You WILL be Multicultural

THE Australian Defence Force will target Arabs, Africans, Asians and other ethnic recruits in an ambitious attempt to overturn a century of Anglo-Celtic domination in the ranks. Strange that – A century of Anglo-Celtic domination in the ranks of a Anglo-Celtic nation. Are the ADF just fishing in new waters or should we believe Cameron Stewart’s interpretation that they are hell bent on turning themselves into a multicultural force at the behest of our current political masters. Surely, the former.
The far-reaching new strategy has the potential to reshape the face of the nation’s military, which has lagged embarrassingly behind the rest of the country in reflecting ethnic diversity.
Why is this defined as embarrassing to the military? Why wouldn’t Australian born men or women be more inclined to be patriotic and believe that defending Australia is important. Their fathers and grandfathers defended the country; they are a part of the traditions and history of the military. A family from overseas, whether from the Middle East or Asia have none of this background. They show signs of coming here as a result of a ‘best place for social security’ search and let’s face it, until they prove else wise I wouldn’t trust them with a weapon. Some of them support the terrorists with certain groups even advocating Sharia law be introduced. I’m sure they’re not interesting in defending the life we lead here in Australia. Give them a generation or two and things might change but in the meantime I don’t think enlisting is high on their ‘To do list’.
If successful, it will pose a direct challenge to the flame-keepers of the Anzac legend, who have traditionally portrayed the Aussie Digger almost exclusively as a white, male Anglo-Saxon.
Only because it’s true. I get the feeling Cameron Stewart has a problem with Anglo-Celtic males. He’s the guy regularly rattling on about how terrible ‘Men only’ clubs are and now he’s embarrassed by the fact that the ADF is manned by native born Australians.


  • Kev

    Interesting post. I don’t it needs fixing because I don’t think it’s broke – unless things have changed a lot in the last 40 years. Maybe conscription had a leavening influence.

    This (Charles Price) –
    might shed some light on current actual ethnic origin, although it is based on older census data.

    One illuminating extract (he was writing about the population in general – not service personnel) –

    “Over the two centuries since 1788 there has been much ethnic intermixture. At present at least 60 per cent of the Australian people are ethnically mixed while about 20 per cent have at least four distinct ancestries. In fact, the fastest growing ethnic group is not the Chinese, Lebanese, Filipino or any other rapidly growing immigrant group, but the category of people who are of mixed ethnic origins. Those concentrating on separate ethnic affiliations in Australia should note and remember this carefully.”

    Australia, based on these figures, is already one of the most ethnically diverse populations around. This is one of the elements that makes us strong. I don’t think there’s any need for any form of affirmative action – the makeup of the military will always reflect our diverse ethnic origins.

    When I joined B company in 1969, my section commander was a West Indian, and we had a Scot, a Pom, a Sri Lankan and a Murri in the section. This is anecdotal – not statistical – but illustrates the point. Racial origin was irrelevant and I hope it always remains so.

  • F’n great.
    Affirmative action in the military.

    Don’t you have to be Australian to be in the military?
    It’s also a good idea to want to be in the service of your country.
    Not to put too fine a point on it, but don’t military members love their country and want to protect it and it’s values and it’s citizens?

    PC infects the military. It’s infected the police and look what that’s done to policing…

  • When I joined D Coy 3RAR (my first unit), my section included a Jugoslav, two Noongar guys, a Scott, a couple of Poms, an Italian and an alien from Geelong.

    Later in Townsville, when Bob Hawke decreed we couldn’t re-engage unless we were ‘neutralised’ around a third of the task force descended on the one man immigration office in town (staffed by an Indian), most where holders of British passports.

    It took two years for my certificate of citizenship to turn up.

    My unqualified observation of changes in the national origin of soldiers during my period of service was, as 17 has pointed, out a generational thing.

    Many new arrivals had emigrated from countries with conscription and where military service was often a brutal experience – poor pay and conditions and little social respect.

    It’s only after they have lived here for some time that they are able to see service in the Australian Army as a viable career free of the abuses visited by the often unpleasant regimes in their country of origin.

    When I ‘retired’ I was surrounded by diggers from Turkey, Greece and Vietnam – mostly second generation, whose families would have never considered military service when they first arrived in Australia.

    I wondered why there were so many Poms in the Australian Army until I spent time in England on exchange and observed how the British Army is integrated into every level of British society.

    Men and women in uniform (especially field dress) are to be seen on every street, in shops and pubs and on parade/guard outside public buildings and castles all over the place.

    I rented a car and drove through Somerset and Cornwall sampling cider from every thatched roof pub I passed (there are lots). During my appley sojourn I passed several long convoys along motorways and was surprised by a Challenger lurking in a village near Salisbury.

    Every town and village seemed to have a barracks of some form and several towns boasted ‘regiments’ named after their region.

    On my return to Australia I spent time working in Melbourne and found myself an object of curiosity when travelling on public transport in uniform.

    Most of the people I worked with changed into civilian clothes when travelling to and from work – it wasn’t required and I couldn’t be bothered.

    So to cut a rapidly lengthening story short, I came to the conclusion military service is seen in Britain as just another job because the general public see soldiers every day.

    In contrast in Australia soldiers are rarely seen in cities and towns, especially in field dress, and are often “out of site and out of mind”.

    So if Cameron Stewart – who I regard as a dickhead – wants to ‘colour’ up the Army maybe he should ask Faulkner to move the units in Darwin and Townsville to Richmond and Carlton and Parramatta and Penrith.

  • Spot on Peter

    Many new arrivals had emigrated from countries with conscription and where military service was often a brutal experience – poor pay and conditions and little social respect


    The visibility of the military in Britain (and, I suspect, in the US) vs here is also very relevant. In the post Vietnam years we were advised not to wear uniforms as there was a stink attached to the military when in fact the stink emanated from the society. I certainly think we should be more visible and if people like Stewart Cameron didn’t spend his days developing negative spin on matters military we might be positively visible and thus become a viable career option for young men.

  • 17 etc,

    Interesting and illuminating report. I’m fiercely Australian but have always acknowledged my Irish, Scot, German, French and American Indian (tut,tut Great Great Grandmother) ancestors.

    When I joined B company in 1969, my section commander was a West Indian, and we had a Scot, a Pom, a Sri Lankan and a Murri in the section. This is anecdotal – not statistical – but illustrates the point.

    All soldiers will have that experience. I think the whole matter is someone pushing Multiculturism who has no idea of the military (Combet?) and Cameron spinning it backwards to make us look bad.

    If the Generals are involved it will be ” Well yes, it is another market – let’s look at it”.

    Racial origin was irrelevant and I hope it always remains so.

    Totally agree and believe it will always be thus.

    Let the scruffs and uneducated of the country have their hold on racism and have it reported as such and leave the vast majority of this most ethnically diverse nation to go on getting on with others.

  • “Racial origin was irrelevant and I hope it always remains so.”

    I’ve always been proud of the way I saw Aboriginal and other ethnic minorities treated in the Australian Army.

    Again it’s just from personal experience but when I marched into my first unit and met two Noongar guys it was the first time I’d really had any kind of relationship with an Aboriginal. They were outstanding proud young men who set a high bar for the rest of us to match.

    They were treated in the same way as any other of the mixed mob we were and were part of every aspect of my life in windy Woodside.

    We became firm friends and I was very disappointed after a couple of years when they didn’t re-engage and returned to their communities near Port Headland.

    As the years passed I met many other Aboriginal and Islander soldiers who were also upright and confident young men. The guys in the Far North Queensland Regiment and Norforce were similarly impressive.

    The same can’t be said for the awful situation many of their peers were condemed to on poorly resourced missions scattered across northern Australia.

    Many of us shared the hurt felt by our Aboriginal comrades as they gazed in horror at the dissolute people we’d meet in places like Normanton and Burketown.

    I don’t believe I witnessed any hint of rascism either ‘affirmative’ or negative except for the hilarity occasioned by the strangled efforts of platoon sergeants and so on trying to pronounce the string of consonants that constitute surnames in Eastern Europe.

    For most their origin was rarely mentioned except to proclaim to which platoon they owed their allegiance and on the rare occasions when we met members of other units our tribe was 3RAR all the way.

    In my current world it’s quite different – one of the first questions asked on every Education Department form is “[D]o you consider your self of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent?”

    To me this is institutionalised rascism – nobody ever asked me if Private XXX or YYY was Aboriginal before issuing allowances or listing people for promotion courses – they were soldiers.

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