Modern History Australian Identity

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Although aspects of a distinct Australian identity had been forming, by federation in 1901, it had not yet fully emerged. There were many reasons for this, mainly because of the ‘crimson thread of kinship’ with Britain.

One thing that was shared by all colonies was the idea of a ‘white’ Australia. A great percentage of the population were of Caucasian decent, and Australia had been a British Dominion. Many politicians believed that the Anglo-Saxon race was superior. They were afraid that cheap Asian labourers would destroy good working conditions and destroy racial impurity. William Lane was extremely blunt on his very of intermarriage; he would rather see his daughter ‘dead in her coffin than kissing one of them’. The idealism of the superior Caucasian race was demonstrated by the texts that were printed such as ‘the facial angle is greater in this race than in any other…brain is usually heavier and of grater size’. (Outlines of Geography, 1878) This common idea increased a sense of unity.

Australian’s wanted to improve the working conditions/wages from that which they had had in Britain; the aim was to create a ‘working man’s paradise’. However, it was not a ‘working man’s paradise’ for all, only for the white race. They did not want coloured races around who would work for low wages and take their employment opportunities and the gains made through workers unions, which had been, established beginning from the 1880s. This aim displayed an Australian value of equality, working towards the establishment of an egalitarian society, where employers were not so dominant. Unionism continued to grow and appeared to be ‘a natural extension of political sentiments of mateship.’

However the prevention of coloured migrants was also a divisive factor in the feeling of nation unity/identity as Queensland had depended on paying low to no wages to coloured workers, Kanakas, which worked for their sugar industry. They thought deporting all the Kanakas suddenly would...
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