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Doug Cameron in the cross-hair of the Murdoch press

Labor Senator-elect Doug Cameron is the only Federal politician, so far, to have summoned up the courage to raise a critical voice against the Government's recently announced plans to raise the annual immigration level to 300,000. For this, he has earned the wrath of The Australian newspaper.

An editorial Closing the shop of 21 May 08 did not even attempt to dispute Cameron's warning that immigration will depress the wages of Australian workers, rather, it welcomed the prospect:

Mr Cameron's worries about migration most likely stem from fears that accepting unskilled workers from the Pacific islands and elsewhere will put downward pressure on wages for union members.

His comments reflect the fact that unskilled migration may be used to offset the inflationary impact of scrapping the Howard government's Work Choices legislation.

Those who have followed The Australian's pushing of the immigration barrow in recent days will know that, in the moral Universe inhabited by News Limited, the only right and proper end, towards which any responsible Labor government can work, is not towards controlling housing hyper-inflation, rising water and electricity charges, council rates and—all driven by population growth—but rather towards controlling 'wages inflation'. Because the Rudd government has been so enormously generous to unionists in having scrapped aspects of Howard's "Work Choices" legislation, they are now beholden to unquestioningly accept whatever other means the Rudd government decides to use in its place to erode their standard of living, including the raising of immigration levels.

The editorial raises the familiar spectres of xenophobia and the White Australia policy in order to place itself indisputably on the high moral ground:

… the immigration debate has already pricked the raw nerves of xenophobia and self interest that lie just below the surface of many within the labour movement. …

It is a rerun of the views that underpinned the ALP's support for the discredited White Australia policy, which grew out of a deal between labour and capital to protect Australian jobs from Chinese immigration.

Of course The Australian's editorial writers, who clamoured to have this country join the war to seize Iraq's oil assets, is, in contrast to ‘self interested’ Australian workers, fearful of their living standards being destroyed by the further crowding of this country, are acting only out of pure altruism and love for for their fellow human beings.

Mr Cameron's comments are held to be “proof that the extreme Left and extreme Right arms of politics join hands around the back.”

It is not known whether Doug Cameron, himself, would accept The Australian's labelling of him as ‘extreme Left’. In any case, this ignores the fact that most of the Australian far left are in agreement with The Australian's support for high immigration. For decades, anyone on the on the Australian far left who would have dared question immigration in the way that Doug Cameron is now doing would have found themselves very quickly ostracised. Members of the wider community opposed to population growth also encounter irrational opposition. For instance, the Victorian branch of Sustainable Population Australia encountered a demonstration outside Prosper Australia and members were publicly defamed and threatened with violence by members of the Socialist Alliance and others in 2004 until they ceased to associate there.

It is to be hoped that Doug Cameron will stand up to the Murdoch newsmedia and resist the pressure to become corralled with all of his fellow Labor Parliamentarians into supporting Chris Evans' high immigration program.

See also Doug Cameron: guest workers threaten Australian wages and conditions of 20 May 08, Is it reactionary to oppose Immigration? of 16 Dec 07 (also on Web Diary)

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What evidence did the Australian give for this statement which seems horribly defamatory against Doug Cameron? Are they trying to incite hatred against him?

" … the immigration debate has already pricked the raw nerves of xenophobia and self interest that lie just below the surface of many within the labour movement. …

"It is a rerun of the views that underpinned the ALP's support for the discredited White Australia policy, which grew out of a deal between labour and capital to protect Australian jobs from Chinese immigration."

Personally I would ten times rather be associated with Cameron than with the people who actually benefit from high immigration - the bankers, the property developers, the big mining companies and those who destroy forests everywhere. It certainly seems like the moral universe of the Murdoch Press is very murky and strange.

It is terrible to see Cameron treated this way. I would say that the worse he is treated by the Australian, the better a man he must be.

Sheila Newman, population sociologist
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Mr Cameron's treatment by the Oz reminds me of the way that Pauline Hanson was dealt with by the media in her period as the disendorsed candidate for Oxley.

Quite clearly, whether you speak from a social-democratic or a right-populist perspective, the mainstream media will rip strips off you if you question the dogma of mass immigration or anything else that threatens corporate profit.
To some extent, this is to be expected from the Murdoch media which has always been anti-labour (as opposed to anti-ALP - quite a different thing).

It will be interesting to see how the left websites and papers deal with Cameron, though. In the past, their tone has been generally negative. When Mr Cameron was the Secretary of the AMWU, he proposed the idea of a 'social tariff'. This is quite similar to the idea, discussed on this site previously, of applying tariffs differentially based on the wage levels and environmental responsibility of exporting countries. It's a good idea which to my mind needs to be developed a bit further.

Needless to say, Corporate Australia hated the idea on principle. But more surprising is that the left also bagged it relentlessly. The whining Trots over at Green Left Weekly obviously thought that any kind of tariff just smacked too much of nationalism to be hip and wrote it off accordingly. Good old GLW. Always more interested in striking a fashionable pose than in defending Australian workers. Even the Guardian was critical. The workers flag is palest pink..

I intend to write to Mr Cameron today to thank and congratulate him on being the only Federal MP with the interests of Australia's workers at heart.


The issue of Pauline Hanson is problematic for me in a number of ways. For years she was considered by many to be the embodiment of evil in this country. Being a leftist myself, I felt obligated to accept the view that the One Nation Party was the genesis of a fascist movement like the German Nazi Party, the Italian Fascists (or in this country, the New Guard or Old Guard of the 1930's). On one or two occasions, I could almost have attended the rowdy demonstrations against the One Nation Party, but, thankfully, did not.

I can now see the issue as more complex. Moreover, despite its flaws and the socially conservative views of many of its members, I see the One Nation Party as largely a necessary and positive response to the neo-liberal counter-revolution of the time. It was the only large organisation that was prepared to confront the paramount political issue of our time, that is, immigration.

I was a member of the organisation that now sells Green Left in the late 1970's and 1980's. It was then called the Socialist Workers' Party (SWP) and it is now called the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP). I have recently learned that the people who controlled it back then have become a minority and have been expelled (see Australian DSP divides, Disrepute and democratic centralism according to the DSP and The politics of the DSP purge all to be found on the web site I very much doubt if I would have much sympathy for either of the two warring parties in this dispute, although I still believe that socialist thought, if strongly tempered with the Malthusian understanding of the world that Marx and most of his successors stupidly tried to deny, still has a lot to offer. A good article to read is socialist environmentalist Sandy Irvine's Trotsky's Biggest Blindspot

Dave wrote: “It will be interesting to see how the left websites and papers deal with Cameron, …“"

In fact, Green Left, whilst the core of the Socialist Alliance, members of which have actively harassed immigration reduction activists for years, has been curiously silent on this issue lately. It does promote refugee rights, which, as we have all seen, have been used as an effective smokescreen behind which immigration numbers have been ramped up in recent years, but it is extremely difficult to find any article specifically about immigration lately. The following are the first twelve links I obtained when I used the term 'migration' on Green Left's web site:

  1. CUBA: US employs weapons of mass migration, 14 May 03
  2. Editorial: Migration bill splits the Coalition, 17 Nov 93
  3. Migration, racism and environment,16 Mar 94
  4. Washington announces arrangements on migration of Cubans of 26 Oct 94
  5. Ruddock's refugee tribunal biased of 28 Aug 02
  6. Marx vs Keynes on immigration of 13 Aug 97
  7. Issues: Migrant women: tired of being invisible of 26 Feb 92
  8. Howard ducks for cover on 457 visa rorts of 14 Jul 07
  9. West Papuan asylum seekers need our support of 17 Nov 93
  10. TPVs finally shelved, deportations continuing of 17 May 08
  11. Environment: Why cutting immigration won't help of 27 Nov 96
  12. Labor changes its refugee policy, slightly of 4 May 07

The above results are similar to those I have obtained on a number of previous occasions. The only article above which actually addresses immigration in any sensible way is Howard ducks for cover on 457 visa rorts, but it doesn't actually take a stance on immigration itself and avoids reflecting upon the DSP's past more strident promotion of high immigration.

A problem with Green Left's search facility is that it does not seem to give any weight to chronology in its ordering of its search results, so it is difficult to know for sure how much or how little current coverage is being given to this critical issue. Still, on the basis of the above, it would appear very little. So, it seems to me that the DSP is being dishonest and evasive. Whether they currently support or oppose high immigration, they should have the courage of their convictions to say so openly and explain why.

Dave, if you have Doug Cameron's email address, please let me know.

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