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Agenda will do little to improve community relations

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Senator Jim Short

Shadow Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs MED

Assisting the Leader on Multicultural Affairs

MAIC 19/94


While some of the projects to be funded by the Community Relations Agenda announced today by the Keating Labor Government's Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs Senator Bolkus may have individual merit, the Agenda will do little to improve community relations in


It may in fact have the opposite effect, by causing tensions between those few communities which receive some of the meagre funding available under the Agenda and the many who will miss out.

The Minister's announcement is a blatant attempt to throw some tax payers money around in an endeavour to buy a few more votes at the next election.

The Agenda by its very nature will be discriminatory. It is also paternalistic.

Once again the Keating Labor Government is walking away from the main problems facing the community in general and ethnic communities in particulai. Those problems are massive unemployment, family breakdown, and falling living standards. Under this Government the lowest 10% of wage earners in Australia have suffered a fall of 5% or more in their real incomes

- if they have been lucky enough to retain a job. Many of those in the lower income groups are migrants.

The Keating Labor Government, as a result of its failed policies,is directly responsible for this totally unacceptable state of affairs.

This situation makes a mockery of Senator Bolkus' claim today that his Community Relations Agenda "reflects the Government's commitment to social justice and a fair go for all Australians".

This latest Agenda is Stage Two of a vote buying campaign the Government launched some three years ago. Stage One sunk virtually without trace. Stage Two is destined for the same outcome. It is important that all Australians do all they can to further strengthen the great tolerance and

generosity of spirit that is a hallmark of our multicultural society. Blatant Party political vote buying exercises like this one by the Keating Labor Government demean and weaken that process.

Collingwood, 3 June 1994 For further information contact Senator Short on (03) 417 1499 or Richard King on (06) 277 3119.


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