‘I will never be Australian enough’
ONCE again debate has flared about immigration amid suggestions that certain people don't "integrate" and should be kept out of Australia.
This time it's Senator Fraser Anning who has decided to stir up hatred and suspicion with his first speech, which among other things suggests talks about a "final solution" to the immigration debate and argues for an end to Muslim immigration.
Senator Anning, a Katter's Australian Party senator who describes himself as a conservative Christian, "Australian nationalist" and former hotelier born to a cattle-grazing family in far northwest Queensland, has been condemned for his comments - including by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson - but has refused to apologise for them.
"In order for us to remain the nation that we are now, those who come here need to assimilate and integrate," Senator Anning said in his speech.
"Those who are most similar to the mainstream majority in terms of ethnicity, culture, language and values most readily do so," he said, adding that the people least able to integrate were Muslims.
"We as a nation are entitled to insist that those who are allowed to come here predominantly reflect the historic European Christian composition of Australian society and embrace our language, culture and values as a people."
Senator Anning targets Muslims, saying they were the worst in terms of "rates of crime, welfare dependency and terrorism" but hasn't produced figures to back this up. As The Australian pointed out, neither Crime Statistics Australia nor the Australian Bureau of Statistics have a breakdown of offenders' religion or ethnicity.
What Senator Anning does make clear is that ethnicity is a large part of what makes someone "Australian" saying: "Ethnicity is not just skin-deep. More than anything else, it is our ethnoreligious identity that defines us and shapes our national identity."
His comments conveniently ignore the fact that Christians only made up 51 per cent of the Australian population, according to the 2016 Census. Where does that leave the other half of Australians?
But what sickens me the most is how people like Senator Anning are allowed to dictate what it means to be "Australian", suggesting that anyone who tries hard enough to conform will be accepted when quite simply it often just comes down to being white.
Those who have grown up as "white Australians" are often the ones accusing others of not fitting in and not being Australian enough. The thing is, anyone who is not white will never be Australian enough for these critics.
I grew up in regional Australia, firstly on the mid north coast of NSW but I also spent five years living in an outback mining town while I was in high school.
Even though I was born in Australia and my parents encouraged me to embrace being Australian, even speaking English at home to help me "assimilate", I was regularly told to "go back to your own country". I was called a "ching-chong" and even elbowed in the street by an elderly man who called me a "f**ken Jap".
Yes, I've been one of those Asians harassed on public transport for no other reason than how I looked. I'm lucky because I can speak English and have been able to stick up for myself but others are not so fortunate.
This includes my mum, who's endured aggressive rants, including from a "white" Aussie male for scratching his car in a carpark. She just happened to park in the space next to his after it happened and was an easy target for his anger because she couldn't fight back.
When I was growing up I thought that if I was just a little bit more "Australian", I would finally fit in. I've drunk every brand of Aussie beer you can imagine: VB, XXXX, Carlton Draught, Crown Lager, Coopers and even Fosters. Did this help me? No.
I've got a Weber in my backyard. Does this make me Aussie enough? No.
I'm a fluent English speaker with an Aussie accent but does this get me in to Club Australia? No.
I work in Australia, pay my taxes, donate to charities and have eaten my share of smashed avo on toast. My mum started volunteering at a local hospital when she retired. My grandmother was a strict Christian who read the bible every morning and night, and prayed before every meal. It's still not good enough.
The truth is, some people won't see me as Australian no matter what I do, especially if they're only judging by first appearances.
The only thing that's made me feel at home in the country that I was born in, is the many wonderful Australian people who have accepted me, welcomed me as one of their own and who I call friends.
These people accept me for who I am and love me for all aspects of my identity, whether that is enjoying a beer at a barbecue or heading to yum cha after a night out.
These people don't talk about assimilation, they are just nice, decent people who appreciate each individual person for who they are. The problem with Senator Anning's comments is that they seek to exclude people from ever being good enough to be "Australian" simply because they don't look "white" or want to practice a certain religion.
Senator Anning is ensuring that people he's targeting - like Muslims - will find it even harder to assimilate because they will be shunned by Australians and be made to feel like outsiders no matter what they do.
If we want to have a debate about population growth and immigration, let's make it about how it helps Australia to become a better country, not as a reason to make certain people feel like criminals, whose contribution will always be unappreciated and unwelcome no matter what they do.