The 'White Australia' policy describes Australia's approach to immigration from federation until the latter part of the 20th century, which favoured applicants from certain countries. The abolition of the policy took place over a period of 25 years. Following the election of a coalition of the Liberal and Country parties in 1949, Immigration Minister Harold Holt allowed 800 non-European refugees to remain in Australia and Japanese war brides to enter Australia. Over subsequent years Australian governments gradually dismantled the policy with the final vestiges being removed in 1973 by the new Labor government. The history
The origins of the 'White Australia' policy can be traced to the 1850s. White miners' resentment towards industrious Chinese diggers culminated in violence on the Buckland River in Victoria, and at Lambing Flat (now Young) in New South Wales. The governments of these two colonies introduced restrictions on Chinese immigration. Later, it was the turn of hard-working indentured labourers from the South Sea Islands of the Pacific (known as 'Kanakas') in northern Queensland. Factory workers in the south became vehemently opposed to all forms of immigration which might threaten their jobs; particularly by non-white people who they thought would accept a lower standard of living and work for lower wages. Some influential Queenslanders felt that the colony would be excluded from the forthcoming Federation if the 'Kanaka' trade did not cease. Leading NSW and Victorian politicians warned there would be no place for 'Asiatics' or 'coloureds' in the Australia of the future. In 1901, the new federal government passed an Act ending the employment of Pacific Islanders. The Immigration Restriction Act 1901 received royal assent on 23 December 1901. It was described as an Act 'to place certain restrictions on immigration and to provide for the removal from the Commonwealth of prohibited immigrants'. The Act prohibited from immigration those considered to be...
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