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Monday, 14 October 1991
Page: 1864


Mr CAMPBELL(8.31 p.m.) —- Having listened to this debate in my room, I could have gathered that all was sweetness and light. Sadly, this is not so and I am afraid that I will have to inject a somewhat discordant note into the debate. I do not intend to vote against the Special Broadcasting Service Bill. It certainly would not be worth the trouble that that would cause me in the Caucus. However, I want to make it very clear that I do not approve of the Special Broadcasting Service and I think that this legislation is unnecessary, as is the SBS. I am mindful of the fact that the only other country I know that funds two publicly controlled broadcasting services is Fiji, and I think it is true to say that that has not done a lot for harmony in that country.

We have to ask ourselves why the SBS was created. I ask myself this because I represent almost one-third of Australia in size, and very little of my electorate can receive SBS at all. We certainly do not get any television except off the satellite, if we are lucky enough to have a satellite dish. We then have the added indignity of the SBS using taxpayers' money to go out and pay for coverage of the World Cup soccer at exorbitant prices, which drove the ABC out of the market and therefore made the coverage unavailable to my electorate, a large part of Australia. That is simply disgraceful and I would certainly not like to see it happen again.

I believe that the SBS does have some talent in its organisation. It runs some good programs, and in this regard it could well be a model for the ABC. However, there is a desperate need for a second ABC channel and, in my view, that should be the SBS channel.

We have to ask ourselves why we have the SBS. It is because of the policy of multiculturalism. We ought to look at how this policy was foisted on the Australian people. It is true to say that no government has ever had a mandate for multiculturalism. It has never been tested on the Australian people and, if it were tested, I believe that it would fail.

The policy of multiculturalism had its intellectual beginnings in Australia with Al Grassby, the immigration Minister in the Whitlam Government. I note in passing that Mr Grassby made patronage in immigration matters a high art form. As Peter Hartcher noted in the Sydney Morning Herald on 3 May this year, his approach was to surrender to special interest groups in immigration matters. Hartcher stated:

In a year in which 112,000 immigrants entered Australia, Grassby's office decided the vast bulk of the annual intake on the basis of special interest without reference to the Immigration Department.

Why did he do that? What basis did he have for that approach? This was the Minister who foreshadowed the policy of multiculturalism in this country. Mr Grassby was following an overseas model when he foreshadowed the blight of multiculturalism with his paper A Multicultural Society in 1973. That model was, of course, Canada. It was Canada that first embraced a policy of multiculturalism; that policy arose because of that country's misfortunes. That country clearly did not function very well as it had two separate cultural structures, which in the early days had led to physical conflict. The British and the French were, of course, traditional enemies. Some say that, despite all the moves towards European unity, they still are. A distant relative of mine, General Wolfe, gave the French a bit of a belting at the Heights of Abraham in Canada. They have never forgotten it. But I have made amends: I married a French woman and we agree that I do not discuss that battle and she does not discuss the Battle of Hastings.

Anyway, with such a combination, Canadian unity was always a tricky question. The two groups together both maintaining their own cultures and languages always had a certain forced element to it. This division has never been adequately overcome, and it is what threatens to split the country asunder today.

In the 1960s there were disputes between the English and French speakers for dominance, so a royal commission was established on bilingualism and biculturalism in 1965. A group called the Conference of Canadian Slavs protested against the terms of reference for the royal commission. They did not fit into it. The royal commission decided that Canada was a home of more than two cultures and adopted the word multiculturalism. A Minister of state for multiculturalism was appointed in 1972. If the linguistic and cultural divide had not existed between the English and French speakers in the first place, and if there had been a common language and a common culture to aspire to, they would not have had the problem of a third group feeling alienated. Multiculturalism for the Canadians was making the best of a bad lot as far as national unity went.

But what of the value of multiculturalism to Australia? We did not have to have this blight inflicted upon us. We were not divided in two as Canada was. We had only one national language, which was English. Only a fool would deny that English is and should remain our national language. It and a common evolving Australian culture are our heritage. Mr Grassby decided that these migrants who had come to Australia from non-English-speaking backgrounds since the end of the Second World War, and their dependants, had to be given some special recognition. He decided that they did not fit into the mainstream and that some acknowledgment had to be made. Did the Italian and German migrants who came here in the nineteenth century need that special patronising treatment? I think not. They adapted to Australia very well indeed and have made an enormous contribution--a proud contribution--and they and their descendants are in the main today proud Australians.

Of course, what has happened is that we have formed a grievance industry with this policy of multiculturalism. We now have so many professional multiculturalists looking for something to grandstand about. Others probably do it on their behalf; they raise grievances that these people themselves have never even considered.

I believe that most people who came to Australia came here intent on being good Australians. No-one forced them to come. They came of their own free will. I represent a lot of migrants and I know that most of them want to be Australians. Of any who do not, I think we have a right to ask what in fact they are doing here. If they do not want a commitment to Australia, I say that there is no place for them here. I might add that many migrants have told me that they feel offended by the policy that we have adopted. As one explained to me recently, `I used to feel I was an Australian; now I am just a bloody ethnic'. I think this is something that we ought to consider.

It was Grassby who foreshadowed the policy of multiculturalism, and it was taken up under the Fraser Government, for the very tawdry reason of buying votes. It was supposed that ethnics were somehow able to be manipulated--that one had only to manipulate one or two and they would all follow like sheep. I find this concept not only very wrong but very insulting. Believe me, I do not believe that migrants are any less intelligent than the Australian population, and in fact the evidence demonstrates that. To actually believe that one can manipulate their votes is to denigrate them in what I consider to be a very racist way. Of course, the policy was adopted by the Hawke Government when it came to power.


Mr Hawker —-Shame!


Mr CAMPBELL —-I think it was quite shameful, just as it was with the Fraser Government. It, too, thought that it could do this manipulation. There is no such thing as an ethnic vote, simply because, when voting, people make decisions basically on what they perceive to be their self-interest. Another problem is that the multicultural policy has totally distorted our immigration policy. It continues to do so. We have seen the effects of this over time, and I believe that it is something that Australian people will have to remedy.

I was at a mining company dinner recently with a Japanese industrialist. It is a very chastening experience to be told by a Japanese industrialist that his industry is very hard on Australia because we do not have a common language. He pressed on me the importance of having a common language, that we should all speak English. He told me that he had been to the production line at Nissan in Melbourne and had heard every language but English spoken. He thought that this was quite lamentable and that I, as a politician, apparently was fully responsible and should do something about it immediately. He pointed out to me, with some pride, that they did not have those sorts of problems in Japan.

I think we really do have to consider where we are going with this policy. I do not deny that SBS technically runs a good show. I think it runs it much more economically than the ABC. While tonight I have heard many people heaping praise on SBS news, it has never really occurred to me that it is that much better or more informative; it merely is longer. But that may be the criterion: people may have an overwhelming desire for news. I myself find that I can get by with one news broadcast a week; it does not seem to change very much. Frankly, I do not think it would matter if we simply repeated it on a monthly basis.

We then have to look at the effect the policy is having. Let us bear in mind that SBS exists because of the policy of multiculturalism. If that policy did not exist, there would be no demand for SBS. We would simply have a second channel, along with the ABC, and the sorts of programs watched on SBS would filter into it. I remind the House of a Minister in this Government who had very strong representations made to him by a member of this Parliament who pleaded for special consideration for SBS. He said that his mother, who was very old and could speak no English at all but was very interested in world affairs, loved to watch the news and SBS screened the only program she could watch. The gentleman, of course, had forgotten that SBS always has the news in English.


Mr Hawker —-Who was it?


Mr CAMPBELL —-The honourable member knows him well. It is, of course, a classic case of people pushing an issue for what it presents in the way of power, not for genuine community interest. I do not like to dwell on personal stories in great depth, but I was touched recently when I was in Melbourne. I got into a taxi and asked the taxi driver how the World Cup was going, because I have a son who plays soccer and I was rather interested. He told me, very proudly, in a very heavy accent, that he was an Australian and he followed some obscure Australian Rules club; I think it was Essendon. We had gone for a couple of miles and he said to me, `I don't know what's gone wrong with this country'. I asked him, `What do you mean?'. He explained to me that his boy had come home crying from school. He had asked, `What do you cry for?'. The boy said, `They've sacked so and so'. He asked, `Who's so and so?'. It turned out to be Yugoslavia's inside left. The taxi driver asked, `What has that got to do with you?'. The boy said, `He's a Macedonian; I'm a Macedonian'. The taxi driver said to his boy, `How can you be a Macedonian when I'm an Australian?'. The boy said, `My teachers at school tell me I'm a Macedonian and I must honour my culture'. The taxi driver said, `I go to that school and say, "Listen, you--"', and he said several expletives which I will not use here--`"You tell my boy he's Australian--nothing else"'. He felt very angry about that situation and frustrated because he felt he was completely powerless.

I think there is no doubt that Victoria is the home of multiculturalism in this country, as it is the home of so many other vested interests. It is the Victorian education system that has gone furthest down the road of carrying this propaganda line. It is a very worrying thing and I certainly hope that it is rectified. If I were a Minister in Victoria, I would be taking a very hard line to make sure that this was stamped out.


Mr Hawker —-Not a very good Government.


Mr CAMPBELL —-Do not think it is just this Government; it has existed over many governments. I think it is something that Australia really has to consider. The migrants who came here in the early days had no assistance. They had to get out into the country--and most of them went to some very remote parts--and build on it. The Barossa Valley in South Australia is a classic case. They did a very good job and I think they became very Australian; I think that is where their aspirations and their loyalties lie. I do not think migrants are any different today, except that we now have foisted on them many of these pressures, which they certainly do not want.

I am in receipt of a letter from the combined Yugoslav clubs in Western Australia. Western Australia has a great variety of people from Yugoslavia--predominantly, I would say, from Croatia, but from other places as well. These combined clubs have written to me and said that their members had come to Australia, they were proud to be Australians, they were loyal to Australia and they felt very strongly that the problems of their previous land should not be inflicted on Australia. They did not want a bar of bringing any of those problems to Australia. They spoke very strongly and scathingly about politicians who, for various reasons, jump on one or other of the ethnic band wagons. They thought it was wrong and that Australia should not get embroiled in the turmoil of their countries. Many of them had lived through horrendous times and they did not want to see that in Australia. Australia does not want to see that and Australia will not tolerate it.

This Bill has the endorsement of both sides of the House. I have not had a look at the Liberal Party amendments; I suspect they are inconsequential.


Mr Hawker —-How can you say that if you haven't looked at them?


Mr CAMPBELL —-Most of the Liberal Party's amendments are inconsequential; it is a matter of habit. Even if I agree with them, I will not be supporting them, because this is a matter that will be resolved quickly. I think things are coming to a head in Australia. I think we are going to see a reaction from the people of Australia. The Menzies by-election was a sign of the times.

I say here and now that in the next election any pressure group that stands out for a cut in immigration to this country will receive a bigger percentage of the votes than the Democrats or the Greens. As a consequence, it will have a greater part to play in the determination of future policy of this country. I think that it probably is a good thing, because in an issue as important as this the Government should not operate without mandates. This applies to successive governments. We should bear in mind that there never has been a mandate in this country for the policy of multiculturalism. Had that not been foisted on us, we would not need to introduce this legislation with respect to SBS.