Mr. Chris Bowen,
Minister for Immigration
We refer to the report below and wish to congratulate your embracement for multiculturalism. Unity Party WA will not only actively support those bodies that you are going to establish but also to spread the good news globally as racism destroys the quality of life.
Unity Party WA
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Bowen begins the rehabilitation of multiculturalism
Kirsty Needham - February 17, 2011
THE federal government has firmly re-embraced multiculturalism in a key speech by Immigration Minister Chris Bowen tackling voter fear of Islamic extremism and outlining a new anti-racism strategy.
In the midst of the furore over the government paying for asylum-seekers to attend family members' funerals, Mr Bowen told the Sydney Institute last night it had become fashionable to blame multiculturalism for terrorism, but the Australian experience was different.
''It is right for Australians to be concerned about extremism - whether Islamic or otherwise … To cast all Islamic migrants or all members of any religious group as somehow unworthy of their place in our national community, however, tars the many with the extremist views of the very few and does an injustice to all.
''It's counter-intuitive to assume that the majority of migrants want to change Australia. Allegations of migrants wanting to come to Australia to convert the populace and turn it into a replica of their homelands ignore the truth.''
Hazara refugees - who make up a large percentage of asylum-boat arrivals - had fled religious extremism, and ''just like previous groups of migrants'' were attracted by Australia's values, he said.
Mr Bowen outlined a new policy he said promoted social cohesion and valued diversity.
The federal government will:
■ Appoint a 10-person Australian Multicultural Council with a wider scope than the current advisory body;
■ Establish a National Anti-Racism Strategy;
■ Reinstate the word ''multicultural'' to Senator Kate Lundy's title of parliamentary secretary for immigration;
■ Promote people from ethnically diverse backgrounds mixing together via a sports program.
The multiculturalism push comes after Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said on Australia Day he was ''reluctant to use the term''.
The Howard government dropped official use of the term multiculturalism, and the last federal government multiculturalism statement was in 2003.
But during last year's election, Labor had also shied away from a multiculturalism policy, sensitive to western Sydney voter perceptions of special treatment. It also dropped the term from Senator Lundy's title under a Gillard reshuffle.
Mr Bowen said last night: ''I'm not afraid to use the word multiculturalism.''
He said multiculturalism had worked, and was a marker of a liberal society. Australia differed from Europe in that it wasn't a guest worker society, and migrants were expected to become citizens. But Australia couldn't take the benefits of a diverse population and then shun the culture of its migrants.
''If people do not feel part of society, this can lead to alienation and, ultimately, social disunity,'' he said.
Almost half of Australians had a parent born overseas or were born overseas themselves.
Mr Bowen said the government would counter extremism, and singled out Sharia law as inconsistent with multiculturalism. Where there is any clash between migrant cultures and the rule of law or freedom ''traditional Australian values win out'', he said.
The Australian Multicultural Advisory Council, set up by the Rudd Government in 2008, had last year recommended to the government a permanent and independent body be set up to advise on a national multicultural strategy.