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The Australian Natives' Association, comprising Australian-born whites, produced this badge in 1911. Prime Minister Edmund Barton was a member of the Association.[1] The badge shows the use of the slogan "White Australia" at that time.[2]

The term White Australia policy is widely used to encapsulate a set of historical policies that aimed to forbid people of non-European ethnic origin, especially Asians (primarily Chinese) and Pacific Islanders from immigrating to Australia, starting in 1901. Governments progressively dismantled such policies between 1949 and 1973.[3]

Competition in the gold fields between British and Chinese miners, and labour-union opposition to the importation of Pacific Islanders (primarily South Sea Islanders) into the sugar plantations of Queensland, reinforced demands to eliminate or minimise low-wage immigration from Asia and the Pacific Islands. From the 1850s colonial governments imposed restrictions on family members joining Chinese miners already in Australia. The colonial authorities levied a special tax on Chinese immigrants and from which other immigrants were exempted. Towards the end of the 19th century labour unions pushed to stop Chinese immigrants working in the furniture and market garden industries. Australian furniture had to be labelled "Made with Chinese Labour".[4]

Soon after Australia became a federation in January 1901, the federal government of Edmund Barton passed the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901, drafted by the man who would become Australia's second Prime Minister, Alfred Deakin. The passage of this bill marked the commencement of the White Australia Policy as Australian federal government policy. Subsequent acts further strengthened the policy up to the start of the Second World War.[5] These policies effectively gave British migrants preference over all others through the first four decades of the 20th century. During the Second World War, Prime Minister John Curtin reinforced the policy, saying "This country shall remain forever the home of the descendants of those people who came here in peace in order to establish in the South Seas an outpost of the British race."[3]

Successive governments dismantled the policy in stages after the conclusion of the Second World War, with the encouragement of first non-British, non-white immigration, allowing for a large multi-ethnic post-war program of immigration. The Menzies and Holt Governments (1949–1967) effectively dismantled the policies between 1949 and 1966, and the Whitlam Government passed laws to ensure that race would be totally disregarded as a component for immigration to Australia in 1973. In 1975 the Whitlam Government passed the Racial Discrimination Act, which made racially-based selection criteria unlawful. In the decades since, Australia has maintained large-scale multi-ethnic immigration. As of 2018, Australia's migration program allows people from any country to apply to migrate to Australia, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, culture, religion, or language, provided that they meet the criteria set out in law.[3]