The Australian political establishment has been in overdrive today. Fraser Anning (who?) used the words “final” and “solution” in the same sentence in Parliament. For reader guidance I’m going to reproduce the entire two paragraphs that surround that hateful and terrible combination.
Finally, it should go without saying that, as a nation, we are entitled to require that those who come here not only have useful work skills and qualifications but also the commitment to work and pay taxes. In truth, it appears that many of those who claim to be asylum seekers are actually just welfare seekers who only come to Australia to live on welfare in public housing at the expense of working Australians. In the days of Menzies, immigrants arriving here were not allowed to apply for welfare and that attracted exactly the right sort of hard-working people this country needed. We should go back to that and ban all immigrants receiving welfare for the first five years after they arrive.
The final solution to the immigration problem is, of course, a popular vote. We don’t need a plebiscite to cut immigration numbers; we just need a government that is willing to institute a sustainable population policy, end Australian-job-stealing 457 visas and make student visas conditional on foreign students returning to the country they came from. What we do need a plebiscite for is to decide who comes here. Whitlam didn’t ask the Australian people whether they wanted wholesale non-European migration when he introduced it and neither has any subsequent government. Who we allow to come here will determine what sort of nation we will have in the future, so therefore this isn’t the right of any one government to decide. It’s too important for that. Instead, we need a plebiscite to allow the Australian people to decide whether they want wholesale non-English speaking immigrants from the Third World and, in particular, whether they want any Muslims or whether they want to return to the predominantly European immigration policy of the pre-Whitlam consensus. I for one will be very happy to abide by their decision.
The whole speech is here.
As a consequence we have had crying, and group hugs. In the Parliament. An outbreak of bipartisanship condemning this sort of thing.
What if he had said, “I propose we have a plebiscite on immigration” instead of, “The final solution to the immigration problem is, of course, a popular vote”. Would that have changed the meaning and intent of his speech one iota?
I suggest “No”.
So let’s examine some tough factoids and realities.
- According to Essential Media 49% of the population want to ban Muslim immigration to Australia. I am not one of that 49% – I think a statistic like that is damning indictment of our national leadership. It is a failure of liberal discourse.
- The appalling treatment of asylum-seeking coming to Australia is bipartisan policy.
- The mandatory detention of asylum seekers without trial has been policy since the 1990s – introduced by Paul Keating.
- Offshore detention of asylum seekers to prevent judicial oversight of their plight has been policy since the late 1990s, and is now bipartisan policy.
Both the Liberal Party and the Labor Party have pursued appalling policies in government – yet both these parties are outraged that a minor party unknown backbencher used a poor combination of words to call for greater democratic participation for policy development in this area?
As most Cats know I’m an open borders person. I think, however, that the arguments need to be made. Simply dismissing Anning’s concerns (and, to be frank, a huge chunk of the electorate) because he used the phrase “final solution” and not engaging with them head on is a mistake. It is also a mistake to suggest that these views should not be expressed in the Parliament. When you live in a democracy ideas that don’t get debated in public often end up being debated in the Parliament.
I’m all in favour of more plebiscites and less representative democracy – the gay marriage plebiscite was a very successful experiment – and I think Senator Anning wrong on the merits of wanting to ban immigration on ethnic and religious grounds.