The Australian for Wednesday 1st April 2015 carried almost no news or comment related to ethnic affairs in the main news section. However, a relevant opinion piece appeared in a separate “commentary” page in the business section.
Calum Wilson Austin. “Nazi play heads for Old Fitz.” Announcement. 24 col. cms. (or 0.33 per cent of the 18 page section). This was the first entry in the entertainment guide for the day, also edited by Austin. Red Line Productions announced that its next set of productions would include the one-man play I Am My Own Wife, based on the true story of a German transvestite, Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, who survived the Nazi and East German communist regimes. The play won the 2004 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize.
Page 29 (Business section)
Glenda Korporaal. “Shorten gets his poles and wires crossed in outlining Labor’s vision.” Opinion. 78 col. cms., including 2 small photos. Discusses federal Labor leader Bill Shorten’s statements in an interview while visiting China. Korporaal attempts to tie Shorten to the policy on foreign ownership advanced by Luke Foley, NSW state leader, during the previous week’s state election. Shorten refused to publicly disown Foley’s policy, saying that he could not give a “blank cheque to all foreign investment”. He also stated that China continued to hold Australia in high regard. Korporaal disagreed, asserting that Chinese who deal with Australia “will not forget”. But mainly her comment was an accusation of white bigotry directed at Foley and NSW Labor. Foley’s policy was a “disgraceful resort to xenophobia”. Labor’s policy stance was a “nasty anti-foreign investment campaign”. Labor “sought to stir up base populist risks if Chinese-owned firms bought into the assets”. Other “smears” used the name of Hong Kong businessman Li Kashing. The policy was “a new low”. Foley’s campaign raised fears specifically about Chinese investment. “When the chips were down, NSW Labor returned to the days of Arthur Caldwell and the White Australia policy”.
The attack on Foley seems overstated. The White Australia Policy concerned immigration, an area of policy Foley did not mention. The severity of the criticisms of Foley might have been moderated if critics had indicated what would constitute reasonable security concerns. If criteria are not stated, how can a policy be criticised for excessiveness? Defining reasonable security concerns would entail discussing the reality that China is a geopolitical competitor with Australia’s one important ally, the United States; that China is a communist dictatorship with a bloody history at odds with Western values; that China occupies and is suppressing non-Chinese nations in the Turkic west and Tibet. Without these factors being stated, we are left wondering whether the critics are wholly reasonable. If Chinese control of the electricity network presents no threat, what type of ownership would?