Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition government recently released a revised version of Australia’s “Multiculturalism Statement”. Satirist Ben Pobjie has obtained for Crikey the first draft of this revised version:
Australia is the most successful multicultural society in the world, and honestly there is no need for you to look that up. We owe our accomplishments as a nation to the contributions of more than 300 different ancestries — although let’s be honest, some more than others. You know the ones.
Our nation is enriched by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people — particularly the ones on TV and the footy players, but there are probably others, too — and the millions of people who have chosen to make a new life here. We’re even more enriched by the ones who choose to make a new life here but aren’t allowed to. Today, Australians welcome those who have migrated here to be part of our free and open society, to build their lives and make a contribution to their nation and not kick up a fuss about things that don’t concern them. But it should be made clear that while we welcome those people, there is a limit, and let’s not get carried away.
Together we have built the modern and prosperous Australia we are today — though some of us haven’t pulled our weight as much as we could’ve — with our shared values, rights and responsibilities.
Our values are based on:
We respect and we are committed to the rule of law, but obviously if someone makes an honest mistake and pays the money back, it would be a shame to ruin a promising career in public service.
We have respect for the liberty and dignity of all individuals, although how literally you should take this will obviously vary from individual to individual.
We value our diversity to a certain extent, and embrace mutual respect, inclusion, fairness and compassion, in a manner of speaking. Some respect is, of course, more mutual than others.
We support equality of men and women when convenient.
We believe in equality before the law on a pro rata basis.
We believe in equality of opportunity for all, but that’s not really any of our business.
Our commitment to freedom is fundamentalist — I mean fundamental.
We support freedom of thought, speech, religion, enterprise, and association, but that doesn’t mean you can be rude.
We are committed to a parliamentary democracy, as we have several investment properties to maintain.
We take responsibility for fulfilling our civic duties, assuming we have any.
Practices and behaviours that undermine our values have no place in Australia, or at least, if they do, we get to decide whose place it is.
Shared rights and responsibilities
Ours is a society founded on a liberal-democratic tradition in which the fundamental rights of every individual are inviolable, although it should be stressed that this only applies to people who are actually currently in Australia, and have a good job, and are, you know … our sort of people, if you get me?
Citizenship is a privilege and, as part of the Australian Citizenship Ceremony, new citizens pledge and affirm “loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey”. And there are very strict rules against giggling while they say it.
Australians rightly expect that everyone in our country, whether or not they are Australian citizens, obeys Australian laws, supports our democratic process, and treats all people with respect and dignity. Or rather, they don’t expect it, but it would be nice, don’t you think? Obviously parliamentary privilege does apply to any such principles.
A safe and secure Australia
Underpinning a diverse and harmonious Australia is the security of our nation, and I bet you can see what’s coming next. The Australian government places the highest priority on the safety and security of all Australians, in certain specific contexts, and the lowest priority on the safety and security of anyone else. Recent terrorist attacks around the world have justifiably caused concern in the Australian community, so keep it up. The government responds to these threats by continuing to invest in counter-terrorism, strong borders, and strong national security. Aren’t they great? The government is just the best, I think. There is no more important element to multiculturalism than gazing admiringly at the government.
In the face of these threats we do not compromise on our shared values and national unity. We make sure that we do that well before the threats arrive.
Successive Australian governments have established a firm commitment to a multicultural society, but we’re much better at it than the last one. This new statement presents a vision for our future as a strong and successful multicultural nation, which will hopefully provide some comfort to us when we look back at it in the actual real future, which will be god only knows what.
*As discovered by satirist Ben Pobjie