100 years Rise and Fall of White Australia (Part 1/6)

Uploaded by anzacseries on 01.09.2010

The Chinese dragon has been part of Bendigoís Easter Fair for more than a century.
The crowd at the festival mirrors todayís Australia the result
of a great re-making of the nation.
Since 1945, nearly 6 million people from more than 140 countries have settled here.
100 years ago the faces of Australia were very different.
Our federation leaders were united in a belief that Australia remain white.
"The doctrine of the equality of man was never intended to apply
to the equality of the Englishman and the Chinaman." Prime Minister Edmund Barton
Unity of race is an absolute essential to the unity of Australia. Attorney-General, Alfred Deakin
"Our chief plank, is of course, a White Australia. Thereís no compromise about that.
The industrious coloured brother has to go - and remain away! - Billy Hughes, Labor party.
These leaders reflected a new force in Australia - a strident nationalism based on a racial vision.
"All white men who come to these shores-
with a clean record- and who leave behind them the memory of
class distinctions and the religious differences of the old worldÖ
are AustraliansÖ No nigger, no Chinaman, no lascar, no Kanaka,
no purveyor of cheap, coloured labour is an Australian.íí
(The Bulletin, 2 July 1887).
The White Australia policy originated in the gold rushes of the 1850s.
The Chinese came in their thousands, there were race riots
and by the late nineteenth century the colonies had passed laws to stop coloured immigration.
The first task of the new nation would be to enshrine White Australia at its heart.
The white stands for fair white Australia, While we both sing the joyous refrain; Hurrah for the land of the fair and the free,
Always white may it ever remain.
When you listen to our leaders of 100 years ago - itís a real shock - the blatant racism.
But this racist attitude was the universal view at the time. The European powers ran much of Asia and Africa
in outright defiance of racial equality. Within Asian societies racial equality was not accepted.
There was a powerful logic in making White Australia the first major law of the new nation.
Whatís remarkable is that this policy lasted for 70 years. Even more remarkable is its surrender
to a dramatically different idea - a diverse and multicultural Australia.
On 7th August 1901, Prime Minister Barton, a political liberal, rose to speak in the grand chamber of Melbourneís
parliament house. In his hands was the Immigration Restriction Bill - the white Australia policy.
"I need make no apology for calling this one of the most important matters with regard to the future of AustraliaÖ"
The parliament was convinced that a coloured class would destroy the social and political values of Australiaís democracy.
Virtually every M.P. had his say. Bartonís close colleague, Alfred Deakin, soon to be Prime Minister, offered
the most powerful and enduring defence of White Australia
"The unity of Australia is nothing, if that does not imply a united race.
A united race not only means that its members can intermix, intermarry
and associate without degradation on either side,
but implies one inspired by the same ideas...
The policyís strongest backers were in the Labor Party.
Labor believed in equal rights and opposed cheap, coloured labour.
The caucus decided on 20 May 1901 that White Australia would be its number one policy.
It would be an article of faith until removed from the platform 64 years later.
"The objection I have to the mixing of these coloured people with the white people of Australia
- although I admit it is to a large extent tinged with considerations of an industrial nature
lies in the possibility and probability of racial contamination."
As a means of prohibiting coloured immigrants,
Barton proposed a 50 word dictation test. It was based on South Africaís Natal model.
In law, such a dictation test would not discriminate by race, place or origin.
But racial exclusion would be its intent and its result.
Barton: "I do not think that the doctrine of the equality of man was really
ever intended to include racial equality. There is no racial equality.
There is that basic inequality. These races are, in comparison with white racesÖ Unequal and inferior."
I am prepared to do all that is necessary to ensure that Australia
shall be free for all time from the contamination and the degrading influence of inferior races.
Parliament and the people were united on the principle of a white Australia.
But the politicians were divided over how to achieve it.
There was a battle over Bartonís dictation test. Many wanted an outright racial ban.
Those supporting the ban were led by the leader of the Labor party, Chris Watson.
Watson proposed a tougher amendment - a ban on all natives from Africa and Asia.
"Im convinced that the bill Will not achieve its objective;
It will be possible for a man to pass the examination and still
be one of the most objectionable immigrants imaginable...
with the oriental, as a rule, the more he is educated,
the worse man he is likely to be, from our point of view."
At Government House, Melbourne, Governor-General, Lord Hopetoun,
was keeping a watchful eye on the passage of the new bill. He cabled London
A foreign immigration bill has been introduced, the principal bar to entry
being a somewhat severe dictation test; I should be glad to know whether...
Royal assent should be reserved to a Bill of this kind?