The white picket fence

Let us keep before us the noble ideal of a white Australia, a snow-white Australia if you will. Let us be pure and spotless.Reverend James Back Ronald, member of House of Representatives, 1901

In 1901 Australia was clear about what it wanted to be — and who it didn’t want to include.

One of the first legislative acts of the newly-formed nation restricted non-white immigration. The stage had already been set. Australian Aboriginal people were losing their land and their families. Chinese, Indian and Afghan people were lampooned in the press.

Ideas about racial superiority have influenced our policies and our demographics. These legacies have been difficult to leave behind.

The White Australia policy officially ended in 1973. In many ways Australia’s multicultural policies have become the envy of the world. But has Australia really escaped its racist past?

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