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Experts warn Govt against complacency on huma -

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LISA MILLAR: Several prominent Australian human rights advocates have given the Rudd Government a
mixed report card for its performance on social inclusion since winning office.

Among those delivering their verdict were academic Robert Manne and former Human Rights
Commissioner Sev Ozdowski.

They've given the Government a tick for its handling of Indigenous issues but say much more could
be done to promote multicultural understanding.

Michael Edwards has this report.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Many human rights advocates hailed Kevin Rudd's election as prime minister as a
turning point.

They hoped it marked the end of a government they say pursued a harsh immigration policy and had
little time for multiculturalism.

Almost a year on a group of prominent advocates and academics have met at a conference in Sydney to
deliver a report card on the Rudd Government's performance.

One of the group is Professor Robert Manne from La Trobe University in Melbourne.

ROBERT MANNE: In some areas the government, the Howard government pushed the culture far to the
right and the Rudd Government reflects that. In some areas the Rudd Government has been able to cut
through that problem.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The conference judged the Government's performance by four criteria - rights,
reconciliation, respect and responsibility.

Robert Manne says one area where the Rudd Government has cut through is with immigration policy.

ROBERT MANNE: And I think you have to say that the Rudd Government has in general been good. Quiet
because they are worried about popular backlashes but in fact some of the most offensive parts of
the Howard-Ruddock policy have been removed like the Pacific solution and like the temporary
protection visas.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Labor's immigration policy is set for further scrutiny as the Government deals
with the arrival of the first boatload of people who could be seeking asylum since the changes.

But it's not the only area where Robert Manne says the Government is headed in the right direction.

He says it's also showed strong leadership by apologising to the Stolen Generations.

ROBERT MANNE: It has broken through this absolutely needless false division that you had in the
Howard government which is either practical reconciliation or practical action in fact or symbolic
action.

The previous government said that the two things were different. What the Rudd Government has shown
is that not only are they not in contradiction but the apology has given us a sort of moral
underpinning to things like the Northern Territory intervention.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: But Robert Manne isn't completely happy with the Rudd Government.

ROBERT MANNE: In the area of respect, I think overwhelmingly the biggest problem we have in terms
of ethnic relations or societal relations, is the attitude that's now become acceptable in regard
to Muslims.

All Western societies since 9/11, there has been problems but in Australia I think the Howard
government and now the Rudd Government has not done nearly enough to think about what is happening.
To think about the great story of postwar migration has now got a real problem but on the ground,
it is just common for Muslims to feel that they are under, not attack, but under suspicion.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The former Human Rights Commissioner Sev Ozdowski is another who contributed his
views to the report card.

Dr Ozdowski says the Rudd Government should be doing more to help newer generations of migrants,
especially those from Muslim backgrounds.

SEV OZDOWSKI: You see I arrive in Australia with my family and small son in 1975. Long time ago and
I was treated very well. There were programs which helped me to settle there were opportunities
given to me and I made most of it. It was partly because there were government policies in place.

During the Howard government, unfortunately we had a couple of neglect of this area and I think it
is important that the Rudd Government reasserts its standing vis-a-vis migrants who just came to
Australia in order to succeed.

They sometimes need some help with English language, with equal opportunity, with understanding
better Australian cultures.

LISA MILLAR: That is the former Human Rights Commissioner Sev Ozdowski ending Michael Edwards's
report.