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Short History Of The White Australia Policy

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More than a quarter of Australians were born overseas and, in big cities, such as Sydney and Melbourne, multiculturalism is the new normal, with people from all over the world flocking to form a proverbial melting pot of people and cultures. All these paints a picture of an Australia that is racially tolerant and one that encourages diversity. However, this wasn’t always the case. That we should maintain it the way it is? As long as we possibly can, we ought to aim of having a homogeneous population.

For over 70 years in the 20th century, the White Australia Policy kept non-Europeans from immigrating to the country. So, what was the White Australia Policy, and how was it enforced? What led to its eventual abolition, and how does it impact today’s Australian society? The discovery of gold around Australia attracted many immigrants from around the world, and, over the next two decades, over 40,000 Chinese immigrants would come to Australia to partake in the gold rush. Competition on the goldfields contributed to multi-ethnic tensions which set in motion a growing resentment towards the Chinese settlers. The colony of Victoria eventually restricted Chinese immigration by imposing a tax on Chinese migrants and limiting the number of Chinese passengers arriving in Victoria. In addition, the growing number of Asian migrants who are willing to work for lower wages as well as having thousands of Pacific Islanders brought in to work in sugar cane plantations in Queensland meant that there is an increased competition for jobs.

This was seen as a threat to the working men paradise : the perception that Australia offered the means of a comfortable life to all. In 1901, the six self-governing British colonies united and formed the Commonwealth of Australia. One of the first bills introduced by the new federal parliament is the Immigration Restriction Act 1901. The act sought to exclude all non-Europeans from Australia, and it created the basis of the White Australia Policy. Tigers have been known to depopulate villages.

One was known to exist in this way for several years. This is an example of a passage used in a 50-word dictation test used for screening migrants. The dictation test appears simple enough, however, the officer can give another dictation test in any European language. And, it could be administered to one person for an infinite number of times. Eventually, the policy was changed so that any prescribed language could be used, and, after 1909, unsurprisingly, no one managed to pass the test.

In the wake of World War II, Australia’s vulnerability in defense and manpower became evident and the government started to encourage migrants from Britain in a bid to populate or perish. And without immigration, the future of the Australia we know will be both uneasy and brief. As a nation, we shall not survive. Government schemes provided an incentive to British immigrants by charging only ten pound sterling for the cost of travelling to Australia, along with the promise of good prospects for employment, housing, and lifestyle these migrants were collectively referred to as the ten pound poms. Come over to the sunny side now.

Australia: a great place for families. Over time, attitudes toward race and ethnicity slowly changed in Australia and around the world. Australia also realized that its relationship with Asian countries is becoming significant, strategically and economically. In 1947, non-Europeans were allowed the right to settle permanently in Australia. This began a series of immigration reforms over the next three decades which slowly dismantled the White Australia Policy.

Finally, in 1975, the use of racial criteria for official purposes became illegal. Today, even a populism and far-right politics is on the rise globally, It’s hard to imagine Australia ever going back to having policies based on race and ethnicity. But even if the White Australia Policy is long gone, there is still a lingering sentiment in the Australian public that at least some aspects of the policy would still be beneficial it kept today. Amidst all this, Australia has arguably come a long way to become one of the most diverse countries in the world. Whether it maintains this stance in the foreseeable future, only time will tell.


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