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Keating - anxious to divide Australia

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Philip Ruddock MP 33

Federal Member for Dundas Shadow Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs

Electorate Tel: (02) 858 1011 Fax: (02) 804 6739

Parliam ent House Tel: (06) 277 4343 Fax: (06) 277 2062


Prime Minister Keating's extraordinary and vitriolic attack on Britain and the British in Parliament yesterday, shows his unsuitability for office.

Had such abusive remarks been directed at nations and nationalities other than the British, there would have been quite understandably howls o f outrage and accusations of discrimination.

At a time when his government seeks unity in "one nation", the Prime Minister's approach is blatantly divisive. H e seeks to offend Australians o f British origin to shore up his own position within his factionalised and divided party.

While all Australians may desire our nations' leaders to assert confidently Australia's independence in the world; to ensure that we are looked upon and treated with respect in our own right; this should not be done by denouncing our origins as a nation and insulting those with whom w e still have strong ties.

There are good self-interest reasons also. While w e seek the support of Britain to break down trade barriers for agricultural products to access the European Community, w e should not b e gratuitously offensive.

W aves o f migration since the time of settlem ent has made Australia a multicultural society - one nation drawn from many backgrounds. From this w e have developed our own unique national identity and culture o f which w e can be genuinely proud.

But, as made clear in the National agenda for a Multicultural Australia, the com m on bond which has made this drawing together such a great success has been a commitment to certain values and institutions. These include the Constitution and the rule o f law, tolerance and equality, parliamentary democracy, freedom of speech and religion and so on.

A s much as Mr Keating may not like it, these traditions are undeniably o f British origin, even though we have adapted them to Australia's unique circumstances.

T he Prime Minister should apologise to the 1 million British-born people o f this country, and the over 8 million second generation, for his abusive remarks.

28 February 1992