National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee [ NAIDOC] Week this year was marked by government rejection of the Aboriginal and Torres Islander flags in the Senate chamber.
Meanwhile our first law officer, Christian Porter and the minister in charge of our Australian Values Statement, Alan Tudge, were the subjects of a Four Corners program on harassment accusations from female members of their staff.
The need for clear Australian Values
Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge’s first major speech in March 2018, widely reported in regional newspapers, warned “Multicultural Australia at Risk.”
Fearing “ethnic separatism,” he stated that “Australia risks replicating ethnic unrest in Europe unless the government intervenes.”
He also claimed: “We have also got a general diminishing capacity or capability of the English language being spoken by new arrivals to this country over the last decade.” [7 March 2018 Ararat Advertiser]
This seems to be an echo of the 1939 ANA Congress in Warrnambool, worried about the entry of “aliens” in to the country, with their inclination to form enclaves and not speak English. [23 March 1939 Argus]
The Department of Home Affairs announced on 17 September 2020 that the updated Citizenship Test will comprise 20 multiple-choice questions, including five questions on Australian values.
“A person will be required to correctly answer all five of the questions on Australian values, with a mark of at least 75 per cent overall, to pass the test.”
“From 30 October 2020, most new visa and citizenship applicants will be required to affirm the updated Australian Values Statement (AVS).”
Then on 30 October 2020 the Home Affairs website announced: “From today, new applicants for most visas will be required to sign or accept an updated Australian Values Statement, with a greater focus on values like freedom, respect, equality and the rule of law.”
Since 2013 Home Affairs has been promoting Australian values very much like those of 2020, including egalitarianism, mutual respect, rule of law, equality of opportunity.
The statements do not accord with reality.
Although we are one of the richest countries in the world per head of population “The number of children living in poverty had gone up considerably in the last decade.”
Alongside this we have the 40 companies, earning some $348 billion, which paid the least tax on the most income earned.
“The top tax rate paid by any of them was less than 4%. Sixteen of the 40 paid no tax at all. If the 40 had paid 25% tax …the tax take would have been nearly $27,000 for each of the three and a quarter million people living below the poverty line.” [15 October 2020 Ian Cunliffe Pearls and Irritations]
So much for egalitarianism, mutual repect and equality of opportunity.
As for the rule of law, Tudge chose to disobey an Administrative Appeals Tribunal decision on freeing a refugee and kept him in detention for an additional five days.
Federal Court Judge Justice Geoffrey Flick said that “the Minister has engaged in conduct which can only be described as criminal”.
The Attorney General Christian Porter defended Tudge, leaving him, as first law officer of the nation, open to the accusation that he had supported the right of ministers to break the law.
The in June Justice Flick had to threaten Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton with contempt of court, … over granting an Iranian refugee a protection visa.” [28 September 2020 Rashad Seedeen Independent Australia]
The vilification directed by government members and their collaborators in the Senate towards Muslim Australians and towards First Nations people is also a matter of public record.
The AVS of “rule of law, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of association and equality of opportunity for all people in Australia” remains on paper so far as this ruling coalition is concerned.
By the way there are doubts about the eligibility of Tudge to even sit in parliament. According to John Wren, he could be Canadian. [14 November 2020 Independent Australia]