Letter to the editor
Ian BiggsAustralia and Turkey enjoy one of the closest people-to-people relationships I have ever had the privilege of being associated with – because of our shared experience of sacrifice and heroism at Gallipoli a hundred years ago, and because of the contribution of people of Turkish heritage to modern Australian society. I was therefore disappointed to read in the article “Australia in hot water” on the Opinion page of yesterday’s Daily News, amid several untruths about Australian relations with Indonesia, the absurd line that “Australia has always been an apartheid state,” with a “white-only immigration policy.”
Most of your readers will already know better, from family connections or their own visits, or as a result of the Embassy’s programs that bring Australian art, music and academic exchange to Turkey. But for the record, and because I would not want anyone to be misled about my country, let me note that more than 43 per cent of Australia’s people are first or second generation immigrants, with India the largest source country in 2012-13. More than 300 different languages are used at home by my fellow citizens, with Chinese the most commonly spoken other than English. Australia’s migration program, one of the most welcoming in the world, is thoroughly non-discriminatory. In its humanitarian component, the top five countries in 2012-13 by birth were Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Bhutan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And among the hundreds of thousands of international students in Australia, 70 per cent are from Asia.
Cultural diversity is one of our prime national advantages, an important reason why Australia regularly tops the OECD’s Better Life Index, the UNDP’s Human Development Index, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Report, and the World Values Survey’s list of most racially tolerant countries. As the world’s twelfth largest economy and eighth largest aid donor, with more than 20 years of unbroken growth, Australia will be joined by Turkey in the troika of the G20 from 1 December this year. This is no time for your columnists to be misrepresenting, of all things, the composition of our immigration program.”
Australian Ambassador to Turkey