Herald Sun - Switched On - - Saturday -

HIS­TORY is a strange thing. Ask a bunch of peo­ple to re­call an event and you’ll get very dif­fer­ent ac­counts of it. I think peo­ple prob­a­bly re­call Aus­tralia’s past in vary­ing ways too. We like to think of our­selves as a mul­ti­cul­tural coun­try, but this doc­u­men­tary would sug­gest oth­er­wise.

It’s a warts-and-all look at our White Aus­tralia pol­icy. While the hor­rific plight of the Stolen Gen­er­a­tions has been thrust (quite rightly) onto the nation’s agenda, many would be sur­prised to find out just how wide­spread Aus­tralia’s plans for a white nation were.

I cer­tainly didn’t know that we didn’t al­low peo­ple of coloured skin onto our shores back in the day — and the day wasn’t that long ago. While we hap­pily threw open the doors to 1 mil­lion mi­grants in the ’ 50s, there was a very strict pol­icy en­sur­ing who was and wasn’t al­lowed in.

Half the mi­grants at that time were Bri­tish. But be­ing Bri­tish wasn’t enough, as one black Pom dis­cov­ered. While he was from the right coun­try, his skin colour ex­cluded him from mi­grat­ing here.

The White Aus­tralia pol­icy was widely pop­u­lar among our pop­u­la­tion back then.

There’s an old dear in her bowl­ing whites who says, ‘‘ Well I think that they should keep it white as much as pos­si­ble. I think that there’s no two ways about it, that we’d soon be out­num­bered here if we let Asi­at­ics in’’.

The fear of be­ing over­run was tan­gi­ble. But since the 1970s, there have been just 20,000 boat­peo­ple out of 3.5 mil­lion mi­grants.

Thank­fully now we are more ac­cept­ing of other na­tion­al­i­ties, though I think it’s fair to say that there’s still work to be done.

Aus­tralia has one of the high­est rates of in­ter-cul­tural mar­riages in the world and is now made up of peo­ple from 199 na­tions. I won­der which ones are left? Im­mi­gra­tion Nation: The Se­cret His­tory of Us SBS One, 8.30pm

S.S. Derna: Euro­pean mi­grants.

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