Vaccinate against the White Australia virus?
Last weekend the Premier of Queensland appeared on television to urge the public not to link the Chinese Australians with the coronavirus. This was in response to reports that the Chinese Australians had been targeted for jokes and quizzical questions, in public transport, in schools, and elsewhere.
Ah, how things have changed! When Pauline Hanson used her first speech in Parliament in 1996 to denigrate Asians in Australia, the then Prime Minister in effect supported her through cunning political messaging. So far this time no politician or cultural agitator has done that. Yet the current outbreak of wariness of Chinese Australians would indicate that the White Australia virus has not been eradicated. What is to be done?
The starting point might be for school children to be taught that the White Australia Policy was morally below par. It caused much suffering for the Chinese in Australia, and the politically crafted Yellow Peril never came to pass. This might vaccinate Australians against future outbreaks of the White Australia virus, even in the face of political dog-whistling.Meanwhile Chinese Australians could be much more proactive but not be over-sensitive. We can criticise but be calm, reasonable and evidence based with our argument. The other thing we could do is to cultivate spokespersons who could prosecute our cause with authority,intelligence, and cultural competence. The Jewish community in Australia do this so well.Yet for every Jewish person in Australia, there are some ten or twelve Chinese. We have to learn to put our case effectively like the Jews and other ethnic groups to our media,politicians, public and Governments.
Chinese Australians have been through waves of discrimination over 200 years. We weathered them one after another. We still have to face them after the abolition of The White Australia policy and the introduction of our successful national multicultural policy in its place. However, we must not be complacent as we witnessed the insidious harm caused by the likes of Blaineys, Hansons etc to the Chinese Australian community. We need our Governments, Federal and States and good politicians to speak out for all ethnic groups and citizens when they face undue and unfair racist bigotry as our PM Scott Morrison, Premier of Queensland, Victoria etc have spoken out in the current wave of blaming the Chinese Australians for the spread of Coronavirus which was first discovered in 1960 in USA。 We support whole heartedly the Australian Governments’ effort to stop the spread of Coronavirus to Australia. However, we must stop the fear campaign by some unscrupulous media and people. Fear can cause more harm than the actual Coronavirus physically,psychologically, socially and economically.
Chek Ling , Chinese Community Leader in Queensland
Dr Tony Pun OAM Chair of CCCA
Dr Ka Sing Chua National Senior Adviser CCCA