The White Australia Policy describes Australia's previous approach to immigration which favoured applicants from certain countries. The first Act of Parliament passed after Federation was the Immigration Restriction Act (1901), better known as the “White Australia Policy”. The intention was to promote a homogenous population similar to that in Britain. Under “White Australia” only Europeans, and then mainly northern Europeans, could immigrate to Australia. The main method prescribed by the legislation for the administration of the White Australia Policy was a dictation test of fifty words in length. The test was carried out by Australian Customs officers and could be conducted in any European language nominated by the Officer. If a person failed the test, they were refused entry into Australia or, if they were already here, imprisoned for 6 months and generally ordered to leave. The Dictation Test was administered 805 times in 1902–03 with 46 people passing and 554 times in 1904–09 with only six people successful. After 1909 no person passed the Dictation Test. The abolition of the White Australia policy took place over a period of 25 years, with the final vestiges being removed in 1973 by the Whitlam Labor Government. What makes it hot?
The White Australia Policy discriminated against people according to their skin colour and was based on the assumption that someone with a “white” skin was superior to a person with a different skin colour. This implied that the customs, values and beliefs of people with a “white” skin colour were also superior. The policy is an example of overt discrimination, racism and xenophobia.
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