In order to understand the argument for positive discrimination, we need to analyse how it works, and one of the countries that has used it effectively to redress their racial power imbalance is America
Positive discrimination played a large part in the modern day development of America.
America had a highly educated and a disproportionately unrepresented population of black people still feeling the residual effects of slavery, despite the rise of the civil rights movement in the 60s.
All those in power were white.
All those who represented the black communities in government were white.
All those who were supporting the black communities were white.
All those servicing the black communities were white.
Black people had no representation, and no influence.
Positive discrimination was considered to be one of the better solutions to resolve this imbalance.
Positive discrimination was aimed at management positions and positions of influence. In this sense, it meant that if two candidates applied for a job, both with equal qualification, both with equal potential and ability to do the job, then the job should be awarded to the black candidate if there was a white majority at that level in the organisation.
The result was that black people were shoehorned into positions of authority and influence, forcing the institutions to tolerate, work with, and finally accept the black powerbrokers into mainstream politics at all levels.
The programme was not without difficulty as it challenged traditional methods of employment and threatened the white powerbase.
It also meant that, if not correctly applied, black candidates were been selected into positions for which they were not qualified. This then undermined the programme as replacing talent for colour.
The black community became disillusioned with the programme because they wanted to be treated as equals and not as a special case. They wanted to be able to look their colleagues in the eyes and say that they got to their position on merit and not on favour, or worse still, charity.
However for all its failings, and for all its critics, it worked to begin to redress the balance of power. It allowed your children to have strong black role models in positions of power.
Before that point children could only aspire to be church ministers, pop stars and sports people if they wished to be in positions of influence.
The singing and dancing days are not over in the US, but they are now balanced by influential politicians, civil rights workers, poets, civic leaders, academics…oh yes, and a President.
So what can Australia learn from this example?
Australia is a black country, although you would not think it to look around.
It was originally populated by a black indigenous people who have been unceremoniously swept aside. Relegated to infertile lands they have been overlooked by mainstream Australia, and actively oppressed by governments on both sides of the house.
The indigenous people of Australia have no effective representation that is taken seriously in Canberra, or any settler-dominated city.
Indigenous people have plenty in their communities who aim to do well for their people, however the cries and needs of their communities are falling upon the ears of a white government, representing a predominately white settler nation.
Testament to this is the fact that it was only in 2010 that Australia got its first indigenous representative in parliament*.
This balance needs to be redressed in Australia.
The black communities need more voices in positions of real power, to represent their interests at all levels of our communities.
As the black population of Australia rises, more black representation is required. This is no longer just an indigenous problem, this is a problem for all black communities.
Who are the black people that represent our communities?
Who are the black faces that children will look towards for inspiration, mentorship and leadership?
Who are our black power brokers?
The Black Caucus believes in equal opportunity, and we believe in getting ahead on proven ability and merit.
However it is difficult to rise up and be treated equally when white settlers have their foot on your neck.
White Australia has to be placed in a position where they can learn that talent, representation and power does not just come in shades of white.
White Australia needs to be actively encouraged to recognise the abilities of everyone in Australia.
The time has come for Australia to redress the power imbalance. All communities need equal representation, and the talking heads on our televisions should not just be white.
Positive discrimination is a proven method of redressing the balance of representation though out all walks of Australian life, from law enforcement to council representatives from local politics to CEOs, and from the media to international politics.
Australia can learn from the mistakes of this programme in the US and not fall into the technical compliance of South Africa.
Positive discrimination when, implemented correctly, will make Australia a stronger and more inclusive nation.
It will provide opportunities for the disenfranchised and role models for the youth. It will give people a sense of pride, not only in their community, but in a country that supports their community.
Once the balance has been redressed, once white Australia has been re-educated, and once all non white communities are proportionately represented in all walks of life, the programme should be removed.
In an ideal Australia, positions should be achieved on merit regardless of skin colour. This is not an ideal Australia, but with the right programmes and commitments, we can achieve all great things, and create a stronger, united Australia.