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Manning Index of South Australian History
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    South Australia - Immigration

  • Migrants
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  • White Australia Policy
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    "The Conditional Pardon Men" is in the Observer,
    13 September 1845, page 3,
    "The Great Anti-Transportation Meeting" in the Observer,
    6 September 1851 (supp.),
    "The Stain of Convictism" in the Register,
    24 December 1856, page 2d.

    "Transportation v Emigration" is in the Observer,
    15 May 1852, page 6a; also see
    22 and 29 May 1852, pages 3a and 3e,
    "Abolition of Transportation" on
    7 May 1853, page 6a,
    "Threatened Resumption of Transportation" on
    21 March 1857, page 6d,
    25 July 1857, page 6e,
    "Transportation to the Colonies on
    22 June 1861, page 5e.

    "Swan River Convicts" is in the Register,
    24 April 1856, page 2c,
    6 May 1856, page 3b,
    "Notions of a Swan River Settler" on
    30 May 1857, page 2c,
    31 July 1857, page 2e.

    "The Anti-Convict Bill" is in the Register,
    18 May 1857, page 2d.

    "Transportation" is in the Observer,
    28 February 1863, page 6c,
    4 and 18 April 1863, pages 6a and 6a,
    4 July 1863, page 6a,
    29 August 1863, page 6a,
    21 November 1863, page 6c.

    "The Transportation Commission" is in the Observer,
    26 September 1863, page 6b,
    "The Transportation Petition" on
    17 October 1863, page 6a; also see
    20 January 1864, page 1a-f (supp.),
    19 March 1864, page 6a-b,
    16 April 1864, page 6e.

    "Exclusion of Convicts" is in the Observer,
    16 July 1864, page 6a,
    8 October 1864, page 5d.

    "Anti-Transportation Movement" is in the Observer,
    27 August 1864, page 6b,
    "Transportation" on
    1 October 1864, page 6c,
    21 January 1865, page 5h,
    13 May 1865, page 2d (supp.),
    "Convicts' Prevention Bill" on
    19 November 1864, page 6b.

    "Pity the Poor Convicts" is in the Observer,
    24 June 1865, page 6a; also see
    3 March 1866, page 6d-e.

    "Relics of the Convict Days - Convict Prevention Amendment Act" is in the Register,
    8 January 1904, pages 4f-8b - includes a report on a court case and subsequent conviction of a "convict".

    Immigration - Choose again

    White Australia Policy

    Origins of the White Australia Policy

    Taken from Geoffrey H. Manning's A Colonial Experience

      Commerce and peace largely depend upon the reciprocity of common sense and generosity. When it is desired to unlock the markets of the world to a growing export trade, and to act on the defensive and give no powerful nation excuse to quarrel with us - that is not the time to tell our prospective customers that they are inferior to us, or to insult civilised peoples by rudely slamming the British door in their faces. Mr Barton's policy is short sighted.
      (Register, 14 August 1901, page 4.)

    No other article of faith is so generally and tenaciously held by Australians as the policy of 'White Australia'. It is accepted among all parties; it has, indeed, been promoted from a political aim to a national ideal. So firmly is the doctrine established that partisan appropriation and exploitation of it has ceased to be profitable and it is even feasible to discuss modifications of the policy in certain regions without arousing alarm, except among a few self-appointed and clamorous defenders of a faith universally professed.

    When a national conviction is in danger, passion and intolerance are enlisted in its defence. When it has become securely entrenched, a milder and more reasonable temper prevails in relation to it. Today, however, the community is realising that, at its best, it is a negative policy - that the mere barring of the gate against coloured races cannot be regarded as the last word in Australian relations with the surplus population of the outside world.

    The White Australia policy has experienced various vicissitudes. It was not always as popular as it is today. At the outset of colonisation, so far from the proximity of the continent to the millions of Asia being considered a detriment, or a reason for the proclamation of an exclusive policy, propiquinity to the east was regarded as 'one of its peculiar advantages' and the prospect of securing an abundance of cheap labour was quoted as an inducement for the foundation of the new settlement.

    The penal nature of the colony in New South Wales at first obviated the need for importing labour and, frequently, arriving contingents of white immigrants alleviated the troubles of the pastoralists and others. But, periodically, there was a labour famine and the importation and indenture of Indian and later Chinese coolies was resorted to.

    So, early as 1841 we find an immigration committee in Sydney reporting against the principle on the grounds that 'no system of coolie immigration could be established that would prevent numbers of Indians from remaining permanently in the colony' and Sir Richard Bourke, Governor, reported to Lord Glenelg that the introduction of coolie labourers would prove 'a sacrifice of permanent advantage to temporary expediency' - a penetrating observation which has remained true ever since.

    Lord Glenelg, a strong slavery abolitionist, pointed out that the formation of a class separated by race and habits from the rest of the labouring population was most undesirable and would check the emigration of British agricultural classes. Controversies over contract coloured labour, however, were soon silenced by a more disquieting development. At the beginning of the second half of the nineteenth century large numbers of Asiatics began to flow into the country and, as a consequence of this invasion, the White Australia policy was born. Anti-Chinese riots took place on the goldfields and Restriction Acts were passed in Victoria and New South Wales, but were evaded by a simple expedient - In the first six months of 1857 no fewer than 14,488 Chinese landed at Guichen Bay in South Australia and quietly made their way overland to the goldfields. South Australia was, therefore, induced to fall into legislative line.

    In 1876 Queensland set about the penalisation of Asiatics, but the various Colonial enactments were now causing the British government serious perturbation on account of complications with China. A constitutional crisis arose in Brisbane, owing to the Governor's reservation of the Bill and the Queensland premier sought the co-operation of the other colonies on the ground that 'our rights (of self-government) and our civilisation may be compromised and our social political system may be imperilled, if on any plea whatever a Chinese immigrant is forced upon us against our wishes and interests.'

    The long strike of seamen in 1878 against the proposal of the ASN Company to utilise Chinese labour on vessels trading on the Queensland coast - a strike that was widely supported - marked another stage in the anti-Asiatic agitation and had its effect on the Kanaka indenture system. In 1860 an international conference sought to bring about uniform restrictive legislation, but an important exception to the general policy was the indisposition of South Australia to apply its Act to the Northern Territory.

    The Legislative Council stubbornly refused to place the Territory on the same footing as the south. 'To pass the Bill', said Sir R.C. Baker, 'would be to put in the keystone of an arch of folly commemorative of our dealings with the Northern Territory.' This attitude was modified later by the menace of disease importation and by the fact that the Chinese showed little inclination to engage in tropical agriculture, but South Australians could still 'see no solution of the problem of the development the Australian tropics...'

    Not until federation did the various restrictive laws passed by the colonies develop into absolute exclusion on non-European immigrants, the widespread sentiment of the Australian community crystallising in the Commonwealth Restriction Act, with its drastic language test. It is curious to note the Japanese did not enter the immigration controversy until about 1895.

    It is curious, also, in view of the claim made frequently made on behalf of the Labor Party to authorship of the White Australia policy, to observe that that policy was in being long before the Labor Party was heard of and a glance at its development shows that such a statement is not in accordance with fact.

    Though the leaders of the people admitted the cogency of the industrial reason for the exclusion of Asiatics of the coolie classes, one and all, including the leaders of this party, believed that the higher social and political grounds for their policy were more conclusive than those of the Labor Party.

    Mr Y.S.W. Way Lee - A Chinaman's View

    Mr Lee is a native of Canton, China and, today, a well known merchant in Adelaide for over thirty years. His mother was a titled lady, while a grandfather was an Admiral in the Shen-si Province. He came to Australia in 1874 and lived for some months with Mr Way Kee, a prominent merchant in Sydney, following which he received two years education at a school in Brisbane.

    Subsequently, he settled in Adelaide where he carried on, successively, a prosperous business in Currie, Hindley and Rundle Streets. At one time he had a large government contract for supplies during the construction of the railway from Port Augusta to Hergott (Marree), and later his business comprised branches at Wentworth, Menindie, Wilcannia, Broken Hill, Beltana, Hawker and Quorn, besides other interests in South Australia and the Northern Territory. He claims that he and the late Mr Quong Tart of Sydney were the only two Chinese initiated into the Masonic craft in Australia.

    From the outset of his residence in Adelaide he has interested himself in the extension of education among the Chinese, the restriction of the importation and use of opium, the amelioration of the conditions of Chinese settlers and miners, the relaxation of harsh restrictions against Chinese moving from colony to colony, the abolition of the disabilities under which his countrymen groaned in the early days of the Western Australian goldfields and in the advocacy of drastic action to put down the smuggling of Chinese into Western Australia which, it was alleged, was accompanied by grave evils on the part of shipowners.

    In all these matters he has achieved much good on behalf of his countrymen and in times of stress - notably in the case of the last Chinese famine - gave of his time and money for the assistance of his brethren in his native land.

    In 1900 Mr Way Lee furnished an interesting statement on his views on the Chinese question:

      A few years ago over 20 of my fellow countrymen, residents of the Northern Territory, started with the intention of joining relatives who had monetary interests in the cultivation of plantations in Northern Queensland. On arriving at the border they were prohibited from crossing and forced to return.

      On another occasion about 30 Chinese, for the same purpose, crossed the border and were promptly arrested, taken to Townsville, and put into gaol for six months. On the expiration of their sentence they should have been permitted to remain, but the humane government chartered a steamer and returned the poor fellows to the Northern Territory.

      In November last year I waited on the Government of Queensland with a deputation from the Northern Territory and residents of Queensland to endeavour to improve the conditions of my countrymen, but all to no purpose. The supposed friend of the working man, the Labor member, blocked the way. New South Wales, it must be said, bears the palm amongst all the Australian colonies for its cruel treatment of Chinese and Japanese immigrants. At different times several Chinese men in business have crossed the border and on refusing to pay the 100 poll tax and 50 by way of penalty, have been arrested and subjected to two years imprisonment.

      Even before the detestable and inhuman poll tax was first enforced in NSW it is a fact that Chinamen had been refused permission to land and compelled to return to China. Under such conditions, having neither money nor friends, it is within my knowledge that some have been driven to destroy themselves.

      Victoria is not so harsh in its treatment of the eastern peoples, but one case can be mentioned. A Chinaman who had married a European wife paid a visit to his native country and on his return to Melbourne was not allowed to land, but was compelled to return to China and leave his poor wife on the wharf lamenting.

      In her treatment of the Chinese South Australia does not compare favourably with Victoria. The case of Mr John Egge may be given as an example. This gentleman had a steamer on the Murray and on one occasion was not allowed to land at Morgan without paying a poll tax of ten pounds. Seeing the unfairness of this a few Adelaide gentlemen subscribed the amount. Mr Egge would not accept their kindness, but paid the demand himself.

      With regards to Western Australia I have only a few remarks to make. I was there in 1897 and had not the slightest difficulty in landing, but that colony has since learned some lessons from South Australia, and the same restrictions as obtain here are now being placed on the movements of the Chinese.

      Until federation it is expected that an alteration will be arranged and I hope for the sake of all concerned that the arrangement will be more satisfactory. Great benefit might be derived from the cultivation in the more tropical parts of Australia as such products as rice, sugar and fruits that will grow only in warm and moist situations, and for the cultivation of which the labour of people accustomed to work under high temperatures will be needed.

      The time has surely come when the peoples and nations should make friends to one another...

    Mr Lee concluded with a comparison of the doctrines of Jesus Christ and Confucius:

      In comparing these two doctrines I wish to state that in the main they are very similar. Why? Because in two of the most important particulars their teachings are almost identical, as follows: Jesus persuaded men to worship God instead of graven images and to confess their sins before the Almighty. He also taught people to combat their evil thoughts and desires and to be in charity with all men.

      Confucius, when he conversed with human beings, endeavoured to get them to do the same thing. He advised people to purify themselves when the desired to worship the Most High and also taught them there is only one God whom people should worship and that life is 'omnipotent'. I find one point of great difference between the two doctrines.

      Confucius did not give any notice or description of the next world, nor did he enlighten us as to what becomes of a person after death, but he spoke very strongly on the necessity of living very carefully in this world. In view of the ignorant selfishness displayed by some of the missionaries in China, I must say they are quite helpless in trying to spread the gospel in the dark country. I can prove that in Australia many professing Christian Chinese are not so at heart, though I am glad to say some have done very good work indeed. They have translated very useful books into Chinese and have strengthened the minds of my countrymen.

      I would state that any nation wishing to spread Christ's gospel into my country must pay good attention to the inspection of their missionaries, not believing one side without hearing the other. Would the educated English people like an ignorant Chinaman to go to them and endeavour to convert them to his way of thinking?

      In conclusion, God created this world for us all and all should enjoy its benefits as brothers. The Lord's Prayer, as said so often and known by all, commencing 'Our Father', tells plainly what I mean; all men are brethren and as such should dwell side by side in peace.

    With federation upon us Mr Lee offered the following sage advice and opinions to his European brethren:

      No Chinaman has ever become very rich by growing vegetables, and he generally improves what he cultivates, and if he ever makes enough money to enable him to return to his native land he cannot take either the land or the improvements away with him.

      As a hawker of goods he is contented with very small earnings, and seldom does his behaviour make him an unwelcome visitor. As laundrymen and general servants my countrymen seldom, if ever, displace English workmen. As a rule the work done by the Chinese is work that no Englishman cares to have anything to do with.

      It is therefore difficult to understand why objections should be raised against his appearance in this great island, where so much work still requires to be done, and where his service might be turned to good account..

      Where no harm is being done why should we cherish race hatreds, which certainly do not tend to promote the best interests of the human family, or further the progress of that civilization that is the pride and boast of the descendants of the British nation?

      We have now a strong Federal government. I hope they will make just laws, so that (as our great teacher said of the well-managed country) those who live in it are made happy, and those who live elsewhere attracted to it. The Chinese have done no harm to Australia - not to the true working man or the revenue of Government.

    General Notes

    "What is a Coloured Immigrant?" is in the Observer,
    29 August 1896, page 41b,
    14 November 1896, page 44a; also see
    29 September 1900, page 27c,
    6 and 13 October 1900, pages 3d and 31c.

    "Australia for the Australians - The Colour Question" is in the Register,
    4, 6 and 16 November 1896, pages 7a, 4f and 3c.

    "White Australia" is in the Weekly Herald,
    8 October 1897, page 6a.

    "The Restriction of Coloured Immigration" is in the Register,
    19 July 1898, page 4e.

    A cartoon is in The Critic,
    16 March 1901, page 17,
    29 March 1902, page 26.

    "Messrs Parsons and Kingston" is in the Observer,
    6 and 13 October 1900, pages 3b and 31c

    "A White Australia" is discussed in the Advertiser,
    12 August 1901, page 4b,
    21 July 1904, pages 4d-7g,
    8 August 1904, page 9b.

    "Alien Immigration Hypocrisy" in the Federal arena is the subject of an editorial in the Register, 14 August 1901, page 4d:

      Commerce and peace largely depend upon the reciprocity of common sense and generosity. When it is desired to unlock the markets of the world to a growing export trade, and to act on the defensive and give no powerful nation excuse to quarrel with us - that is not the time to tell our prospective customers that they are inferior to us, or to insult civilised peoples by rudely slamming the British door in their faces. Mr Barton's policy is shortsighted...

    "Alien Immigration" is discussed in the Advertiser,
    13 September 1901, page 4b,
    "Trades Hall and White Australia" in the Register,
    20 August 1904, page 3i.

    "Alien Immigration" is in the Advertiser,
    13 September 1901, page 4b,
    "Trades Hall and White Australia" in the Register,
    20 August 1904, page 3i.

    "A White Australia - Is it Possible or Desirable?" is in the Register,
    30 January 1904, page 8g,
    6 and 9 February 1904, pages 6c and 7c.

    "A White Australia" is in the Observer,
    6 and 13 February 1904, pages 40a and 40a.

    "White Australia" is in the Register,
    30 July 1904, page 8g.

    "Evolving a White Australia" is in the Register,
    18 November 1904, page 4e,
    10 December 1904, page 8d.

    "The Price of a White Australia" is in the Register,
    10 December 1904, page 8d.

    Letters concerning immigration restriction are in the Advertiser,
    8 June 1905, page 11d,
    "White Australia" on
    26 October 1905, page 6c,
    12 October 1906, page 4c.

    "A Rational White Australia" is in the Observer,
    29 July 1905, page 43a.

    "How Eurasians are Treated" is in the Register,
    2 December 1905, page 6i.

    "A White Australia - A Visitor's View" is in the Register,
    18 March 1907, page 6d.

    "Chinese Witnesses [in a prohibited immigrant case]" is in the Register,
    31 August 1909, page 4f-9e.

    "Chinese Gardener - Not a Prohibited Immigrant" is in the Register,
    30 October 1912, page 6h.

    "Immigration Restriction Act - As Applied to Chinese" is in the Register,
    11 February 1913, pages 5g-6e.

    "Is a White Australia Possible?" is in the Advertiser,
    4 July 1913, page 8c,
    "A White Australia" on
    2 August 1922, page 12c.

    "The Crime of Colour" is in the Register,
    26 August 1913, page 6d.

    "White Australia" is in the Register,
    6 May 1920, page 3e.

    "White Australia Problems" is in the Register,
    20 January 1923, page 10g.

    "White Australia and the Empty North" is in the Observer,
    31 March 1923, page 14c,
    "White Australia - The Practical Issue" on
    19 January 1924, page 47a.

    "Chinese in Court" is in the Observer,
    14 June 1924, page 28d.

    "Origins of White Australia" is in the Register,
    21 December 1923, page 8d,
    "A White Australia" in the Advertiser,
    16 January 1924, page 8g,
    7 August 1924, page 8g,
    6 June 1925, page 15a; also see
    The News,
    15 and 17 June 1925, pages 6g and 6e.

    "Sullying White Australia" is in the Register,
    5 and 10 June 1925, pages 8d and 12e,
    "Our Colour Problem" on
    11 and 18 December 1926, pages 8g and 7a.

    "Alien Migration and a White Australia" is in the Advertiser,
    3 December 1928, page 12g.

    "Frenchman on White Australia" is in The Mail,
    5 April 1930, page 26c.

    Immigration - Choose again