From White Australia to Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration

From White Australia to Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration

From White Australia to Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration

From White Australia to Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration

Synopsis

James Jupp, migration specialist, surveys changes in Australian immigration policy over the last thirty years since the significant shift away from the White Australia Policy. Jupp considers the history of Australian immigration in the twentieth century; the establishment of the "institutions" of multiculturalism and ethnicity and the waves of attacks on multiculturalism. He looks critically at the impact of economic rationalism on migration choices, environmental debates and immigration, and the impact of "One Nation." Most importantly he covers the controversial issue of refugees and asylum seekers comprehensively.

Excerpt

Thirty years ago Australia finally abandoned its 'settled policy' of excluding all immigrants who were not 'white'. Instead of being the 'most British' country in the world it began to proclaim itself as the 'most multicultural'. One-fifth of its people were no longer of predominantly British or Irish descent. This radical change appeared to have been accepted with very little opposition. Mass immigration continued. Between one-third and one-half came from backgrounds which would have excluded them during the previous seventy years. In March 2002 Australia officially welcomed the six millionth postwar immigrant – a Filipina information technologist.

At the same time Australia was responsible for detaining Afghan, Iraqi and Iranian asylum seekers at remote desert and Pacific Island camps: Woomera, Curtin, Port Hedland, Nauru and Manus Island. Their fates were uncertain. There were repeated riots and disturbances at Woomera and elsewhere. Policy made on the run in the election atmosphere of late 2001 had left many loose ends. Many hundreds of desperate individuals, including women and children, who sought to escape from states denounced by the United States as 'the axis of evil' had become pawns in a bureaucratic and political game. There was a basic contradiction between the continuing desire to people Australia and the fear that matters might get out of control.

I have assumed that immigration policy has three facets: selection and control of the intake; services and support for those who have settled; and policies designed to manage the consequences of creating a multicultural society through immigration. All of these at various times have been the responsibility of the Commonwealth . . .

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