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White Australia, national identity and population change

Legacies of White Australia : race, culture and nation

Abstract: The colonies which federated to form the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901 had a combined population of 3.8 million and a determination to increase that population and keep it essentially British. Over the course of the twentieth century, Australia's population grew fivefold to 19.2 million. In the first half of the century it was overwhelmingly Anglo-Celtic. The remnant of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population which had occupied the country at the time the British arrived had already declined to less than three per cent of the total at the turn of the century and declined further to one per cent by 1950. Thereafter, a process of cosmopolitanisation gradually gathered pace, not by choice but by default. There were simply no longer enough potential migrants from Britain to meet the perceived need for population growth in a country newly reminded of its vulnerability by its Second World War experience. The third quarter of the century was therefore characterised by a broad 'Europeanisation of the population, resulting from substantial immigrant inflow from countries such as Italy, Greece, and other countries of southern and eastern Europe. The last quarter of the century was a period of more radical cosmopolitanisation, with an influx of migrants from Asian countries following the abolition of the White Australia policy in 1973. These changes in population composition resulted from changing political, economic and social realities, and a gradual modification of the accepted bases of national identity.

To cite this article: Jones, Gavin W. White Australia, national identity and population change [online]. In: Jayasuriya, Laksiri; Walker, David; Gothard, Jan. Legacies of White Australia race, culture and nation. Crawley, WA: University of Western Australia Press, 2003: 110-128. Availability: <http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=320739150873262;res=IELHSS> ISBN: 1876268964. [cited 28 Mar 17].

Personal Author: Jones, Gavin W; Source: In: Jayasuriya, Laksiri; Walker, David; Gothard, Jan. Legacies of White Australia race, culture and nation. Crawley, WA: University of Western Australia Press, 2003: 110-128. DOI: Document Type: Book Chapter ISBN: 1876268964 Subject: Nationalism; Population--Political aspects; Immigrants--Legal status, laws, etc.; White Australia policy;

Database: Humanities & Social Sciences Collection