How Immigration Has Shaped The Australian Identity.

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The White Australia Policy

After Federation in 1901, the Immigration Restriction Act was introduced and was the second act of the newly formed Commonwealth Government. This act put in place the law that was the cornerstone of Australia's 'White Australia' policy. The Immigration Restriction Act was an integral part of a package of legislation passed by the new Federal Parliament, aimed at excluding all non-European migrants. It restricted people from a non-British background from entering Australia. The main aim of this act was to keep Australia as similar as possible to its original British culture. Australians believed that the white race was superior to that of other non-European cultures, however Japan saw themselves as superior in comparison with other Asian countries and was offended by the policy, which prevented them from immigrating to Australia. Therefore the system restricting immigration could not be overtly based on race as Britain and its ally, Japan, opposed this.

Instead, the basis was literacy, assessed by a Dictation Test.

The Immigration Restriction Act enabled the government to exclude any person who, when asked to do so by an officer, fails to write out at dictation and sign in the presence of the officer, a passage of 50 words in length in a European language directed by the officer. The Dictation Test could be administered to any immigrant during the first year of residence. It was initially proposed that the Test would be in English, but it was argued that this could discourage European migration and advantage Japanese people, and Americans of African descent. Instead, any 'European language' was specified. In 1905 this was changed to 'any prescribed language' to lessen offence to the Japanese. From 1932 the Test could be given during the first five years of residence, and any number of times.

The Dictation...