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Subject: Immigration »


FitzGerald Immigration Policy Review, 1988

Stephen FitzGerald.

Professor Stephen FitzGerald talks about the Immigration Policy.



Date Added:

27 June 2002


Making Multicultural Australia


mov (Quicktime);

File size:



57 secs


Chair, Committee to Advise on Australia’s Immigration Policies (CAAIP), 1987-88

We (CAAIP) had to look at things like the numbers. You had to look at the mix, the categories, the selection process. We also were asked to look at the legislation. And that was a major, but probably less publicised aspect, of the work of the Committee at the time.

(John) Dawkins was a strong supporter (of the Committee's views), a very strong supporter. (Kim) Beazley was a supporter. (Bill) Hayden was certainly supportive. Who stood on the other side? I think that (Prime Minister Bob) Hawke was the main person. I think Hawke was a kind of... as we all know he was a populist, he was a lowest common denominator person - highly intelligent, but not intellectual.

I don't think that Hawke's view really was infused too much by a kind of intellectual vision about what it all meant. But he was a kind of soft sentimental touch for the multicultural idea.


A paper was distributed and its thrust was how to manage the CAAIP Report when it appeared. And it was subsequently denied by all members of the Advisory Council on Multicultural Affairs that I spoke to, that such a paper had ever existed, and the reason for that is that the copies were pulled back - but it existed, I know that.

The actual authorship appeared to have been the Office of Multicultural Affairs. But I can't vouch for that. There is some doubt about that. But it would be consistent with something that happened subsequently.

The idea that multiculturalism might have run its course was deeply offensive to vested interests of the kind which represent in my view the "ism", the dogma - their vested interest in the sense that it was developing as an industry, it provided their employment, their rationale, their 'raison d'etre'. And a lot of people, I might add, in this category were people who were themselves immigrants from Britain...

There was no doubt that there were people who were working to head off any suggestion that multiculturalism might come to be seen as a phase in the evolution of Australian society and ultimately replaced by something which in my conception would be bigger, broader, all-encompassing and so on. And there were several things that happened then, towards the end of the CAAIP Report. One was the concoction of a Report which went to the Prime Minister which was not, of course, shown to me and was never supposed to have been seen by me.

It was prepared by the Office, by OMA, and I think I have to say, it is the most mendacious document that I have ever come across in public life in Australia.

Interview for Making Multicultural Australia, 1996.