Prominent conservative politician wants Australian way of life for all
Australians must be vigilant about the threat from ethnic hatreds, and migrants should accept our way of life, says former premier Jeff Kennett.
As Europe debates whether multiculturalism has failed, Mr Kennett said Victoria had avoided the sort of "shocking experiences" in places like Britain, but there was no room for complacency. "You do have to make sure that you don't allow the issues of countries overseas to become imported here," he said. "People make the choice to come to Australia and have to accept our way of life."
Mr Kennett was responding to controversial comments by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who at the weekend dubbed multiculturalism a failure in the UK and linked it to the rise of Islamic extremism. "Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream," Mr Cameron said.
Mr Kennett said society should be vigilant about growing ethnic enclaves, but the trend in Melbourne was for migrant groups to spread out as they grew richer.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the PM emphatically supported multicultural policies and did not believe they had failed in Australia. Asked if Mr Cameron's speech was inflammatory and likely to cause division, the spokesman said: "The United Kingdom's policy decisions are a matter for the United Kingdom."
But John Roskam, head of the free-market think tank The Institute of Public Affairs, said Mr Cameron's stance was a warning to Western societies to promote their culture. "They have to communicate their values," he said. "People who become citizens of a country have to sign up for those values."
Melbourne's Catholic Archbishop Denis Hart said multiculturalism had succeeded but a big challenge was to ensure people respected each other's right to practise their religion and "be as they are".
Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Ikebal Patel said Mr Cameron's attack on multiculturalism was simplistic and trivialised the policy.
Leaders are right to confront failures of multiculturalism
British Prime Minister David Cameron is no redneck member of the lunar right. On social issues, his positions tend to be liberal, in the traditional sense of the term. This makes Cameron's speech on radicalisation and Islamic extremism at the Munich Security Conference at the weekend of particular note.
When in opposition, the Conservatives were at times critical of Blair Labour's anti-terrorism legislation. But it seems that in government the Conservatives - now in coalition with the Liberal Democrats - have taken a tough-minded approach to extremism. Cameron has followed German Chancellor Angela Merkel in distancing himself from multiculturalism.
I used to be a strong supporter of multiculturalism and, at times, was critical of John Howard's apparent disdain for the concept. However, on reflection, I am coming to the view that some of Howard's critique was essentially correct and that Cameron and Merkel are saying what needs to be said in Europe.
The concept of multiculturalism worked well enough, provided it was understood that all groups within Western societies supported the system of democratic government and the rule of law that applied equally to all citizens. For the most part, this was the reality of Australian multiculturalism throughout the 1970s, '80s and '90s.
The problem is that, particularly in western Europe, the rise of radical Islam has led to a situation where a small minority of Islamists reject the West while choosing to live within Western societies, where they enjoy economic, political and religious freedoms along with health and social security benefits.
Last October Merkel addressed the youth wing of the Democratic Christian Union at Potsdam. There has been no official release of her speech, but there is no disputing the content. Her message was simple - namely, that what the Germans call "multikulti" has not worked.
Multikulti - meaning that anyone who wanted to come to Germany could do so and that everyone living there could get on with each other - was advocated by the Greens in the 1980s and '90s and enjoyed support from the Social Democrats.
This was an example of leftist utopianism. It led to a situation where little attempt was made to inculcate new settlers with any sense of national pride or patriotism.
Merkel was also critical of German policy in the 1960s, when there was a belief that all guest workers who came to Germany would return to their countries of birth after a few years. This did not happen with the Turks. From the late 1960s Australia began taking Turkish migrants on the understanding they would become Australian citizens. The Turks proved to be successful settlers; in Germany, on the other hand, little attempt has been made to integrate Muslim immigrants into German society.
Merkel recognises German society has a right to expect those who choose to live in it will learn German and adapt to the mores of the German state. She is reported to be critical of forced marriages within some Muslim families.
Germany continues to seek - and attract - immigrants and remains an accepting society in which no radical right-wing movements have emerged, unlike some other western European nations. But Merkel has come to the view that multiculturalism, as practised in Germany, has failed. Thilo Sarrazin, the former governor of the Bundesbank who happens to be a Social Democrat, has reached a similar, if more stridently expressed, opinion.
The British Prime Minister and the German Chancellor do not agree on some issues. Yet both are pragmatic politicians who have reached their assessments on multiculturalism as a result of empirical investigation.
In his address at the weekend, Cameron clearly distinguished between Islamic extremism and Islam; his target is the former, not the latter. He criticised what he terms the "soft left" who "lump all Muslims together, compiling a list of grievances, and argue if only governments addressed these grievances, the terrorism would stop". He pointed out that "many of those found guilty of terrorist offences in the UK and elsewhere have been graduates and often middle class".
Cameron believes that the ''doctrine of state multiculturalism" has led to a weakening of Britain's collective identity. He advocates less "passive tolerance" and a "much more active, muscular liberalism". Like Merkel, he wants to "confront the horrors of forced marriage", the victims of which are girls and young women. And he wants Britain to promote "freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy, the rule of law, equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality". He also proclaims the need for immigrants to speak the language of their new home.
The policy matters addressed by the leaders of Germany and Britain have already been covered by Christopher Caldwell in Reflections on the Revolution in Europe and Peter Berman in The Flight of the Intellectuals. Caldwell recognises that "Islam is a magnificent religion" but makes the point that "it is in no sense Europe's religion and it is in no sense Europe's culture". Berman is critical of well-regarded intellectuals such as Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash who have criticised the Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose life has been threatened due to her apostasy and her public campaign against Islamist extremism.
Traditionally immigrants have accepted the societies where they have willingly sought to live. This is no longer always the case, with calls for the imposition of sharia and the like.
Cameron and Merkel are correct in criticising multiculturalism and what it has become in western Europe - namely, a focus on what divides democratic societies. In Australia and the US, multiculturalism has not had such a negative effect. But it is reasonable to assume that it might do so one day unless we adopt a muscular approach to the affirmation of democratic rights.
Homosexuals to be immunized against anal cancer?
The immunisation program that protects girls against the virus linked to cervical cancer should immediately be extended to boys to prevent other cancers, a leading epidemiologist says.
Vaccinating boys against the human papillomavirus (HPV) would help stem a drastic rise in some cancers, particularly among homosexual men, said Andrew Grulich, the head of the epidemiology and prevention program at the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research at the University of NSW.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee will consider next month an application to provide the Gardasil vaccine free to boys.
About 90 per cent of all anal squamous cell carcinomas are caused by infection with HPV. But an unwillingness to discuss the disease had led to a lack of awareness and research, said Professor Grulich, the senior investigator on the project.
Anal cancer had increased by about 3.4 per cent annually in men and 1.9 per cent in women since 1982, according to the study published in the journal Vaccine.
Unpublished research by Professor Grulich and his team indicated that in some inner-city suburbs the rate of anal cancer was up to 30 times higher than in the general population.
He said the federal government should immediately include boys in its free HPV vaccination program. "But we do have to recognise that even if we do that, just as it is for women, it could be 20 to 40 years before the maximum benefit is obtained," he said.
He was developing a screening program to detect the early signs of problems caused by HPV.
Anal cancer linked to HPV infection occurred most commonly among women, many of whom said they did not have anal sex, Professor Grulich said.
Victoria's desalination bungle deepens
DOZENS of shattered farmers plan to sue the contractor behind Victoria's desalination plant after crops were wiped out by floods.
Pakenham farmers claim their properties were flooded because of inaction by project contractor Thiess, which had been warned about the potential for serious flooding. They claim they lost hundreds of thousands of dollars of crops, machinery and property.
Documents seen by the Herald Sun reveal concerns were raised last September after the construction of a pipeline through Pakenham's McDonalds Drain was completed.
Koo Wee Rup flood protection advisory committee member Charlie Huyskens said the work destroyed a levee that protected farmers on one side of the drain. But Thiess hadn't restored the 100m protective bank, he said.
Class action specialist Slater & Gordon confirmed yesterday it would meet affected farmers on Friday. Up to 100 people were expected to attend.
Mr Huyskens raised his concerns at a meeting with Melbourne Water representatives in September. "I told them, you can't just remove a levee from a drain and not replace it, because if we get heavy rain we are going to flood," Mr Huyskens said. "Looking back, I'm sorry I was right, because now we're all suffering."
Mr Huyskens said a project engineer phoned him to discuss the levee replacement. "He didn't tell me why they wouldn't replace it but he said if and when the time came they would monitor its water levels. Well it's too late now," he said. Workers tried to build a temporary levee on Saturday morning after the drain had already flooded.
Mr Huyskens, a retired farmer, said the deluge had destroyed thousands of hectares of crops.
Turf farmer Steve Cole said he would be out of business for weeks after he lost more than two thirds of his farms. He said it meant there was little work for his 20 staff but that he would find a way to continue to pay wages. "Floods are floods... but when you suffer because of someone else's negligence it's hard to swallow," Mr Cole said.
Water Minister Peter Walsh confirmed the Government was investigating the flooding of six houses under the assumption the levee bank had not been reinstated to its full height.