In 1949, during the White Australia era, the Minister of Immigration tried to deport an Ambonese mother of eight children, although she was then married to a white Anglo-Australian who had fathered her latest child. That may be a depressing and dispiriting tale, but it is an indication of how far Australia has come, in the six decades I have lived in Australia, including working for nine years at the director level in the immigration ministry, on a wide range of migrant and refugee settlement policies. We are no longer a racist people although we are faced today with a handful of mullahs and professional ethnics who want perpetuation of ethno-tribal differences. We are gradually moving towards the goal that I worked for; one people out of ethnic diversity. This is the backdrop to the current controversy raging in Australia over a plan to send 800 illegal immigrants to Malaysia in exchange for 4,000 of theirs, most of them from Burma, who have beens stranded in the latter country. It is part of a largeer --- and currently deeply unpopular -- plan to rationalize illegal immigration across Southeast Asia.
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