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Subject: Politics »


The New Labor Agenda

Andrew Theophanous.

Dr Andrew Theophanous speaks on cultural diversity, and the Whitlam, Fraser and early Hawke periods where this was essentially the focus.



Date Added:

26 June 2002


Making Multicultural Australia


mov (Quicktime);

File size:



44 secs


Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, 1993-96, Member of the House of Representatives, 1980-

During the Whitlam, Fraser and early Hawke periods, I think what happened was that there was essentially a focus on the importance of cultural diversity, and gaining increasing respect for different cultures. Partly as a result of criticism that was made of that agenda, and especially following the Jupp Report, what we had was the idea that multiculturalism has a second and very important dimension, which I call the social justice dimension. In other words multiculturalism isnít just about cultural diversity, but is also about certain fundamental principles of social justice, certain ideas about the rights of people from ethnic background in terms of services from the community, and in terms of the entitlements of life.


And I think that agenda started to develop. But there was a lot of struggle over that agenda. People opposed that agenda although it was formally adopted in the 1989 National Agenda for a Multicultural Australia, that in fact we have this dimension, the social justice dimension, as well as the cultural diversity dimension.
Nevertheless, even since then, there has still been rearguard actions, which have tried to either get rid of multiculturalism or to limit multiculturalism to simply a kind of low level response to the fact of cultural diversity, rather than to a positive, creative agenda, in terms of the way in which different cultural traditions can contribute to the evolution of the Australian culture, but also can bring to bear this central concept of social justice.

Interview for Making Multicultural Australia, 1995