In her maiden speech, the Member for Oxley made remarks which appeared to offend persons of Asian and Aboriginal extraction. Ethnic community leaders have expressed outrage and righteous indignation at her comments. Meanwhile, the press and media are almost suggesting that Ms Hanson speaks for a silent undercurrent of “mainstream Australia” (whatever that means).
Personally, I find Ms Hanson somewhat of a non-entity. She really doesn’t deserve the attention she is receiving. Her views are ill-informed and simply do not accord with present economic, social and political realities.
But I don’t think that political correctness and labelling is going to be sufficient to deal with the points she has raised in her maiden speech. In this regard, I don’t believe certain ethnic community “leaders” have done great service to their communities by their reactions to Ms Hanson.
What all Australians should understand is that there is a genuine constituency for the sorts of views which Messrs [Graeme] Campbell [former Federal Member for Kalgoolie] and Hanson espouse. This is a fact we have to accept. We also have to accept and expect that this constituency will want to be represented in Parliament. Australians of all persuasions deserve to find representation in our national parliament.
Naturally, we would like to keep this constituency as small as possible. And yet by getting so uptight over Ms Hanson and by attacking her personally, some ethnic “leaders” are actually generating sympathy for Ms Hanson. In doing so, they are actually increasing the size of her constituency and the number of her supporters.
Politically correct labelling is simply not going to work anymore. Australians are tired of the labelling of controversial individuals by their opponents. Most of us watched quite dazed and perturbed at the vicious treatment received by Helen Darville (though I was amused when a Ukranian organisation threatened Darville critics with action under racial vilification legislation). Desperate and immature labelling is simply not going to gain sympathy for anyone other than the person labelled.
What supporters of immigration and multiculturalism need to do is to tell the community the facts about immigration. We need to explain to Australians the economic and social benefits of our large migration program. We need to remind Australians that the only other nation to accept migrants with as open arms as us is now the most powerful and wealthy nation on earth (“give me your tired, your weary …")
[Clearly I’d never heard of Canada or Brazil in 1996.]
To be continued …
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