Our Country, Our Rules: Citizenship program changes welcome

By Kevin Donnelly

Daily Telegraph, Thursday 20 April

It might be two years too late but finally the Australian government appears to be learning from the European and UK experiences of the damaging and destabilising effects of multiculturalism, unrestricted immigration, and Islamic terrorism.

Two years ago the German Chancellor Angela Merkel argued multiculturalism was a failed policy that led “to parallel societies” and that immigrants must learn German and live by German values.

At the same time Prime Minister David Cameron argued that Britain was a Christian nation and that all who lived there must accept that its political and legal institutions and way of life are paramount and must be defended.

After last month arguing that “Australia is the most successful multicultural society in the world” and we are not defined by “race, religion, or culture” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appears to be learning from what is happening overseas.

The PM now argues that Australia’s migration program must better contribute to “our social cohesion while enhancing our security” and as a condition of citizenship migrants must embrace “Australian values” and “our cultural values”.

If the Prime Minister is serious then the Australian Citizenship Pledge is a good place to start. Prospective citizens pledge their “loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey”.

Compare that to the American Oath of Allegiance where future citizens have to “renounce and abjure allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty” and defend the United States “against all enemies, foreign, and domestic” and it’s clear which is the stronger.

The British Oath of Allegiance is also more direct and couched in stronger language compared to the Australian Pledge. It states “I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen”.

In both the US and the British pledges it’s clear that immigrants wanting citizenship must fully embrace and defend the beliefs, values, and institutions of their newly adopted country. Holding on to enmities and hostilities from overseas or importing unacceptable customs and traditions are not allowed.

It is also vital that those who live in Australia acknowledge and celebrate what Prime Minister Turnbull refers to as “our cultural values”. Not all cultures are the same or worthy of the same respect.

Australia, compared to our Asian neighbours and Islamic countries in the Middle East, is a Western liberal democracy that owes its origins to our Judaeo-Christian heritage and a history intimately associated with the rise of Western civilisation and the Anglo-sphere.

Whether the separation between church and state, the inherent dignity of each person or the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” the reality is that our culture is unique in its ability to protect our way of life.

As a result of inheriting British common law and a Westminster parliamentary system based on separation of powers and the people’s right to choose their elected representatives, it should not surprise that Australia scores 98 out of 100 on the Freedom House’s scale measuring which nations enjoy the most freedom.

Prime Minister Turnbull argues that Australia “needs to attract people who will embrace our values and positively contribute regardless of (their) nationality or religious beliefs”. Mirroring events in the UK, Europe, and the US it’s obvious that the government’s commitment to multiculturalism is being redefined.

 Dr Kevin Donnelly is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University and author of the Culture of Freedom, available from the Institute of Public Affairs.



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Mercatornet is an excellent online journal specialising in ethical dilemmas in the modern world.

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