It’s 25 years since @TonyAbbottMHR’s best shot against #immigration and multiculturalism… so can he still be trusted?‏

On 31 May 1990, a journalist named Tony Abbott wrote a refreshing article as part of The Australian’s ‘IMMIGRATION DEBATE – A SPECIAL WEEK-LONG SERIES BY EXPERT COMMENTATORS ON THE ISSUES THE GOVERNMENT WANTS TO AVOID’. By March 1994, Abbott had entered Federal Parliament at the Warringah by-election. He has been re-elected seven times since, and has been Prime Minister of Australia since September 2013. We publicised his opinion piece, ‘The real issue is the changing face of our society’, on this website in August 2013, when Abbott was still leader of the Opposition.

Twenty-five years ago, Abbott’s honest and patriotic writing robustly defended both academic Geoffrey Blainey and politician John Howard. His article was the first significant dust-up over things immigration since John Howard’s popular, but ultimately unsuccessful, 1988 immigration policy intervention – a move which cost him the Opposition leadership in 1989.

By inference, Abbott’s article also defended the position taken on immigration and multiculturalism by the political party Australians Against Further Immigration. AAFI was not invited to contribute to The Australian’s ‘special week-long series’ despite the so-called ‘debate’ being clearly prompted by dust kicked up around their first electoral challenge at the March 1990 Federal election.

Fast forward to this year, when PM Abbott foreshadowed (ABC 7.30 program, 20 February 2015) new legislation to deal with ‘home grown’ and imported jihadi terrorism security risks. This might seem to be a natural, easily-predicted, straight-line progression from his 1990 views:

TONY ABBOTT, PRIME MINISTER: We are a free and fair nation, but that doesn’t mean we should let bad people play us for mugs, and all too often, they have. Well, that’s going to stop.

DYLAN WELCH, REPORTER: Tony Abbott is planning tougher measures on terrorism. His announcement came days after police charged Kuwaiti national Mohammad Kiad and Iraqi refugee Omar al-Kutobi with planning a gruesome terrorist attack in Sydney.

TONY ABBOTT: Under the influence of the Islamist death cult, all you need to be a terrorist is a knife, a flag, a camera phone and a victim. That’s all you need. …… It’s clear to me that for too long we have given those who might be a threat to our country the benefit of the doubt. There’s been the benefit of the doubt at our borders, the benefit of the doubt for residency, the benefit of the doubt for citizenship and the benefit of the doubt at Centrelink. And in the courts, there has been bail, when clearly there should have been jail.

DYLAN WELCH: Lindt cafe gunman Man Monis ticked all those boxes. He was a refugee from Iran living on welfare. He was on bail for a string of sexual assault charges as well as his alleged involvement in the murder of his ex-wife.

Similarly, PM Abbott’s recent ‘Nope, nope, nope!’ reply to pleadings by the mainstream media for him to allow refugee / asylum entry to Australia by the latest boat people du jour, Bangladeshis and the Rohingya from Burma would seem straightforward enough. Having successfully staunched the inflow of boat people to Australia that, on coming to office, he inherited from the previous ALP administration, Abbott cannot now afford to flip back to courting such disaster again – even if influential commentators want to unleash another ‘Camp of the Saints’ wave of the unwanted upon Australia’s shores (#).

In his 2009 autobiography (and, arguably, his Prime Ministerial job application) Battlelines, Abbott provided a number of carefully couched apologies for his previously well considered, crafted and printed thoughts regarding immigration and multiculturalism policy problems. He asked readers to believe in his complete conversion (following his 1990s experience with Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy) from antagonist to believer in multiculturalism, and distanced himself further from his 1990 opinions by attributing them to the 1980s (see Battlelines, pages 161 to 163).

This anomaly was also noticed by journalist David Marr who in 2013 cited and commented critically on Abbott’s 1990 article. Marr clearly found Abbott’s anecdote about his own conversion to multiculturalism unconvincing, self-servingly convenient, and hard to believe:

It beggars belief, perhaps, but working with people like Sophie Mirabella nee Panopoulos in his mid thirties reconciled Abbott to multiculturalism. He told Paul Kelly [a long time political journalist at The Australian] a decade later: ‘I had been altogether too ungenerous to migrants. I had it wrong and I made a mistake.’

Source: David Marr, Political Animal: The making of Tony Abbott, 2013,
pages 80 and 81.

In late 2010/11, when European leaders Merkel, Sarkozy, the Dutch and Spanish PMs and the new British PM Cameron all in concert bagged multiculturalism as dangerous policy gone wrong, what did Australia do?  Our then-PM Julia Gillard and her Immigration Minister Chris Bowen spent tax-payers’ money to re-launch Multiculturalism in Australia. And what did ‘conservative’ Opposition leader Tony Abbott do? He agreed wholeheartedly with Gillard and reaffirmed his commitment to multiculturalism.

At a press conference when he became Opposition leader on 1 December 2009, Abbott said:

‘I probably should, I suppose, apologise now for all my errors of the past and make a clean breast of them … and ask the public to judge me from this point.’

Since winning government, Abbott has held to the ALP’s high annual immigration targets and has committed to a stepped increase to the humanitarian / refugee intake.

We don’t trust him to return publicly to his 1990 opinions, but we do like to remind Abbott that many Australian voters still agree with those views.

Please help PM Abbott understand what is important by spreading the REDUCE IMMIGRATION write-on idea far and wide! 

(#)   Jean Raspail, The Camp of the Saints, 1973. (Reprinted 1995 by The Social Contract Press). Reviewed here. (See our ‘Bookshelf’ page for other essential reading on immigration.)


Further results from our federal election campaign

Did you write REDUCE IMMIGRATION on your ballot papers for September’s federal election? If so, many thanks.

Many readers have asked us about the impact of the recent write-on campaign. We all appreciate that the Australian Electoral Commission counts votes, not write-on slogans – meaning that it is unlikely that we will ever know how many write-ons were stimulated by our campaign. When the AEC produces its final report on the election, however, we’ll be looking for references and information that might assist us in understanding the impact of our activity.

Meanwhile, we can advise that the poll has been officially declared in the Victorian division of Flinders where Denis McCormack and Paul Madigan stood as Independent candidates. The final figures reveal that Madigan and McCormack gained a combined 1.26% of the first-preference vote. We remind readers that these candidates stood not to attract votes, but to promote the REDUCE IMMIGRATION write-on campaign.

As we noted in our post on the day after the election, their combined result compares very well with the voting in Flinders for candidates from the minor registered political parties: we trounced the Family First Party (1.16%), the Australian Christians (0.56%), the Rise Up Australia Party (0.51%) and the Non-Custodial Parents Party (0.23%).

We are grateful to The Independent Australian whose editor has recently analysed the results gained by registered parties that campaigned overtly on issues relating to population and immigration. His article, ‘How did the parties with low immigration policies fare in the election?’, includes some interesting reflections that might stimulate fresh approaches by those parties in their future electoral campaigns.

Once again, we congratulate Mr Madigan and Mr McCormack on their energetic campaigning for the REDUCE IMMIGRATION write-on, and their positive results in Flinders.

Our comments won’t stop just because the election’s over

It may be a while before Australian voters can once again write the REDUCE IMMIGRATION slogan on ballot papers, but that won’t stop us sharing our thoughts on immigration issues.

Here are our tweets this morning to the ABC’s Insiders program, and Channel 10’s The Bolt Report:

Convincing support for our ‘REDUCE IMMIGRATION’ campaign

It’s Day One after the federal election, and the first session of vote-counting in the Flinders electorate last night shows that voters appreciated the clarity of our message about the need to reduce immigration.

Preliminary figures reveal that our two independent candidates, Paul Madigan and Denis McCormack, have attracted a combined 1.13% of the first-preference vote. This compares very well with voting in Flinders for the candidates of registered political parties: – we equalled the Family First vote (1.13%) and trounced the Australian Christians (0.53%) and the Rise Up Australia Party (0.47%).

Our preliminary 1.13% can also be compared with the vote achieved by Stable Population Party candidates. In Victoria they contested two lower house electorates where their results were 0.18% (Melbourne) and 0.38% (Melbourne Ports). (We note that the SPP seems to have resisted discussion of immigration during the campaign.)

We congratulate Mr Madigan and Mr McCormack on their energetic campaigning and their positive results.

We thank those people in Flinders who supported our candidates directly by giving them a first-preference vote.

We also thank all Australians who helped to promote our write-on campaign and who remembered to add the slogan REDUCE IMMIGRATION in a suitable blank space on their ballot papers.

Figures for the number of write-on slogans may take some time to emerge, but we will update readers via this website and Twitter whenever we have fresh news.

Any reader who is serving as a scrutineer is welcome to contact us with information about what they observe as votes are being counted.

Over coming days and weeks, we expect to:

  • provide further analysis and commentary on the 2013 election, and
  • refresh this website so that the focus is on future campaigning to REDUCE IMMIGRATION and to promote the write-on slogan.

Please follow our posts and send us your suggestions by email, tweets, or as comments on the website.

AEC removes any doubt about write-on messages

The World Today is a ‘news hour’ program that is broadcast on weekdays by ABC Radio National and Local Radio stations across Australia. Today’s program (5 September 2013) included a segment, How to not waste your vote come election day, featuring an interview with Steve Kennedy, Director of Operations with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) in Victoria.

In the course of the interview, Mr Kennedy said: “Writing a slogan [on a ballot paper] does not in itself render a vote informal.”

Mr Kennedy also stated: “…as long as the boxes are numbered, that’s still formal, even if they write a slogan. The only time it renders it informal is if they write across the candidate’s name or across the boxes and we can’t make out the numbers.”

“Every election we get different slogans,” he said, and referred to examples such as ‘No Franklin Dam’ and ‘No Tampa’.

Read the full transcript and listen to the segment online via the ABC website, or listen via this MP3 file: 

With Mr Kennedy’s statement today, the AEC has reconfirmed its advice that you can write extra words on a ballot paper, and that your formal vote will still be valid despite extra markings, so long as you don’t obscure your numbered squares and providing that you do not include markings that reveal your identity.

This removes any doubt about whether ‘write-on’ messages might cause a vote to be assessed as informal. It is clear that messages can be added to the blank areas of ballot papers.

Therefore, voters can be confident that writing REDUCE IMMIGRATION in the blank space at the top of a ballot paper will not invalidate an otherwise formal vote.

Spread the word!

Setting the record straight re: origin of Temporary Protection Visas

One method by which Australia could reduce immigration would be by reinstating the Temporary Protection Visas (TPV) that were in place from 1999 (under the Howard government) until scrapped by the first Rudd government in 2008.

The Liberal-National Coalition has announced that, if elected to government on 7 September, they would reinstate a TPV system for asylum seekers.

Pauline Hanson, now a Senate candidate for One Nation in New South Wales, spoke at a dinner event in Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills on 30 August 2013. During the evening she reiterated her frequent claim that Howard had copied her TPV policy.

This is not strictly accurate. We present here a timeline showing that One Nation adopted the TPV concept from Australians Against Further Immigration (AAFI).

Denis McCormack, as a co-founder of AAFI and its media spokesman, first defined the TPV concept in a statement made to ABC local radio on Refugee Day, 24 June 1994. Here is the 2 pm edited news version of Mr McCormack’s suggestion, followed by an extemporised negative editorial comment from afternoon host Jon Faine. (In those days the station was known at 3LO; now it’s 774.)  Click on the arrow below to listen to the audio file:

The other two AAFI co-founders and principal office bearers (nationally) rang Mr McCormack immediately to say that they had heard the broadcast, loved the idea, and would instantly adopt it as AAFI policy.

In 1996, Graeme Campbell’s new Australia First party also adopted the TPV policy, some months before Hanson’s maiden speech (10 September 1996).

It wasn’t until early 1998, when the other two AAFI co-founders joined Hanson’s One Nation party as immigration policy gurus (and as leaders of the Victorian branch, and as future candidates for One Nation), that the TPV concept was grafted on to the rest of One Nation’s immigration policy (already largely derived from AAFI policy).

In 1999, when journalists condemned Howard’s TPV system for copying “Hanson’s policy,” Mr McCormack alerted them to the 1994 initiation of the concept, well before Hanson or Howard.

As far as he knows, none of the individuals to whom Mr McCormack played the 1994 audio has repeated the error – but plenty of their ignorant colleagues in the media and academia have, and still do – as does Hanson …

Hanson’s readiness to diverge from the facts is confirmed by something else she said from the podium at the Hahndorf dinner on 30 August. At question time, Evonne Moore, a dinner guest, distributed copies of our REDUCE IMMIGRATION write-on campaign leaflet and presented a full explanation to the gathering …

… to which the determinedly ignorant Ms Hanson responded in words close to: “I wouldn’t recommend people do that because it will invalidate your vote.”

… to which Evonne patiently bounced up on her feet again and countered Hanson’s misleading advice with a re-explanation of the write-on concept, urging the audience to read both sides of the leaflet – and act on it!

We encourage our readers to tell family and friends to do the same on Saturday.

Our tweets at a Citizens’ Agenda meeting tonight

Two members of the REDUCE IMMIGRATION team attended a Citizens’ Agenda meeting at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne this evening, 4 September 2013. (The Age reported on the event on 5 September.)

Six of the Melbourne electorate’s ten candidates were on the panel. They responded to three questions posed by local people and attracting the most votes on the OurSay website for the electorate.

We contributed by tweeting throughout the program, and by asking a question during the (very limited) open question time.

When forced by one of us at question time to discuss immigration figures, the Stable Population Party candidate clearly stated their sensible 80,000 net immigration policy.

Here is a listing of our tweets: