Recent debate about multiculturalism in Australia

Essay by evanslim August 2004

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In the last century, the shores of the Australian continent have been flooded by a plethora of migrants, especially during the post-war period. The once scarcely populated island was home only to her aboriginal inhabitants. But it is now home to a diversity of people; immigrants from all over of the globe have flocked to the golden shores of Australia, bringing with them a taste of home and their unique ethnicity. As such, Australia has come to be known as a multicultural society; a conglomeration of unique ethnicities, an amalgamation of both foreign and distinct indigenous culture. Issues such as multiculturalism and globalism have taken a greater prominence in discourse at both the international and national level. Nations see the importance of establishing good international relations, which have far-reaching implications on international trade and tourism. Migration and the transnational business model of Multinational companies (MNCs), made possible by information technology, and has brought about an influx of foreign talent.

Multiculturalism has been greeted with much controversy. Is multiculturalism beneficial for the state? If it is, do these benefits come about at the expense of social cohesion and political unity? Should the approach be assimilation, allowing migrants preserve their diversity; or total integration into the Australian culture, requiring migrants to renounce their own heritage? Debates abound and they have been ongoing ever since the Immigration Restriction Act was introduced in 1901. This was the cornerstone of the 'White Australia' policy, which was later abolished when the government recognised the extensive benefits a multicultural nation.

Multiculturalism has profound implications on a country's economy, especially in this technological age. Foreign investment boosts the growth of the domestic economy. But this is only possible if the political and social milieu is one of peace and stability, which is conducive for commercial...