Over 40 years after the legal disbandment of the “White Australia policy,” the talk of racial purity when it comes to immigration is making its way into the sphere of politics once again. It’s no surprise that immigration in most every country, even if not explicitly stated, has been about limiting the number of non-white foreigners, and deporting almost exclusively undocumented immigrants of color.

The White Australia policy, first called the Immigration Restriction Act, was initiated in 1901 and essentially barred all non-European immigrants from entering Australia. Of course, the discrimination wasn’t outright, but diction tests required to enter the country were designed to be impossible for people of non-white nationalities to pass. Even if the immigration candidate had a good grasp of English, they could receive a test administered in French, German and Lithuanian (any “European language”) to make things exceedingly difficult.

Since then the official immigration policy of Australia has been “non-discriminatory” in the way it accepts refugees and permanent migrants, according to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Yet the humanitarian program led by home affairs minister Peter Dutton doesn’t seem to be “color blind” in its affinity for white, Christian immigrants.

In recent years, Australia has maintained focus on providing protection for the eight percent of South Africans who are white and own 72 percent of the agricultural land in South Africa. Additionally, over 80 percent of the Syrian-Iraqi war refugees accepted into Australia were Christian, coming from countries where Christians make up only ten percent and one percent of the populations respectively.

However, it is interesting to note that as of 2017, the two countries with the largest amount of permanent migrants in Australia are India and China. South Africa, which used to hold China’s second place slot, has been demoted through the years to Australia’s 7th largest source of immigrants. The U.K. comes in third with an estimated 17,000 immigrants residing in Australia.

Permanent immigration rates have more than doubled since 1996, rising from 85,000 people annually to 208,000, and temporary rates have almost tripled due to an influx of international students and work visas. The OECD estimates that a staggering 27.7 percent (according to 2013 data) of Australia’s entire population is comprised of immigrants. Of course, technically the immigration population is larger than that as the aboriginal people are the ones truly indigenous to Australia, just as Native Americans are the only true Americans in the U.S.

Despite Australia’s grudging, slow change to embrace multiculturalism and diversity in immigrant populations, there are still many that don’t favor the shift to acceptance.

For one, Queensland Senator and Katter’s Ausralian Party (KAP) member Fraser Anning, proud of his standing as a conservative Christian with biased opinions, delivered his first speech to the Senate about immigration layered thick with anti-Islamic, pro-white rhetoric.

To break his speech down to its most controversial points:

  • “In order for us to remain the nation that we are now, those who come here need to assimilate and integrate.” This is extremely concerning, as it suggests some type of dystopian society where all members most conform to the majority and reveal no differences in order to escape punishment or ostracism. People should be allowed to be unique. It’s not a government’s job to make sure everyone assimilates to one culture or mindset.
  • “Those who are most similar to the mainstream majority in terms of ethnic culture, language and values, most readily do so.” Here Anning reveals his true colors in saying what being “different” really means. Being not white. Of course other minority groups would have trouble ‘integrating’ into the mainstream majority as they partake in other cultures and speak other languages as well.
  • “And while all Muslims are not terrorists, certainly all terrorists these days are Muslims.” Mmmm, not so much. Be careful, Anning, your misinformed islamophobia is showing. Most terrorists in “western countries,” especially in the U.S., are white. White men are a larger danger than they are perceived to be. Secondly, in Australia only .016 percent of the Muslim population is suspected to be on the side of and fighting for the Islamic State in Syria. And not all of these people are even confirmed terrorists. So don’t let yourself be fear-mongered into believing something. Look at the facts concerning terrorist demographics. Then you’ll see who you should really be afraid of.
  • “We need to allow […] the Australian people to decide whether they want wholesale, non-English-speaking immigrants from the third world, and particularly […] Muslims, or whether they want to return to the predominantly European immigration policy.” In the way he frames it, Anning isn’t truly giving voters and the Australian public a free choice; he is offering a false dichotomy of only two options. And through racist-translation these options are “let this country be overrun and ruined by people of color and culture” or “return to the good old days of racism with the White Australian policy where only Christian Europeans could prosper.”
  • “The final solution to the immigration problem is of course, a popular vote.” The ‘pièce de résistance’ of the speech was Anning’s careless decision to throw in the quintessential nazi phrase “final solution.” It refers to Hitler’s final solution, a genocide, the extermination of all Jewish people. Many people took appropriate and justified offense at these words, especially with the context in which they are being used. After just relinquishing a horrible policy that Australia followed diligently for 70 years, Anning proposes that the country is to regress, drawing backwards from progress and acceptance, returning to racial segregation and removing all those who aren’t part of the majority.

Many Members of Parliament and important Australian figures have expressed anger and shock at Anning’s words, making it clear that they don’t stand for his words or sentiments. Even Prime Minister Turnbull took to Twitter in order to condemn Anning and distance himself from the xenophobia.

Fraser Anning’s comments on immigration do not reflect the views of the Government nor the views of fair minded Australians. We will always maintain a non-discriminatory immigration program.

So far Anning hasn’t offered up any words of regret or apology, staunch in support of his immigration proposal. While his words were hurtful and extreme, it remains unclear if they are the ramblings of a bigoted madman, or opinions shared by a larger group of supporters. Even though he was only elected due to the disqualification of the candidate Malcolm Roberts (on account of the senator’s immigration status), it would not be wise to make light of his racist rhetoric.

Because the government may say they are against discrimination when it comes to immigration and their citizens, but as we all well know, actions speak louder than words. We have to see the change happening before we can believe it.

Photo: Al Jazeera

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