The Labor Party then sought white left-wing HEs (humanitarian entrants). So I was informed. We found them in post-Allende Chile. However, there soon developed a flood of applicants from all of Central and South America. Then the Vaticanites enabled East Timorese to receive HE admission, even when they were living in Portugal, their country of nationality! Our senior bureaucrats and Ministers can indeed be very flexible in their decision making.
All of a sudden, Poles living within Poland could qualify as HEs! How influential was the Polish Pope? Then, for a while, ‘White Russians’ came from China as HEs. These had fled the arrival of communism in Russia 60 years before. An all-white colleague of mine used to claim proudly that he was Chinese; he was born in China of White Russian parents.
There were also Jewish Russians who had been permitted by the Soviet Government to join close family in Israel but who, on arrival in Vienna, sought El Dorado in Western nations. The Prime Minister of Israel in the 1980s was not happy at having up to 85% of potential citizens deflected elsewhere, mainly by professional recruiters from the USA.
Then, contrary to policy, presumably through Ministerial discretion, a number of Jewish Russian women married to non-Jewish men were permitted entry to Australia. They had left Israel because they did not like their experiences as second-class citizens of Israel. There are two other classes below them, as confirmed to me by my good Jewish Australian friend who had spent some time in Israel. (My friend is not ‘self-hating,’ is knowledgeable, and observes the Jewish traditions.). One of these Jewish Russian women subsequently worked for me in the Department of Immigration; she was a worthy immigrant, who also told me a great deal about Israel.
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 Bahai’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. 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!
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.
Eventually, I was directed, but at my initiative, to close down the White Russian and East Timorese policies; they were not needed. The other ethno-specific regional HE policies were far too sensitive politically; our global HE policy did not obviously pay adequate respect to the tribo-cultural sensitivities of the communities affected.
There had to have been great flexibility in approvals at certain overseas posts. Why? Because, surprisingly, many HEs, especially the Poles, subsequently returned home to obtain jobs in keeping with their qualifications (such jobs not readily available in Australia). Vietnamese HEs who had allegedly fled the takeover by the communists went back to Vietnam as Australians to conduct businesses. So much for their earlier ‘genuine’ fear of persecution or discrimination!
(The above is an extract from my book ‘Musings at Death’s Door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society.’
Only careful selection of applicants for migrant entry to Australia, by Australian officials assessing their potential for integrating into the nation, can ensure subsequent inter-community cohesion. Acceptance of Australian institutions and social mores and values, and an ability to learn English, were essential pre-requisites. Applicants were also discouraged from introducing their tribal prejudices into Australia. Side-door entry was not as stringent.)