An immigration policy that lasted well into the 1960's and 1970's in Australia. The gist of the whole deal was that Australia was a pre-dominately Anglo-Saxon nation, and an excess of foreigners would degrade it. This is a good example of how widespread racism was only a few decades ago. How quickly they forget.

The main target of the quota was Southern and Eastern European, as well as Jews and Asians. It placed a very strict quota on the number of entries into Australia, all different by race. The lowest quota was placed on Asians, followed by the Slavs and to a lesser degree the Jews.

When the law was first challenged in the early 1900's, the Prime Minister (I forgot his name) said: "Two Wongs don't make a Wright."* This statement was met with a standing ovation. Racist prick. After the toning down of this law (after World War II) it was quickly erased from memory. In came the flood of refugees and immigrants. It was only completely removed in the 1970's.

This demonstrates how countries that now consider themselves to be free and democratic forget their own past atrocities very quickly. Australia treated the Aborigines like a bunch of animals. America has slavery and Jim Crow laws. Think about that next time you bash China for human rights abuses. Thank you.

* Ed note (Feb '06): It has been noted that the actual quotation "Two Wongs don't make a white" is attributed to Arthur Caldwell, the Australian Minister for Immigration in 1947.

The White Australia policy is a sad thing in Australian history.

In the 1850's, Australian was in some measure, a gold rush nation, with major alluvial deposits in Victoria and Western Australia. During this period, there was a large amount of migration from overseas, including Chinese miners, following the same pattern as the California Gold Rush.

Chinese miners were known to be industrious. Often, although not owning a mining license themselves, the took the discarded tailings of other miners and sifted them for gold, and were often very successful, since Victorian methods of gold retreival were comparatively primitive.

After resulting violence at Buckland River in Victoria and other places, the government of the colonies of Victoria and New South Wales instituted restrictions on migration, particularly Chinese immigration.

It is known that several officials of the Qing dynasty of China made entreaties to the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States to reconsider their attitudes towards coolies and labourers, but this went unheeded.

The White Australia policy was associated with the Federalist sentiment that allowed the Commonwealth of Australia to be declared on the 1st of January, 1901. It should be noted that the Anti-Chinese League was quite prominent in the eastern States until long after the Second World War.

It was the belief that the cheap labour introduced by the Chinese and poor immigrants from Mediterranean nations undermined the standard of living, and the wage in Australia.

Added to this, was the tendency of employers early on to use ethnic Chinese and Italians, already impoverished by the formal and informal employment restrictions placed on them, as strike-breakers. Australia has a history of strong union membership, and the Chinese, although desparate, were despised for their part.

In 1901, the Immigration Restriction Act passed through the Federal houses of Parliament, and received Royal Assent on the 23rd of December. It was "to place certain restrictions on immigration and to provide for the removal from the Commonwealth of prohibited immigrants".

The practical means by which this was done, was through the administration of a dictation test, by which the Act prescribed that a migrant could be prohibited entry through the administration of a dictation test in a European language, later amended to a "prescribed" language.

There are recorded instances of Italian immigrants being given a test in Swahili, and Chinese immigrants given a test in Danish.

The Prime Minister in 1919, William Hughes, called it "the greatest thing we have achieved". During the second world war, PM John Curtin said: "this country shall remain for ever the home of the descendants of those people who came here in peace in order to establish in the South Seas an outpost of the British race".

After the war, Arthur Calwell, Immigration Minister (not Prime Minister), made the comment quoted above by DMan, and tried to deport all war refugees, including war brides, and aroused the first few anti-racist movements in Australia.

The dictation test was abolished in 1957, and the first non-Europeans given citizenship, and the White Australian Policy was completely removed in only 1973, after the Whitlam Government legislated that all migrants were to be considered, no matter their origin.

Policy of determining entry and settlement in Australia on the basis of race. As a country that was based on serving working class interests from its federation in 1901 the White Australia Policy was one unfortunate idea of the time, along with protectionism.

Until 1958 it was subtley applied by having immigration officers apply a diction test, where prospective migrants had to translate into English a passage of text in a European language selected at the discretion of the immigration officer. So Mr Smith got English while Mr Ahuja got Icelandic. The quote 'Two Wongs don't make a White' came from the Arthur Calwell, Immigration Minister in the late 1940s.

The policy ended either in 1973, although a limited number of non-Europeans managed to migrate because they were scholarship students, spouses or polyglots who fluked the diction test. There was no systematic policy to discriminate within racial types, such as jews or Slavs, just 'Europeans' and 'Non-Europeans'.

Since then Australia has taken in a large population of the world's migrants - including refugees. A backlash emerged in the mid-1990s with the advent of Pauline Hanson, but her support never got anywhere to the levels similar far-right parties in Europe routinely enjoy.

Given that Australia's neighbours have exclusionary immigration policies themselves, or have human rights abuses that cause people to migrate, Australians are pretty much satisfied about the moral integrity of their immigration laws (although many have reservations about the way they are enforced).

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