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White Australia Policy

             From the turn of the century there were various laws in Australia that aimed to keep people who were not from a white European background out of the country. The laws also restricted the lives of people who were not white and who were already living in Australia. At the time, many Australians believed that this white Australia' policy would be the only way to keep large parts of Australian society similar to Britain. However more and more Australians argued against this racist policy, especially in the years after World War Two. Other countries also criticised Australia's racism. Immigration restrictions were gradually eased as Australians began to be less fearful of people from a wide range of backgrounds. The final official barriers against immigrants on the basis of their race were removed in 1973 by which time the white Australia' policy had been formally dismantled. .
             The White Australia Policy was an immigration policy perused in Australia between 1901 and the late 1960's to exclude non-European migrants. In the 1850's large numbers of gold seekers came from South China, and their presence led to anti Chinese riots. Between 1864 and 1904 Kanakas (pacific islanders) were brought on to provide cheap labour, mainly on the Queensland cane fields. By the 1880's the trade unions were calling for a policy to protect the white working man' from the threat of Asian domination, and from the undermining of wage rates. Within the next ten years all states had legislated to ensure an exclusively white Australia. This policy was reinforced by the National Immigration Restriction Act of 1901, which from 1902-1958 aimed to exclude non-Europeans through the use of a dictation test in a prescribed' language specifically chosen to ensure failure.
             During the years in which Australia was involved in the Second World War, many coloured refugees entered Australia. The majority of these refugees left voluntarily after the war had ended, but many had married Australians while staying here and wished to seek permanent residence in Australia.

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