Multiculturalism/Australia

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In Australia, the idea of multiculturalism has encountered substantial resistance.

A majority of Australians oppose the continuing levels of immigration (which is probably the same as most societies) but governments of both major parties have raised the levels over time, even while using fear of refugees in election campaigns.

As a result, Australia has an extremely ethnically diverse society, mainly in the cities, and there are relatively few tensions. The exceptions have been:

  • Pauline Hanson, who was popular with those who resented newcomers, and even among some immigrants who (now that they had arrived) felt that continual high immigration would reduce the advantages to Australia in population. While it appears that some of her supporters were racist or xenophobic, some were not. It is notable that the Australian Greens also had a policy of reducing immigration (and thus gained preferences from Hanson's One Nation Party in the 2001 Federal election), though the Greens had a very different approach to discussing such issues, and strongly opposed racism, discrimination, and assistance to Australian Aborigines..
  • Negative attitudes are stronger in rural areas where there are fewer immigrants, than in cities. This suggests that familiarity is a big issue.
  • The "race riots" in the beach-side suburb of Cronulla in (2005?). These began with stories of young Middle-Eastern men assaulting a lifeguard, saw large gatherings in Cronulla and racial slogans used by some, and fierce debate in the media, with differing interpretations of events and their significance.
  • Media stories of ethnic gangs over the years.
    • Author John Birmingham suggests (in "Leviathan: The Unauthorised Biography of Sydney") that the stories of Vietnamese gangs in the (1980s?) were largely fabricated.
    • Some segments of the media in the early 2000s (and late 1990s?) reported on Middle-Eastern gangs in Sydney; the state government made comments that seemed to support this idea; others claimed that this was vastly exaggerated and that crime and gang membership rates were not significantly different in these communities. High profile criminal cases, (especially of a gang rape by young Lebanese men, resulting in a 55 year prison sentence for one of the perpetrators), contributed to perceptions. The judge in that case stated the perpetrators had themselves made race an issue by using slurs against "Aussies" (by which they meant white Australians) during their attack. Such high profile cases strongly color public perceptions, but actual statistics and sound analysis would be much more useful in assessing whether there are actually issues related to ethnic/cultural groups.