II Australian Migration History
III Commonwealth Immigration Restriction Act
IV The postwar years
V Today’s Migration
V.I Australia’s Immigration System Humanitarian Program Migration Program Program Range
V.II Skilled Independent Regional (SIR) Visa
V.III Humanitarian program
List of Figures
Fig. 1 Population
Fig. 2 Top 10 countries of birth
Fig. 3 Migration to Australia
Fig. 4 Settler Arrivals by Region of Last Residence, 1947-2003
Fig. 5 Migration Program Settler Arrivals
Fig. 6 Overseas Students in Australian Universities
Fig. 7 Overseas Chinese Professionals (OCPs) by country of residence, 1978 – 2001
Fig. 8 Australia: Student Arrivals, 2002
Australia is an inclusive and tolerant society, a nation build up by multicultural people from different homelands and cultural backgrounds. It’s national identity is minted by this cultural diversity in all spheres of Australian life. Therefore Australia persues the policy of multiculturalism. Since World War II the former “white australia policy” has disintegrated more and more. So the ethnic-discriminating policy changed into the open minded policy today. “This policy evolved from profound changes to Australian society resulting from a major influx of migrants and has been maintained and furthered on a non-partisan basis by successive governments.” (DIMIA 2001: 1)
However even Australia perceives the pressure of Demographic changes. The change in the demographic structure because of declines in fertility rate requires an elementary Impact on Australia's economy.
Recent demographic changes have implications for many fields of economic life, including workforce structure, retirement incomes, health expenditures, and consumption of goods and services. (cp. PC-GOV 2004)
Like in other Western high-income countries, Australia tries to compensate for some of the problems caused by demographic change by concentrating on (highly-)skilled workers; the magic words are “brain-gain and brain-drain”.
Both terms apply to scientists, physicians, medical practitioners, engineers and other professionals from less-developed countries moving to work in high-income countries. The effects of gaining and draining have a positive impact on the affected countries of getting highly-skilled workers or losing the important brains, the “education-sector” invested time and money in.
This short report is a preliminary estimate of the Australian brain-gain and tries to give some of the main facts of this recent phenomenon.
II Australian Migration History
Australian life and development has ever been influenced by the major force of immigration since the British occupation in 1788. Compared with Canada and the United States, Australia’s settlement had been much shorter and was much more difficult to reach both in terms of time and cost. Although the immigrants realised their disadvantage the influx of new residents didn’t stop. For what reason?
“Gradually they evolved procedures for using public monies and land to assist suitable families with passage costs, accomodation and jobs.” (Price 1993: 5)
Government recruiting agents sometimes selected such families and recommended them for public assistance by voluntary societies, business firms, other private sponsors or relatives.
Even upto the present day, Australian immigration policy, has always stressed permanent settlement and has seldom promoted schemes for short-term migration.
“As Australia entered the 20th century, its population consisted of a relatively small number of Indigenous peoples and an overwhelming majority of Europeans, most of whose origins lay in the British Isles.” (DIMIA 2001: 2)
The longtime “British only” migration started with convicts transported from Britain to Australia, more precisely, Botany Bay, an area today known as Sydney. From the first settlement in 1788 until the transportation ceased in 1868 more than 160,000 men and women were brought to Australia as convicts. (cp. City of Sydney 2005)
The first unsolicited and illegal settlement of rural Australia began with the “squatter period”. Squatters came to Australia attendant to the convict ships and scientists who wanted to explore the Austrlalian Outback. They claimed rights over the spaces they squatted by virtue of occupation. Most of them were farmers who squatted on undeveloped land to run cattle and sheep farms.
Over the years most of the claims on these huge tracts of land were made legal by the government and many squatters became very wealthy. In company with the land-owning officers the so called "squattocracy" established the upper class of Australia. (cp. Löffler & Grotz 1995)
The area of settlement extended further and further and the number of Australians increased steadily.
The next big event in Australian migration was the 1850s gold rush. It was the first of two outstanding migration waves – the other being the huge influx following World War II. The discovery of gold initiated a population growth from 400,000 to 1.2 million in just one decade. Melbourne was founded and grew to one of the biggest cities in Australia in a very short time. The most affected states – New South Wales and Victoria – unified 2/3 of the total population.
It was not only the large number of immigrants that was significant, more important was their skilled qualification. For the first time in Australian history, craftsmen, mechanics and traders came in large numbers. In addition to their qualifications, they had different ideas and behaviour, which accelerated the political development, especially the desire for self-government. (cp. Löffler & Grotz 1995)
Economic prosperity, a growing population and raised political self-confidence led to a growing movement in favour of independence away from the British Empire.
The ending of the gold rush caused immigration stopped abruptly and since the 1860s a natural growth in population has been the dominant factor in population development. During the period of economic growth in the 70s and 80s the new migration boom and the prospering natural growth led to a total population of 3 million. Migration was accountable for 40 % of this growth. (cp. Richards 1997)
A new and growing problem was the large number of unskilled workers from the Pacific Isles and Asia – expecially China.
The origin of the “white man’s fear” can be traced back to the last years of the gold rush. Thousands of Chinese workers came to the gold fields and worked in unacceptable conditions. The distrust felt towards the strangers grew rapidly. Chinese workers were very hard-working, the diaspora built up and they send most of their money back to China. Disaffirmation led to bloody excesses against Chinese workers and even after the gold rush ended the decline persisted because the Chinese workers were willing to work for low wages and would sometimes become strike-breakers.
The poor relations towards the “others” was reflected in the so called “white Australia policy” known by its official term “Commonwealth Immigratiion Restriction Act”. As a consequence after the Australian Commonwealth was founded. (cp. Löffler & Grotz 1995)
III Commonwealth Immigration Restriction Act
After federation in 1901, when the new commonwealth government assumed responsibility for immigration, the “white Australia policy” embodied in the Immigration Restriction Act came into effect, a result of the above mentioned conflict with non-European migrants. (DIMIA 2001)
Although the phrase “White Australia Policy” was never in official use, it was a general term used in public and political debate throughout the period. The Immigration Restriction Act required that immigrants pass entrance tests in European languages. The Act enabled the government to exclude any person who “when asked to do so by an officer fails to write out at dictation and sign in the presence of the officer, a passage of 50 words in length in a European language directed by the officer” (Gov 1901: 4).
According to this legislation, immigration officials were able to randomise any European language and fail anybody who does not fit into the “British pattern”. It could also be seen as a “negative policy of restriction, partly directed against paupers, criminals, lunatics, diseased and politically suspect persons, but also against persons who were considered difficult or impossible to assimilate; that is, persons from countries other than Britain (the “motherland”) and the nations of northwestern Europe” (cp. Price 1993: 4).
The fact that the Australian continent had a population of 3.6 million people stoked the fears about Asian immigration, in that it is a short distance to countries where millions of people lived in conditions of great poverty. It was the considered opinion that these people would "swamp" European Australia if allowed to do so. (cp. Price 1993)
The policy was abrogated after World War II but the main focus on European immigration remained until 1966, when the government allowed the migration of 'distinguished' non-Europeans. The last oddments of the White Australia policy were abandoned in 1973. (cp. DIMIA 2001)