Sunday, September 20, 2009

The White Australian Policy

At one stage to immigrate into Australia you had to get through what was known as

The White Australian Policy

On 5 June 1901 the Immigration Restriction Bill was introduced. Thought to be the first step towards the 'White Australia Policy,' the most controversial part of the Bill was a dictation test which was aimed at keeping Australia a 'white-society.'
The language dictation test was based on the tactics of the Natal (South Africa) Immigration Restriction Act 1897. Rather than immigrants appearing to be prevented from entering the country on the grounds of race, the test used literacy to discriminate against non-Europeans. Legislation involving a similar test had already been introduced for the same purpose in Western Australia (1897), New South Wales (1898) and Tasmania (1899).

There were some politicians who objected to the policy. Their objections, however, were not on the basis that it was racist and discriminatory, but because it did not go far enough in ensuring the 'racial purity' of a white Australia.

Under pressure from its allies, the British Government attempted to curb Australia's Immigration Restriction Act. The Bill was ammended by allowing the 50-word dictation test to be in any European language (not just English).

The Act essentially prohibited anyone from entering the country if they were found to be mentally ill, carrying a contagious disease, likely to be unable to support themselves, contracted as a manual labourer, or to have a criminal record.
The Act also allowed immigration officers to test any migrants (but was aimed at those who were 'coloured') with a 50-word dictation test in any European language before they could enter the country. Statistics show that between 1902 and 1903, out of the 805 times the dictation test was conducted, only 46 people passed.

After pressure from a number of countries, particularly Britain and Japan, in 1905 the Act was changed it allowed the dictation test to be administered in any language.
This amendment did not improve the circumstances of the non-whites trying to enter the country because they still could be tested in a language which they most likely did not know.
If anything, the number of those who were allowed to enter the country decreased by 5 percent between 1904 and 1909, as only six people passed the test which was conducted 554 times.

Maltese applicants were given a test in Dutch. A political activist who spoke
several European languages eventually failed when he was tested in Gaelic. If
they complained that they didnt understand the language it was written in they
were still made to do it. As the law said they could be given the test in any

This technique continued to be used by Customs until the early 1960s

The second component of the 'White Australia Policy' was the Pacific Island Labourers Bill.
The Pacific Island Labourers Bill dealt with achieving the deportation of the group which was of major concern.
At the time that the Bill was introduced there were around 10 000 Pacific Islanders (also derogatorily known as Kanakas) living in Queensland and Northern New South Wales.
Mostly from Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, since 1863 they had migrated to Australia to work on the sugarcane plantations
Despite assisting the growth and prosperity of Queensland's rapidly expanding sugarcane industry Australia wanted them gone
The Act placed severe restrictions on Pacific Islanders. They were completely prohibited from entering Australia after 31 March 1904
The very few who were exempt from the Act were those Pacific Islanders who had come to Australia before 1 September 1879, to work as crewmembers on ships.

A number of the Pacific Islanders who had come to Australia quite some time before as youths and had worked hard to establish a life for themselves. Some were leasing farms, or even owned their own house or had children in Australia. Confused about why they should have to leave, a number sender petitions to the Governor of Queensland, the Prime Minister and even the King. In 1906, the Commonwealth government accepted recommendations from the Royal Commission to allow several exemptions from the Act. For many, though, it was not enough. The final deportation lasted from the end of 1906 until the middle of 1908. A total of 1654 Pacific Islanders were allowed to remain in Australia.

I remember being told about the test when i was younger and found it a little strange that people who wanted to migrate to Australia had to do these tests and also thought it was not very nice that people who came from Asian countries where given the test in another language which they couldnt understand.

From heresay the people where told that they had to do the test if they wanted to live in Australia and they should know how to answer the questions, being told "how much do you want to live in Australia then if you cant do the test"

I didnt know about The White Australian Policy till i got older, im gonna come across racist here as i can see why it was brought in as people fear what they dont know, and some of the problems that are happening in Australia are from people from other countries.

But then the other side, it would be like me closing my eyes and not appreciating the world for what it is and i wouldnt know about some of the different foods and sayings that i have learnt.

To me i think that everyone is the same, it is just that we look different as of the countries we come from.

Call me racist if you want, but i dont care as people who know me, know that i am not racist.