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The opening couple of sentences suck the oxygen out of the room. The remainder of my cut and paste is a pointer to the future.
In short, demography is destiny.
“….In the world of political backflips, Tony Burke has performed a triple somersault with pike.
In 2006 he attacked the Howard government for failing to enforce “stricter English speaking requirements” for people wanting to come to Australia.
Yet last week, as Labor’s spokesman on multiculturalism, Burke accused the Turnbull government of “snobbery” in wanting migrants to speak better English before qualifying for Australian citizenship.
How can this turnaround be explained? Why has Labor abandoned its support for English language skills as one of the cornerstones of multicultural policy?
To understand Burke’s backflip, we need to understand the changing nature of Labor electorates — including Burke’s own seat of Watson, based on the inner-Western Sydney suburbs of Lakemba and Punchbowl.
Watson is ethnic central, with more than 50 per cent of its residents born overseas. Foreign languages are so popular in the electorate that just 27 per cent of people are English language speakers only.
Nine out of 10 people I tried to interview couldn’t speak English.
In two shops where I tried to buy lunch, English was also off the menu.
For the first time in my 50 years in the region, I felt like a stranger in Western Sydney.
I was dismayed that a Labor frontbencher had allowed this to happen in his electorate.
Under the Gillard government, Bowen had been the immigration minister, with a responsibility for English language skills among migrants.
Instead of enforcing this requirement in his constituency, Bowen has allowed enclaves to develop. Part of Fairfield is known as “Little Iraq”, another section “Little Assyria”.
The few locals with English told me they were happy to stick to their own people. There was no appetite for mixing with other cultures, for forming a genuinely multicultural community.
These ethnic voting blocks have become so dominant that no local politician can afford to offend them.
Two-thirds of Fairfield’s residents were born overseas, while 70 per cent speak a language other than English at home.
In the 1990s, Bowen and the former state MP Carl Scully recruited large numbers of Assyrians into Fairfield’s Labor Party branches.
Their leader, Anwar Khoshaba, became a political kingmaker. His son Ninos succeeded Scully in the state seat of Smithfield in 2007.
Four years later he was swept out of parliament in the anti-Labor, anti-Keneally swing, replaced by an Assyrian Liberal MP, Andrew Rohan.
Over time, Fairfield’s Assyrian community has come to see themselves as running the city.
It’s an arrogance spawned from sheer weight of numbers and the fawning attitude of local councillors and MPs who rely on their support.
The Assyrian attitude to my Facebook video was one of propriety, telling me I had no right to be in Fairfield without their permission.
One thug told me to “piss off back to Liverpool”.
Another said I was “lucky not to have been bashed”.