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The Immigration

Australia's Dark Secret 1901-1979

The White Australia Policy

Introduced after 1901 (Federation)


The Immigration
1901 - 1945

Arthur Calwell
In the war years

Calwell when he was leading during 1940s

The advance of the Japanese in early 1942 and Australia's inability

to defend itself made it clear to the Curtin Government that
something would have to be done in the post war years to increase
the nation's population. 'Total War' and conscription put a huge
strain on our economy and further emphasized the need to
'populate or perish'.

Before the war concluded, the Department of Information, headed

by Arthur Calwell, began to develop a plan to populate Australia.
Policies which included encouragement of natural growth were


pursued by the government and in fact the birth rate had risen
significantly during the war. However, natural increase was never
likely to bring the sort of growth that was felt necessary to secure
the country against the possibility of invasion.

Large scale immigration seemed to be the best answer. By late

1944 the Australian government had begun negotiations with
Britain for assisted migration programs in the post war years. All
political parties in Australia supported the White Australia Policy and
looked only to Britain and north western European countries for
migrants in the belief that people from these countries would more
easily accept the Australian way of life. This was the government's
vision at the end of the war. John Curtin did not live to see the plan
put in place and he may well have been surprised by the eventual
large scale migration program after the war.

Robert Menzies


On the eve of the Senate campaign, the Vietnam War began to take
shape as the dominant issue in Australian politics. In August 1964
the Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which it was claimed that forces of the
Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) had fired on
American vessels in international waters, exposed the dilemma that
was to dog the Labor Party throughout the war: how to condemn
the United States' intervention without condemning Australia's ally,
the United States. Calwell personified Labor's dilemma and
expressed it memorably in an emotion-laden speech at a
parliamentary reception for President Lyndon Johnson in October
1966 in which he ended a philippic against the war by reciting the
final sentences of the Gettysburg