Thursday, 11 April 2013

Yesterday our Foreign Minister

accused Margaret Thatcher of being "racist". He claimed to have had a conversation with her in which she stated she liked Sydney but Australia needed to be careful or the Asians would take over.
Naturally the accusation made the headlines. It was intended to do just that. 
If our Foreign Minister thinks such statements are going to endear him to Australia's Asian neighbours he can think again. They won't.
Our Foreign Minister is in the position he is in by virtue of the fact he was drafted in from the outside to fill a casual Senate vacancy and immediately given the post Foreign Minister. He should not have been drafted in and he should not have been given the post of Foreign Minister. 
Bob Carr was once the Premier of New South Wales. When he left he was so unpopular that his approval rating was in the low thirties. It is a mark of arrogance that he should have accepted the appointment. He should have retired from politics and remained out of sight. Instead of that he has announced his intention to seek another term in the Senate when his appointment comes to an end in 2014.  
There is no actual record of the conversation that Carr claims took place between himself and Thatcher. They probably met on the occasion he claims but what took place between them is not a matter of public record. Thatcher is not here to dispute the claims that have been made. They should not have been made. 
Was she "racist"? I very much doubt it. It is much more likely that, if the conversation took place at all, she said something along the lines of she liked Sydney and that she hoped Australia would not have to face the problems that Britain, another country with a high migrant population, was facing. There is nothing racist about that. It is a much more pragmatic view than the publicly stated view of many Australians in high places.  
Australians in high places like to praise "multi-culturalism". They also like to ignore the ethnic tensions that inevitably arise from it.
Migrants make Australia a much more interesting place to live in but Australians are not immune from the problems their presence can cause. 
Australians are not immune from the threat of terrorist attack or inter-ethnic violence. Recognising that such problems exist does not mean that someone is "racist". It shows an understanding that there are differences and that they need to accommodated and/or addressed.
Carr's comments were undiplomatic in the extreme. If they were intentional then they were clearly designed to do harm not just to someone who is no longer here to defend themselves but our relationship with their country. If they were not intentional then they show someone who is unable to foresee the consequences their words might have.
Intentional or not Carr should apologise. 


Anonymous said...

Just proves that you could never count on having a private conversation with him ... or for him to quote you accurately when he tells the world about it.

Anonymous said...

His comments did not go down well here Cat - even on his own side. Chris

widdershins said...

Being an ex-pat, I love coming here and getting the latest goings-ons of Aussie politics. You name names and I know who you're talking about, unless it's purely SA issues ... there'll come a time when I won't, but I suspect neither of us'll care too much by then.