Integration Is Howard’s Aim

Integration is Howard's aim

Jewel Topsfield
The Age (Melbourne)
January 24, 2007

FIRST it was described as “mushy” by Treasurer Peter Costello, then it was branded “a vague term that meant different things to different people”, by former Immigration parliamentary secretary Andrew Robb. Now the dreaded “M” word has been dumped altogether from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.

Prime Minister John Howard yesterday announced the department would be renamed the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Mr Howard is notoriously leery of the word “multicultural”, last year saying he had a problem with the term and preferred to use the word “integration”.

And Mr Robb, who was yesterday promoted to Minister for Vocational and Further Education, has flagged that he wanted to scrap the word from a redrafted multiculturalism policy. Mr Robb last year said the term “multicultural” had been transformed by interest groups into a philosophy that put “allegiances to original culture ahead of national loyalty”.

But Mr Howard yesterday denied the term multicultural was defunct: “I think the desired progression is that an immigrant becomes an Australian.”

But the Opposition, Greens and Democrats criticised the decision. Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett said: “This is nothing more than an election-year stunt showing up the narrow vision of Mr Howard and his willingness to use shallow nationalism to achieve his fantasy of imposing a monocultural vision on the reality of a modern multicultural Australia.”