The Dream of a White Workers’ Paradise

Cheerful director sitting at an office desk.

As explained in the previous chapter, Anglo-Australians overall were apprehensive towards non-European influences in their country. As a consequence, in 1901, when Australia won considerable independence from Britain, the new national government embarked on a course of enacting policies that severely restricted immigration to Australia of non-Anglos. Politicians from left to right on the political spectrum agreed; Australia, they all believed, must be guarded as a secure outpost for British culture and for the British race.

In keeping Australia British, the Australian government wanted to create a harmonious and modern workers’ paradise and protect it from potential threats. Already, by the year 1900, they had come further than most other countries in granting citizens individual rights, with women, for example, having the right to vote in many Australian states. Australia, at this time, thanks to its link to Britain, was also a technologically highly developed society, and Aussies were therefore wary of anything that could divert them from their prosperous and progressive path.

Fear of being overrun

The greatest worry the Australian people had, in terms of threats to their country, was being overrun by countries like China and Japan, whose combined populations were over a hundred times that of Australia. Military invasions and large-scale immigration alike, Aussies feared, could end their idyllic existence, and thus was motivation enough to close the doors for East Asians. Attracting poor or desperate people from dissimilar and much more populous Asian neighbors, evidently, felt threatening.