In 1901 the newly formed Australian Federal Parliament passed the Immigration Restriction Act. This act was used to stop ‘undesirable’ immigrants from entering Australia. Although this included people with criminal records and mental health problems it was principally applied to exclude non-Europeans. Immigration Officers were authorized to administer a dictation test in any European language they chose to prospective immigrants. Usually they were given in a language the non-European immigrant couldn’t understand. If they failed the test, prospective immigrants were not allowed to enter Australia. Needless to say most non-Europeans failed the test. Until it was abolished in 1958, the dictation test proved an effective tool for excluding non-white immigrants.
Another Bill that was passed in 1901 was the Pacific Island Labourers Bill which gave the government the power to deport the Pacific Island workers who had been recruited to work in the harsh conditions of the Queensland cane fields.
Both the Pacific Island Labourers Act and the Immigration Restriction Act were intended to keep Australia white and British. Together they formed part of the approach to immigration prevalent between 1901 and 1973 known as the White Australia Policy.
Immigration Restriction Act
Pacific Island Labourers Act
How would you have fared under the White Australia Policy? Play the Knocking on the door of white Australia game. Enter here ( click for White Australia Policy)