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Australia's Image in Asia

            In 1788, the first migrants arrived in Australia. The Europeans thought Australia was empty, but discovered that it was inhabited by Aboriginals. The British thought that the natives were uncivilised and colonised Australia under the term "Terra Nullias" meaning uninhabited land.
             Since Europe was mostly or all white, and Australia was governed by Britain, most of the migrants were white. The whites also had all the rights and controlled all forms of structure in the society, and to ensure that this continued the government established a "White Australia" policy. Only peoples from the British Isles were accepted as worthy migrants.
             During World War 11, Australia became very vulnerable with the threat of being attacked by Japan. We must "Populate or Perish" was the thought of the era, as the threat of invasion from the more populated areas of Asia seemed real to Australians of the time. To increase its population Australia increased its industrial development to attract people and a mass migration became the result. This time other Europeans such as the Dutch, Italians and Greeks were included, but no Asians.The unforgettable lines stated by an Immigration minister, "Two wongs do not make a white" say everything about the attitude of the government at the time. By the 1960's immigration and human rights reform groups were very active and a revolutionary change was taking place. At long last the indigenous people of Australia were recognised as citizens of the country that they had occupied for 40,000 years and finally both the major political parties in Australia abandoned the racist immigration policy.
             Thus by 1995, 38% of migrants arriving in Australia had been born in an Asian country, although this dropped from the peak of 51% in 1991. 15% were born in South East Asia including 5% from Vietnam. Australia has an incredible sense of space to people living in densely populated Asian cities.

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