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Article

Abstract

Influenced by a misleading national identity known as the myth of the white Australian citizen, during the first half of the twentieth century, the Australian government systematically excluded non-white participants from Australian society, culture, and national identity, by denying “undesirable” immigrants entry to the country, excluding migrants and Aboriginal populations from the benefits of citizenship, and ignoring the issues minorities faced within the nation. In order to contextualize the impact of the myth of the white Australian citizen and demonstrate its influence on the nation’s non-white inhabitants, this paper will survey three key legislative decisions and two influential eras: the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901, World War I, the Native Administration Act of 1936, World War II, and the Migration Act of 1958. This paper argues that racialized stereotypes, disputes for land, and the persisting thought that the Australian Aboriginal would eventually die out, compelled the Australian government to solve the “Aboriginal problem” and retain their white Australian national image by passing laws such as the Native Administration Act of 1936 – which limited Aboriginal movements and legal status within the nation – and the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901 – which allowed the nation to deny entry to any immigrant the government deemed “unfit.” However, these laws were repealed after World War II, due to the necessity to repopulate the country and the moral implications of allowing Australian Aboriginals to fight in the war, without providing benefits of citizenship.

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