'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Australia, Half A Century Ago...

Australia and some of its Immigration problems are in the news these days. This post consists mainly of two quotes on Australia's immigration policies from a long-gone era (one quote is brief, the other quite long; some editing has been done here and there but no new words have been inserted). The source is an extended (mostly pictorial) essay on Australia, written and published sometime in the mid 1960's. In my opinion, the quote says as much about the source as about Australia, the subject; and the source shall be revealed at the end.

1. Geographically a part of Asia, Australia is seemingly becoming more and more aware of the southward pressures of that continent's millions, influenced and goaded by an aggressive Communist China. New Zealand is slightly less vulnerable due to its being more isolated across the Tasman Sea.
Australians and New Zealanders, however, are made of stern stuff....

2.... In the external political sphere, Australians feel that their minute population is a constant provocation to overpopulated Asian nations to turn envious eyes upon this empty land. ... But those who speak against (immigration) are now in a minority, and since World War II, Australia has embarked on a policy of massive immigration under which more than two million people have entered the country in two decades, mainly from Europe...
There has arisen a very serious problem: should immigration be confined to Europeans or should Asians also at last be allowed in?

The 'White Australia Policy' is supported by most of the population and by two of teh country's three principal political parties, though everyone, in modern international climate that condemns racialism, wishes this policy were not called openly what in fact it is. At one time, to enforce it, an ingenious device was used. There was no overt questioning ofthe prospective immigrant as to race: he was merely asked to take, on arrival, a 'dictation test' in any European language selected by the examiner. Thus even if the hapless immigrant knew two or ten or even a hundred tongues, one that he did not know could always be chosed for the test. Since 1958, this pretense has been abandoned, and the permission to enter the country is accorded arbitrarily by the Minister for Immigration - who does not have to justify his decision. What this means in effect is that persons of European stock are allowed to settle and Afro-Asians are not.


What are the advantages of this situation? Firstly, of course, that Australia has a more or less homogeneous racial structure. Next - and this point is missed often by liberal critics of the Policy - the Australians are the only people of European origin, who, living in a torrid climate, have done most of their own manual work. The temptation, a century ago and later, to introduce cheap coolie labor on a vast scale must have been enormous.

A curious consequence of the Policy is that in Australia, thansk to the very fact that there is no color problem (unless we include that of the aborigines), racial relations with visiting men of color are harmonious. There is no hostility to an Afro-Asian because he is in no way felt to be a menace.

But what are the disadvantages?... the Policy irritates, Australia's Asian neighbors.... Of course, it may be that these Asian nations close their own frontiers to immigrants; it may be that they have not fully exploited, with their vaster populations, their own potential riches; it may be that Asians would not want to come in large numbers to Australia, even if they could. Nevertheless, the Policy is an obstacle to the extension of Australian trade and influence in Asia and Pacific.

The social disadvantages may be more subtle... On the one hand, Australia eagerly seeks skilled European immigrants, most of whom in conditions of increasing European prosperity, wish to remain at home. On the other hand, it absolutely bars Asians whose labor might be of great value. The feeling is thus growing - though it is still very much a minority feeling - that selected Asian immigrants should be admitted.

A further disadvantage of the Policy is that Australians, racially epaking, live in a sort of vacuum. ... By shutting the doors firmly to Asians, Australia have achieved social harmony at the expense of a deeper understanding of the racial problems that surround them in the world at large.

In the long run, any change of policy will doubtless be based on four key considerations: Woudl Asian immigration diminish living standards? Would it encourage economic development? Would it harm social integration? And would it endanger national security? If Asian immigration were controlled, the answer to teh first question would seem to be "No", to the second "Yes" and to the final two "Perhaps". This is a hard decision, on which it would be irresponsible for non-Australians to pass judgement, since they don not have to live out the consequences of making it.


The immigrants most liked by the Australians are those from northern Europe, Germans and Scandinavians; these people are felt to be energetic, reliable and loyal. Those from southern Europe - Italian, Spanish, Greek, and Yugoslav - are less accepted and admired. This is chiefly because, the northerners are assimilated more easily than the southerners, who are likely to live and work in their own exclusive areas... and fail to learn comprehensible English. Another objection is that the Roman Catholic minority is growing because of immigration. Australia is a predominantly Protestant country and there is some resentment.....


In both Australia and New Zealand, the early white immigrants encountered a native population. Following a period of harsh treatment in the 19th century, each Government has sought to deal fairly with its particular minority group. Australia has the more difficult problem to solve because teh aborigines are among the most primitive people on earth. In New Zealand, however the initially more advanced Maoris have adopted many Western ways and are assuming a major role in the national life.

The source: The volume on 'Australia and New Zealand' from the 'World Library' series published by LIFE. The primary audience for these volumes was American. Quote 1 was from the intro to the volume. In general, the LIFE series is a very interesting (and sometimes arresting) source of information on how the American Mid-Right perceived the rest of the world, during Cold War days.

And for a serious online discussion on what is now going on Down Under, here is a link:


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