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Multiculturalism back on the agenda in spite of Prime Minister's feelings.

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Media Release


The Hon. Con Sciacca MP

Federal Member for Bowman

Shadow Minister for Immigration

Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader of the Opposition on Multicultural Affairs




T he reality of a Multicultural Australia is now squarely back on the political agenda following the launch by the Prime Minister today of a report by the National Multicultural Advisory Council.


Shadow Minister for Immigration and Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader of the Opposition on Multicultural Affairs, Mr Con Sciacca today said that the report recommends the retention of the term ‘Multiculturalism’ as the only term that recognises and celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity.


“The Labor Party welcomes the report as it reaffirms the Federal Opposition’s long standing commitment to Multiculturalism.


“The ideal of Multiculturalism has received a lot of unfair criticism from many quarters, including the Prime Minister himself, who abolished the Office of Multicultural Affairs immediately upon attaining Government in 1996,” Mr Sciacca said.


The Office of Multicultural Affairs was part of the portfolio of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet under Labor.


“The Federal Opposition will be watching for signs of a change of heart in the Prime Minister,” Mr Sciacca said.


“The Prime Minister must realise that Australia has always been a Multicultural country, even before European Settlement in 1788, when there were many indigenous cultures and customs among the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.


“To ignore, demean or degrade the term Multiculturalism is akin to doing the same to the millions of Australians who have chosen to live, work and prosper here.”


Among its proposals, the NMAC recommends the active promotion of the benefits of Australian citizenship in order to encourage its take up.


“Again, Labor Party policy has been meeting these challenges for a long time —under a Labor Government, an Office of Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs would form part of the Prime Minister’s Department. - This is the level of priority Labor believes it deserves.


“Multiculturalism and citizenship complement each other Australia is the winner for encouraging more and more new Australians from diverse background to take up citizenship and thus enrich our nation,” Mr Sciacca said.


Since World War II, almost 6 million immigrants from over 150 countries have made Australia their home. Today 42 per cent of people living in Australia were born overseas or have a parent born overseas.




5 May 1999


For further information please contact: Con Sciacca MP or Luke Giribon 0418 872 061 0411 869 816