During the last couple of months I have felt as though my family, relatives, and many of us from a non-English speaking background have been under sustained attack from politicians, commentators, and some sections of the media.
First there was the push to repeal or water down Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 by Liberal Democratic senator David Leyonhjelm and Liberal senator Cory Bernandi on the basis it was seen as a threat to free speech, and not realising or perhaps not caring that if removed it could then encourage some people to indulge in further and more public racial vilification.
Recently the government announced it would introduce an English language and values test before someone could become an Australian citizen, this might seem fine and dandy but I know members of my extended family and their friends, some of whom have lived here for over 60 years, who would fail at least one if not both of these tests. Luckily for them they received their citizenship decades ago without any need for a test. Should they also be made to sit the exam and if they fail have their citizenship revoked until they pass?
Yet these same people have contributed enormously to this country, running successful businesses and employing others but no-one from the government complained publicly and loudly about their language skills and understanding of Aussie values when they arrived here back in the 1950s and 60s, however they are complaining today and it makes some of them afraid. By the way no one has ever explained in detail what Australian values are, even the concept of a ‘fair go’ is not inherently an Aussie value but can be found in many other countries and cultures. It appears our government wants to demonise foreigners solely for electoral success – they know from collective history that attacking immigrants is a plus for them. But for how long?