Australia’s humanitarian (refugee) program 2016-2017

Submission to the Federal Government’s pre-budget consultations[i]

Frank Salter, 27 March 2016

I am a political scientist with a specialty in ethnic diversity and conflict. I have published research on the effects of ethnic diversity in relation to multiculturalism, welfare, and organised crime, in addition to ethical dimensions.[ii]

Australia’s refugee program has become so large and permanent that, per capita, it surpasses in scale many countries’ normal immigration intakes. Yet the Government’s policy is to increase the base level intake from 13,750 to 18,750 by 2018-2019, which does not include the planned special intake of 12,000 Syrians in 2016-2017. Australia is taking in refugees at the rate of 1% of its population every 17 years, soon to be every 13 years. This is not a new situation. In 1986 Australia was already taking more refugees for permanent settlement than any other country, 8 per 1000 population, or 1% of Australia’s population every 13 years.[iii]

The refugee intake is so large that it constitutes a form of immigration, though of an exceptional kind. Cumulatively, our refugee intake is sufficiently large to affect economic performance, community identity, and social stability. But compared to many normal immigrants, refugees are not generally screened for economic and social compatibility. However imperfect the regular immigration program – and it has deficiencies – its selection criteria protect Australia’s way of life much better than those applied to refugees.

This submission will argue that as presently configured in size and makeup, Australia’s refugee intake is having negative impacts on those variables. A fundamental rethink is needed to make the humanitarian program compatible with national security and social cohesion.

The submission consists of the following parts:

  • General costs of ethno-religious diversity;
  • Specific costs of diversity caused by the present refugee program;
  • Australia’s social fragmentation and government’s ahistorical rhetoric;
  • Refugee advocacy organizations;
  • Policy recommendations.


General costs of ethno-religious diversity

As presently configured, Australia’s refugee program is contributing to Australia’s ethno-religious diversity. To understand the special costs imposed by refugees, it is necessary to be familiar with the state of sociological research into the general costs of ethnic diversity. “Ethnicity” is often misunderstood. In this submission I adopt the mainstream definition which includes the following elements: a named population sharing belief in descent from common ancestors, a shared history, and sharing distinctive elements of culture, which usually includes religion.[iv] Thus ethnicity is simultaneously conditioned by history and culture and beliefs about shared descent.

A full analysis of the impacts of ethnic diversity is beyond the scope of the present submission, though a summary and sources are available in my recent analysis of the European refugee crisis.[v] In that analysis I summarise the social impact of rising ethno-religious diversity under six headings: rising social conflict; more crime from some immigrant groups; weakened social welfare net; greater ethnic inequality; racialised politics; and reduced civil liberties. Some of these headings are discussed below.

Numerous studies that compare societies around the world show that as diversity rises, social cohesion and trust tend to fall. At the same time, ethnic conflict occurs more frequently. The best known academic study of the costs of diversity was published by Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam in 2007.[vi] Putnam surveyed a large sample of US citizens in many cities. He found that diversity undermined social capital, which consists of neighbours participating in group social activities, helping and trusting one another. These findings have not always been replicated at the national level, but refined methods have confirmed the results at the neighbourhood level.[vii]

A converging series of studies using biosocial theory and methods preceded and confirmed Putnam’s finding, while adding the dimensions of inter-ethnic conflict, degraded welfare and economic measures.[viii] A recent confirmation by Finnish sociologist Tatu Vanhanen compared rates of ethnic conflict in 176 societies in the year 2010. Conflict was broadly defined, to include discrimination, the formation of ethnic parties and interest groups (racialised politics), as well as ethnic violence and civil war. Vanhanen found that ethnic diversity explained 66% of global variation in ethnic conflict, while other variables, such as per capita income, level of human development, and level of democratization, explained only 6 to 16% of the variation. In other words, much of the difference between united peaceful countries and those riven by ethnic conflict is the latters’ ethnic diversity.

Australia is not immune from the costs of diversity. Repeated studies by Australian academics find that ethnic diversity undermines social capital. An example is research conducted by Andrew Leigh, professor of economics at the Australian National University before becoming Labor’s Shadow Assistant Treasurer.[ix] Another example is work done by Professor Andrew Markus, at Monash University, who manages the Scanlon Foundation surveys of social cohesion, conducted since 2007. The surveys find that areas of high immigration settlement undergo a loss of social trust and other measures of cohesion. “This finding supports Putnam’s interpretation that ethnic diversity has a significant negative impact on social cohesion.” [x]

One cost of diversity deserving attention is the loss of civil liberties. In immigrant societies governments come under pressure to suppress “hate speech”, which can include statements of opinion and fact. In Australia Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act allows prosecution of individuals who state something “reasonably likely … to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people” based on their “race, colour or national or ethnic origin”. The Section has been used by some minorities to silence their critics. And several minority leaders combined to defeat the Abbott government’s attempt to reform Section 18C in order to continue silencing critics.[xi] Whether or not one agrees with such legislation it is evidence of ethnic conflict.

Specific costs of diversity caused by the present refugee program

These costs of diversity are magnified by the refugee intake because refugees are not selected to suit Australia’s needs. The points system and employer nominations used to select many regular immigrants reduces the diversity of the intake by nationality and class, compared to what would result from random selection of immigrants from around the world.[xii] English language is an advantage in the points-tested independent sub-programs of the skilled intake, and in most of the other sub-programs of the skilled intake, as is possession of occupational skills. It is more difficult to acquire these skills in countries in developing economies, such as are common in Africa and the Middle East and parts of Asia. At the same time societies with small middle classes are more prone to authoritarian regimes and civil wars, major causes of refugee flows. As a result of these factors, a much higher proportion of refugees find it difficult to find work or fit into society in Australia. They are more likely to come from Africa and the Middle East, and more likely to be Muslims, increasing Australia’s ethno-religious diversity more rapidly (per capita intake) than does normal immigration.

Also relevant is evidence that conflict is intensified when the antagonistic parties have different religions.[xiii] The resulting dysfunction has been inflicted on working class suburbs in the large cities.

The result is that refugees and their descendants are more prone to indigence and crime, especially those from Africa and the Middle East. One only need follow the news to document the harm done. Recently Sudanese and Pacific Islander[xiv] youth rioted in Melbourne (Saturday 12 March 2016), overwhelming police. There were similar riots in Melbourne by African youth on New Year in 2014, when Salvation Army staff described the situation as resembling a “war zone”. Most of the Africans originate from refugees taken in from Sudan and other trouble spots in Africa. Sudan is a largely Muslim society. Further back, another problem group has been Lebanese Muslims whose parents were accepted as refugees by the Fraser government in the 1980s. The result has been chronic unemployment and criminality, including the tribal pack rapes of Anglo girls.[xv]

Problems with integrating Sudanese were admitted by Kevin Andrews, the Immigration Minister in the Howard Government, in 2007. The Sudanese intake was reduced before all applications from Africa were suspended for a year. This was in response to problems with Somali refugees, also Muslims. At the time Andrews explained that “some groups don’t seem to be settling and adjusting into the Australian way of life as quickly as we would hope”. That has proven to be an understatement. These examples of poor integration by African and Arab refugees continue to scar Australian communities. They were grievous errors of judgment by governments on both sides of politics.

The fallout from bad refugee policy is a real and continuing threat. NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas, the senior officer responsible for diversity issues, warned in August 2015 that terrorism was a real possibility wherever Muslim communities develop. He pointed out that the terror threat was not limited to big cities, but to emerging “Middle Eastern” communities in regional centres, such as Newcastle, Wollongong, Coffs Harbour, Wagga and Dubbo. He was especially concerned about refugees, young men who had fled conflict zones such as Somalia, Afghanistan and the Middle East. They were especially vulnerable to being recruited by criminals and extremists, he said. The risk posed by these communities would remain for generations, Kaldas stated.[xvi] Kaldas did not explain why Middle Eastern refugee groups pose the greatest risk, why they suffer economic and educational failure, nor why they will remain such a persistent threat to their local communities and to Australia. Such analysis is not part of the policing function. But it is critical to the formulation of prudent policy.

No wonder Australian public opinion has hardened against illegal immigrants. It is also becoming more negative towards legal immigration, especially of Muslims.[xvii] According to a qualitative survey of 1,349 respondents conducted by the Australian Institute for Progress, in 2015 only 8% of citizens thought that Muslim immigration had been good for Australia. Forty eight percent thought it had been bad for Australia.[xviii] That this is a selective reaction against Muslims is indicated by the previously mentioned Scanlon Surveys, which found in 2014 that 11.5% of respondents in immigrant areas expressed strongly negative attitudes towards Muslims, but only 2% were similarly critical of Buddhists.[xix]

This negative reaction to Muslims is not only or largely due to terrorism. It is mostly due to a failure to integrate into Australian society and economy. The problem was described by journalist Greg Sheridan in 2011, well before home-grown Islamic terrorism took its first victims.[xx] Until then Sheridan had been a leading exponent of multiculturalism and the diverse immigration that feeds it. Sheridan reported many examples of anti-social behavior by Muslim Australians in his neighbourhood near the Lakemba Mosque, in Sydney. These included racially-motivated attacks against Anglo Australians. He interviewed a senior police officer who reported that Arabs in the Lakemba area of Sydney presented a severe policing problem, with high rates of violent crime.

Like the other costs of ethno-religious diversity, restricted civil liberties can also be attributed disproportionately to Australia’s refugee intake. Groups that feel especially threatened by Islamist extremism are lobbying for ever tighter restrictions on racial vilification. In October 2015, six ethnic and cultural organizations joined with the peak Jewish organization in NSW to call for stronger criminal sanctions to be applied against expressions of racial hatred. This was in response to the NSW authorities’ failure to prosecute a leader of the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, who sermonised that Muslims should engage in jihad to “rid” the world of “Jewish hidden evil”.[xxi] None of the six complainant organizations was Islamic or Arabic, indicating that the immigrant community has become polarised between two camps, Muslims and non-Muslims. As we have seen, the growth of the Muslim community is significantly accelerated by Australia’s large refugee intake. Stiffening laws against racial hatred seems common sense for citizens subjected to virulent verbal attacks, which could incite violence. Unfortunately the effect is to limit freedom of speech, a basic civil liberty. Organic social cohesion is far preferable to that imposed by coercive social controls, such as the Racial Discrimination Act, its Orwellian section 18C, and the associated apparatus of commissioners and courts. But natural cohesion requires vigilance in selecting immigrants and refugees.

Financial costs are also special to refugees. Beyond the substantial cost of training, housing and welfare is the need to invest in infrastructure. In a modern society such as Australia, infrastructure includes not only water, gas, electricity, and telecom lines, but power generation, schools and teachers, roads, police and courts. Economist Jane O’Sullivan estimates those costs to total more than $100,000 for every new citizen.[xxii] These costs apply to all immigrants but those admitted under the general program are likely to begin to repay those costs not long after arriving. A much lower proportion of refugees become productive members of the workforce. Many never pay into the system. Australians should be informed that their largesse towards refugees as presently chosen not only has severe social impacts, but financial ones also.

This has resulted from the policy of excluding a significant fraction of Australia’s immigration intake, the 5-10% made up of humanitarian cases, from responsible selection criteria.

Australia’s social fragmentation and government’s ahistorical rhetoric

The present Federal Government implicitly admitted to a crisis in social cohesion when, in 2014-2015, it consulted the public on how citizenship might be used to reduce Islamic terrorism. Those who wrote the discussion paper were ambitious. They demanded that citizenship, a legalistic concept, should alone be sufficient to foster love of country and respect for other Australians. The paper was full of the usual multicultural platitudes, such as: “As a nation, we have found unity in our diversity and respect in our differences.” Continued immigration was “non-negotiable”, the paper declared.[xxiii]

Readers might never guess that the same fallacious citizenship doctrine – that legal statutes can substitute for organic ties developed over centuries – allowed the social fragmentation being experienced by Australia and many other Western societies. The paper did not let on that homegrown terrorists had attacked police and civilians in Melbourne and Sydney, that security agencies had warned that further attacks were probable, that hardened jihadist fighters would be returning to Australia from the Middle East, that the NSW police expert on diversity issues believed the threat from radicalised Muslims would last for generations, that surveys had shown that the more diverse a suburb the lower its occupants’ sense of security and cohesion, and that the negative reaction of third-generation Australians against Muslims was especially strong.[xxiv] The authors of the paper did not connect these many signs of an unravelling society with immigration and multicultural policies, the overt racialisation of electoral politics, or with decades of high refugee intakes. The authors – the Australian Government – were clueless about the relevance of Australia’s falling level of volunteering[xxv] and about the difference between a nation and a (political) state.[xxvi]

The same ideology – a version of citizenism – was part and parcel of the multicultural experiment initiated by the Fraser government in the 1970s against the will of the Australian people, that has given us rising social chaos and home-grown terrorism, where young people born and raised in Australia join overseas terrorist groups. It is no coincidence that the same Fraser government initiated a permanent refugee intake coordinated with the United Nations.

It should be noted that Australia ratified the UN Refugee Convention in 1954, at a time when people smugglers and long-distance flows of refugees were almost unknown. It is widely acknowledged among responsible analysts that the UN Convention is a failure, that it is undermining the national interests of receiving nations and promoting people smugglers.[xxvii] By handing over some control to the UN, a body with a long track record of anti-Western bias, Australia has yielded control of an important part of its immigration program to people who do not share our national interests.

Poor governance of refugee issues has been associated with rhetoric divorced from history. In initiating the consultation over the humanitarian intake, the Minister for Immigration, the Hon. Peter Dutton, boasted of the success of Australia’s original refugee program, after WWII, implying that we should continue to accept large intakes from around the world. As noted earlier, the Government has announced that our already high intake will be increased to 18,750 places by 2018-19 (again, not including the special intake of 12,000 Syrians).[xxviii] Dutton did not note that the post-WWII program was made to conform with the selection criteria applied to immigrants at that time. Refugees were chosen to be culturally assimilable. In other words, the refugee intake was made part of the immigration program. The abandonment of that principle in the 1970s had dangerous social consequences for Australia, contributing to a rapid rise in ethno-religious diversity, the transformation of cohesive local communities and rising levels of ethnic conflict.

Refugee advocacy organizations

The Minister deserves praise for opening up the humanitarian program to democratic consultation. For too long the process has been an elite conclave, “conducted in quiet consultation with refugee, church and ethnic community groups”.[xxix] Ian Rintoul, spokesman for the Refugee Action Coalition, is worried that allowing the public to express its views might introduce a proposal to reduce intake numbers. Fear of the public is understandable, because consultations have been monopolised by individuals and organization who act as advocates for refugees, without taking into consideration the interests of the Australian people. Neither have governments seen fit to include in the consultation process bodies that place Australia’s interests first. This has been the case since the 1980s or earlier, and helps explain the extremity of refugee policy since that time. To better make this point, this section examines perhaps the most important refugee advocacy body, the Refugee Council of Australia.

The Refugee Council is the peak non-government agency focusing on refugees. It is typical of bodies supporting generous humanitarian intakes. It holds a privileged position in the consultation process, being invited annually since 1984 by federal governments to provide advice on policy for the upcoming year.[xxx] The RCOA boasts of consulting with stakeholders around Australia on the needs of refugees, how Australia might better meet their needs, for example in the post-arrival settlement process, and how large the intake should be.

Striking – by its absence – is any consideration of how refugees harm Australia or consultation with bodies motivated to provide relevant information. The RCOA treats its role as advocacy for refugees, unqualified by concern for Australia. They promote ever larger refugee intakes in an open-ended manner. For example, in September 2015 the RCOA president, Phil Glendenning, criticised Australia for not taking an additional 20,000 refugees from Syria, despite this country having one of the most generous resettlement program on a per capita basis in the world. He accused Australia of having a special responsibility to open its borders to refugees because it indirectly contributed to the war in Syria, ignoring the fact that Australian forces were deployed against the terrorists. He praised Germany for taking in almost one million refugees, implying that doing so was responsible policy. These views went uncorrected by the ABC interviewer.[xxxi] RCOA and the ABC were engaged in advocacy for refugees, not formulating responsible policy that treats Australia and other Western societies as stakeholders with real interests to protect.

A responsible approach that balances refugee interests with those of the Australian people is left to the Federal Government. But until recently no government, from either side of politics, has sought out advice from those who advocate for Australian national interests. It is a scandalous record. To its credit, the present Coalition government cut funding to the RCOA in 2014 after belatedly realizing it to be an advocacy group. The powerful interests behind the body maintained its core revenues of $888,000 in the 2015 financial year.[xxxii] The Government is now opening consultation to allow the public to voice opinions.

In 2015 the RCOA had over 200 institutional members.[xxxiii] These included a cross-section of humanitarian bodies, with human rights bodies and churches well represented. There was also a large number of ethnic lobbies, consisting of 45 pro-immigration and pro-multiculturalism groups, advocating for minority ethnic groups, and 21 ethnic associations which also advocate for non-Anglo minorities.[xxxiv] It is remarkable that not one member organization represents the Australian majority or the Australian national interest. Why is protecting Australians not considered a humanitarian goal? Equally remarkable is the moral contradiction that allows humanitarians to work cheek by jowl with tribally-motivated ethnocentrists, who are interested mainly in benefiting a particular people or group of peoples. These ethnic activists pay lip service to universalist ideals but their ethnic organizations have very different motivations to their Christian and other humanitarian allies. For the multicultural lobby, humanitarian rhetoric is often a vehicle for advancing ethnic interests. They are happy that the same vehicle rides roughshod over Australians’ national sentiments, which they view as tribal competition. But how, in good conscience, can the genuine humanitarians in the RCOA facilitate tribal aggression, especially when directed against their own nation? The RCOA appears to be morally corrupt and disloyal to Australia, yet is the peak NGO advising on refugee policy; it is treated with respect by the mainstream media and politicians.

Policy recommendations

The Government’s briefing paper asks those making submissions to answer detailed questions concerning refugee policy.[xxxv] This assumes an insider’s knowledge of the system, which is unfair to most Australians wishing to express an opinion. It is also inappropriate that the questions do not canvass opposition to the system as a whole.

Instead of answering these questions in detail, I shall recommend broad principles for reforming the refugee program, and note those principles’ likely impact.

In the foregoing analysis I have argued that the refugee intake constitutes a sizable immigration program in its own right. That program’s exemption from normal immigration criteria has harmed the fabric of Australia’s society. Governments should put Australia’s national interests first.

Any sizeable refugee intake – more than dozens annually – should be subjected to the same criteria that have been relatively successful in choosing peaceful, productive immigrants. Any improvements made to the normal immigration program would then automatically flow onto selection of refugees.

Australia should withdraw from the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and work towards a new agreement that respects national interests.[xxxvi] In addition, the planned intake of 12,000 Syrian refugees should be reassessed. The Government has belatedly indicated its intention of allocating most places to non-Muslim minorities but that degree of selectivity falls short of the criteria applied to immigrants.

The effect of applying immigration-standard criteria will be drastically to reduce the refugee intake. Some of the resulting savings, which will be large, should be switched to funding humanitarian assistance overseas, especially in our region.

A practical and moral consideration in deciding refugee policy is the very large numbers involved. By the end of 2014, UNHCR estimated that, globally, there were 59.5 million people displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, generalised violence or human rights violations. Of these, 19.5 million were classed as refugees (i.e. outside their country of origin), 38.2 million as internally displaced, and about 1.8 million were asylum seekers. To those numbers must be added those economic migrants who pose as humanitarian cases. A large fraction of the million-plus individuals who entered Europe in 2015 during the Syrian crisis were not from Syria, but from Africa, Lebanon, Afghanistan, even as far away as Pakistan.

This continuing humanitarian disaster confronts those with good will. Given that resources are limited, should a tiny number of cases be raised to the pinnacle of living conditions offered by citizenship in a first world economy, or should a much larger number, many hundreds of times larger, be given emergency aid in or near their countries of origin. Australian governments have adopted the first option, the luxury option, at the cost of abandoning millions to their fate and diminishing the security and cohesion of their own society.

Where legally feasible, recent refugee intakes should be reversed, with individuals who have not yet become citizens being placed overseas by a dedicated bureaucracy. A truly humanitarian program must take into account the security, prosperity and unity of the Australian people.



[i], accessed 19 Feb. 2016.

[ii] Salter, F. K., Ed. (2002). Risky transactions. Trust, kinship, and ethnicity. Oxford and New York, Berghahn.

Salter, F. K., Ed. (2004). Welfare, ethnicity, & altruism: New data & evolutionary theory. London, Frank Cass.

Salter, F. K. (2008). “Westermarck’s altruism: Charity releasers, moral emotions, and the welfare ethic.” Politics and the Life Sciences 27(2): 28-46.

See Frank Salter’s experience and publications at:

[iii] World Refugee Survey, US Committee for Refugees, 1986. As reported by John Masanauskas (1990). “What to do with the world’s refugees?”, The Age, 14 June.

[iv] Smith, A. D. (1986). The ethnic origins of nations. Oxford, Basil Blackwell, pp. 22-30.

[v] Salter, F. K. (2016). Germany’s jeopardy: Could the immigrant influx “end European civilization”?, Social Technologies,, 6 January.

[vi] Putnam, R. D. (2007). “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and community in the twenty-first century. The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize lecture.” Scandinavian Political Studies 30: 137-174.

[vii] Laurence, J. and L. Bentley (2015). “Does ethnic diversity have a negative effect on attitudes towards the community? A longitudinal analysis of the causal claims within the ethnic diversity and social cohesion debate.” European Sociological Review.

[viii] Salter (2002; 2004), op cit.

[ix] Leigh, A. (2006). “Diversity, trust and redistribution.” Dialogue: Academy of Social Sciences in Australia 25(3): 43-49.

The finding was confirmed by:

Healy, E. (2007). “Ethnic diversity and social cohesion in Melbourne.” People and Place 15(4): 49-64.

[x] Markus, Andrew (2012). 2012 Scanlon Survey, Local Areas Report, p. 21.

[xi] Salter, F. K. (2014). Section 18C, multiculturalism and power. Quadrant Online.

[xii] The regular immigration program is more amenable to national interests despite serious shortcomings. New Zealand immigrants enter freely with minimal screening, due to the special relationship between the two countries. The growing social and economic incompatibilities of Pacific Islanders in Australia originates from this lack of selection. Another deficiency in the regular immigration program is that the points-based component of the general intake has been reduced in favour of employer nominations, which opens the process to corruption. See:

Birrell, B., E. Healy, et al. (2011). Immigration and the resources boom mark 2. Melbourne, Centre for Population and Urban Research: 49 pp.,

Also, many skilled migrants from non-English speaking countries (NESC) are slow to find employment in their fields of specialization. Indeed, a major component of the NESC program, students who have studied in Australia, are the least successful in finding employment in their professions. See:

Birrell, B. and E. Healy (2008). “How are skilled migrants doing?” People and Place 16(1): Supplement, 19 pp.

[xiii] Rummel, R. J. (1997). “Is collective violence correlated with social pluralism?”Journal of Peace Research 34(3): 163-176.

[xiv] Most Pacific Islanders come to Australia from New Zealand, and thus are not screened for economic or social compatibility.

[xv] Martin Chulov, “Rape menace from the melting pot”, The Weekend Australian, 18-19 August 2001.

[xvi] Dan Box, “Police set sights on extremist risk in regional migrant communities”, The Australian, 13 Aug. 2015, p. 7., accessed 24 Feb. 2016.

[xvii] 2012 Scanlon Survey, Local Areas Report, p. 30.

[xviii] Young, G. (2015). Australian attitudes to immigration. Brisbane, Australian Institute for Progress: 33 pp.,, p. 22. Accessed 20 March 2016.

[xix] 2014 Scanlon Local Area Survey, p. 4.

[xx] Sheridan, G. (2011). How I lost faith in multiculturalism. The Australian. Sydney, News Limited.

[xxi] Anthony Klan, “Ethnic push to boost race hate laws”, The Australian, 2 Oct. 2015, p. 2., accessed 24 Feb. 2016.

[xxii] O’Sullivan, J. (2012). “The burden of durable asset acquisition in growing populations.” Economic Affairs(February): 31-37.

O’Sullivan, J. (2015). Submission to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into migrant intake into Australia. Brisbane,

[xxiii] Discussion paper: Australian citizenship – Your right, your responsibility.

[xxiv] 2014 Scanlon Local Area Survey, op cit., p. 4.

[xxv] Volunteers decline for the first time: Australian Bureau of Statistics”, SMH 3 July 2015.–australian-bureau-of-statistics-20150703-gi47cw.html

[xxvi] Salter, F. K. (2015). Towards a Ministry of Emigration – Australian citizenship and domestic terrorism. Submission to government inquiry into Citizenship Policy, conducted by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Canberra,

[xxvii] Khalid Koser (2015). “Australia and the 1951 Refugee Convention” Lowy Institute for International Policy. 30 April., accessed 20 March 2016.

[xxviii] Jared Owens, “Public input invited on refugee intake size”, The Australian, 18 Feb. 2016, p. 5.

[xxix] Owens, op cit.

[xxx], accessed 19 Feb. 2016.

The 2015 submission:

One-sided advocacy is also evident in its 2001 submission: file:///C:/Users/Frank/Desktop/http—, accessed 19 Feb. 2016.

[xxxi], accessed 19 Feb. 2016.

[xxxii], accessed 19 Feb. 2016.

Refugee Council of Australia Financial Statements for year ended June 2015:, accessed 19 Feb. 2016.

[xxxiii] Refugee Council of Australia Annual Report 1014/15, pp. 13-14., accessed 19 Feb. 2016.

[xxxiv] The count is based on organisations’ names.

[xxxv] Questions asked of the public by the government’s briefing paper.

  1. In your view, how many places should Australia attribute to the offshore component of its Humanitarian Programme?
  2. What do you think should be the proportion split between the Special Humanitarian Programme and Refugee categories in the offshore component of its Humanitarian Programme?
  3. To which regions (Africa, Asia or Middle East) do you think most places should be allocated?
  4. In your view, how important is the Woman at Risk programme?
  5. Should the available places under the Community Proposal Pilot be increased?
  6. Do you have other comments, particularly on the offshore component of the 2016-17 Programme?

[xxxvi] Reforming the 1951 Refugee Convention is proposed by Koser, op cit.

Hostile Western Elites: Captured?

Emeritus Professor of Law David Flint AM argues that the terrorist Man Haron Monis would not have been at liberty to commit murder in a Sydney cafe in December 2014 if the New South Wales legislative process had not been captured by political factions and left ideologues.[i] His contention that political and administrative elites have in a sense been captured by untoward forces or processes has merit and is an important observation, though his characterisation of those forces leaves room for further work.

Before describing Flint’s argument, it should be noted that he is a credible witness for reporting elite legislative processes. His career began when he was admitted as a lawyer in NSW and England. His lectures at universities generally combined legal and business matters. In 1977 he served a year as head of the Faculty of Business at the University of Technology, Sydney. From 1987 until 1997 he served as the University’s Dean of Law. He was appointed to various other high level functions, not surprising in light of his being named World Outstanding Legal Scholar by the World Jurists Association in 1991. He is widely published on legal, legislative and business subjects, including elites (The Twilight of the Elites, 2003).

The essentials of Flint’s argument begin with the reasonable assertion that once upon a time someone like Monis would not have been allowed into Australia, would not have been granted citizenship, and not have been allowed to live drone-like from the taxes of the Australian people. When this era of prudence ended is not stated but Flint implies that it was some decades ago because only hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of Australians remember it. And it could not have been recent decades because it was a time when “the nation’s political class was little different from the rank and file. We all shared the same Australian qualities of common sense, good judgment and basic decency.”

How could someone so criminal, so fanatical and so parasitic not only be granted citizenship but be released on bail while charged with serious offenses? “The answer lies in the capture of the nation’s and the state of NSW’s legislative process, administration and bench, and their consequent failure to fulfil the reasonable expectations of rank-and-file Australians.” (Emphasis added.)

Flint proposes two agencies that have effectively captured the political and administrative elites.

The first agency is the rise of political factions, that have robbed members of parliament of their freedom of judgment. They are compelled to vote as their factional bosses direct in order to secure a comfortable retirement. A problem here is that factionalism has been part and parcel of Australian politics for at least a century. Parties themselves are a type of faction that restrict the independence of members, and parties go back centuries. The faction concept might be more useful if broadened to include lobbies of one sort or another – business or religious for example – that capture elites using inducements, threats or persuasion.

The second reason Flint advances is more plausible, that ultra civil libertarian thinkers hold sway over changes to the legal process. This resulted in “radically utopian” changes to the bail act that resulted in the public being exposed to Monis.

David Flint has been critical of out-of-touch elites for some time, at least since he wrote The Twilight of the Elites in the first years of this century. This important topic points us towards the ideological, sociological and demographic dimensions of the corruption of elite leadership in Australia, going far enough back to account for Monis’s immigration in 1996.

To explain the political elites’ alienation from everyday Australians it is necessary to consider such sociological concepts as hegemony, in which power is exerted by indoctrinating people in empirical and moral doctrines. Related trends include the leftist dominance of the university system from the 1960s, resulting in the indoctrination of elites-in-training and the rise of utopian anti-Western ideological movements in the professional class, especially in academe, the media and entertainment. Elite alienation might also result from extreme levels of economic inequality now being seen in English-speaking societies, itself exacerbated by rising ethnic diversity, a solvent of social cohesion and trust.

In previous articles and posts I described hostile attitudes towards the Australian people on the part of political and media elites. Would Flint describe these people as captives or captors? What distinguishes the two categories? To make that distinction will require identifying the source of actors’ motivations, whether they are endogenous in characteristics such as personality and identity or are reactions to external manipulation.

The research literature on cultural warfare examines these questions indirectly. For example Eric Kaufmann’s monograph, The Rise and Fall of Anglo America (2004), examines how post-ethnic radical ideology (“cosmopolitanism”) originated and rose to capture elite universities in the U.S. by the 1950s or 1960s, initiating the top-down transformation that Flint describes and which is still unfolding in Australia and other Western societies. Kaufmann maintains that the leading motivation of those in the cosmopolitan vanguard was humanistic idealism, and that they won converts through force of analysis and moral passion. Once the movement gained momentum it began capturing institutions through educational indoctrination and intimidating critics, first university departments then whole disciplines and then government bureaucracies in a process foreseen by the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci. The latter stages of the process described by Kaufmann are not so different to Flint’s version of capture.

David Flint has put on the table the idea that (effective) elite hostility can be explained by their being captured in some way, either by political processes or ideologies. It remains to more fully describe this phenomenon.



[i] David Flint (2014). “Capture of legislative process, bench opened gates to Man Monis’s release”, The Australian, 19 December. (Abridged print version p. 24).


Hostile Western elites: Greg Sheridan

In trying to understand why Australia’s political leaders seem intent on ethnically transforming one of the world’s most stable, peaceful and prosperous nations I have suggested that this indicates hostility on the part of the country’s cultural elite.  This has been evident for decades in the media and universities.[i] To understand what has caused this animus it is necessary first to describe its expression.

A new example comes in The Weekend Australian (20-21 Sept. 2014, p. 20) from veteran journalist and commentator Greg Sheridan, who describes the “supplanting” of the historic Anglo-Australian nation by Asian immigration beginning about 40 years ago, in the late 1970s.  “[T]he racial and ethnic identity of Australia has been completely transformed”.  This is not something Sheridan regrets; he celebrates it.  The thing that swept away Anglo Australia was Asian immigration, Sheridan explains, and “[a]lmost nothing in Australian history has been as successful as Asian immigration”.  It seems Sheridan has no emotional connection to the old Australia, which still accounts for a majority of the population, the national culture, its political and judicial system, its core Christian heritage, science and technology and market economics. (Obviously Anglo Australia is very much alive, though wounded. Perhaps Sheridan is not describing but wishing.)

So indifferent is Sheridan towards the Australia of his birth and rearing that he adopts a clinical stance towards it.  He admits, without remorse, that Anglo Australia has undergone a “benign cultural genocide”. Anglo Australia “is gone forever”.  He even consents that “[i]t was not a bad race and it produced a good culture”.  It was an identity that animated Australia’s leaders, including John Curtin and Robert Menzies.  Sheridan remarks that Anglo Australia has been displaced by other ethnicities and cultures, and “I don’t feel at all unhappy about that because race and ethnicity are the least interesting or important things about a person.  It is the contents of their character that counts.” Incongruously, despite this cosmopolitan, Martin-Luther-King stance towards group identity, Sheridan explains that from his earliest journalism he advocated mass Asian immigration.  Could this be a Freudian slip? The cosmopolitan policy would be to remove ethnicity as a criterion for choosing immigrants, but Sheridan says he supported Asian immigration.  That reflects ethnic, not post-ethnic, motivation.

More seriously, “genocide” means deliberate human agency. Genocide is not just cultural or demographic change but destructive change imposed on a people or part of it on account of their identity.  The 1948 UN definition of genocide sets out five meanings, all of which begin with words implying deliberate human agency: killing, causing, deliberately inflicting, imposing, and forcibly transferring.  The UN considers attacks on a people’s culture to be evidence of intent “to destroy in whole or in part” and therefore a risk factor.  “The destruction of or attacks on cultural and religious property and symbols of the targeted group that may be designed to annihilate the historic presence of the group or groups”.[ii]

As a leading intellectual and a senior wordsmith by trade, Sheridan must know that genocide entails deliberateness.  Combined with his long-term support for specifically Asian immigration it is inescapable that Sheridan sees himself as an agent of the cultural destruction of the historic Australian nation.  Certainly he sees this type of genocide as benign but he does not offer a plausible explanation for how that adjective applies to the supplanting of a thriving nation that he admits was not bad and bore a good culture.  His remark that ethnic identity is of little value also needs to be examined.  Does he apply the same standard to all nations?

The context of these views also sheds light on Sheridan’s remorseless dissection of the rotting laboratory specimen he takes white Australia to be.  The above quotes are taken from an article by Sheridan criticising the proposal to recognise indigenous Australians in the Constitution.  His central argument is that doing so risks altering citizenship, the civic institution that has allowed the peaceful supplanting of Anglo Australia.  It would be the “height of folly” to trifle with such a successful institution by bringing ethnic identity into the Constitution.  In other words, nothing must stand in the way of multiculturalism and the replacement of white Australia that it entails, including recognition of Aboriginal Australians.

Remarkably Greg Sheridan is considered a conservative in Australian politics.  His anti-communism and support for the American alliance fit this description.  But his attitude towards Australia’s identity resembles Trotskyism.  This combination of moderation in most things except the survival of his nation challenges explanation.  Whatever his subjective outlook, he is objectively an Anglo-Celtic Australian by culture, homeland, race and religion.  He has a large stake in the continuity of that nation.  From an evolutionary perspective it is adaptive to defend one’s family and tribe and that is what people have done around the world, until the rise of far-left ideologies in the late nineteenth century. But Sheridan is meant to be a conservative. It would be fascinating and important to discover what motivates a moderate intellectual to promote the “benign cultural genocide” of his own people.

Understanding just a few such leading advocates of Australia’s ethnic transformation will help explain how a manifestly undemocratic and aggressive policy has been so successful.  To that end we need to understand how individuals such as Sheridan made their careers in the media, in his case with the Murdoch empire;  how it is that their colleagues tolerated or supported them;  their own ethnic attachments; the significant influences on their thinking; and the source of their extraordinary confidence despite evincing morally dubious beliefs.  Especially it is necessary to understand their ethnic motivations.  For casually accepting the cultural genocide of a nation, as Sheridan does, is not expected from a neutral cosmopolitan.  It is the sort of attitude one expects from someone with an ethnic axe to grind.

Sheridan is not alone in his view.  Elsewhere I recorded Malcolm Fraser’s damning remark that Anglo Saxon Australia “is dead”, and suggested that this indicates coldness if not hostility.  Fraser, one of the founders of Australian multiculturalism and replacement-level Asian immigration, has never been so insensitive as to describe assimilation of immigrant ethnic groups as constituting the death of their identities.

Disparaging pre-Second World War Australia as a “narrow, Anglo-Saxon society”[iii] and declaring “Anglo-Saxon Australia is dead”[iv] does not reflect empathy for Australia’s founding people and core national identity.  In his autobiography Fraser expressed suspicion about his fellow Australians when he insisted that they must not be consulted in setting immigration policy.  The same man who campaigned for majority rule in Rhodesia and South Africa thought that Australians did not qualify to make a democratic choice of their demographic future.  He thought it legitimate for governments to force immigration from anywhere against Australians’ will because, he argued, they would come to accept the decision sooner or later.[v]

From time to time other members of Australia’s hostile elite will be examined in Human Nature News.



[i] Salter, F. K. (2012). “The war against human nature III-1: Australia and the national question, part I: Race and the nation in the media.” Quadrant 56(10 (490)): 66-73.

Salter, F. K. (2012). “The war against human nature III-2: Australia and the national question, part II: Race and the nation in the universities.” Quadrant 56(11 (491)): 36-44.

[ii], accessed 23 September 2014.

[iii] Quoted in Maley, P. (2009). “Death of a leader of cultural revolution Jerzy Zubrzycki.” The Australian. Sydney, News Limited.,25197,25515026-12339,00.html

[iv] Quoted in Lopez, M. (2000). The origins of multiculturalism in Australian politics 1945-1975. Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, p. 440.

[v] Fraser, M. (2003). Common ground: Issues that should bind and not divide us. Camberwell, Victoria, Penguin, p. 250.


Genetic similarity of friends

New research finds that friends share about 1% of their genes, equivalent to the kinship between fourth cousins.[1]  The research has been widely reported, though its full significance for social dynamics has been missed by journalists.[2]  The lead author of the research paper, Nicholas Christakis of Yale University, stated: “One per cent may not sound much to the lay person but to geneticists it is a significant number. . . . Choosing friends wisely improves your chances of survival.”

If 1% is significant, the 6% genetic kinship that is typical among members of the same ethnic group is large.  That is the figure estimated by geneticist Henry Harpending in a recent paper,[3] discussed in a previous post. The researchers must know about ethnic kinship because they controlled for it in their study.  They did so by limiting the study to friends formed within the same ethnic group.  Only by doing so could they have detected the relatively slight similarity between friends, which otherwise would have been swamped by the much greater ethnic differences.

Christakis and Fowler conclude that the phenotypical similarity of friends, on which assortment is based, reflects genetic similarity.

The result is that friends form an intermediate pool of kinship concentration lying between the ethny and the clan. Within the clan the nuclear family is the most intense concentration of kinship , while geographical races and humanity as a whole are the least concentrated. In descending order of concentration, kinship runs thus: Nuclear family, extended family (clan), friends, ethny, race, humanity. The sizes of each of these run in the opposite direction. However, the aggregate kinship within each pool does not correspond in any simple way with concentration. For example, according to Christakis and Fowler’s new data, someone with five close friends has a store of only 5% of his or her genes in them,[4] while just one child carries 25% of a parent’s genome.[5] Also, an ethnic group can hold millions of copies of a member’s genome, though it is more difficult to invest in this large aggregate kinship.[6]

Sharing genes with friends must have paid off in greater fitness in the evolutionary past, the authors argue.  By the same reasoning helping fellow ethnics can also advance fitness in multi-ethnic societies.

These new data add to the growing evidence of the important of genetic kinship as a factor in social ties beyond the family, consistent with sociobiological theory.  The fact that people show persistent assortment along the lines of genetic similarity despite fulsome praise of diversity in schools and the media should strike a cautionary note.  The finding is consistent with evidence that diversity undermines social cohesion and increases conflict.[7]

A disappointing feature of the study is its failure to mention what was, to my knowledge, the first finding of genetic similarity among friends.  That was conducted by the late J. Philippe Rushton, the Canadian evolutionary psychologist and published in a paper titled “Genetic Similarity in Male Friends” in 1989.[8]  Rushton replicated this finding using different methods in 2005.[9]  These groundbreaking studies deserve to be acknowledged.

Frank Salter



[1] Christakis, N. A. and J. H. Fowler (2014). “Friendship and natural selection.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences file:///C:/Users/Frank/Documents/DataFilesHOME/2014conferences+papersHOME/Consultancy2014/HumanNatureNews140330/Posts-drafts1403/PNAS-2014-Christakis-1400825111.pdf.

[2] Hannah Devlin (2014). “Our friends are closer to us than we think”, The Australian, 16 July, p. 9. Reprinted from The Times of London.

[3] Salter, F. K. and H. Harpending (2013). “J. P. Rushton’s theory of ethnic nepotism.” Personality and Individual Differences 55: 256-260.

[4] 5 x 1%

[5] Both measures being made against the baseline of the parent’s ethnic population. For technical reasons parental kinship is 25%, half of the more intuitive measure of relatedness.

[6] Salter, F. K. (2007/2003). On genetic interests. Family, ethnicity, and humanity in an age of mass migration. New York, Transaction.

[7] Vanhanen, T. (2012). Ethnic conflicts: Their biological roots in ethnic nepotism. London, Ulster Institute for Social Research.

[8] Rushton, J. P. (1989). “Genetic similarity in male friends.” Ethology and Sociobiology 10: 361-73.

[9] Rushton, J. P. (2005). “Mate choice and friendship in twins: Evidence for genetic similarity.” Psychological Science 16(7): 555-59.


Strong Ethnic Kinship Confirmed

A recent analysis by American geneticist Henry Harpending has confirmed his earlier finding that the genetic similarity of members of ethnic groups is typically that of first cousins.[1] (Genetic similarity is known as “kinship” in genetics.)

The finding has profound implications for understanding ethnic and racial solidarity and conflict. These implications will be discussed in future posts in HNN. The present report summarises the findings and the methods used to derive them.

The first estimation based on Harpending’s genetic model was made in 2002 using old genetic assay data provided by Cavalli-Sforza and colleagues, in their landmark book The History and Geography of Human Genes, published in 1994.[2]

The new estimation is based on a much larger database recently collected by the Human Genome Project. The new data are also much more accurate. Cavalli-Sforza’s gene tests looked at fewer than 100 sites in the genome. With improvements in technology, the new methods look at up to a million sites spread throughout the genome.

The figures show ethnic kinship in a mixed population of French and Japanese. A fellow ethnic has a kinship of around 0.06, which is just below that of first cousins within an ethnic group (0.065). Kinship with members of the other ethnic group is negative, also at 0.06. 

This makes an ethnic group a very large genetic kin group, but only when it interacts with other ethnic groups. Ethnic kinship is zero within homogeneous societies.

In an ethnically mixed society of French and Japanese, an ethnic group numbering one million carries 120,000 copies of each member’s genome. By comparison, a family of three children carries 1.5 copies of each parent’s genome.[3] If children represent parents’ “reproductive interests” or “genetic interests”, ethnic groups represent a much greater interest for their members. Genetically speaking, our ethnic families are 5 or 6 orders of magnitude larger than our nuclear families.

The emotions that so often mark ethnic affairs begin to make sense, even though they evolved in small scale societies with smaller genetic aggregates. Genetic survival is at stake in the welfare of our ethnic groups as it is in the welfare of our children.

This might seem simple, as if ethnic identity can be reduced to counting genes. That is not how the human mind works, a distinction that I will discuss in future posts. Suffice it that descent is what defines and motivates kinship systems. Members of an ethnic group believe that they share common ancestors, as well as sharing culture. This perceived kinship, expressed in folkloric metaphors such as “shared blood”, explains why ethnic motivation can be so strong. Knowledge of genetics might in principle substitute for folklore but has not been necessary for thousands of years. By and large, beliefs about ancestry are accurate, so that folkloric beliefs about ethnicity generally correspond to genetic identity. This contradicts the sociological theory that ethnicity and race are socially constructed with no role for biology.

A fuller explanation of the original findings and their social and political implications can be found in my book On Genetic Interests.[4] I shall discuss ethnic kinship again in Human Nature News.

Frank Salter, 31st March 2014


[1] Salter, F. K. and H. Harpending (2012). “J. P. Rushton’s theory of ethnic nepotism.” Personality and Individual Differences

Harpending, H. (2002). “Kinship and population subdivision.” Population and Environment 24(2): 141-147.

[2] Cavalli-Sforza, L. L., P. Menozzi and A. Piazza (1994). The history and geography of human genes. Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press.

Salter, F. K. (2002). “Estimating ethnic genetic interests: Is it adaptive to resist replacement migration?” Population and Environment 24(2): 111-140.

[3] In an outbred population.

[4] Salter, F. K. (2007/2003). On genetic interests. Family, ethnicity, and humanity in an age of mass migration. New York, Transaction.