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Australian Immigration Policies - Essay Example

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Australian Immigration Policies

Indeed, it would not be an exaggeration to claim that most immigration policies, both past and present, are socially engineered. With that in mind, this research will engage in a historical overview of Australia's immigration policy, for the purposes of establishing that it was socially engineered.
Australia's earliest immigration policies were inspired by the need for labour and, to this extent, were seemingly economically engineered. As Aboriginals were not a significant source of labor for colonial Australia, labor had to be brought in from overseas, initially from Britain.1 The original means of Australian settlement and development was "transportation," the shipment of convicts to Australia that began in 1788. The use of 'transportation' served a two-fold purpose: a labor force, as available for the settlement of the new colony, and it provided an outlet for Britain's convict population. The United States' Declaration of Independence effectively eliminated the American colonies as a destination for convicts, as had been the earlier practice.2 The cessation of 'transportation' of convict labor to Australia in the mid-nineteenth century provoked a shortage of workers in the pastoral industry and raised the idea of replacing convicts with indentured workers or "coolies."3 It need be noted here that even though the described policy was largely informed by economic imperatives, it was, arguably, socially engineered on both the British and the Australuan sides. On the British side it was socially engineered in the sense that Britain dictated that policy in an effort to cleanse its own society from criminal elements. On the Australian side, it was partially socially engineered to the extent that the earlier waves of settlements were white Anglo-Saxons and other races were hardly welcomed as citizens, or settlers.
In further confirmation of the fact that economic imperatives did not distract the Australian public or its policy makers from the social aspect and societal consequences of immigration, reactions to blackbirding are quite informative. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, there was a practice of enslaving, often by kidnapping, natives of Fiji, Samoa, and the South Pacific islands to work on the cotton and sugar plantations of Queensland. This practice of kidnapping and enforced enslavement, blackbirding, sheds light on the confluence of economic, racial, and political motivations in early Australia. Despite government efforts to control and eliminate the practice, it flourished. The reasons why it flourished were that the practice satisfied an economic motive.4 At the same time, it is important to note that there was a public outcry against it, not because of its illegality or blatant disregard for the humanity of others but because the popular and official perception was that blackbirding, which effectively introduced Kanakas into Australian society, threatened its Anglo-Saxon and racial composition.5 Therefore, even when economic imperatives dictated a specific type of forced immigration, social concerns protested the said policies and led to their elimination.
As indicated in the preceding and as confirmed by Elazar and Medding,6 the Australian tendency towards the adoption of socially engineer ...Show more


There is little, if any doubt, that Australia's immigration policy was a socially engineered one. In order to better understand the implications of this claim, it is firstly important to define socially engineered policies as public policies which are designed to satisfy a specific societal purpose or lead to well-defined social outcomes…
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Australian Immigration Policies essay example
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