The Howard Government is dominated by: 15. Australia's values are based on the ... b. The Judaeo-Christian tradition c. Catholicism d. Secularism
(b) Control freaks
(d) All of the above
The correct answer, of course, is (d), judging by the Government's reaction to negative portrayals of its industrial relations policies on television this week, and by the news that its "citizenship test" will require aspiring citizens to affirm the notion that Australian values are based on the Judeo-Christian tradition.
As I noted briefly in an earlier post, the conservative side of politics has been screaming hysterically about "bias" at the ABC all week, in response to the station's screening of Bastard Boys, a dramatisation of the 1998 Australian waterfront dispute. Later, Howard chimed in, pronouncing the miniseries "One of the most lopsided pieces of political propaganda I've seen on the national broadcaster in years." What he wouldn't have seen coming was the scene in this week's episode of McLeod's Daughters, in which a character is fired and then immediately offered reinstatement on a workplace agreement with lower pay. This prompted several government ministers to condemn the show, claiming that the scenario would be illegal under the Industrial-Relations-Legislation-Formerly-Known-As-Workchoices laws, although the scene is apparently based on an actual event involving an employee at a BP service station in Adelaide. In any case, the Government is evidently coming to the realisation that Howard's battlers just aren't embracing the thought of signing away their hard-earned rights and entitlements in the workplace with the enthusiasm one might normally expect. (I know, we're all scratching our heads on that one, Johnny.)
But it is the knee-jerk nature of the Government's response to both programmes that is disturbing, and fits a pattern of control-freakery that has been a hallmark of Howard's tenure from its beginning, as books like the excellent Silencing Dissent clearly demonstrate.
What is even more disturbing is the new "citizenship test" and its flagrant flouting of the principle of the separation of church and state (very much an Aussie tradition, arguably) in the following question:
As EvilWombatQueen points out in her fisking of the citizenship test, there is a disconnect between this question and the previous one asking examinees to identify Australian values:
a. Teachings of the Koran
Now, remember that the previous question actually stated the main Australian values. Remember them boys and girls? Men and women are equal. 'A fair go'. Mateship. Now, which option listed above can genuinely say it believes all of those things? If you said d, Secularism, you are right! However, sadly, you are also wrong. According to the government the answer is b, the Judeo-Christian tradition.She's right: according to Kevin Andrews, immigrants must acknowledge that Australia's values--which include the equality of the sexes, fairness and mateship--are based on the Judeo-Christian tradition. Well let's explore this notion by looking at the track record of the Judeo-Christian tradition regarding just one of these values--that men and women are equal.
Yes, yes, I know. It's not like that anymore--Bill Heffernan's "barren" comments aside . That's not the point. If equality between the sexes is indeed an Australian value, it is not a product of the Judeo-Christian tradition--it is a significant departure from it. Every advance women have made towards being treated as equals has been resisted by defenders of the Judeo-Christian tradition--the same kind of people who today resist moves to grant gays and lesbians equality with heterosexuals under the law. It is logically contradictory, therefore, to hold that sexual equality is an Australian value and at the same time hold that Australian values are based on the Judeo-Christian tradition. Any citizenship test which requires aspiring citizens to believe these two impossible things before breakfast is not only privileging one religious tradition unconstitutionally: it is also perpetuating unreason.
UPDATE: See Ninglun and Legal Eagle for more commentary on the citizenship test.
15. Australia's values are based on the ...
b. The Judaeo-Christian tradition