“When a global HE policy replaced the Middle Eastern HE policy, the first batch approved overseas were not Baha’is, as expected, but Afghan carpet merchants from Pakistan. Some of Australia’s visa-issuing embassy staff were very flexible. At that time, the Baha’i were the only people known to be persecuted in the Middle East. A little later, we accepted a number of Baha’is.
As with other HEs, they were placed in a migrant hostel in a city in which resided members of the same community. These had agreed to assist the initial settlement of the new arrivals. A kind hostel manager had arranged for a local imam to greet the arrivals. He did not know that the arrivals were not Moslems. The next day he rang me to ask what he was to do with the halal meat. This was the measure of the care we gave all new arrivals.
Some Ministerial approvals were also so flexible, that I was threatened by an ethnic Australian sponsor of his relatives overseas when I pointed out that I did not have the authority to approve entry outside policy. The sponsor himself had benefited from an earlier flexible Ministerial approval. Eminence in one’s profession can engender uncivil conduct! Or, was it evidence of a Middle Eastern culture?
For a short period only, the Tamils of Sri Lanka had entry as HEs; not surprisingly, the majority approved seemed to be disproportionately Christian. Yet, this was a generous entry policy, as even migrant entry from the Indian sub-continent had been constrained for years by positioning a strong arm against the entry door. This was achieved by limiting the Australian immigration staff over there. Two of those who had worked in this region subsequently worked in my team, one after the other.
They were not posted overseas after unwisely protesting to the head of the department about this discriminatory practice. The 2001 Census data shows the bias in favour of light-skinned East Asians. Regrettably, it is just possible that certain Australians have not yet outgrown their prejudice against dark-skinned people. My gut feeling is that, even at the official level, Australia has a certain antipathy in this direction.”
(These extracts from ‘Musings at Death’s Door,’ show how much Australia has matured; skin colour is not relevant any more for migrant entry. Immigrants from China and India now outnumber migrants from any other source country. The emphasis is on numbers and diversity of sources, in spite of a lack of any long-term planning – a very foolish policy, based on a shopkeeper approach; the more customers (consumers) the better. Necessary infrastructure and the associated investment funds?
As for humanitarian entry policy, it was flexible (so to speak). Was that why I was harassed by representatives of various communities seeking extra-policy approvals, and individuals seeking entry for their relatives? I spent hours deflecting these people. I recommended that they follow due process, although I realised that this was not their cultural tradition.)