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Category: Interviews »

Subject: Cultural Studies »

John Brumby describes his vision

John Brumby.

Premier John Brumby describes his vision for cultural diversity and economic and social development for Victoria



Date Added:

08 March 2009


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mov (Quicktime);

File size:

33.8 MB






... and that gold rush of course, back in 1852, really marked a turning point for our state of Victoria. Immigrants leaving Britain in 1852, bought more tickets to Melbourne than any other destination in the world and at the height of the gold rush one in five men in Victoria were Chinese. The gold rush brought new people, new skills and new ideas to Victoria. And it turned our state into a thriving multi-cultural democracy. Associate Professor of History at Victoria’s Latrobe University, Dr Richard Broome has called immigration, “one of Melbourne’s most dramatic and defining themes.” And I couldn’t agree with him more.


Indeed I’d go further and say, if you look at the history of Australia as a whole, there have been two defining moments in our nation’s history: one of course was the Anzac tradition, the birth of the Anzac tradition at Gallipoli in 1915 and the other has been post-war migration. These are the defining moments in Australian history. And you only have to look at the post-war boom to see the extraordinary strength that our community has gained from the Italian community, the Greek community, the Jewish community and a range of migrants from right across Europe. And others of course, have arrived from Vietnam, from South-East Asia, from Turkey, from Macedonia, from Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa to name just a few.


English may be our official language in Victoria, but more than 20% of Victorians and 26% of Melburnians speak a language other than English at home. Immigration has been a crucial part of our past, of Victoria’s past. And it will continue of course, to play a critical role into the future. Today, one in four migrants coming to Australia are choosing Victoria as their new home. And when those new migrants arrive, they join a population where approximately one in every two small businesses and really small business is the engine room of our economy, are either owned by overseas-born or second generation Victorians. And they also join a community where one in five students attending a Victorian university last year, was an international student.


In Victoria, we consider our diversity to be one of our greatest strengths, perhaps our single greatest strength.


... in my view you need look no further than Victoria to see just what a great example of diversity and how it works. We are considered to be in this state, one of the world’s great multi-cultural melting pots. And yes, there will always be challenges to address and to overcome when we welcome new communities. But our experience here is that more than 150 years of immigration has made us socially and economically much stronger. The economic intelligence unit has repeatedly named Melbourne as I’ve said as one of the world’s most liveable cities and culture and diversity are key factors in that successful ranking that we enjoy.


Research commissioned by our government’s innovation economy advisory board and based on the work of Professor Richard Florida, many of you would be familiar with his work, show that compared to 268 regions in the United States, inner Melbourne ranked in the top five on measures covering ethnic and lifestyle diversity, and highly skilled, highly educated innovative and creative workforces. We’re also the safest state in Australia. We’ve got crime rates now at their lowest point since the introduction of computerised recording in 1993. A recent Vic Health survey of more than 4000 Victorians, found that nine of our 10 people think it is good for communities to be made up of different cultures.


And of course, on top of all that, a new report by the University of New England, into the social costs and benefits of migration in Australia, stated too: “The social benefits of migration far outweigh the costs especially in the longer term.” So if you want to look at a case study around the world, look no further than Victoria. And if you want to look at a case study of diversity in the medium and longer term, creating a stronger society, a better society and a stronger economy as well, Victoria is a great case study. And on top of all of this, just focusing on the economic side: Victoria’s diversity and flexible skills base has given us an economy too, more diverse, more innovative – as Stephanie said before – more competitive and more globally connected than ever before.


So, our economy and Victoria’s now roughly the size of the economy of Singapore, the economy of Ireland, we’ve added more new jobs over the course of 2007 than any other state in Australia, and I mention that because many people looking at Australia from overseas, think of Australia and the resources boom, of the exports of minerals and resources from Western Australia and Queensland. Those things are important to Australia but the economy that’s generated more jobs than any other economy in the last year has been the Victorian economy. Why? Because I believe we’ve got the best mix of people. We’ve got the best human capital and that’s because we are in large part, the most diverse of any state in Australia.


We now enjoy global top five leadership in areas like stem cell research, cancer research, diabetes and neuroscience. And Melbourne was also recently ranked Melbourne’s - Melbourne was also recently ranked fifth amongst the world’s top 20 university cities by RMIT University’s global university city index. So migration has brought us a richness and a diversity.


Three years ago in 2004 our government launched our skilled migration strategy: a package of incentives which encouraged skilled migrants to move to our state particularly into regional areas as part of our drive to again, make our community more diverse and to increase our Victorian population and we did this – we were the first state to do this, we did this because a larger population will help us achieve a higher economic growth rate, particularly if we get the balance of skilled migrants right and of course encouraging immigration from diverse countries will also strengthen links with our region and with the world.


The 6 million dollar strategy built on the work that our government started in 1999 and it focused on linking employers to the right person for the job while promoting the attractions of living in Victoria more broadly to the world. And that was three years ago and today I can tell you about the success of this strategy. Victoria has grown its share of Australia’s skilled migrant intake from 17.6% in 1998/’99 to 26.8% today, 2005/6. And we’re proud of that and there are now more than 1500 skilled migrants and members of their families who’ve settled in regional Victoria, again under our strategy.


Victoria’s inclusive and harmonious nature has been essential to the success of our skilled migration strategy. But the world of course, is changing and continues to change rapidly. Victorian businesses are increasingly looking for highly educated and talented workers with strong technological skills. Victoria’s population is ageing with fewer people expected to enter the labour market in the decades ahead. And of course, countries such as Canada, America and the United Kingdom are also beginning to lift their efforts to attract skilled workers.


And that’s why today, with the Minister for Skills and Workforce Participation, Jacinta Allan, I’m launching the next phase of our skilled migration strategy which is called, “Global Skills for Victoria.” And under this new strategy we will further increase our share of skilled migration, setting a target of skilled and business migrants of 28.5% by 2010/11. In addition, this package includes: the commitment of two new overseas postings in the UK and India. These postings will increase Victoria’s marketing presence in the UK and India and promote our attractive career business and lifestyle opportunities. We are establishing a skilled and business migration advisory committee which will include representatives from all levels of government and industry to strengthen the coordination on migration issues.


There will be ongoing enhancement of the successful, Live in Victoria, website obviously, with more and more people using that site and that was specifically set up to attract prospective overseas skilled migrants. And of course there’s also the regional migration employment program to enable us to continue working closely with local communities and business to support regional industry growth.


Like every other wave of immigration into Victoria a new wave of people, skills and ideas, I believe, will make us an even better, stronger and fairer community. But it is not enough of course, to simply attract new migrants here. It’s also critically important to understand the different needs of different migrant groups and to make sure that we put in place the flexible settlement support and services that they need in order to make the best possible life for themselves. Over the past eight years our government has placed the highest priority on supporting and strengthening our multicultural, multi-faith communities and I just want to mention briefly some of the things we’ve done.


We’ve passed the landmark, Racial and Religious Tolerance Act and the landmark, Multicultural Victoria Act. We’ve become the first state in Australia to introduce a charter of human rights and responsibilities we’ve obviously as you’ve heard today, worked hard to attract more migrants and refugees and we’ve also held an historic multi-faith leader’s forum. We held the first of those two years ago and I look forward to hosting the second forum in just two weeks time.


By anyone’s reckoning, Victoria stands as a favoured destination for migrants and refugees seeking a new life with new opportunities. We’re the first to acknowledge that certain community groups are sometimes more marginalised and sometimes more vulnerable. However, whether our policies have been about ensuring all government departments respond adequately to diverse client groups, or ensuring that every resident or citizen can communicate effectively, through accessing appropriate language services, or extending a more welcoming and humane hand to refugees and humanitarian entrants, or protecting the rights of each individual to live without fear of vilification, the underlying principle is exactly the same: respect for our diversity and respect for individual human rights.


In his book, The Difference: how the power of diversity creates better groups, firm schools and societies, Michigan political scientist, Professor Scott Page says: “When we meet people who think differently than we do, who speak different languages, who have different experiences, training and values, we should see opportunity and possibility.” He also says that at the end of the day, his view is one contribution to social science and part of a much larger knowledge base. And that’s really what goes to the heart of this conference today and this week.


I’ve spent a good deal of time in my speech to you today, this opening speech talking about the Victorian success story. What I also want to say is that we still have much to learn from the experiences of other countries and of course the people here at this conference. We all know how rapidly the world is changing. And the challenge that we face is really to stay ahead of those changes and remain informed of the issues that will help us to achieve the best balance between migration, economic growth and social –


End transcript