Ugly

‘One of my closest friends is Turkish, and she won’t have anything to do with Muslims, OK?’

Camden Council has finally voted on the Quranic Society’s development application, and has unanimously voted against it. We now have to wait and see whether the applicants will appeal, and if so there will be another long wait for the outcome.

I’ve already tried to carve out a position on all this, so I’ll just summarise where I stand.

1. I wish we didn’t have religious schools at all. Some forms of religion are harmless, and indeed almost indistinguishable from humanism, in stressing contemplation, love of others and so on. But to the extent that religion demands and rationalises blind adherence to arbitrary doctrines, it’s antithetical to liberal values and it perpetuates tribalism and bigotry. Only the latter kind of religion has any need for its own schools, as instruments of indoctrination.

2. The interests of secular liberalism will not be served by blocking this or that Islamic school. Enlightenment is a long process, and is prone to setbacks as instanced by the resurgence of religious dogma in some middle eastern countries, including Israel, and in the US. But, given the right conditions, it marches on. Among those conditions are cosmopolitanism, freedom of expression (including religion) and social tolerance. None of the above are enhanced when pig-ignorant, Hansonite would-be patriots like Kate McCulloch, are seen to get their way. If migrant groups perceive our planning processes to be captive to that kind of stupidity, it will be no wonder that they feel alienated and maligned, nor any wonder if they turn inward, seek consolation in tribal bonds, and frame their grievances in terms of theological struggle.

3. Only an expert on town planning will be able to judge whether the council had good grounds to reject the application. Especially in the light of the Wollongong capers, we have reason to distrust local government processes. But if there is an appeal, I think we can assume that the proposal will be decided on its merits.

4. Notwithstanding my dislike of religious schools, I hope that there is an appeal, and that Camden Council’s decision is overturned. In the short term, if we are to remain a liberal and tolerant society, we are going to have more Islamic schools rather than less. It will not prove possible to obstruct them all on planning grounds. But blocking Camden will just move the battle ground somewhere else; and the Camden protesters’ ugly tactics, having apparently worked, will lend legitimacy to more of the same.

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Iain Hall
14 years ago

I suspect that a big part of local objection to this development is that this proposed school is being parachuted into an area that has basicly no Muslim community at all.
Frankly I find that your forth point is in contradiction to your previous three if the Koranic society want to build their school why not chose a site closer to the places that followers of this faith live?

Gummo Trotsky
14 years ago

What had me baffled, when I read this SMH report this morning, was how anyone could call the council decision a ‘victory for decency’:

Dressed in a hat decorated with Australian flags and a long yellow dress, a resident, Kate McCulloch, emerged from the meeting declaring a victory for “decency” – and insisted Muslims were incompatible with the local community.

“The ones that come here oppress our society, they take our welfare and they don’t want to accept our way of life,” she said.

Maybe my bafflement is because I clicked through the link in the e-mail alert thinking it was going to be another story about the Henson thing.

gilmae
14 years ago

Close to where they live? You mean those “ghettos” they used to get accused of living in? Have you checked out how much it costs to buy tracts of land in those areas, tracts of land large enough to build multiple classrooms and still have room left over for sporting fields?

Tobias
14 years ago

Following on from point 3, while I agree that it is entirely possible that the Council decided against the proposal on legitimate planning and development grounds (and I do not have the expertise to argue otherwise), at no point in this saga have I seen any member of Camden Council condemn the bigotry and ignorant fear-mongering that exists within their community. It would be nice if at least one of them would have the decency to stand up and tell the ignorant Islamophobes cheering their decision that, while they may agree with Council on the outcome, their reasons for agreeing are abhorrent.

Regarding Iain’s comment – the “followers of this faith” have children, and those children grow up and need to find their own place to live. Camden is on the southwestern outskirts of Sydney. For young Muslims who might have grown up in the greater southwest (e.g., in Lakemba and other suburbs), chances are their best option for affording to buy a home, remaining close to their family, and not having to change jobs is going to be buying or building in the new developments slightly further from Sydney, i.e., in the vicinity of Camden. The Muslim community is continuing to expand, just like the rest of Sydney.

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[…] observes that our local media pussyfoots around issues to do with Islamophobia. More on this at Club Troppo as well. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The honest truthAustralia winsAs the dust […]

gilmae
14 years ago

The ones that come here oppress our society, they take our welfare and they dont want to accept our way of life, she said.

I actually really love that quote. The people behind the school latched onto the move away from public schools by the aspirational middle class and proposed to build a parochial school to facilitate it. They were so willing to accept our way of life they thought parents would be willing to send their kids on hour long commutes to and from school to get an education, and presumably not end up on welfare.

Yes. I adore that quote. A not insignificant chunk of the opposition in Camden were damned by their own words.

mark e smithsonian
mark e smithsonian
14 years ago

As to comments 3 and 4 – Camden is a relatively pricey area, and is not yet contigious to the rest of western Sydney suburbia. It is not therefore your stereotypical boondocks dumping ground. It probably would be more viable for the Islamic community to acquire property in the Canterbury-Bankstown area.

conrad
conrad
14 years ago

I found the “take our welfare quote” quote amusing too. However, I read it in a different way. I read it as if the assumption was that being on welfare was the norm for white(-trash) Australia and if more “non-Australians” go on welfare too, there won’t be enough to go around.

gilmae
14 years ago

It might be relatively pricey, but it has suitable tracts of land. Suitable tracts of land in Bankstown and surrounds are basically unobtainable. I suppose they could buy Bankstown Airport and shut it down.

Tobias
14 years ago

I agree with glimae – and while it may not be contiguous, it’s easily accessible from Campbelltown and surrounding suburbs, where residential property is about as cheap as you could find.

Legal Eagle
14 years ago

Did anyone watch Insight on SBS last night? It was on the issue of faith based schools – very interesting.

I am an agnostic. I attended a mildly religious school for part of high school, and managed to sleep through the chapel services, such that I didn’t realise that Christians believe Jesus is the Son of God until I was 25. (I think I just turned on an automatic “off” switch when religion was mentioned).

I would not want to send my daughter to a strongly religious school (well, we don’t have a faith anyway). I wouldn’t send her to an atheist school, for that matter. I want her to make up her own mind. However, I can understand why someone from a minority religion may wish to send their child to a school where that religion is understood and the values of that religion are taught. My only concern is that all faith based schools adhere to certain minimum standards.

Incidentally, I asked a Muslim friend what she thought of Islamic schools. She laughed (she’s South African originally) and said that the only “coloured” school near when she lived in South Africa was a Christian one, so she got taught Christian values at school and Muslim values at home. She said she thought it was good for her…she got a different viewpoint…

Iain Hall
14 years ago

There is a great tendency, that only those of us who live in what used to be the rural fringes around the the major cities really understand, of people who come into an area to then object to the things that the locals have legally done for years.
I suppose the ho-hah about live music in Fortitude Valley (Brisbane) upsetting new residents in nearby developments is a good example for the more city focused.
Another thing to consider is that this school would in all likely hood seek an exemption on paying rates (on the basis that it is a religious institution) yet it would expect services from the Council like water sewerage and rubbish collection.

Bill Posters
Bill Posters
14 years ago

Another thing to consider is that this school would in all likely hood seek an exemption on paying rates (on the basis that it is a religious institution) yet it would expect services from the Council like water sewerage and rubbish collection.

You mean, like every other religious body in existence?

That’s an argument against tax breaks for religion, not this particular school.

It’s also not an argument that would hold up on appeal, as it’s stupid.

mark e smithsonian
mark e smithsonian
14 years ago

9 and 10 – then the silly sods should have bought the land they wanted in the Campbelltown area, not Camden which is manifestly trying to brand itself on its heritage and rural qualities. And they should only have entered the contract to buy the land on the basis that it was conditional upon the grant of the DA. The whole idea was daft from the get go.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
14 years ago

“yet it would expect services from the Council like water sewerage and rubbish collection.”

When I lived in Sydney water and sewerage were provided by the Water Board (now Sydney Water) not local councils. The argument is spurious on that ground and for the reasons others have mentioned (e.g. #13).

As for the argument that they should have bought land at Campbelltown rather than Camden, that appears to be an argument that it’s OK to inflict something undesirable on the rural working class but not on the self-appointed rural residential squattocracy of Camden. I can’t help wondering whether the apologists on this thread realise just how repulsively xenophobic their pathetic attempts at justification look to anyone other than a fellow xenophobe (noting that Islam is not a race so we can’t call it racism). In any event, Camden is immediately adjacent to Campbelltown and not meaningfully further away from the nearer south-western suburbs where a lot of Islamic Australians live. This is just a bullshit argument whatever way you look at it. Since when has any other religion been required to build its schools immediately adjacent to suburbs where the highest proportion of its adherents/prospective students live (even if they could find large amounts of vacant land there, which as gilmae points out they couldn’t)? If that was a valid point, every single GPS school would be on the north shore or eastern suburbs. So much for Newington, Kings, Joeys etc. Let’s compulsorily resume them now!

Iain Hall
14 years ago

As a Queenslander I am uncertain about the precise arrangements with regard to different aspects of infrastructure in NSW but when you have what is a large draw on resources (1200 students + staff) parachuted into a shire that is a big impost on ratepayers who will never use the facilities no matter what brand the religion is.I would still argue that it is the right of the people who actually live there to object to ANY development that will affect the place they live in.

Ken it was probably a Freudian slip, but I find it amusing that you characterise the development as “undesirable” ;)

derrida derider
derrida derider
14 years ago

By allah there were some ugly people among those protesters. I particularly liked the one who said he was opposed to the school because “my kids cant speak Islamic and they’d have to learn it”, and also the one who condescended to admit “some Muslims are moderate” but went on to say “better safe than sorry”.

And yeah, if those councillors had any guts at all they’d stand up and denounce this bigotry and make it clear that hard working law abiding Ausralians of whatever background are welcome in their community. That they didn’t leads you to suspect that the decision was indeed not kosher (or should that be hallal?).

Ken Parish
Admin
14 years ago

Iain

Clearly those arguing against the school find it “undesirable”. It’s the plausibility or otherwise of their (and your) sundry attempts at justification that we’re debating. Hence using that label isn’t a slip at all, Freudian or otherwise.

As for your first argument, given that water and sewerage are provided by a State government instrumentality, there is no such burden on local ratepayers anyway. The only other possible burdens would be if the projected volume of traffic generated by the school was such as to require local roads to be upgraded at council expense. That is fairly unlikely, because major arterial roads and freeways in the area (e.g. the S-W Freeway and Northern Road) are in my understanding maintained by the state government as well. However, to the extent that was the case it might well provide at least some proper basis for rejecting the application on legitimate planning grounds.

gilmae
14 years ago

I wouldn’t want to cast statements by random meatheads as common to Camden, but there was one that kept me amused for hours after reading it in the local paper, that if the school was permitted it would eventually mean Camden shops wouldn’t be allowed to sell bacon burgers.

Iain Hall
14 years ago

What about rubbish collection Ken? Who is responsible for that in that area?

David Rubie
David Rubie
14 years ago

The camden comments serve to remind us that there is a rump of multicultural australia that absolutely refuses to assimilate: the white trash (like me). Washed up like flotsam ejected from their homes, winding up on the wrong damn beach and have been fighting it for over 200 years without giving an inch, without ever realising their ire is directed in completely the wrong direction.

So fellow white and freckly australians with far too many ranga relatives for comfort or sanity, it’s probably time to give it up.

Laura
14 years ago

yes, won’t someone please think of the rubbihs bins?

Iain Hall
14 years ago

What exactly was the zoning of the land in question?

Iain Hall
14 years ago

Scoff if you like Laura but local government is all about grass roots issues like rubbish collections and who actually pays the rates.

Bill Posters
Bill Posters
14 years ago

Scoff if you like Laura but local government is all about grass roots issues like rubbish collections and who actually pays the rates.

Oddly enough, that’s not what opponents of the school seem to think it’s all about:

CAMDEN RESIDENT 2, CAMDEN RESIDENTS’ GROUP: We just don’t want to Muslim people in Camden, we don’t want them not only here, we don’t want them in Australia.

REPORTER: Why are you wearing an Australian flag?

CAMDEN RESIDENT 3, CAMDEN RESIDENTS’ GROUP: Why shouldn’t I be? Why is Channel 2 against Australia?

CAMDEN RESIDENT 4, CAMDEN RESIDENTS’ GROUP: My kids can’t read Islamic, how are they going to go to that school? It’s all crap, next thing there will be a mosque, then there will be the little town that comes with it. It’s not appropriate for the area at all.

CAMDEN RESIDENTS’ GROUP: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, oi, oi!

Rubbish collection, indeed.

wilful
wilful
14 years ago

Iain, as the OP and others have stressed, this is not about the correctness or otherwise of the Council planning decision, but about the shocking gutter racism and misunderstanding expressed by far too many willing interviewees.

There is absolutely no chance we would be debating this if it had been a Christian school refused permission to build by the Council.

Laura
14 years ago

My partner works in local govt Iain. I probably know more about it than you mate.

Iain Hall
14 years ago

Is that in the city or the country Laura?

Ken Parish
Admin
14 years ago

Further to Iain Hall’s sundry attempts at justifying the (apparently) unjustifiable.

In my understanding, charitable and benevolent tax exemptions apply to things like rates and taxes but not to user charges like water, sewerage and garbage charges. They are user charges not rates, and charitable/benevolent bodies pay them like everyone else to the extent that they use those services.

What was the zoning? The news articles don’t tell us. however, inferentially from the wording and context, it appears that this was neither a building nor rezoning application. Rather it seems to have been a planning application for a development where the proposed use is a “consent use” under the relevant town plan i.e. it isn’t a prohibited use but a developer needs to make application and the council can/does examine issues like local amenity, traffic congestion, noise, availability of local services etc.

According to the article James linked:

Cr Patterson pointed to a report from council officers showing the proposed development was flawed on environmental and planning grounds. These included inadequate public transport to the site, in Burragorang Road at Cawdor, and fears that it might be contaminated by hazardous materials. Cr Patterson insisted the ruling was “on planning grounds alone”.

These are the only two grounds for rejection we know about. We can’t form any valid opinion about “fears” of hazardous waste contamination without knowing the basis (if any) for those fears.

As for assertions that public transport to the site is inadequate:

(1) Most schools arrange dedicated school bus services from the school at least to the nearest public mass transit station (in this case Campbelltown train station). Such services are paid for by the school or state government subsidy not by local government;
(2) In any event, the local bus company has a scheduled public bus service passing directly by the gate of the proposed school (on Burragorang Road, Cawdor) to camden with co-ordinated bus connection on to Campbelltown station to connect with scheduled trains to the city. Buses pass by around every 30 minutes or more frequently during the periods both before and after school each day. See the timetable here. This is significantly more frequent than (for example) the public bus services passing by the main private schools around Darwin (most notably Kormilda College which my daughter atttended). This basis for rejection appears to be completely spurious.

paul frijters
paul frijters
14 years ago

James,

I am not going to comment on the actual decision because I dont know much about planning laws and the lie. I leave that to the lawyers on this site. I want to take you up on your central belief:

“Enlightenment is a long process, and is prone to setbacks as instanced by the resurgence of religious dogma in some middle eastern countries, including Israel, and in the US. But, given the right conditions, it marches on. Among those conditions are cosmopolitanism, freedom of expression (including religion) and social tolerance.”

a nobel belief, but also a somewhat naive one. Is social tolerance really compatible with allowing groups to teach whatever they want? Whatever they want? Are you truly so convinced of the evolutionary superiority of enlightenment that it will somehow automatically ‘win’ against the alternatives, i.e. that it does not need fighting for? It does not need to actively win hearts and minds? I so want you to be right on this, James, because it relieves me of any responsibility to fight for enlightenment, but I asmit I often wonder whether it is not plain laziness to presume enlightenment will simply win, irrespective of supposed minor set-backs. I wonder whether this is not just an inability to imagine that other belief systems may win, belief systems that have more passionate defenders.

Joshua Gans
14 years ago

Yes, Paul, it may be too optimistic. But it’s hard to respond to your comment without knowing what concrete measures you have in mind in pursuit of your fight — in relation to this school issue at least. If you favour moves toward banning or regulating religious schools at the level of national policy, I have some sympathy for this, as you might recall if you read my other post on this topic. But I don’t think you mean to support local resistance like this, which has more to do with keeping towel-heads out of the suburb than with any educational philosophy.

pablo
14 years ago

Some posts are a bit harsh on the local council in this affair. Depending on how it is graded, municipality or shire – one through to four in NSW – will give some idea of what planning resources it has in its professional ranks.
My guess is that lowly Camden Council would be under resourced and under pressure given its locality. Even so it’s professional advice to councillors was that the project be rejected and it is a tough call to expect councillors to go against their professional officer advice. And expecting them to grandstand on multicultural issues, let alone inter-religious bigotry is a big ask.
From tv footage of the location this is close to the oldest and best agricultural land in the nation – the University of Sydney maintains an ag research station nearby – and I would bet that the NSW Dept of Agriculture has had something to say about further alienating prime farmland.
So why hasn’t the State Government stepped in to assist this council through it’s new planning powers that determine state significant developments? Too controversial? Too much risk and not enough potential for developer donations?
Best this one go through to the Land & Environment Court if the applicant feels so aggrieved and prepared to allow the local ratepayers foot the bill should they win. It is not an ideal process and no one appears to be coming out of it squeaky clean. One gets the impression it could have been done a lot better.

JC
JC
14 years ago

I look at this from a property rights perspective and am I repulsed as always at the idea that anyone can tell others what they can and cannot do on their property if it doesn’t impinge on the property rights of others.

If the Council and the residents dont want an Islamic school in their area they ought to pay compensation to their owners for the loss.

I dont particularly like Islam but have no animus towards Muslims. However they have or should have the right to set up a religious school and it is abhorrent their right is being taken away.

On a wider issue it is dishonest of us to allow people to emigrate here aware of their religious leaning and then prevent them from practicing their religion or building a religious school of their choice.

These people deserve compensation for this state of affairs.

If we had strongly established principles regarding property rights none of this would be happening.

Andrew Bartlett
14 years ago

But to the extent that religion demands and rationalises blind adherence to arbitrary doctrines, its antithetical to liberal values and it perpetuates tribalism and bigotry.

Sounds rather close to an illiberal view to me, even if one accepts the assessment is accurate.

Still, nothing compared to the specific and ugly anti-Muslim bigotry shown by way too many people in Camden. It is a shame that there is so little public criticism of such blatant and divisive vilification. Yet no doubt someone soon will again be demanding that Muslim Australians do more to demonstrate their loyalty to Australia and Australian values – pity a few more people from Camden aren’t asked to do the same.

hc
hc
14 years ago

The obvious implicaton of the actual of the Camden residents is that they don’t want Muslims living in their midst or, indeed, as part of Australia – you can label this ‘bigotry’. The Camden residents are probably misinformed about the sins of Islam but we do live in a democracy. Do you disregard the views of the Australian people when deciding who should be admitted as a resident?

I have never been able to answer this question satisfactorily to myself. But it seems to me that you are covering your asses with an irrelevant aside if you simply view the Camden residents as ignorant bogans who don’t know what is good for them. It is a deep question.

NPOV
NPOV
14 years ago

Legal Eagle, isn’t an “atheist” school simply one whose curriculum does not include belief in god? In which case, surely all Australian public schools would qualify.

Unless you some how mean “actively promoting the non-existence of god”, but I’m not sure I believe such a school even exists.

FWIW, it seems pretty self-evident that the intolerance and bigotry shown by the likes of Ms McCulloch is a far bigger threat to liberalism and enlightenment than the setting up of an Islamic school – providing it’s a genuine school whose job is actually teaching the relevant national and state curriculum (along with, no doubt, the expected Koran study classes). Any particular attempts to indoctrinate students with anti-liberal or illegal notions can be dealt with individually if and when they come to attention.

Joshua Gans
14 years ago

I assume you’re talking about immigration policy, Harry. It’s not a question I would want to dodge, but I don’t have any simple answer either. My main fear is that ethnic tension could flare up in a recession. People get along well when they’re working, shoulder-to-shoulder. But when they’re idle and competing for shrinking opportunities, they are more easily enraged by little things and have more time to pursue vendettas.

NPOV
NPOV
14 years ago

hc, except we’re not allowing Muslims (or anyone, for that matter) into the country because it’s good for Kate McCulloch and her mates. We’re allowing them in because they want to be here, and they are judged to have a valuable contribution to make.

Camdem residents certainly have a right to feel uncomfortable about a likely increase in the Muslim population of their neighbour, but that doesn’t extend as far as right to openly proclaim on a TV broadcast that Muslims are oppressors of society, stealers of welfare and rejectors of their way of life, and certainly doesn’t extend as far as rejecting their right to buy property and use it for legal purposes.

JC
JC
14 years ago

Andrew B:

It is a shame that there is so little public criticism of such blatant and divisive vilification.

Not for nothing, but every bit of media I’ve seen about this issue presents those opposing the school as bigoted (and most probably are): starting from the original 4 Corners program

But be honest Andrew, if someone was putting up something you didn’t like in your hood, you’d be up in arms finding some reason why it shouldn’t go ahead. Which comes back to the point I was making. Property rights have become so mangled that everyone thinks they have a right to tell others what they can and cannot do on property they never paid for.

The only difference I see here is the issue of personal preferences.

rog
rog
14 years ago

Harry, democracy does not equate to any one group deciding how another should live.

Camden residents have as much right to express their opinion as the muslims. Once a group interferes with another they are denying basic human rights.

Another blow against planning powers of councils.

JC
JC
14 years ago

Good point Rog. I would bet Harry would be up in arms too if someone wanted to build something in his hood he didn’t like.

This thread is enlightening how both the illiberal left and right intersect at about the same point on the freedom chart.

Andrew Bartlett
14 years ago

But be honest Andrew, if someone was putting up something you didnt like in your hood, youd be up in arms finding some reason why it shouldnt go ahead.

Of course people have a right to have say over what happens in their communities. If there was a development in my neighbourhood I didn’t like it, I’d be stating why I didn’t like it. (as it happens, I do have a development I absolutely loathe happening in my neighbourhood at present – the expensive and destructive tunnels and related roadworks being gouged through Brisbane – but I won’t go into my objections here).

I don’t object to people objecting, I object to people using religious bigotry or racial vilification as a reason for stopping a development they don’t like. Although I’ve been following this Camden issue to a degree, I can’t pass judgement on whether the town planning objections are valid. But the objections based on bigotry and vilification are not, and it does much wider social damage if these sorts of views are allowed to determine public policy.

Do you disregard the views of the Australian people when deciding who should be admitted as a resident?

We have migration laws. Those laws do not allow explicit discrimination on the basis of race or religion (although there’s a fair bit of implicit discrimination in various categories). Despite some vocal bigotry which naturally gets media attention, I would be very surprised if anything close to a majority of Australians would actually support removing that prohibition. However, the Australian people have the right to vote for a political party or candidate who explicitly promotes using racial or religious criteria to select migrants and other entrants, who if elected could then try to repeal the Racial Discrimination Act and the relevant sections of the Migration Act.

Were our Parliament ever to pass such changes, I would certainly seek to move to a different country. I don’t ever see that happening, although whenever our political leaders remain silent or acquiescent to continued overt bigoted statements such as we’ve seen on this issue, it makes it that little bit more likely. It also makes it more likely that we will have greater division and reduced cohension between different groups in our community.

JC
JC
14 years ago

Andrew:

Your knee jerk response was to paint the objectors as being racist bigots. I’m sure, after seeing the 4C report at least few people are as they were quite explicit and it was pretty ugly viewing.

However you can’t paint every objector that way. Like you they could have what they think are legitimate concerns about the “ugly” building going up.

Furthermore in the present set up of loosely defined property rights why should their concerns about a particular religion go unheard while your objection(s) is somehow legitimate. They certainly dont think its illegitimate and why should they?

Incidentally I think both suck big time.

Rather than argue semantics as to who and who isn’t a racist bigot it would be much better to look at this as another example of people showing their personal preferences and getting away with taking away other people’s property rights.

It’s really not that much different than what you’re objecting to from a personal preferences point of view.

If property rights were unbreakable no one would have the right to “steal” other people’s property rights through force of majority rule and scare campaigns.

This is a great example of reaping what you sow. In other words dont allow personal preferences to remove property rights.

Again this is a perfect example of how your view and harry’s who is on the other side of the political fence manage to screw this up.

hc
hc
14 years ago

So Jacques Chester you do believe we should ignore the views of a majority of Australians if they opposed a particular type of immigration. I am uneasy with this although it has been past policy.

NPOV, You are simply saying that immigration policy depends on the interests of the migrants (if they want to come) and the views of experts that they will make a contribution. In my view the people of Australia should plausibly have a say in who lives here.

Andrew Bartlett, For a long time in Australia both political parties offered a bipartisan immigration policy that, according to the opinion polls was opposed by residents. This lead to the creation of the One Nation movement because people felt no choice.

In my view governments can move a bit ahead of public opinion and can provide information that dispells myths about migrants but, in the long-run, should respect the views of the majority of Australians. Moreover this is probably essential if you want to sustain an ongoing migration program.

trackback

[…] James Farrell’s piece at Club Troppo is a good example of how the left want to punish the communities that they don’t like for rejecting the advances of ones that they do. After putting an argument for a basicly secular education system he makes a snappy about face and advocated the imposition of the Islamic school on the people of Camden . I could not help but conclude that this is just to spite those he characterises as “red necks”. […]

trackback

[…] Farrell’s thought-provoking post over at Club Troppo got me chewing over this question, and to that end I thought I’d share […]

skepticlawyer
14 years ago

Ahh, it’s done a little ping-back for me… that feature wasn’t something we had at Catallaxy. Anyway, I’ve decided to riff on John Finnis’ view that we should take the arguments against high levels of Islamic immigration seriously. I think I finish up saying something fairly similar to Harry’s comments above, but I’m open to suggestions in all directions. About the only ‘rule’ I set for myself was that I had to give my tutor’s arguments their due.

FDB
FDB
14 years ago

“In my view governments can move a bit ahead of public opinion and can provide information that dispells myths about migrants but, in the long-run, should respect the views of the majority of Australians.”

Harry, that sounds almost defensible as long as it’s completely vague, but what happens in practice? Should we have a referendum on the precise quotas we allow in from each ethnic/religious background, averaged out? We allow “the majority” (identified how exactly?) to simply decide yes or no to certain ethnic/religious groups? Do we let everyone in, then allow racists to coopt local govt planning laws to keep undesirables out of “their” part of Australia?

You see the problem?

[I need hardly add that to “respect the views of the majority of Australians” is not something commonly done in policy-making. This approach would have stopped the floating of the dollar, the GST, so many of your favourite things! What makes immigration an issue that for you suits a populist approach?]

NPOV
NPOV
14 years ago

JC, as for “why should their concerns about a particular religion go unheard while your objection(s) is somehow legitimate”…that’s easy to answer.
Allowing bigotry to determine development policy is a path to a divided, racist society. Allowing objections based on the noise, disruption and various inconveniences generated by tunnels and roadworks is, at worst, going to lead to a society with fewer roads and tunnels.

If absolute property rights were really some panacea where everyone was allowed to do whatever they liked on their own property as long as it didn’t impinge on the rights of others to do whatever they liked on their properties, we’d have a example society that worked that way. But I don’t believe we do, and almost certainly never will, because it ignores the degree to which people are inevitably affected by what others do on their properties. There’s plenty of valid reasons one might object to a school being built on your street: it will clog up traffic, it will use up parking spaces, it will cast shadows on your own property, it will create noise, it may negatively affect property values, etc. etc. Deciding to what how to weigh those objections of the owners of nearby properties with the desires of the owner of a property on which they wish to build is never going to a be simple job. That’s what we have democracy for: if a neighbourhood consistently determines that the local council is not paying sufficient attention to their concerns, they’ll vote for new councillors that promise to do so. So even if some hard-line libertarian council got itself elected and instituted absolute rights to the owners of property, the laws wouldn’t last very long.

NPOV
NPOV
14 years ago

hc, yes, “the people of Australia should plausibly have a say in who lives here”.
And the One Nation party gave them that opportunity. Not many took it, regardless of how they might respond to opinion polls.

The fact is that many Australians might claim to feel uncomfortable about high levels of foreign (non-“white”) immigration, but it’s a pretty vague level of unease, and there’s simply not even real conflict for it to be a vote-changer.
If allowing in so many Muslims was seriously disrupting our communities and Australian society in general, it would become one, as it has in parts of Europe.

Democracy has never been about “the people” always getting their way – which is clearly impossible anyway – just about governments not being able to maintain policy that the majority of the people strongly object to over a sustained period.