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Directional statement and portfolio upgrade reaffirm Coalition commitment to immigration and multicultural Australia



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Senator Jim Short

Shadow Minister for Immigrationand Ethnic Affairs MEDIA Assisting the Leader on Multicultural Affairs

IMEA 33/94

Directional Statement and Portfolio Upgrade Reaffirm

Coalition Commitment to Immigration and Multicultural Australia

In his directional statement "The Things That Matter" released today the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Downer, reaffirmed the Coalition's strong commitment to Multicultural Australia, and to a positive and ongoing non-discriminatory immigration policy as an integral part of Australia's nation

building.

Mr Downer reinforced this commitment during answers to questions at the National Press Club . lawnch of the Statement.

The Statement outlines the Coalition's commitment to access and equity in its multicultural and settlement programs.

We remain committed to giving greater emphasis to English language and literacy services so that new settlers are not disadvantaged by poor understanding of the language.

The Statement also commits the Coalition to giving a higher priority to the health needs of migrant women and to aged persons than has been accorded them by the Keating Government.

We are also committed to improving and strengthening community input into Government decision-making on migration and multicultural policies. The Keating Government pays lip service only to consultation.

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY

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The Coalition is determined to redress this unacceptable state of affairs.

Mr Downer's announcement yesterday that the portfolio of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs is to be re-included in the Shadow Cabinet is an extremely positive step. It demonstrates categorically that the Coalition places a very high priority on immigration and multicultural policies and

on the diverse ethnic communities that have so enriched Australia -economically, socially- and culturally - throughout our history, but especially in recent decades.

For further information contact Senator Short or Richard King on (06) 277 3119; (03) 417 1499

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As Labor has tried to centralise

more and more power in its own hands in Canberra, Australians have come to feel increasingly isolated and powerless.

As Labor has divided the nation into "gimps" and "categories", Australians as individuals feel ... increasingly neglected and pawns in part of a much bigger political game, and communities feel that

power has drained away from them to remote bufeaucracies.

As a consequence, the broad sense of shared community among Australians continues to fracture under the Keating Government.

The greatest political challenge which Australia faces has nothing to do with rewriting our Constitution.

It is to stop the erosion of our national community spirit, to once more empower communities and to rebuild our culture of civic

engagement which is the lifeblood of our democratic society.

Opportunities And

Choices For Women

Expanding opportunities and choices for women throughout the Australian community is a core .

objective of the Coalition.

While progress has been made in securing equality of opportunity for women, more needs to be done.

There must be further genuine

improvements in vital areas affecting women, including health care, job creation, child care, the tax and family payments system, superannuation, education, savings, violence against women and the

organisarion of the workplace.

The cul _ Larof w ard omen in country areas, from non-English speaking backgrounds and -

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women must be addressed_

Our National Job Creation Strategy, our National Family Strategy and our program to revitalise communities all have

speciEc goals and directions, the achievement of which will significantly advance opportunities for women in Australia.

Diversity of Cultures as

a_ Community Resource

Immigration has been fundamental to nation building in Australia and it will continue to be important.

Australia stands out among the nations of the world for the successful way in which people from every country have been

brought together in harmony and tolerance of each other.

Because this has occurred within the recognition of overarching loyalty to Australia's democratic institutions and values, we have been able to

build a multicultural society which

has become one of our great national characteristics, and indeed a major national resource.

The diversity of languages, experiences, and cultural backgrounds possessed by Australians is a part of our national identity which all Australians can share and from

which they can benefit This diversity can be a great advantage in our relations with almost all other countries in the world.

It gives Australia special opportunities in building links between the countries of origin of our citizens and the countries of the

Ksia-Pacific region_ Equally, it is a strong reason why Australia must not turn its back on any region of

the world.

We take pride in the role of previous Coalition Governments in laying the basis for the development of our multicultural

society. The next Coalition Government will be motivated by the same spirit.. We will continue our strong support for

Australians of all cultural origins and for the building of Australia as a cooperative and tolerant multicultural society based on an

overriding and unifying commitment to Australia.

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Australia is one of the great

immigrant nations in modern history. As a result we have a rich heritage of development as a

multicultural society. Successive waves of migrants from some.200 countries have helped Australia forge a nation that is tolerant,

harmonious, freedom loving, culturally rich and diverse.

The Coalition takes great pride-in its role in this achievement, especially during the last 50 years.

Successive Coalition Governments have facilitated and supported the post-war migration program to

Australia. It was Coalition Govenarnnts that opened their arms to the victims of repression and suffering, it was the Coalition that

welcomed the tens of thousands Of refugees from Indochina after 1975.

The Coalition is also particularly proud of its role in abolishing the White Australia policy.

We are proud of our record. We will continue our strong support for Australians of all cultural origins and for the building of Australia as

a co-operative and tolerant multicultural society based on an overriding and unifying commitment to Australia_

OUR MULTICULTURAL COMMUNITIES

Our Goals for Australia's multicultural communities and immigration In Government our key goals will be to: • maintain a positive, and ongoing immigration program, which has broad

community support, as an integral part of Australia's nation building

• ariminister the immigration program in a manner appropriate to Australia's economic circumstances and our family and humanitarian obligations

• continue our longstanding commitment to non-discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, gender, ethnicity or nationality

• ensure that selection is based on a case-by-case assessment of applicants

• re-establish the credibility and accountability of immigration administration and procedure to rebuild community confidence in its implementation

• improve screening procedures to detect war criminals and those involved in atrooities or crimes against humanity

• introduce citizenship courses and encourage all permanent residents to take out Australian citizenship

• give greater emphasis to English language and literacy services

• in co-operation with the States, develop and adapt our multicultural and settlement programs in light of changing needs to guarantee improved access to them and equity in their implementation

• ..c re a higher priority to the health needs of migrant women and aged persons

• strengthen community input into government policy decisions on migration and multicultural policies.