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Thursday, 3 December 1959

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) .- I wish to take this opportunity to mention a matter which has caused me concern for some time, and which I know has caused concern to a large section of the Australian community. I refer to the continuous use of the term " new Australian ". I realize, as I have said in this House on a number of occasions, the way in which this term was coined. At the time it was coined, the person who coined it deserved thanks and congratulations for having done so. It was brought into use to replace terms that had been used and were insulting in character, such as " Bait " and " reffo ", which were used in a slighting way and were intended to convey a slight. The term " new Australian " was introduced, and was welcomed by every one as conveying no slight.

As I understand the position, the term " new Australian " has not been officially recognized. It has come into common usage, but with the passage of the years it has acquired many of the characteristics of the earlier terms, itself implying a slight. Since the war, about 1,250,000 migrants have come to Australia, and of that number we can say, using rough figures, that about half were born in foreign countries. When they come here, they invariably find that the appellation " new Australian " is applied to them. Many of them have now been naturalized for a number of years, and they regard the term as a slight.

I think the time has come for the newspapers of this country to give a lead to the public in abandoning the use of this term. I do not suggest the substitution of another term; 1 mean complete abandonment of any term whatsoever which is used exclusively for people of foreign birth now living in Australia.

Mr Duthie - Would you simply call them migrants?

Mr SNEDDEN - No, I would not call them anything. I would refer to one of these people as a man or a woman, or a child. A person born in this country does not expect to be referred to as an Australianborn resident. Such a person is termed simply a citizen or a resident, and the migrants who have been here and have played an active part in the development of Australia should be entitled to the same privilege as being described as men, women or children. It may be said that the newspapers do not play a very significant part in forming opinion. I believe that they do. Certainly it is true that newspapers are widely read in Australia and that people normally adopt terms that are repeatedly used in the press. The press should cease describing these people as "new Australians ". This practice is most hurtful, particularly when the press, in describing a person who is wanted by the police for questioning in connexion with a crime, ends with the words, " He is a new Australian ". Surely it is sufficient to give his description and to treat him as any other resident of Australia would be treated. We see the appellation " new Australian " applied most frequently in circumstances of which the person concerned cannot be proud. I feel that most Australians will agree that the use of this appellation, or indeed any other appellation intended to apply to these people as a group, should be abandoned. They are residents of Australia, whether naturalized or not, and should be treated in entirely the same way as any other resident of Australia is treated.

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