Immigration

Migrant groups hopeful for new dialogue after Fraser Anning's political demise

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Australia's multicultural communities are hopeful they can work with the government more productively to build a harmonious community, now controversial politicians like Fraser Anning will no longer be in parliament.

With some of Australia's most divisive politicians unsuccessful in this election, Australia's Islamic community are hoping it will mean more productive political discussions around race.

Peter Doukas from the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia said his impression is that there has been a change in approach and he hopes the government will seize a new opportunity.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives at a multicultural event at Koodoonla 25 km north of Perth, ahead of the election.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives at a multicultural event at Koodoonla 25 km north of Perth, ahead of the election.
AAP

"We believe that this government has now an opportunity to embrace a more diverse agenda," he told SBS News.

"We don't want to see a return to the rhetoric that led to the Section 18C debates. We are hopeful that the departure of Fraser Anning and the reduction of Pauline Hanson's presence in parliament will result in a more open and accepting debate of Australian multiculturalism, so we are looking forward to working with the Government to that effect." 

Bilal Rauf from the Australian National Imams' Council said it would be important, going forward, the government leads for all of the country and promotes a more inclusive stance.

Bilal Rauf from the Australian National Imams' Council wants better political dialogue.
Bilal Rauf from the Australian National Imams' Council wants better political dialogue.
SBS News

There's also a sense of hope for a more rational debate, and narrative and dialogue in parliament with the departure of divisive political figures.

"There's a sense of relief that some of the voices that have been there in the past that have really exploited an Islamophobic platform, will not be there going forward," he said.

Former Senator Fraser Anning won't be returning to the Senate anytime soon.
Former Senator Fraser Anning won't be returning to the Senate anytime soon.
AAP

Mr Doukas has high hopes that progress will be made with the new parliament.

"The departure of the more extreme voices from the last parliament is encouraging. I believe Australians are decent people, and generally we are a multicultural country and a country that is accepting of multiculturalism and we look forward to the debates that will emerge from this parliament." 

But some Chinese leaders say they're concerned their voices won't be heard.

"If you look at the rhetoric of the Liberal party and the scare campaigns around immigration, I am myself the daughter of refugees, and for them, they've often feel like they've been shunned," Cindy Tan, from the Chinese Australian Forum said.

"Surprise! Anyone was assuming that Labor would win, and here we have the other party, the government, winning with a big margin. It was a surprise," Surinder Jain, the national vice president of the Hindu Council of Australia said.

Mr Jain says that within the Hindu community there have been mixed reactions to the news.

The Chinese Australian Forum's Cindy Tan said refugees are often sorely used by politics.
The Chinese Australian Forum's Cindy Tan said refugees are often sorely used by politics.
SBS News

"Our community has people in both the camps. Most of the new migrants, they go for Labor. But once they've bought a house and a mortgage and economics becomes important, they go for Liberals, whereas some stick with their initial loyalties. So we have people in both camps. Some are happy, some are shocked, surprised. Some are elated."

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison's population plan to cut the permanent migration program from 190,000 to 160,000 places per year has Mr Doukas worried.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's population plan to cut the permanent migration program from 190,000 to 160,000 places per year h
Prime Minister Scott Morrison's population plan to cut the permanent migration program from 190,000 to 160,000 places per year has some groups worried.
AAP

"Australia's been built on immigration. Scott Morrison was an immigration minister at one point in his career and he would know as well as anyone else that the value of Australia is in its people and we would encourage the Government to review all policy which reduces our immigration impact as it has an economic impact," he said.

Mr Jain says that while Australia's transition to a multicultural community over several decades has been a challenge, he feels that there is a great deal of support for it - both from political parties and from the general public.

"From monoculture to multiculturalism has been a big change in Australia. I have seen over the last forty years how things have improved for us. There's a very genuine desire in both the parties to make multiculturalism a success and most Australians are behind it."

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