Jewish Ozzies' Inter.Net
The electronic voice of the Australian Jewish Community
Address by Dr Tom KramerTo the Pro-Multiculturism (Say No to Hanson) Rally
Manly, Sydney, Australia May 18th 1997
On behalf of the Jewish Community of N.S.W.
Dr Tom Kramer is a member of the Australian Association of Holocaust Survivors.
There have been tremendous changes in Australian Society since my family arrived in this country as stateless refugees in the early 1950s. From the post-war shortages, from the battleship grey of an insular, isolated, chauvinistic mono-culture, subsequent decades have seen Australia gradually transformed into a vibrant, culturally diverse nation. Admittedly, this transformation had not always been smooth. But, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see that the transitional difficulties were mere hiccups compared with the current Hanson phenomenon which has intruded into the mainstream of national political debate with quite remarkable speed.
As a child, I sometimes asked my father why we came to Australia. After all, as a mechanical engineer, he could have migrated to most Western countries relatively easily. His answer was always the same. He wanted to raise his family as far away as possible from the ancient bigotries, the racism, the social, political and ethnic conflicts endemic to the European continent. Yet he was no fool. He clearly recognised that Australia did not love migrants, especially refugees. As did his peers, he recognised that they were largely accepted on the basis of their necessity for the development of the Australian economy.
Consequently, a peculiar sort of unwritten social contract developed between mono-cultural Australia and migrants of my parents' generation. Postwar migrants accepted the suspicions, the hostility and the resentments, kept their heads down and worked their guts out on the unwritten but clear understanding that their contributions to the development of Australian culture, society and industry would ensure that their children and grandchildren would be treated as equals, would be free of slurs such as "wog" and "reffo", and be free to participate in Australia without fear or discrimination. And, up until recently, this unwritten contract has been accepted by the large majority of society. Now, just as we are congratulating ourselves on a success that few other countries have achieved, along comes Mrs Hanson and tells us we are gravely mistaken.
Well, we're here today to tell Mrs Hanson that we have faith in modern Australia - that is, faith in the inherent decency of the Australian people and Australian institutions - and that we will not tolerate the abuse and discrimination to which our parents were subjected. We're here today to tell Mrs Hanson and her One Nation Party, that we reject her attempted demonisation of the most underprivileged and marginalised element of society - Australia's original inhabitants, the Aborigines. We reject absolutely her attempt to turn Aborigines, asians or any other group of Australians into demons or pariahs.
Mrs Hanson's toxic "vision", which is based on sheer piffle and absurd conspiracy theories, is a formula for a fortress Australia, and Australia isolated from the world and wracked in perpetuity by xenophobia and constant social turmoil. We are here today to tell Mrs Hanson that we reject absolutely her attempted counter- revolution, her attempt to revert Australia to a so-called "Golden Age" when minorities could either like it or lump it or get back from whence they came.
Practically and morally, there is just no alternative to a harmonious Australia based on acceptance and tolerance for all who support her democratic ethos. Mono-cultural Australia has ceased to exist - if it ever existed at all. It has been transformed into a vibrant, multi-cultural mosaic. And we're here today to tell Mrs Hanson: "And ever more shall be so."
Copyright © 1997 J.O.I.N.