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What was the White Australia Policy, and how does it still affect us now? - National Indigenous Television

Immediately following Federation in 1901, policies were designed to keep Australia white and British. Non-racial language was used to minimise international condemnation, but the xenophobic concern was plainly evident. Australia's first prime minister, Edmund Barton, explicitly stated his belief in white superiority:

   There is no racial equality. There is that basic inequality. These races are, in comparison with white races - I think no-one wants convincing of this fact - unequal and inferior.

The White Australia policy was in place for seven decades after 1901 and had a profound impact on the newly federated Commonwealth.

What happened?

The White Australia policy was not a single government directive but a series of acts with a common goal: to achieve and maintain a white, British national character. The Immigration Restriction Act, Pacific Island Labourers Act and the Post and Telegraph Act (all passed in 1901) formed the initial legislative foundation.

The Immigration Restriction Act in particular epitomises the spirit of the White Australia policy, and its hypocrisy. It never mentioned the words "white" or "race", but the parliamentary debates - and its application - make clear it was a tool of racial exclusion.

by Bernard on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 09:07:43 PM EST
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