Federal Elections and Migrant/Ethnic Australia

So far, the 2022 Australian federal election campaign as reported in the public domain, appears to be a campaign of superficial impressions and not a campaign of real bread, butter and other issues that affect peoples lives.

In a fragmented society like ours, with so many parallel microcosms, with so many different individual and common experiences and understandings, it is not easy to organise, to mobilise, or to reach the “masses”, politically.

This is a major reason, I think, as to why lobbying, corridor encounters and feudal arrangements write the rules of political and economic engagements, mostly, and determine outcomes, mostly…

However, even with these limitations, the campaign goes on, the election will be held, a government will be elected, and our lives, especially the lives of the more politically, economically and socially weaker sectors of our society, will be shaped up to a large extent, by the decisions of the next Australian federal government.

Given that different sectors of society have different advocates in order to protect or advance their interests, before and after an election, the question that I wish to raise here is whether or not ethnic/migrant and of course Greek-Australia, have effective advocacy groups that raise issues of importance to ethnic Australia, for example, representation of culturally diverse Australia into the institutions of the country and multicultural policy.

Are there any organised societal and political forces today, that attempt to produce and to shape the “multicultural” policies of the political parties of this country that we all call home?

Are there any active ethnic affairs policy committees in the various political parties?

Elected by active members and not appointed by political patrons who try to take “advantage” of the the so called ethnic vote?

Apart from the appointed multicultural government bureaucracies…

Apart from the consultations with various ethnic community leaders, who don’t really have a community behind them, or who don’t consult with their communities…

Apart from the bureaucratic peak bodies, for example FECCA (Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia), or a few thoughtful academics and public intellectuals like Tim Soutphommasane…

Apart from the existence of ethnic powerbrokers in the newer communities, who don’t know and who don’t have the capacity to address policy issues that relate to migration and multiculturalism, what else is there?

Not much, I am afraid…

I do not think that there is a body out there, able to raise its voice, or capable of trying to re-define, expand and enrich the terms migration, multiculturalism, representation, representative and culturally diverse institutional power sharing, etc.

Established/older ethnic Australia, no longer has “foot soldiers”, with the social, political and ideological characteristics of the past, shaped in Australia and in their countries of origin, able to fight the good fight, that is the creation of a more equal and a more culturally diverse and inclusive society. We no longer have for example, as Greek-Australians, 15 plus Greek speaking branches like we had in the early 1980s and 2,000 “Greek” migrants as members in the Victorian chapter of the Australian Labor Party, when the party in this state had roughly 12,000 members… As migrant Australians we no longer have the political muscle that the Italian, the Yugoslav, the Spanish or the working class Turkish branches had once in Labor politics.

The changing nature of the (Australian) economy, the fragmentation and the depoliticization of our society and of our ethnic communities, social mobility, state acceptance and/or the mostly tokenistic “sponsorship” of bureaucratic and celebratory multiculturalism, business and temporary NOT permanent migration, have taken away the political and the electoral muscle of established/older and newer ethnic Australia.

However, the need for a politically and intellectually active and public ethnic Australia is still great. Therefore… Given that there are a lot of culturally diverse microcosms in the wider Australian community, fighting the good fight in their own specific areas, workplace, arts, local government, etc. Given the magnitude of the task and of the engagement needed, if we are to re-visit and advance multiculturalism… Then… Perhaps…

The time might have come for all of these communities to attempt to get together, in order to discuss and in order to produce their own “Uluru Statement from the Heart”, like indigenous Australia. The real voice and the real needs of multicultural Australia have to be heard and have to be addressed by the political, institutional and societal mainstream, again. Why? Because a multicultural Australia is a stronger, richer, better and more “competitive” Australia. And also, because the mostly “metaphysical” nowadays Australian perception of having a fair go, is, or has to be a universal principle.

  • P.S1. I was a member of the Executive of the Greek speaking Branches of the Australian Labor Party in Victoria in the early 1990s. Also from 1994 to 1998, I was an elected member of the Immigration and Ethnic Affairs Policy Committee as well as of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Policy Committee, of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party.
  • P.S2. The poster seen here was issued many decades ago, by the Immigration Department of Australia.
  • Κώστας Καραμάρκος

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