White Australia Policy

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A restrictive immigration policy pursued in Australia. In the mid‐19th century there was a shortage of labour and squatters brought in Chinese and Kanakas (Pacific Islanders) as labour. By the 1880s developing trade unions were calling for a policy to protect the “White working man”. By 1890 all states had legislation to preserve the purity of White Australia, Alfred Deakin being one of its strongest advocates. The new Commonwealth government legislated to exclude non‐Europeans (Immigration Restriction Act, 1901). The main device used was to be a dictation test in any European language (any “prescribed” language from 1905), the language being chosen to ensure failure. This policy of exclusion continued until the 1950s. The Labor administration of Gough Whitlam repudiated the policy in the early 1970s. Since then, immigration from south‐east Asia has grown considerably.

Subjects: World History.

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