Immigration and the culture

Australia needs an integrationist, culturally cohesive immigration policy

One of the key things we need in order to outlast threats to our existence is internal cultural coherence, social rapport and a high degree of mutual trust.

By Gary Scarrabelotti

I am coming out of retirement as journalist. Paul Kelly made me do it.

His article, “Euroland lesson for a stand-alone nation-state”, (The Australian, 19 May 2010) is magnificent.

Kelly has just written the most important piece come from the pen of a journalist for as long as I can remember. Its greatness lies not only in its wisdom about the way the world is, but also in the way it responds to the often unarticulated desire of the typical Australian heart: that Australia be a stand-alone nation.

Stand-alone nation

This aspiration is deeply alarming to large sections of the political class in this country, to much of academia, and to media opinion makers. Among these, a set of terms and institutions — including globalisation, free movement of peoples and money, multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism, the UN, and the EU — define an ideology hostile to love of country and ultimately to national survival.

This collection of “ – isms”, and exaggerated reverence for certain highly idealised institutions, act like an acid on the thinking of our country’s elites. They have lost, consequently, the intellectual wherewithal to formulate long-term survival policies for a stand-alone nation – and, thanks to geography, Australia has no choice but to be a stand-alone nation.

One of the key things we need in order to outlast threats to our existence is internal cultural coherence, social rapport and a high degree of mutual trust. How can I put this?

“It’s the culture, stupid!”

But a culture cannot long cohere, social rapport must fall away, and mutual trust will diminish, and ultimately fail, if a society operates a culturally colour blind, high in-take immigration programme combined with an official policy of multiculturalism with its implicit hostility toward social integration.

If Australia is to have immigration – and I very much favour it – we also need an integrationist, culturally realistic immigration régime.

This is what such a policy might look like.

Policy in principle

Australia needs to favour young immigrants: people who hope to marry or who have just married and who want to form and grow their families here. They need to be integration-capable immigrants: educated, technically skilled, business orientated, middle class. And we should take them from:

  • Countries with Western democratic institutions and where the rule of law prevails (USA, Canada, UK, western Europe, Israel);
  • Countries whose people are formed by western cultural influences and who aspire to democracy, economic freedom, and the rule of law (eastern and central European countries, Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Latin America, the Philippines, South Africa); and
  • People of non-western cultural backgrounds who demonstrate a marked aspiration and measurable capacity to become a citizen of a western democratic society where religious and economic freedom and the rule of law prevail.

Where refugees are concerned, Australia should reserve the right to determine from among the pool of refugees those whom it judges would be most suitable for integration into Australian society.

Policy in practice

To realise the integrationist intent of these principles, we would need to take at least the following steps:

  1. Introduce an indefinite moratorium on immigration from Islamic countries.
  2. Introduce legislation to deprive nationalised migrants of their Australian citizenship, and to deport such persons, if they provide political, financial, or armed support for the establishment of sharia law in Australia, or if they wish to offer support from Australia to foreign projects to spread sharia law or to found Islamic caliphates.
  3. Require as a condition of naturalisation the renunciation of citizenship of the home country and the rights and duties arising there from, including voting in foreign elections. This condition should be met in writing, and any retraction or breach should be dealt with by loss of Australian nationality and all its attendant entitlements.
  4. Abolish government subsidised community language programmes. If particular communities wish to teach the language of their country (or ethnic group) of origin, then they should assume the full responsibility to do that. (Such communities would still be free to set up potentially tax-deductible cultural associations under existing Federal legislation.)
  5. Provide enhanced English training programmes to migrants combined with a scaling back, and eventual abolition of, Government translation services and the provision of multi-lingual documentation.

Don’t worry about banning the burqa. It’s not the central issue.

*Gary Scarrabelotti is Managing Director of Aequum: political and business strategies. This article is an edited version of one orginally published on the Henry Thornton Blog, 21 May 2010

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