An inclusive society for all

| April 1, 2015

One of Australia’s greatest resources is the diversity of its population. The Hon Philip Ruddock MP says this demonstrates to the rest of the world that you can have a cohesive and inclusive society for all.

Most people don’t appreciate that Australia has more migrants proportionality than any other country. 25% are overseas born.

Having our non-discriminatory Immigration programs for years and in that time settled millions of migrants on a non-discriminatory basis that is without regard to race, religion, culture and other characteristics, we should have a highly fractious society.

When you look around the world countries with far less diversity have greater difficulties. What have been the reason for Australia’s success? They seem to me to be three fold.

Firstly, integrity in migration selection. We seek people with skills that we need where qualifications are compatible and recognised. Close family reunion where families provide an important role in addressing settlement issue. And a generous refugee and humanitarian program which if correctly targeted brings people with leadership qualities that are a threat to others.

Second. We have comprehensive settlement programs to familiarise new arrivals with Australia and its values. These include parliamentary democracy, respect for the rule of law and full and active participation for all regardless of religion or culture. Programs address support for those in need and English language competency.

Third and least well recognised is that diversity is in itself a strength because smaller groups of people from a wider range of backgrounds precludes the establishment of groups and enclaves that might appear to threaten others. Our increasingly diverse society will continue in my view to demonstrate to the rest of the world that you can have a cohesive and inclusive society for all.

As economic changes around the world promote more open trade the diversity of our population will enable Australia to benefit even more.



  1. William Bourke

    April 1, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    Ecological sustainability

    This offering by Philip Ruddock deals with some 'nice to haves', but ignores the CRITICAL 'must have': ecological sustainability. According to the United Nations, true sustainability is ‘development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. In other words, a pattern of resource use that preserves the environment for future generations, to ensure their economic and social wellbeing. In 1994 the Australian Academy of Science published its findings on population. In considering the resource needs of our cities, and Australia's supply of water, minerals and arable land it concluded: “In our view, the quality of all aspects of our children's lives will be maximised if the population of Australia by the mid-21st Century is kept to the low, stable end of the achievable range, i.e. to approximately 23 million."

    Mr Ruddock is the man who claimed (in 2001 on the 7:30 report) that we don't need a population debate because Australia would only reach 25 million in 2041. We are now nearly 24 million in 2015, and on target for 40 million by mid century! Can we rely on someone who got it so wrong? In general, when you have relatively abundant resources, tolerance is higher and conflict is lower. This is the point Mr Ruddock missed in his offering. I recently wrote in Open Forum: "Human nature is the same the world over. People are compassionate and tolerant while their own lives and livelihoods are secure. But any scarcity of resources soon leads to intensified competition, either contained by rigid and intolerant hierarchies or devolving into conflict between groups. It doesn’t matter whether it is religion, ethnicity or political affiliation that identifies “us” and “them” in these conflicts. They are essentially misdirected anger, and their political or military resolution does not solve the underlying resource scarcity." More here:

    I hope Mr Ruddock now reads this. There are far too many lawyers and career politicians in parliament. We need parliamentarians with backgrounds in science and ecology, who are open to Sustainable Population Party's concept of #RedefiningGrowth in a finite world:

    • Max Thomas

      Max Thomas

      April 10, 2015 at 1:36 am

      An inclusive society for all

      A nice piece of work William Bourke. Mr Ruddock perhaps belongs to the 'optimistic' school that has faith in the capacity of the 'market' to adjust and meet apparently unlimited demands. This seems irrational and at odds with even the most basic understanding of economics. Much of what you have written on "ecological sustainability" evidently is not included in the models used around Canberra to make predictions that seem to fall over at the first hurdle. That we are expected to take the 2015 inter-generational report seriously on this basis stretches credulity too far. So long as they think of economics only in terms of money, excluding a myriad of other progress indicators, there is no reason to think the present ecocidal trend will not continue. (a good spot here for a quote from Clarke and Daw?). 🙂

      I'm not so convinced that a population 'limit' or 'carrying capacity' can be accurately determined or that such measures are particularly useful. Of greater concern is the burgeoning sprawl of parasitic cities. I contend that intractable environmental pollution is not an inevitable consequence of population increase. At least in part, environmental degradation is the product of human behaviour, including especially the limitless 'wants' of concentrated populations that suck in resources from all directions with little regard for the impacts. Enormous environmental damage was done in Australia by a very small population during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While there is plenty of scope for improvement, considerable progress has been made with air quality and the health of rivers. Pest plants and animals and nutrient retention in agriculture are examples where we can do a lot better. The global distribution of wealth and resource consumption is so massively skewed that if most of the world’s poorest people moved to another planet the environment would continue to decline because the 'unlimited economic growth' paradigm will have survived. This matters because unquestioning acceptance of an essential nexus between population and environmental damage may lead to a rationalization of severe economic injustice, or worse.

  2. Allan Catlin

    Allan Catlin

    April 3, 2015 at 8:50 am

    A rosy version of Australia

    I read Mr Ruddock's comments on a day when the news talks of Aussie autistic kids being caged or strapped to a chair and an asylum seeker dying on a hunger strike in this ideal nation of ours. And Tony Abbott cuts funds to settlements of the original owners of this land. That's not the story I want to tell the world.