Having experienced the Australia of the immediate post-war period; having observed, and related to the arrivals from overseas (mostly by chance and reflecting my genuine interest); knowing how my neighbours, workmates, and those I came to know settled successfully into the country (simply by accepting their new home as it was, and working their guts out); and relishing how the host people (the Anglo-Celt Australians) increasingly welcomed and assisted (where possible) the much-needed imported manpower, I can say without challenge that we are an integrated cosmopolitan nation now. Just listen to the youngest two generations. They compare favourably with the nations of my birth and development (a few chauvinistic politicians excepted)
All this eventuated without duplicate structures of settlement service delivery. Then came the push from the ambitious. Does multicultural mean multi-lingual, or multi-legal, or some other multi-whatever? The following extracts from ‘Musings at Death’s Door’ are relevant.
“Almost all the immigrants adapted to the prevailing social and moral ethos, and institutions. Those choosing to continue with their distinguishing cultural practices could do so, but without offending the host nation’s social and political mores. Thus, most, if not all, immigrants accepted, for example, the equality of women; that accessing equal opportunity meant giving away or modifying certain inherited behaviours; that mutual tolerance of, or (preferably) respect for, other immigrant cultures is essential.
All this was achieved without an official multicultural policy; that is, without wasting scarce taxpayer dollars on propaganda or building another bureaucracy. It was habituation based on ongoing contact, education by school teachers, and that intangible reaching out to others I frequently refer to (and which I have personally experienced), all of which made us a tolerant nation. With time, and without interference by any divisive priesthood and its petty politician-acolytes, no wasteful public exhortation would be necessary.
Then came the quaint claim in the 1980s, when the government was already spending millions of dollars in enhancing the initial settlement of migrants through the provision of hostels with full board, English language classes, and other appropriate assistance, that English is not the national language of Australia. Was it then to be Mandarin, I asked. The European proponents of this idea did not say. The government killed off that silly ambition.”