Opinion  |  

I was kept out by the White Australia policy

Senator Fraser Anning – this is personal (and political too)

I was too yellow to come to Australia. It must have been the photographs my family supplied. Parents of solid South London heritage, they had one daughter and four adopted boys. Two boys passed the test, but the two youngest – my twin Peter and I – failed.

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The White Australia policy was a real thing back then.

We are half Japanese, half American – it is a complicated story. We spent our first 18 months in Barnardo’s Tunbridge Wells orphanage, to the south of London, and were very lucky to be adopted together.

But then our luck seemed to run out. Despite the family being sponsored by the South Australian government, the Feds said: ‘No. Those kids are too yellow.’

The White Australia policy was a real thing back then, in 1961.

The final vestiges of the policy were removed by the Whitlam government in 1973, by which time I and my twin had finished high school – in Australia.

They had let us in after the SA government pressured the Feds – at least, that is the family story. And we actually arrived on a broken down old ship on its final voyage – the Strathaird – rather than on the new Oriana that my parents had been showing us pictures of.

And now Senator Fraser Anning wants to bring White Australia back.

“A key part of this great pre-Whitlam consensus was bipartisan support from both Liberal and Labor for a European-based immigration program,” Fairfax quotes Senator Anning’s maiden speech to Parliament this week.

“Great Labor statesmen – Ben Chifley, John Curtin and Arthur Calwell – all strongly supported an immigration program that actively discriminated in favour of Europeans.”

He added: “Whitlam and his hard-left cronies adopted Soviet-inspired United Nations treaties on discrimination and banned preferential selection of migrants based on their ethnicity”.

“There was hardly a group of Australians [Senator Anning] did not offend.” – Derryn Hinch

No-one seriously thinks Senator Anning will get his way. The White Australia policy is not coming back. Yet his speech will have negative affects.

The first will be the people that feel picked on. Muslims because Anning called for a ban on Muslim migration in particular, and Jews after the Senator used the words ‘final solution” in describing migration and then cavalierly dismissed the objection by Jewish groups over the use of those words.

But Senator Derryn Hinch was apposite when he told the ABC: “There was hardly a group of Australians he did not offend unless you were close to being a member of the Ku Klux Klan.”

Anning is clearly an equal opportunity offender.

Another negative effect will be on Christianity which Anning smeared by linking it to his White Australia nostalgia. “We as a nation are entitled to insist that those who are allowed to come here predominantly reflect the historic European-Christian composition of Australian society,” Anning said in his speech.

However, given the drastic decline in church attendance across Europe, it is unlikely that restricting immigration to them would bring in Christians. Instead, welcoming Africans,  the persecuted people of the Middle East, and the Chinese minority in countries such as Malaysia would bring in a lot of Christians.

A ‘Non-White Australia’ policy could have the same effect.

If more Christians are what Australia needs, a “non-White Australia policy might be the best way to bring that about.”

In Britain, for example, the bright spot in church growth is in African pentecostal churches. A ‘Non-White Australia’ policy could have the same effect.

That’s regardless of whether it specifically targets Christians or not. Among the people in peril on the earth there are a lot of Christians (and, yes, same-sex attracted and some Muslims too).

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