call you a black prick. I called you a fat prick." LAUGHTER The tension eased, much laughter followed, although my batting partner was still annoyed and left red-faced. A couple of things this encounter underlined.

First, race is an emotionally charged topic and not one easy to debate rationally. It touches on our primitive urges, an innate suspicion of difference. We make unconscious judgements based on race, looks or height every day. Second, minority groups are often sensitised to seeing racism when it may not be there. As a result, it's often a simplistic charge that belies the complexity of human motives. Finally, it seems calling someone fat, or a prick, or even a fat prick, is far more preferable than calling them black. The term 'racism' is used in a loose way to describe the hostile feelings of one ethnic group to another. This group-centered prejudice and the snobbery is an almost universal human failing. Now, the climax of the history of racism came in the 20th century when the antipathy of one group felt to another reached a single-mindedness and brutality unprecedented. The Nazis, apartheid, and the American south were some of the worst examples, where a racial, religious or ethnic group was seen as having unchangeable, inferior traits. It's prelude was a century of colonialism the conquests of empire and the notion of the white man's burden, to civilise the lesser peoples of the non-white world. What makes this racism so conspicuous is that it developed in a context that presumed human equality of some kind, an idea that remains novel in most parts of the world. First came the doctrine of Christian believers, all equal before God

and later, the more revolutionary concept, that all men are born free and equal and entitled to equal rights in society and government. The logic of racism was derived from the west where it was also being identified, condemned and resisted from within the same cultural tradition. This debate begins with the assumption that Australia shares this racist past of our cultural ancestry. There's much evidence to support this, as you've heard, from the founding act, to exclude Melanesian and Chinese labour, to the treatment of Aborigines, to our fear of Asian or Japanese invasion. What this debate really depends upon is how we define 'escaped'. You've heard from my teammates a story of a country, that despite lacking a grand mythology, and having an isolated, barren geography, but is still one that has developed into one of the most successful and diverse countries in the world. Some of the measures that indicate this - a social mobility, rates of mixed marriage, and our immigration rates. We are one of the most desirable nations to emigrate to. Incidentally, I enjoyed hearing Dr Aurora's account of difficulty wearing turbans and bike helmets. We've all heard of the burqini, an innovative attempt to conquer traditional mores

with modern lifestyles.

Perhaps somebody could try manufacturing a more convenient turban. I was think of a combination of a beanie and a turban - It could be called a 'Burban',

Which would go very nicely with Australian culture indeed. LAUGHTER You've heard from our opponents,

that despite our clear success on some levels, there is a lurking underbelly of prejudice that requires only a minor spark to be set ablaze, be it from conservative leaders, world events or economic deprivation. Professor Manne argues that our response to asylum seekers reflects an underlying racism, now in the form of Islamophobia. We heard from Professor Birrell, that it's more complex than that. That it touches on a deep sense of fairness and community amongst all Australians, including many migrant groups. Terrorism has upped the prejudice towards Muslims across the globe there is nothing like TV images to trigger emotional responses, one that isn't easily felt for the tens of thousands of other Muslims from Asia, the Middle East and Africa, who quietly come off the plane and walk through customs. We remain relatively unique in that the majority of our Muslim migration other than Lebanese refugees in the late '70's, entered the workforce and watched their children rise up the social ladder, with the ease that my teammates outlined. And on this I will make the point that the race riots were more a conflict of urban tribes fighting over territory. It had more to do with class than some underlying racial divide. White working class youth, fuelled by alcohol against a group of, kind of, marginalised Lebanese youth. I contend that our antipathy towards asylum seekers is one most people hold with considerable ambivalence,

and is not fundamentally tied to a racist past, but more a feature of modern trends - the dominance of TV images, terrorism and globalisation. The attacks on Indian students another example of events where simplistic charges of racism failed to illuminate the complexities of human motives. They were likely to be as much acts of opportunism from desperate predators, as they were related to race. In fact, Gautam almost proved the point for me. The attacks were against, specifically, Indian students. And not the broader group of Indians. Which suggests that this group was more vulnerable - they worked odd hours, they often lived in areas with greater crime rates. Indeed some of the attackers were suspected of being heroin addicts. Why is it that Melbourne, arguably Australia's most progressive city, became the eye of the storm when it came to student attacks. While Victoria may attract the highest number of students the attacks remain disproportionate,

which suggests some local factors, such as law enforcement, were also contributors, as well as the vulnerable lifestyles that many students lead.

Note, Victoria has fewer police per capita than any other Australian state. Now, I also suggest something about the monoculture, which Gautum was trying to allude to a broader racism. As someone who has straddled a more traditional,

say, ethnic profession of being a doctor, while trying to also work in the media, I can tell you it's far more complex than that. Often children of ethnic groups do not choose those professions. The average child of an Indian is not dreaming

of becoming the police chief. They're thinking of careers in medicine, engineering or business, this kind of thing. There's a lot more layers of complexity than mere charges of racism. A quick note about the Indigenous problem. As someone who's worked as a young doctor in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, I saw the complete failure of many of the policies championed by the likes of Professor Manne. Be it no-strings-attached welfare or forms of cultural relativism. The more recent policies of greater individual responsibility and modified paternalism, that Professor Manne would attribute to our racist past, I would attribute to utter frustration. At the failure of past ideas to develop and rehabilitate a people stripped of their historical symbols and traditions. There is no question that racial prejudice exists. Surveys over the past decade suggest half of us think Muslims behave strangely. That we admit to low levels of racial prejudice. And many of us don't want our children to marry people of other ethnic groups.

But clearly, as we've heard, particularly from Professor Birrell... BELL DINGS ..the reality on the ground is that we've already been swamped by Asian hordes, myself included, where many of your children, God forbid,

have married outside their ethnic groups and there is little evidence of broader institutional barriers

to climb the social ladder for ethnic or religious groups. Nothing comparable to the far-right parties of Europe have had any lasting success here, and nor will they.

Pauline Hanson was a blip on our political radar. As our team of enlightened, optimistic go-getters highlight, and underline the folly of our self-flagellating, cultural-cringing opponents, we've well and truly escaped our racist past. APPLAUSE Psychiatrist and columnist, Tanveer Ahmed, forcefully winding it up for the opposition. The audience on the night voted 70% in favour of the motion that indeed, Australia has not escaped its racist past. To see that debate in full, head to our website at: where you'll find much more booty for your brain - a plethora of other talks, debates, ideas and inspiration.

I'm Tony Jones, till next time. THEME MUSIC Closed Captions by CSI This Program Is Captioned


Tony Abbott takes to the

water, but it's Julia Gillard's

boat that's leaking. Look, of

course I'm angry that someone

would engage in this kind of

conduct. But I'm not going to

be diverted by it. There is

some terrible malaise at the

heart of this government when

you've got this kind of leaking

going on. What seniors want. A

new front opens in the election

campaign. Latest figures show

inflation is easing. And the

school that's booted bottled

water to bring back the