Multiculturism, what is it? Jan 2, 2006 1:19:17 GMT -5
Post by Paul Sheehan on Jan 2, 2006 1:19:17 GMT -5
AUSTRALIA accepted 87,000 immigrants in 1994-95, the last financial year before the Howard Government was elected. Immigration was also a hot topic.
Move forward 10 years. Last financial year, 2004-05, Australia accepted 123,000 new settlers. "Yes, that's a 40 per cent increase over the past 10 years," confirmed Senator Amanda Vanstone, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, who is busy upgrading her own multiculturalism by learning Italian.
So the Howard Government has increased the immigration intake by 40 per cent, with a 10 per cent jump in the past year, it has admitted more Asian immigrants than any previous government, and more Muslim immigrants than any previous government, and more Muslim refugees - and yet legal immigration is not a hot topic, and immigration is a winning issue for the government. This has to count as a significant political achievement for John Howard.
It's also going to keep housing prices high in Sydney because, as usual, the largest number of immigrants move to Sydney. Forty thousand last year. The majority came from Asia, led by China and India. Add the growth in student numbers from Asia, and the continued high numbers of tourists from Asia, and Sydney has become a city integrated into the East Asian region. It certainly felt that way on New Year's Eve.
In and around the Sydney Opera House on Saturday night - where the traditional New Year's Eve gala put on by Opera Australia is one of the jewels in the crown of Sydney's culture - the crush of people was more Asian than anything else, from the elegant Japanese women in evening gowns, some even in traditional yukata, to the large numbers of Asian families camped around Bennelong Point, to the squadrons of Chinese students.
Many are visitors, and many have made their home here. Add the usual English and European contingents and the Anglo-Aussie species was a minority in the heart of this huge public celebration.
And it was a great night. The $4 million spent on those 10,000 shooting comets and 11,000 exploding shells was money well spent, given that about a million people watched it live, and it is the first major global celebration of the New Year, an image broadcast around the world.
The exploding cascade off the Sydney Harbour Bridge always delivers. It is a brilliant image for Sydney and a brilliant advertisement for Australia, which is why there were so many foreign visitors there on Saturday night.