Is Australia a racist country? Of course it is. Am I a racit? Definitely. Many older Australians like myself find our immigration policy most unsatisfactory and would change it in a flash, there are far too many Asians, Muslims, Sudanese and anyone else who isn't white coming in and please don't mention the boat people. The amazing thing is that people keep saying "I'm not a racist but ............................" Wake up, yes you are!
But being racist isn't surprising, just look at our history and the White Australia Policy we grew up with. Zenophobia goes right back to the 1850's when resentment started to build against the Chinese on the goldfields which culminated in a violent battle at Buckland River in Victoria. European miners attacked and chased 2500 Chinese off the goldfields and there was another violent incident at Young in New South Wales.
Then labourers from the south sea islands known as Kanakas became a problem in North Queensland. Workers were outraged by these migrants and were terrified that non-white people would work for lower wages and they would lose their jobs. Some wealthy Queenslanders were worried that they might be excluded from the upcoming Constitution of Australia (the Federation of the states) which came into force on 1 January 9001 if the Kanaka trade continued so NSW and Victorian governments declared that in future, there would be no place for Asiatics or coloureds in Australia. It was called the Restriction Act of 1901 but was commonly known as the White Australia Policy and was warmly received by the whole country. In 1919, the Prime Minister, William Morris Hughes hailed it as "the greatest thing we have achieved".
In March 1966 non-European migration began to slowly increase and in 1973 the Whitlam Labor Government removed race as a factor in our immigration policy. But an increase in the number of migrants from non-European countries did not take place until after the Fraser government came to office in 1975. Today, our migration program allows people from any country to apply, regardless of ethnicity, culture, religion or language, provided they meet the necessary criteria.
According to the 2006 Census, Australia's population was then around 20 million and those reporting country of birth, about 24 per cent were born overseas and 45 per cent were either born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas, quite incredible really.
The Cronulla riots are also a part of our recent history. On Sunday 4th December 2005 two surf lifesavers at Cronulla beach were assaulted by up to 20 Muslim men and taken to hospital. Our tolerant, easy-going nature suddenly dissapeared and was replaced with a bitter rage that quickly got out of control. At midday on 11th December 5,000 Aussies, mainly young men, gathered at Cronulla beach looking for revenge and when a young man of 'middle-eastern appearance' was spotted, he was surrounded and bashed and other Muslim men were attacked on a train. Without the police presence, who knows what would have happened.
And we can't talk about racism without mentioned our Aboriginal people. I don't buy that lame excuse "But I wasn't there, it's got nothing to do with me". If you are white and can trace your family tree back to the land, it's part of your heritage, your ancestors were guilty. In Tasmania, we actually killed them all, completely wiped them out. In the Northern Territory, they were captured, held in chains and taken to the pearling luggers owned by white Europeans and made to dive for pearls without pay, many dying, both men and women, from having to dive too deep without any proper safety equipment. In Elliston South Australia, pastoralists ran a whole tribe of Aboriginal people off a cliff into the sea, men women and children, and those that didn't die were shot. Two teenagers and a baby survived the massacre and passed the story down through the generations. Oh yes, we have a lot to be proud of there.
But I wonder why so many Australians vehmently deny they are racist, I think we all are, it's human nature. It's only natural that parents want their children to marry their own kind and get upset when they choose a partner from a different race. But look around, these old attitudes are being thrown out by our younger generations, they couldn't care less about colour or creed. I'm sure you've heard of the old fashioned word WASP - White Ango Saxon Protestant - once a privileged species in Australia, well the wasps are all heading the same way of the dodo, not quite dead yet but on the way out.