John Howard, the Australian PM most famous for prompting the Kath & Kim phrase “bloody Howard”, has returned to the fore with another shocker. This time, the 84-year-old has admitted he’s never been convinced about multiculturalism. Here we go again…
For context, Howard was delivering a septic-filled sermon at the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship forum in London on Wednesday.
The conference was essentially a coming together of right-wing political nerds who frequently say things like “tally ho!” and “By George!”. Allegedly.
During his speech, a few sentences in particular captured the public’s imagination in the worst way possible.
“Multiculturalism is a concept that I’ve always had trouble with,” he began per Guardian Australia.
“I take the view that if people want to emigrate to a country, then they adopt the values and practices of that country.
“And in return they’re entitled to have the host citizenry respect their culture without trying to create some kind of federation of tribes and culture – you get into terrible trouble with that.”
Lots to unpack there.
First, let’s acknowledge that this is a classic case of conservatives saying the quiet part out loud.
Whether they’re in government or opposition during their time in office, they’ll all claim to be proud of how multicultural Australia is. However, their policies will oftentimes reflect the opposite belief.
Back in 2017, even Peter Dutton, who is normally extremely hard-line on issues such as immigration and Australia’s refugee intake, had (some) kind words to say about multiculturalism.
Per the Sydney Morning Herald, the now-Opposition leader said, “I think what most Australians expect from any of us from a migrant background, and ultimately that’s the case for most of us, is that we respect the culture from our country of origin but we embrace Australian values”.
On the surface, that sounds like a perfectly reasonable statement.
What’s bonkers about Howard’s fresh claims is that he isn’t even bothering to hide his real feelings anymore. It’s gone beyond reasonable statements.
The mask is well and truly off.
I mean, referring to a multicultural Australia as some sort of “federation of tribes and culture”?
Are we shocked? Yes.
Are we surprised? No.
Header photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images.