When Il Globo was launched on the anniversary of [Italian] Victory Day on November 4, 1959, as a weekly newspaper, it met a demand from so many people who had immigrated to Australia from Italy, particularly in the aftermath of World War II.
Italians, of course, had come to Australia for a century before, particularly to the goldfields in the 1850s, but also to the canefields and fishing communities in the 1890s.
The drive to increase the population in the 1920s and 30s, and the restrictions on entry to the United States generated a large increase between the wars.
I recall Sir James Gobbo, with whom I worked for two years, telling of how his parents immigrated to Australia, only to return to Italy, and then emigrate again a few years later.
It was however that great, orderly post-war immigration program that increased the numbers substantially and saw Ubaldo Larobina and Tarcisio Valmorbida first publish Il Globo in 1959.
From the outset, Il Globo proclaimed itself as the Ponte Ideale - the ideal bridge "that will link the migrant to Italy on the one hand, and to Australia on the other."
It went on to assert: "One can [still] be an excellent Australian citizen and cultivate at the same time affectionate links with the land that gave us our parentage."
That sentiment reflects a view that is widely shared today. The great achievement in Australia has been to balance diversity and integration. Diversity is celebrated in Australia. But so too are the relationships and understandings that bind societies together.
Maintaining this balance is an ongoing contest. One challenge is for the media itself.
The advent of the 24 hour news cycle and the influence of social media in which people can publish emotive thought bubbles has infected the mainstream media.
The respected American author, Yuval Levin, observed recently: “By multiplying and fragmenting sources of information, the web and social media have turned the work of journalism into artifacts of self-expression for different groups, as people filter and select among news sources, then distribute the work of those they choose – or those chosen for them by algorithms meant to predict their preferences – among their virtual circles.”
Two consequences have arisen from this development.
First, assertions are often published as fact without checking the truthfulness of the matter. Let me illustrate.
This paper, along with others, published an article recently that I was the ‘puppet-master’ of a motion about homosexuality from a Party branch in my electorate.
The first I knew of the motion was when I read the media reports. None of the journalists who have written about it bothered to contact me to ascertain the truth.
Secondly, political moralizing has reached the point where various commentators signal their virtues to like-minded readers by attacking others for their alleged ‘sins’.
Hence, the same writer who described me as a ‘puppet-master’ also suggests that I am homophobic and racist.
Like many Australians, I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. But I also have gay members of extended family and amongst friends. I have employed gay people in my office. I also know gay people that believe marriage is between a man and a woman. Are they homophobic?
Equally, I share the view of many of my constituents, including migrants from Italy and elsewhere, that the current rate of immigration is disconnected from the ability of state governments to build infrastructure and is affecting housing prices and the amenity of our cities.
And I believe that people who migrate to Australia, regardless of their ethnicity, race or religion, should subscribe to our values.
The cheap resort to inaccurate and misleading labels such as ‘racist’ or ‘homophobic’ is one of the reasons that trust in the media has fallen significantly.
For 60 years, Il Globo has sought to fulfil the ideal of a bridge between people, much of it under the editorship of Nino Randazzo.
It has played a significant part in the story of this nation because of the trust that its readers have placed in it.
Il Globo, and La Fiamma, and more recently Rete Italia have been more than a source of Italian news in Australia. They have reflected the social history of the Italian community.
This has served to encourage the culture, highlight the contributions, and affirm the significance of the Italian presence here.
By helping to balance diversity and integration, and resisting the modern trend to sensationalism and wild accusations, Il Globo will remain a vital and respected source of news and discussion for decades to come.