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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

dog whistling « Previous | |Next »
October 7, 2007

Kevin Andrews, the Immigration Minister is a crude politician. Dog whistle politics require subtlety. You imply, infer, suggest, so that your conservative kind of people know what you mean by excluding African refugees. You are talking about a white Anglo-Saxon monoculture where citizens are readily identifiable in a homogeneous Australian society.

Bill Leak

Multiculturalism doesn't work is the other message. It causes social division, ethnic ghettos and leads to events such as the Cronulla riots of December 2005 .The locals had to defend their beach under the Australian flag from people of Middle Eastern appearance----all evidence of an underlying ethnic racism in a multicultural Australian society.

That is the game Kevin Andrews is playing is it not?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:10 PM | | Comments (10)


its another attempt at the wedge. In our political culture Rudd would be on a hiding to nothing if he takes on the issue like the African refugees.

yeah the problem is the academics isn't it. They stir too much and cause trouble.

The lefty academics won't accept the fundamental transformation in this country under the Coalition, or its progress and success in building a prosperous economy and sa cohesive nation. A lot of the so-called public intellectuals refuse to accept the new Australia, and all they do is give us their ongoing carping and criticism about the Coalition's successful policies which have resulted in the remarkable increase in the living standards of ordinary Australians.

I read something like that in the press between meetings over the weekend. I can't recall where though. Was it The Australian? That newspaper was left around the Hyatt or the foyer of the Convention Centre in Adelaide where I was on the weekend.


I think you're talking about Paul Kelly. Virginia Trioli had him and Robert Manne on Friday's Lateline. I got the impression Kelly honestly does not understand what Manne was talking about when he was talking about social and cultural damage. Every time Manne made a point Kelly responded with economics.

Kelly must never have read Donald Horne. He seems to think the job of public intellectuals is to talk about economics.

Dr Andre Renzaho has an op ed in the Sydney Morning Herald entitled Slamming the door on Africa. He makes these points:

the Immigration Minister, Kevin Andrews, has used anecdotal reports of problems with Sudanese refugees as justification for refusing African refugees.

The attack on African migrants mirrors the attacks directed at Vietnamese migrants more than 20 years ago, when they were profiled as drug dealers and out-of-control. Greeks and Italians were referred to as wogs who found it difficult to assimilate.
The media coverage of African migrants' social issues has been characterised by vilification and dehumanisation under the pretence that these refugees are unable to integrate in the wider Australian society.

thanks for the Lateline link. I've read the transcript where the debate is organized in terms of Paul Kelly's barrage in the so-called culture wars. Trioli refers to Kelly's article in the Australian Literary Review, where Kelly claimed that Australia's public intellectuals are second rate.On Trioli's interpretation of Kelly's article, Australia's left of centre--ie. liberal --public intellectuals have:

played an influential role in hijacking political debate, the poverty of their analysis is conspicuous and they often see little explanation for Howard's success. So are Australia's intellectuals really just second rate Howard-haters, pompous, morally vain and self-righteous?

Then we have the debate. Kelly chooses his ground:---his criticism of the public intellectuals is that have refused their failure to recognise the nation's successes relates to economic policy:
Economic policy since 1983 has been the area of fundamental transformation, fundamental policy transformation in this country. Our progress as a nation has been enormously successful and I think one of the features of a lot of the public intellectuals has been their reluctance to accept this, their ongoing carping and criticism about these policies which have underpinned so much of the living standards of Australians today. So that's my first broad point. And Howard is quite open there in saying that when it comes to the economy he is following the Hawke-Keating tradition. Now, that is not exactly correct, of course, but there is a broad degree of truth in that.

Huh? I thought that the conservative attack on the public intellectuals was because they were inner city cosmopolitians plugged into the global economy and were hostile to the traditional one nation values of Howard's socially conservative battlers struggling with the effects of the global economy on Australia.

My understanding is that the public intellectuals are critical of a neo-liberal mode of governance, not the shift under Hawke and Keating from a closed to an open economy.


That's exactly why I understood Kelly's rumblings to be a repostitioning of himself in relation to his 'enemies' more than anything else. He's maintaining the relevance of both himself and his brand of argument (same thing really). A bit like Howardism, due for retirement, can't let go. Manne had the grace to acknowledge that it's over.

Watching that interview I got the impression that Kelly was trying to connect his own views with continuities between Labor/Liberal/Labor governments in anticipation of a Labor win and tie that in with the culture wars. Can't blame him for trying. After all, the Rolling Stones can still draw crowds.

the transcript would read differently to the video.What Kelly is trying to do in the interviws is not at all clear, given Trioli's culture wars frame.

It is clearer in his article in the Australian Literary Review. He ends thus:

In summary, Australia's post-1983 progress is a direct function of national leadership. Hawke, Keating and Howard, despite their differences, are best understood in an historical continuum finding similar solutions to the same problems.

Party rivalry, honour and belief cannot tolerate any such view. Nor can media coverage that feeds on partisan disputes. But the policy evidence is indisputable, with the stunning feature of 2007 politics being not the difference between Howard and Rudd but the similarity. Policy convergence, the trend since 1983, has reached a zenith. Rudd attacks Howard as a symbol of the past yet identifies with most of his underlying positions.
They differ over Iraq, education investment, industrial relations, infrastructure, climate change, indigenous affairs, broadband and elements of public administration. Such differences should not be underestimated. But aside from industrial relations, they fall short of fundamental.
He says that on most fundamentals they are together: a pro-market economic policy, skills-based immigration, Medicare, the GST, the US alliance, engagement with Asia, size of government, overall tax burden, international competitiveness, participation and productivity strategies, a national emissions trading scheme, the Afghanistan commitment, a hard line against Islamist terrorists and the present national security laws.

Kelly just doesn't like public intellectuals:

It reminds us that Australia is still a lucky country. It has moved beyond Horne's brilliant portrait, having enjoyed a generation-plus of first-rate national leaders and second-rate public intellectuals who share its luck.

It's rather odd---Kelly himself is a public intellectual. So he is second rate.

Paul Kelly doesn't like lefty public intellectual types.The right wing ones are okay because he never mentions them. His finger is always pointed one way--at the Left. he seems to be unaware of the rehabilitation of conservatism that has taken place over the last decade.


That last point you made is an interesting one. I think in a lot of ways a decade of Howard has given the left a chance to stop and take a good look at itself. Meanwhile, the right has taken a decade of Howard to mean that Australians support its worldview.

Rather than understand the current political situation as public rejection of his values, Kelly seems to be trying to claim both parties for conservatives like himself. Avoiding cognitive dissonance which, as Nan points out, would make him a pretty second rate intellectual.

That was the impression I got watching Lateline anyway.