What A Difference A G’Day Makes

The Sunday Times Magazine yesterday featured an article about more and more Britons are emigrating to Australia. I have found several interesting facts that I will share with you.

Australia now becomes the most popular destination for British emigrant, and British people now make up almost a quarter of foreigners applying for Australian citizenship. But

Not so long ago the British and Irish were forced or bribed to go there. From the day the first white settlers landed in what became Sydney in 1788m through to the early 19th century, Australia was a huge prison, the bloody and terrible terminus for thousands of British and Irish convicts, most transported for petty crimes, such as theft and prostitution.

The former prime minister, John Howard, when campaigning for the second time, was hit by his past as the news revealed that he is a descendant of convicts (what did they expect, that he was somehow linked to Mary of Scot?). But according to Ausdag, the number of free-spirits who migrated to Australia during 1780-1850s was 1.3 more than the convicts so Australians should not be recognized as criminal’s ancestor’s nation (read here).

100 years after the gold rush of the 1850s, Australia was lacked of European emigrants. So the government introduced

The White Australia Policy, the first law enacted after federation in 1901, and in force until 1973, determined that all new arrivals be white, and preferably be British.


Now I understand why my European friends, when applying for a permanent residency, only had to wait for 2 months to get their document approved, while my Asian friends mostly had to wait for a couple of years, and some put everything they had on the table, paying a lot of money to immigrant agents who can’t even guarantee whether their PR application will be granted or not. However, despite the government’s attempt to maintain the white supremacy, in 2004-05, almost 45% of 123,424 people immigrated to Australia are from Asia, and the rest are from Africa, Oceania, UK, South America, and Eastern Europe (see Wikipedia). In 2006, 50% of Australian Permanent Residents were born in Europe.The rest were mainly born in Asia. Asians ‘invasion’ has been debated for quite some time, and especially in big cities like Sydney and Melbourne, there are more Asian faces and influences every day.

The country is lavish in contradictions, of course: a monarchist nation that must slowly yield to a republic, yet with large numbers still clinging to the coat-tails of the Queen of Australia; a nation of young people who, unlike their parents, worship the Anzac tradition; and a classless Australia seeded with expensive private school and controlled by powerful business and political elits. The racism – always denied – of white Australia seem most troubling for many new emigrants. It has had many disquieting manifestations. During the cold war, politicians stoked to the hysterical fear of China – the “red-yellow peril”- in justifying the nation’s involvement n the Vietnam war.
In recent years the Muslim community has felt the sharp end of white Australian hostility. Consider the leafy commuter town of Camden, near Sydney, one of Australia’s oldest pastoral communities. In December, locals impaled bleeding pigs’ head on stakes, draped them in the Australian flag and rammed them into the site of a proposed Islamic school. The most damaging expression of racism is to be found in the white’s treatment of the Aboriginals. Blacks were not even recognised as citizen until 1967, when they were granted the right to vote. Until then they were treated as a dying race, abused and forgotten. Unlike heads of cattle, they were not even counted on the census form.

Only this year in February 13 the government apologised for the first time to the black people for past injustices (read Spew-it-All).

Despite all that, asked why Britons emigrated to Australia, most cite: sun and coast living, lots of space, affordable housing (outside city centres), a generally reliable public health system, good, cheap schools, many jobs, and relative security. Some are also drawn by the natural wildernesses like Ayer Rock and Great Barrier Reef. And some admire the “fair go” and egalitarian spirit. Some simply love turning up at the office with flip-flops.

I had talked to several of acquaintances who have family members living in Australia permanently, and all of them always hear good stories and positive feedbacks from down under. BBC 1 actually has a show called Wanted Down Under, which takes a close look of a family who is considering about moving to Australia (they travel to Australia after serious discussions with Australian agents, they take a look at their designated city, the house they intend to live in, the school the children might go to, and then they’d go back to UK to decide whether they would move or not) .

My question is, if more and more Britons move to Australia, then who will be living in the UK?



  1. Indonesians? Ah considering our flop currency, living in UK would cost us more :)

  2. Hi Anita,
    Interesting post about Australia, but I disagree with your statement that the government is trying to maintain the white Australia policy. It’s a bit oversimplifying things to compare one European friends’ with some Asian friends’ PR applications – there are probably plenty of European cases that can take longer than a couple of months. Plus, if someone claiming to be a medical doctor turned up at the front counter with a degree from a British university, and someone with one from an Indonesian university, which one of the documents would you trust the most?

    Also, while you are right that the majority of Australians are not descendant from convicts (my parents aren’t Australian, for example), many Australians who are see it as a point of pride, not a point of shame, so it probably worked in John Howard’s favour when that information came out!

    Also, you do mention some racist things that have happened in Australia, in the past and recently, but you don’t write about your personal experience as an Asian living in Australia. I think most Australians are accepting and tolerant people, but there are a few bad apples amongst us, just like any other country. The difference is that our racism is quite often reported on the front pages of our own newspapers, whereas many other countries would pretend that such problems simply don’t exist.

    To flip it over, how hard is it for non-Indonesians to obtain Indonesian citizenship? I don’t know the process, but I know enough foreigners here who have problems with getting and maintaining residency visas, even when they have a legitimate reason to be here.

    Anyway, like I said, you made some good points, but here is some more food for thought.


  3. Finally Woken says:

    In my European and Asian friends case, they both were from the same university and degrees, just different backgrounds (actually my Asian friend finished his bachelor and master’s degrees in UNSW, while my European friend only took a master’s degree). Lots of Asian students applied for PR after graduating, but they had to wait longer compares to my Europeans, which number weren’t many. Maybe I’m oversimplifying things without solid data, but that’s the fact I had seen.

    For the Australian’s ancestor past, I don’t think it matters but I remember it was a big deal during JH campaign.

    My personal experience living in Australia? I don’t think it’s relevant as my personal experience wouldn’t change what is printed on the media. I lived there when Indonesia-Australia relationship was at its lowest point with East Timor issue and there was 9/11 so I had experienced being treated differently. When I quoted that part from The Sunday Times Magazine, I opted out the long story about raping, sexually abuse and stolen generation of the indigenous people, which I’m sure has been talked and discussed in more serious blogs rather than mine, and is more serious than me receiving different treatments.

  4. There are too many people in UK anyway. I didn’t get any experience of racism towards myself in Australia – love the country and love the people! And missing it heaps too… will surf on the next migration billabongs…

  5. johnorford says:

    australia always has a big fair in dublin, looking to attract immigrants.

    I don’t know why they don’t look closer to home….

  6. Finally Woken says:

    @John: spot on :)

  7. my australian lecturer told me that during the white australia policy, asians who wanted to immigrate to australia had to do a stupid interview whereas the interviewer would ask the applicant to speak in some random european languages. If they couldn’t speak in that language, then their visa application was rejected…

    also, I think there’s also a difference on how people treat asians who can speak w/ aussie accent and who can’t.. 😀

  8. A tourist visa is issued to travelers who wish to temporarily enter India, to visit family/friend, sightseeing, or a private purpose. An Indian visa is valid 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years with multiple entries.

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