Mongrel Nation

The life and times of Australian multiculturalism

Sunday 14 July 2013 5:32PM

The word ‘multicultural’ entered the national vocabulary in August 1973, via the Immigration Minister Al Grassby.

It signalled a shift away from the White Australia and assimilationist policies of the post-war period of mass immigration. Back then migrants were expected to discard their cultural baggage. Now, diversity was something to be celebrated in the extended family of the nation.

Nevertheless, multiculturalism has been the subject of intense debate in Australia ever since the 1970s. Each new wave of migrants—whether from Asia, Africa or the Middle East—has been thought of as too ‘different’ to fit in.

So what would Australia be like in the 21st century if the ideal of a multicultural nation had not been enacted? Has multiculturalism made us a better country—or brought out the worst in us?



David Malouf
Gwenda Tavan
Historian, La Trobe University
George Megalogenis
Journalist, political commentator and author
Malcolm Fraser
Former Prime Minister of Australia
Peter Shergold
Former head of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, former Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, former CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission
Benjamin Herscovitch
Policy analyst, Centre for Independent Studies
Rebecca Huntley
Social researcher, director of the Ipsos Mackay Report


Tim Soutphommasane
Amanda Smith

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