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Andrews Leaves, Allan Reorganizes Cabinet



The biggest news in Victoria this week was the resignation of Daniel Andrews as Premier and member of Parliament. 30-year-old Andrews won a seat in the State Parliament for the Mulgrave district in the 2002 state election. He was immediately appointed minister, never having served as a backbencher, an impressive record. Four years later, he won another election to the state Parliament serving as Victorian Minister for Gaming, Minister for Consumer Affairs and Assistant Minister to the Premier for Multicultural Affairs. 2010 saw the Liberal Party’s Ted Baillieu win the general election, and Andrews was elected Leader of the Opposition at just under 40 years of age. In four years, Andrews led the Labor Party back into power and has been the 48th Premier of Victoria since 2014. Since then, he has led the Victorian Labor Party to two consecutive state elections, and entered his third term in November last year. There is no one else on the list of Victorian leaders who can compare to Andrews’ achievements.

Last week, after Andrews resigned at a time of his choosing, Premier Jacinta Allan became the second female Premier in Victoria’s history. The state’s political scene has been shaken.

“It’s Time to Go”

Andrews became Premier of Victoria in November 2014 and led the Labor Party to two election victories in 2018 and 2022. Andrews served nine years as Premier and thirteen years as Leader of the Victorian Labor Party, a tremendous opportunity for any career politician. It was no easy time for the 51-year-old to announce his departure from politics. After discussing the matter with his family, Andrews decided it was time to pass on the power and responsibility of the premiership to his successor, recognizing all the accomplishments of the last nine years of Labor government, while admitting that “it’s not going to be an easy job to be Premier”.

Andrews has made seven visits to China over the past decade or so, and has been instrumental in establishing a stable bilateral relationship between the Victorian Labor government and many parts of China, with the Victorian government signing a Memorandum of Understanding on the One Belt and One Road with China in 2018, during the first term of the Andrews government. The agreement was torn up by the Liberal federal government in 2021, despite Andrews emphasizing that the MOU was only a pro forma initiative and that it would “take into account the interests of both Victoria and the country.” Andrews, who last visited China in March, became the first Australian Premier to do so after China lifted restrictions on the Covid-19 outbreak, and hopes to capitalize on China’s student, tourism and trade markets to jump-start Victoria’s then-slowly recovering economy.

In his nine years as premier, Andrews has been embroiled in many controversies. For example, last year’s Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) investigation report revealed widespread misuse of public resources and strict precautions taken during the outbreak. Since the spread of the virus began in Australia, Andrews has announced several city closures, making the Melbourne metropolitan area the world’s longest in the world at 262 days. In addition to this, the state of Victoria has imposed curfews, five-kilometer travel restrictions and mandatory masks. The restrictions have made Andrews one of the most controversial politicians in the state, with some opponents of his policies criticizing him, but supporters of his policies standing up for public health and safety.

On the domestic front, Andrews’ determination to remove over 100 train level crossings in Melbourne and convert many platforms to underground or above ground has not only improved traffic safety, but also gained the approval and support of many motorists, and improved the traveling time in the urban area. However, the Liberal Party has always criticized that this is not an effective use of taxpayers’ resources, but it has won the hearts of the people. However, Andrews’ domineering style has made many ministers dissatisfied. In last year’s general election, 5 senior cabinet members retired early, and people criticized Andrews for his arbitrariness.

It can be said that Andrews is the most controversial premier in Victoria, with a clear division between supporters and opponents. His reforms have plunged the state into a huge debt crisis, and his choice to leave office before the state’s economy deteriorates is the best opportunity for him to do so at the most honorable time. For his successor, however, it can be said that he is handing over a hot potato to a group of inexperienced young people, and the situation is unpredictable. For the people of Victoria, it will be a long time before his contribution can be clearly assessed.

Earlier this year, Victoria announced that it would not be hosting the Commonwealth Games due to budget explosion, causing much controversy. Recently, Andrews announced an ambitious housing policy that would see Victoria build a large number of public and low-cost housing units, and then announced his retirement from politics. The merits and demerits of Andrews’ term of office cannot be judged in a few days. Sometimes it takes three or four years, and sometimes it takes up to 20 years, before the public can make a fair judgment. It is just that this departure will be a disaster for his successor.

Andrews left behind a series of major infrastructure projects that have yet to be completed, and with Victoria’s net debt set to rise from about A$135.4 billion by the middle of next year to A$171.4 billion by the end of 2027, it’s hard to know whether the Allen government will be able to address the crisis as well as it could. By leaving office just three years before the next election, Andrews has given Allan a chance to reshape the government to be more coordinated and fiscally responsible. The question is whether Allan is up to the task. It’s all up in the air.


New Cabinet Different Styles

The departure of Andrews, with the blessing of Jacinta Allen, should have been a smooth transition to becoming the 49th Premier of Victoria, but the process was not without its share of ups and downs. Ben Carroll, who is on the right faction of the party, considered challenging her, but in the end, his appointment as Deputy Premier was coordinated in a way that prevented the Labor Party from appearing divided. This demonstrated Allan’s ability to reconcile different views within the party, and was also recognized by the people of Victoria.

In 1999, at the age of 25, she became the youngest female member of the Victorian Parliament. Three years later, she was sworn in as the state’s youngest Minister, and in June 2022, she became Andrew’s deputy. The Member for Bendigo East will become the second female leader in Victoria’s history and the first Labor Premier in nearly 100 years to hold a seat in a regional seat of Victoria. Allan is committed to putting hard work, equal opportunity, working families and the environment first, continuing the Andrews Government’s policies and programs, and listening to the concerns of Victorians. The Government will stick to the debt repayment measures announced earlier this year, including the removal of the payroll tax exemption for high cost schools and a 10-year tax on second homes and investment properties.

Now that Allan has announced his new cabinet, more than 50 percent of its members are women. The longest-serving female minister in Australia’s history says she wants to show women that they have a place at every decision-making table. Historically there have been few women in politics, let alone in ministerial and leadership roles, and women politicians are viewed by different standards. Allan hopes the Victorian public will judge her on her words and actions, even if she will adopt a different style to the previous government. In particular, Ingrid Stitt will also be Minister for Mental Health, in charge of the controversial Supervised Injecting Center, which was originally planned for downtown Melbourne, as well as Stitt’s responsibilities for ageing and multicultural affairs. Whether more resources will be devoted to the Chinese community in the coming years will require more community advocacy.

In response to the government’s cabinet reshuffle, Opposition Leader John Pesutto also announced his own new lineup. One of the biggest changes is that former Leader Matthew Guy will return to the Shadow Cabinet to take charge of the key public transport department to better connect all Victorians, no matter where they live. Pesutto also said a decision had been made to split the key duties of energy and planning to allow for greater focus on the aftermath of the recent housing reforms and Victoria’s energy crisis.

Allan’s supporters and critics alike see her as a practitioner of a similar political style to Andrews, choosing to manage messaging closely and holding fast to her areas of responsibility. Allan has pledged to continue the strong reform agenda of the Andrews administration, but has promised to outline her own policy priorities, noting that this “represents a transition”. But Allan is now handed a “hot potato”.

But Allan’s handling of these issues is markedly different from that of Andrews. Andrews’ self-confidence meant that he had to know everything and make the final decision, and many ministers saw themselves as merely supportive. Allan takes the initiative and coordinates with her. This different style is expected to increase the motivation of the ministers in the cabinet. However, the ability to fully grasp the situation in a short period of time and make effective decisions in the face of a crisis is also highly dependent on the ability and experience of the ministers concerned. Crisis management is one of the most worrying issues for the new cabinet.


Uncertainty in Victoria

Before the epidemic, Andrews’ administration was characterized by infrastructure and social reforms. He launched a lot of infrastructure projects, including underground railroads and highways, and did a lot of work on infrastructure for economic development and the convenience of people’s lives. It’s only the recent news that has put Andrews on the hot seat: a massive tax drive to plug debt, interest, budget black holes, the failure of the Commonwealth Games, and report after report of corruption in the government …… Perhaps leaving at this point in time would be the best possible outcome for Andrews personally.

The most decisive factor in the continuation of these projects and reforms is funding. The state is already heavily in debt, and with interest rates rising, it is believed that the state can no longer afford to borrow. The high interest rates will make the state face huge interest expenses in the future, which will make the state’s finances even more strained. If the economy continues to decline, the unemployment rate rises, and the number of unemployed people increases, the state’s revenues will plummet, and it is believed that the state will probably be trapped in an economic crisis. If this were to happen, it would be a great test to see if Allan’s team could come up with a solution to the problem.

On Tuesday, the day after the new cabinet took office, Treasurer Tim Pallas proposed two new taxes that would tax homes that have been unoccupied for six consecutive months and vacant land that hasn’t been developed in five years, which is estimated to bring in more than $6 million a year and alleviate the shortage of housing in the state. Although investors and developers have expressed their dissatisfaction with the government’s decision, it is believed that the policy will be supported by the residents of Victoria because only a small number of people will be affected by the policy, which can be regarded as a confirmation of the new government’s new policy.


Opportunities for Chinese elderly care services

Lizzie Blandthorn, the Minister for Ageing Care appointed by Andrews, has been reappointed as Minister of Children in the Allan Cabinet and has been replaced by Ingrid Stitt, who is also the Minister for Multiculturalism, and who needed to re-examined Lizzie’s decision to build a Chinese elderly care facility at Templestowe Lower. Ingrid should be concerned that Lizzie’s previous decision to delay building a Chinese elderly care facility at Templestowe Lower will be revisited and is an issue of particular concern to the Chinese community.

As she also manages the elderly care and multicultural community, Ingrid should pay more attention to the needs of the Chinese elderly and speed up the project, rather than delaying it. The Chinese community should actively send out their demands to the new government, so that Minister Ingrid Stitt can respond to them, which is the best time to fight for the Chinese elderly, and also the opportunity for the new government of Victoria to show that it cares about people’s needs, which is an opportunity that both sides shouldn’t miss. It is an opportunity for the new Victorian government to show that it cares about the people’s needs.


Article/SAMEWAY Editorial Department



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Understand Australia

Multiculturalism as a driving force in Australian life




Scanlon Cohesion Study

The Scanlon Cohesion Study 2023, just released on Wednesday, is the 17th study since 2007 on changes in social cohesion in Australia. Peter Scanlon, who immigrated to Melbourne from Europe as a child in the 1950s, started out selling newspapers in the marketplace and today is a successful entrepreneur and a former President of the Migration Council of Australia, where he is passionately involved in promoting support for migrants. He is also committed to promoting Australia as a multicultural society in public policy.

In 2007, he established the Scanlon Foundation, which focuses on building social cohesion in Australia, and provides a range of activities including social research studies on acceptance and recognition of migrants, and the integration of new migrants into the community. This year’s study, led by James O’Donnell, a professor at the Australian National University, collected more than 7,500 respondents, of which 251 questionnaires were conducted in non-English, and conducted in-depth interviews with 55 multicultural immigrants. It is arguably the most systematic and large-scale study of multicultural societies in the world.

Bleak outlook but hopeful

The release of the report demonstrates that while Australia’s post-Covid society is facing serious challenges, the researchers’ findings show that there is still hope for the future of Australia. This year’s report shows that many Australians are under severe economic pressure, some are facing a lack of food, rising rents and property prices are making life difficult, and the gap between the rich and the poor in society is growing wider than the government’s ability to improve it, and many believe that Australia is no longer a blessed place. Many Australians have lost their sense of honor and belonging to Australia, are more concerned about inequality in society, have lost confidence in the Australian government, and are pessimistic about the future.

However, lead researcher Dr James O’Donnell is still confident about Australia’s future. This is because he found that Australians are still actively involved in their communities, working together in a variety of community organizations, connecting with and caring for each other, rather than working in isolation. More Australians believe that multiculturalism brings opportunities and dynamism to Australia (nearly 90%) and are proud of Australia’s ability to embrace multiculturalism. Australians continue to believe that democracy (over 90%) is a better system of government and are committed to supporting it. In terms of interpersonal relationships, research has shown that communities are accepting of migrants from different cultures and backgrounds, and even more so, they accept, respect and care for each other.

It can be said that in these difficult times, the Australian community still sees migrants from all over the world as an asset rather than a burden, and does not blame outsiders for their difficulties. This is a welcome message to the Chinese immigrant community.

Are we ready for multiculturalism?

Newly arrived Chinese immigrants seldom think about what a multicultural society looks like. We only think about how to adapt to the changes in our living environment. Living, shopping, doing business, working, studying, traveling, etc. are all part of our daily lives. But as time goes by, we realize that the way people live, their values, their ways of doing things, how they see other people, how they look at the world, how they vote for their own representatives, how they disagree with the social system, and how they relate to other people are no longer the same as in the society in which we grew up. How can I cope with this? Do I accept it? Or do I avoid it?

Some people choose to ignore it and form small, self-enclosed communities with their immigrant friends from the same background. However, sometimes after being in a small community for a longer period of time, they realize that they know very little about the society, and often they do not know what is going on every day, and even less about how these things affect them. It is not until one’s situation changes and one has to face it that one realizes that one’s friends do not necessarily know about it. The information we get and the way we live in a small community is not much different from what it was before we immigrated, and it is very restricted.

Yes, when you come to Australia and enter a multicultural society, you will realize that people from different regions are not the same as you, and this can be a very interesting thing. When you learn their way of life, you have more choices. The Scanlon Cohesion Study points this out. Mainstream Australians are not first-generation immigrants, but many believe that the learning that newcomers to Australia have brought with them has added color and dynamism to the community.

Since our next generation will grow up in this society and develop a life different from ours, it becomes a motivation for us first generation immigrants to enter and work hard to build a multicultural society.

Distance from the Next Generation

It is understandable that many first generation immigrants find it difficult for the next generation to share their parents’ values or to live in close proximity to them when they grow up. Many public opinion polls on social issues show that young people have different views from their elders. The reason for this is simple: the two generations grew up in different societies.

Nowadays, the younger generation grows up in a multicultural society, and they are open to different things, and they do not resist them, because many of them come from different countries or backgrounds. The older generation, living in the same immigrant community, maintains the same mindset and lifestyle as decades ago, but many of these lifestyles are outdated and cannot be found in Australia.

For this reason, many immigrants often return to their place of origin for a short period of time after retirement because they feel more comfortable. In fact, it is often because they cannot enter the world where their children grow up. As time goes by, they have less contact with their children, less conversation, and a more distant relationship. I can say that this may not be what I had in mind when I immigrated.

Therefore, for those who have just immigrated, there is still a choice. As long as we grow up with our children and actively participate in the community activities they grew up with, we may be able to shorten the distance between us and them. In states with a large number of immigrants, such as NSW and Victoria, the government values the importance of different ethnic groups in the state to maintain their cultures, and therefore often allocates funds to support different ethnic groups in the state to organize their own cultural activities. We often see the younger generation participating in Lunar New Year activities, which is a process of cultural integration. However, not many of us first generation immigrants, or mainstream Australians, participate in these multicultural events.

Government choices

The Scanlon Cohesion Study has identified multiculturalism as a source of social dynamism in Australia. It also reminds us that as immigrants, apart from retaining our own culture and circle, we can also broaden our understanding of how to live in cultures different from our own. For example, during Diwali, which is a festival for the Indian community, will we take the initiative to participate in these activities? Or will we take our children to participate in these events, or will we meet our friends to experience them together?

What the state governments do now is to provide a small amount of resources for ethnic communities to organize their own small circle of activities. There aren’t many large-scale multicultural events for immigrants of different ethnicities or for mainstream Australians. The findings of the Scanlon Cohesion Study present a great challenge to all levels of government.

How can more resources be made available to multicultural communities for ethnic integration? Or how can more resources be spent to bring multicultural activities into the mainstream and make them accessible to all? If the government fails to do so, the Australian society may be divided into different smaller communities.

When Israel was attacked by the Hamas terrorists, many Australians initially supported Israel unanimously. However, after the Israeli government’s indiscriminate attack on the Gaza Strip, the Australian community has shifted to one that cares more about the survival of the Palestinians. The Australian government is now clearly biased in favor of Israel, and is confronting Australians with questions and mistrust. If the Australian government does not respond in a way that is consistent with a multicultural society that treats people from different ethnic groups equally, the current situation could become a source of social unrest.

Yes, the challenge for the Australian society and the Australian government is to ensure that the local multicultural community will not be affected by the politics of the place of origin or the conflicts with other countries. Whether the government can make appropriate choices is also the concern of the immigrant community.

Mr. Raymond Chow

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Understand Australia

The worse the person, the more chance they have to stay in Australia?




Last Wednesday, the High Court handed down a historic ruling that it is unconstitutional to allow indefinite detention of illegal immigrants with nowhere else to go in Australia, overturning a controversial decision that has guided Australia’s asylum seeker policy for the past 20 years.

The ruling, which at the time could have meant the imminent release of some 92 detainees whose visas had been revoked on character grounds, was hailed by refugee law experts. The media has since learned that at least 80 of them have already been released. The ruling opens a Pandora’s box, as it is impossible to predict the impact of the release of these non-Australian citizens who cannot be repatriated back to their place of origin, and who will be returned to the Australian community. Some rape victims have expressed extreme shock and anxiety about living in the same community as their perpetrators.

Following the High Court’s decision, it has been argued that the decision effectively means that anyone can apply for a refugee temporary protection visa on political persecution grounds, as long as they cannot be repatriated, or if their life would be in danger if they were repatriated, and if they have committed a more serious offense in Australia, and if they are not accepted by another country after they have been convicted and served their sentence, then the decision effectively allows them to stay in Australia indefinitely. This is contrary to the requirement of good character to immigrate to Australia, and suggests that Australia allows people with no country to return to to remain here by committing crimes and serving their sentences.

The original ruling

The Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) is a facility established by the Australian federal government to curb illegal immigration. Its origins can be traced back to the 1990s, when the Australian government responded to the influx of immigrants by establishing detention centers, primarily to intercept those without legal status. Since then, detention centers have been established in Australia and overseas, and have become an important part of Australia’s illegal immigration policy.

The 2004 ruling (now overturned) involved stateless Palestinian Ahmed Ali Al-Kateb and Iraqi Abbas Mohammad Hasan Al Khafaji, both of whom arrived in Australia in 2000. They had applied for Australian temporary protection visas, but were refused and asked to return to the Middle East. However, the government was unable to make arrangements with other countries to receive them. The men had been living in the community for 12 months when a court order decided to return them to a detention center.

Katib and Kafaji were quickly granted bridging visas, but those who followed were not so lucky. The decision allowed Australia to legally detain indefinitely those who could not be returned to another country and whose asylum claims had been rejected. According to the Human Rights Law Center, the government holds people in immigration detention camps for an average of 708 days, but currently 124 people have been detained for more than five years, many of them stateless or deserving of asylum in Australia.

Australia’s immigration policy has been in a state of flux, but the number of illegal immigrants remains high and is a constant headache for the government. Although detention centers are one of the government’s central tools to address the problem of illegal immigration, they remain ineffective and have been criticized for their inhumane treatment and lack of a clear maximum time limit. The Australian NGO Human Rights Watch has pointed out that indefinite detention can lead to a rapid deterioration of people’s mental and physical health. The High Court’s reversal of the 2004 ruling has won the approval of many human rights lawyers.


Human Rights Above All?

Indefinite detention has always been unfair and illegal under international law. For many years Australia’s detention practices have been completely out of step with those of other democracies and in need of reform. One of the reasons why its detention centers for illegal immigrants have been widely criticized is because of their inhumane treatment. It has been reported that migrants in the detention centers are forced to live in small, dirty conditions with no privacy and are often subjected to physical and psychological abuse.

In 2008, the Australian federal government began a violent clearing of the detention centers, which resulted in injuries to many migrants and police officers and drew widespread international criticism. This makes last Wednesday’s ruling all the more significant, with Professor Jane McAdam, director of the Caldow Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales, calling it “an important and long-awaited victory for human rights”.

In reversing the original decision, High Court Chief Justice Gagler expressed concern about the lack of a time limit on indefinite detention, stating that when it is known that certain individuals are not welcome in other countries because of their record of behavior or because they may pose a security risk, these individuals will be detained because of their character. But this is not entirely untrue. As a result of this judgment, the second defendant in the Mongolian girl murder case, Cyrus, who had absconded to Australia and had been detained at the Sydney Detention Center, has been released from the Villawood Detention Center in Sydney and has regained his personal liberty.

In addition, a Rohingya refugee who assaulted a child came to Australia by boat in 2012 and admitted in 2015 that he forcibly assaulted a 10-year-old child. Since then, his bridge visa has been revoked and he will have to be repatriated at the end of his sentence. The Rohingya are a unique ethnic group in that they live mainly on the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh, and neither country recognizes Rohingya as nationals under their laws, so Australia is unable to repatriate them. At the same time, the Australian government refused to grant him a “safe haven enterprise” visa, so he had no choice but to stay in an Australian immigration detention center. Now, with the latest ruling, the man has been released under “strict conditions”, but we don’t know what kind of visa he might have, which is bound to be controversial. A country that emphasizes the rule of law, and allows the human rights and freedoms of the individual to override the security of the community as a whole, is a country that emphasizes the rule of law and democracy, and pays the price.

Human rights laws are not absolute

However, Australia’s human rights laws are based on the international human rights treaties to which Australia is a signatory, so they do not have the highest authority. At present, the High Court is of the opinion that the government does not have the right to detain illegal residents who have broken the law and served their sentences, or who are suspected to have broken the law in illegal immigrant centers for a long period of time, but it can provide the government with the right to detain them for a long period of time through the enactment of a new law.

Of course, it is not always easy for the Government to convince legislators that allowing these people to stay in the community will pose greater dangers before they have a chance to pass the law in the legislature. However, this issue has become the choice of the legislators because these people do not have the right to stay in Australia for a long period of time, and they are staying in Australia because they have no “country” to go to. It could also be argued that they are not in Australia because they are there, they are there because they have committed crimes.

However, the principle of imprisoning criminals in Australia is not only to prevent crime, but also to educate and change, so the sentences tend to be lenient. For those who cannot be repatriated, the loss of liberty that allows them to stay in Australia can be said to be subtly similar to the “criminals” who were forcibly exiled from Australia for minor offenses committed in the United Kingdom hundreds of years ago.

How to deal with it appropriately

As of November 13, 80 migrants in detention centers have been released following a landmark High Court ruling. Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said the government had released the 80 people immediately to comply with the High Court’s requirements and ruling, and that protecting the community was the government’s top priority, and that those released would be required to report regularly to the Australian Federal Police, the Border Force and any other relevant agencies. After all, this latest ruling changes two decades of law, and how it is put into practice will require a more careful response from all sides of the government, both to ensure that everyone released into the community can truly live and work in Australia, and to ensure the safety of the wider community.

Immigration Minister confirms release of 80 illegal immigrants

The federal government has confirmed that the ruling affects more than 300 cases. Most of the people who were incarcerated in the first place were incarcerated because most of them did not pass the character test, and some of them were deemed to be compromising national security. Just because a character test and potential security threat can be grounds for denial of a visa, or denial of citizenship, they cannot be grounds for continued detention. This is indeed a legal issue, but it is indeed emotionally difficult for the general public, who have no specialized legal training, to accept a person with a flawed character or even a serious criminal record living in the same community.

All countries governed by the rule of law strongly condemn indefinite detention without judgment or appeal. People deprived of their liberty in detention centers do not live in a legal vacuum. Indefinite detention violates Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn it is a clear first step towards the practical realization of international human rights law. But how much consideration has the court given to the consequences of this first step? Has the interface with the government been adequately considered? Do illegal immigrants who have been detained for a long time need a better plan for their return to the community and their gradual resettlement? The courts must strike a balance between human rights issues and community safety. After all, if a precedent is set, the consequences will be difficult to control.

While the government has indicated that those released will be subject to strict conditions, such as regular reporting to the Department of Home Affairs, refraining from criminal behavior, and adhering to a specific ‘code of conduct’, more importantly, the integration of those who have been detained for so long in inhumane conditions into Australia will inevitably need to be accompanied by a range of psychosocial and social support services, which are currently very limited. Like two ends of a stilted stool, illegal immigrants detained indefinitely have a human right to know what the government is doing to keep their communities safe, and so do the wider Australian community. The Supreme Court’s landmark decision last Wednesday is just the first of many dominoes, and the knock-on effect will be a whole new set of issues for the government, the justice system, and the public. Whether the landmark decision, which focuses more on the human rights of illegal immigrants than the safety of communities, will cause irreversible harm to the Australian public is a matter of time, and the potential price to be paid is not something we want to see.

Migrants need to be aware of social issues

Many people migrate to Australia because it is a better place to live for themselves and their children. Immigration policy not only determines who can come to Australia, it also determines the kind of people who will make up this society. The abolition of the White Australia policy in the 1970’s also contributed to the foundation of Australia as a multicultural nation. Migrants who come to Australia have to understand and participate in the society, but also have to pay attention to the development of social affairs, because the society will continue to change, which will affect the living environment they are seeking.

For example, the recent Aboriginal Voice referendum, or the balance between human rights and social security in the face of illegal immigrants today, have brought about a great impact on the direction of social development. It is only through civil discussion that the government can find a direction of development that society is willing to accept.

Many Chinese people think that we are newcomers and do not know much about these issues, but we all have a responsibility to participate in the society we live in.

Text: Editorial Department

Photo: Internet


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Understand Australia

Israeli-Hamas war impacts Australia’s multicultural society and politics




Since the beginning of October, the intensifying military conflict between Israel and Hamas has split international opinion between those who support Israel’s counter-attacks against Hamas terrorists, and those who cannot bear to see the innocent casualties caused by Israel’s counter-attacks in the Gaza Corridor.

Israeli Defense Minister Galant declared on Monday that Hamas “has lost control of the Gaza Strip” and that militants are “fleeing to the south”. At the same time, the Qassam Brigades, a Hamas militant group, said Hamas was prepared to release 70 women and children hostages it was holding in exchange for a five-day full ceasefire in Gaza. All of this has caused indelible trauma to the Australian diaspora.

“Spreading ‘anti-Semitism’ and ‘Islamophobia’

Over the past few years, anti-Semitism has been on the rise around the world. In particular, there has been a noticeable rise in anti-Semitism during outbreaks of hostilities between Israel and neighboring countries or terrorist organizations.The past month has seen an upsurge in racist incidents against Australia’s Jewish and Muslim communities as the Israeli-Hamas conflict continues to escalate. After the Hamas attack early last month, when the Sydney Opera House was illuminated in the colors of the Israeli flag, video footage of a small group of people lighting flares and chanting “Death to the Jews” outside the Opera House was shocking.

According to the 2021 census, Victoria has the largest Jewish population in Australia. Violent clashes between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli groups broke out on the streets of Melbourne on Friday night. Pro-Palestinian protesters met in Princes Park, while pro-Israeli protesters gathered on the other side of the road, with police positioned between the two groups of around 200 people each. Police had to use pepper spray as a result of the fighting between the two groups in the middle of Hawthorn Road.

The clash took place outside a synagogue and a Burgertory burger restaurant, which was damaged by fire that morning. The burger chain’s founder, Hirmin Tayer, said he had received threats and believed the fire was a hate crime after he was photographed at a pro-Palestinian rally chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. Although police say they believe the fire was not religiously or politically motivated, they are still treating the fire as suspicious.

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan immediately condemned the violence, saying that all forms of anti-Semitism and attacks on the Muslim community are unacceptable. Police in Victoria have increased their presence in the area where the clashes took place. Opposition leader John Pessuto has also spoken out, saying all Victorians should be able to pray freely and safely without fear of intimidation. Prime Minister Albanese said all Australians have a responsibility to maintain peace, harmony and respect, and that hatred and prejudice in any form will not be tolerated in Australia. The Chief Executive of the Victorian Minority Community Council, Mohammed El Rafihee, has encouraged Jewish and Palestinian Australians not to hide their identities and has supported the idea that only through cooperation between communities in these difficult times can the cohesion of the Victorian community be maintained without letting international events affect the state’s social cohesion. But the reality of the conflict was a slap in the face.

Social cohesion put to the test

For many years, both Labor and Coalition governments have been supporters of Israel. The former Prime Minister, Mr. Morrison, even recognized West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and considered relocating the embassy, but the current government has openly cancelled this policy. However, after the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, Australia immediately condemned the attack, but refused to criticize Israel’s retaliatory attack and affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself. When the General Assembly of the United Nations called on Israel to stop attacking the Palestinians, Australia abstained from voting, which was questioned by many Australians.

Until the Israeli attacks killed tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians and children, earlier this month, Australia’s Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, wrote an op-ed saying that Israel needs to heed the calls from its allies urging it to exercise restraint, or the conflict risks spreading beyond the Gaza Strip because the international community will not accept the continued deaths of civilians. In her article, Wong outlined the Albanese government’s position in the strongest terms yet, saying that “the status quo is a disappointment to everyone” and that the only option is to seek a “lasting peace” through a political process, with a two-state solution that allows Israel and Palestine to live side by side. And a lasting peace requires people to see the humanity in each other and demands that each side respect the right of others to exist. It is easy for politicians, academics, and international law experts to say that both Israel and Palestine have the right to exist within established and secure borders; this principle is at the heart of the two-state solution. But what does that principle mean for the countless civilians who are in the killing fields?

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull  has said that while many leaders have made solidarity visits to Israel, Albanese should not have done so. Despite the fact that former Australian Prime Minister Morrison and former British Prime Minister Johnson visited Israel together, Mr. Turnbull said it would be better for Albanese to focus on domestic issues, which is the duty of the Australian Prime Minister to promote the interests of the Australian people. After all, at this stage, the ruling Australian Labor Party is being attacked by the opposition, its approval ratings continue to fall, and the pressure within the Labor Party is mounting, with many calling for it to do more to condemn Israel’s retaliatory actions.

Australia is a multicultural and multireligious country, and people may have different and deeper views on issues related to the Middle East conflict, but political discourse must be handled with respect. The recent escalation of the Israeli-Hamas conflict has been traumatic for the Australian diaspora: people with relatives in Israel want to know if the hostages will be released, and they want to know how many people will die. The Jewish community has legitimate concerns about its safety in Australia, given the heightened tensions in the community and the resurgence of virulent anti-Semitism. The Palestinian community in Australia, at the heart of the Labor election, is also in a state of despair, given the desperate humanitarian situation in Gaza and the soaring number of deaths and injuries every day.

People come to Australia because they want to live in a country that is peaceful, tolerant and respectful, and peace, tolerance and mutual respect are not just empty promises, they need to be carefully maintained by all members of the community. Authoritative studies have shown that Australia’s social cohesion has been declining since the darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic. The just-released 2023 Scanlon Foundation’s Social Cohesion Report, a research project mapping the mood of the multicultural nation since 2007, shows that economic pressures and geo-political uncertainty have put Australia’s social cohesion at a ‘critical turning point’, with the number of Australians expressing a strong sense of national belonging and pride at a 17-year low. This is worrying.

Solving problems based on reality is the real deal

Many things involve the issue of scale, especially historical, cultural and social issues, for which there are almost no standard answers. In the case of the Palestine issue, we can start with the departure of the Jews from the land of Palestine during the Roman era, or we can analyze it from the Ottoman Turkish Empire and British colonialism. As for Zionism, it can be discussed from the long history of discrimination and unequal treatment of Jews in Europe, and also from the anti-Semitism of the German Nazis. As for the question of the sovereignty of the land of Palestine today, should we think of it in terms of British colonialism or the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947? From different historical starting points, there are naturally different conclusions about who should own this land.

To be more realistic, what is the role of the Israeli-Palestinian issue under the Cold War framework? Simple answers are never enough to satisfy the needs of different positions and scales of thinking, but the collision of different positions, different thinking and different values is a living reality. Australians come from more than 100 countries around the world, and they will have different perspectives on history. The question of where the government stands when making decisions about how to act in the present day is a major concern.

As a country of immigrants, Australia has naturally developed a multicultural community. It is not the first time that political parties have struggled to deal with multiculturalism, as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 20 years ago caused a stir within the Australian Labor Party. That year, pressure was brought to bear on two pro-Palestinian backbenchers to moderate their outbursts in parliamentary debates on the Middle East, given the risk of losing votes and donations from Jewish voters. Politicians may say nice things in front of the media about occupying the moral high ground, but in reality their behavior is closely related to their core interest – the vote.

The nation-state is the foundation of modern international relations, and the formation of core national values is an important symbol of national maturity and an important guarantee of national stability. However, Australia has always suffered from the influence of racism in the construction of nationalism. Not only did it implement the “White Australia Policy” to exclude people of color in its history, but after the implementation of the multicultural policy, although racism was officially ended, there were still many outbreaks of racial discrimination, which demonstrates that racism has not died out, but exists in a new and more insidious form. Australia’s multiculturalism policy pursues equal coexistence, but neglects interracial integration and fails to heal the cultural rift between mainstream groups and ethnic minorities, so it is not surprising that the country’s sense of identity and belonging is at a low point, and its continued construction is in trouble.

Albanese paints a rosy picture for Australians: we need to ensure that Australia remains a microcosm of our ideal world, that people of all faiths and backgrounds can live together in a multicultural society. There is no place for hatred, no place for anti-Semitism, no place for Islamophobia. However, what should the government do when disputes between people of different faiths and backgrounds arise due to different demands, escalating into conflicts and breeding hatred? Given the complexity of human nature and the fact that the government can foresee such a possibility, what kind of policy should be adopted to prevent conflicts beforehand, so that conflicts can be avoided as far as possible, and at the same time, there should be measures to cope with conflicts once they occur. This can definitely not be achieved by just saying a few nice words, but rather, it is necessary for the government to genuinely enter into the multicultural communities in its daily life, to put aside its arrogance, to understand them, and to listen to them, so that it can come up with a sustainable policy. It is necessary for the government to truly enter the multicultural community in every aspect of its daily life, put aside its arrogance, understand them and listen to them before it can come up with sustainable policies. It seems that the Australian government has a long road ahead of it.


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