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Time to end the fetish of diversity

By Peter Kurti - posted Monday, 16 December 2013

Hard multiculturalism is threatening Australia's success story of building a harmonious nation of immigrants.

Proponents of the multiculturalism industry argue that unless the state manages cultural and ethnic diversity, the 'fair go' will not be extended equally to all Australians.

Fears that the Abbott government will turn its back on multiculturalism have prompted calls from the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia (FECCA) for Parliament to pass a Multicultural Act.


The proposed Act would set in place a national language policy and a national scheme of accreditation for translators and interpreters. It would also emphasise the need for access and equity principles, anti-discrimination legislation, and what the FECCA calls "cultural competency" at all levels of government.

The FECCA does not mince its words. "The apparent neglect of the Australian Government to adequately recognise and support multiculturalism...could see Australian society experience difficulties often cited in [Europe]." The FECCA's list of these social ills includes crime, entrenched poverty and extremism.

According to the FECCA, all that stands between the way of life we enjoy in Australia and the misery millions of citizens of the European Union endure is the passage of a Multicultural Act.

Here is an opportunity, says the FECCA, "for an Australian government to make a lasting and meaningful contribution to Australian society, social cohesion, and quality of life now and into the future."

Australia is a cohesive and peaceful country, and multiculturalism is still popular here. Reasonably high numbers of migrants settle here and, for the most part, we make them welcome and enjoy the benefits of a culturally diverse society.

According to the 2013 Scanlon Foundation's Mapping Social Cohesion report, our support for a tolerant, multi-racial, multicultural society and its many benefits sits at a healthy 84%. There is little doubt that Australia will remain a multicultural nation.


However, there are disturbing trends in this success story. The 2013 Scanlon Foundation report also found that more and more of us believe government should not be in the business of supporting the customs and traditions of minority groups – up from 29% in 2012 to 31% in 2013.

Multiculturalism is now raising questions about just how public policy promotes the peaceful coexistence of diverse people in one society. It's a new, 'hard' form of multiculturalism – one that was well intentioned at first.

Yet what began as a sincere desire to eliminate racist prejudice and promote cultural diversity has, over time, turned into a determined drive to promote diversity as a moral and political end.

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About the Author

The Reverend Peter Kurti is a research fellow the Centre for Independent Studies.

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