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January 13th 2011 print

John Izzard

Immigration Nation

The viewing of this appalling, biased, one-sided, ill-considered SBS program immediately began conjuring up images of it being eagerly spread out to schools and academic institutions across the nation and its nasty content being transmitted far and wide to young school children and university students.


A new three-part SBS TV series, Immigration Nation: The Secret History of Us, exploring the history of immigration started on Sunday evening 9 January and will continue on Sunday nights until 23 January. Please, please don’t miss this amazing re-examination of Australia’s past.


Within the first few minutes of watching, Immigration Nation: The Secret History of Us, I began to feel nauseous. By hour’s end I felt heartily sick. My God! They’re at it again. The usual suspects — Henry Reynolds, Marilyn Lake, Andrew Markus and a new face at Inquisition Central, Alex McDermott, who sounds remarkably like that other "seeker of truth" (and media attention), Julian Assange. 

Since the 1960s the great academic/media campaign “Rubbishing Australia” has been well and truly underway with the acknowledged CEO, Professor Henry Reynolds, leading the charge. Reynolds’ academic achievements, and techniques, were well and truly exposed in Keith Windschuttle’s monumental work, The Fabrication of Aboriginal History – Volume One. From the rancid portrayal of Australia as a nation of genocidal-slaughters of the Aboriginal people, the academic nation-haters have now moved into a much richer field; portraying Australians as a nation of racists – past and present, and no doubt into the future. Their target: rewrite the history of the White Australia Policy. Pity there are such rotten shots. 

From the outset, the first episode of Immigration Nation had nothing, absolutely nothing good to say about Australia. From pre-Federation to post WWII, the litany of snide quips and curled-lipped asides dominated the presentation and the slickery involved in the production made it propaganda with a capital “P”. Dr. Goebbels would have been extremely proud. 

The underlying theme in Immigration Nation is that Australia was to blame for the rise of Japanese aggression, because of the so called White Australia Policy. According to the writers and academics involved in Immigration Nation, we upset the Japanese with the introduction of the Immigration Restriction Bill of 1901, and were the root cause of the Japanese getting wanderlust about the Pacific. According to Alex McDermott “Australia turned an ally into an enemy.” Alex McDermott really needs to read more history. 

Even the most cursory reading of Meiji Japan’s history would reveal the Japanese attitude towards the “barbarians” of the West and their feelings of racial superiority which continued until their defeat in WWII. From 1868 Japan embarked on an ambitious program of social, economic and MILITARY reform. From the perspective of 1901, Australia’s concerns regarding Japan (and China) were not that radical nor illogical. Immigration Nation tries to portray Japan’s concern as a fight for “racial equality” with the West, whereas in reality Japan’s thrust was for the status of “economic and military equality” with the West. It was “equality within treaties with the international community” that Japan desired. 

Much of Immigration Nation focused on the 1901 Immigration Restriction Bill (it was never called the White Australia Policy) but failed to mention that the concerns in this country in 1901 were centred with the Japanese invasion of China which was freshly in the minds of Australian politicians. That war, the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), followed the 1879 annexation of the Ryukyu Kingdom by Japan. The argument made in Immigration Nation, portraying Australia as a villain while trying to present Japan as some sort of victim/hero of “racial discrimination”, is pure humbug. 

The Japanese never suffered from a racial inferiority complex. Their belief in their own racial superiority was unbending and quite openly flaunted, and to some degree still is. I can remember in the 1980s being told by a Tokyo academic about Australia’s “third world status”. 

In his 2004 book The White Australia Policy Keith Windschuttle points out that the Japanese were largely exempted from the 1901 Immigration Restriction Bill. Indeed, the major Japanese multinational firm, MBK, established branches in Australia in the year 1901 itself and subsequently developed a large trading company network. In 1904, Japanese merchants could come to Australia and bring their wives and children with them. Despite the widespread un­ease about Japanese imperial ambitions on our northern coastline, Japanese divers in the pearl shell industry of the Kimberley coast and Torres Strait were also granted dispensation from the policy. Some other Japanese residents of Broome, such as the doctors of the town’s Japanese hospital, also had exemption. By 1938 there were still ninety Japanese luggers operating between Broome and Darwin. Japanese merchants and students in the southern states were also exempted from the policy and could enter Australia without being subject to any dictation test for as long as they needed to pursue their vocations. Our government calculated this was in our economic interests since by 1936 Japan had become Australia’s third biggest trading partner. It was not until the outbreak of warfare in 1941 that Australia put an end to the relationship. 

The second “crime” the new Australian Federation committed was to want immigrants to Australia to be English-speaking and come mainly from Great Britain. How peculiar of us! 

Again, trying to overlay anti-western, anti-British prejudices, values and resentments of today’s Left on Australians of 110 years ago who were establishing a new nation, is a bit rich. In fact, it is bug-ugly. It would have been the most natural thing, at the time, to encourage immigrants who spoke the same language, holding mainly the same 18th century humanitarian values and, who were in many cases, related to existing Australians or were from well known regions of the Empire. Multi-culturalism is something of a very recent invention and would be most likely considered gobbledegook by Andrew Barton and his colleagues. To quote Keith Windschuttle: 

Despite the claims of academic historians, mainstream Australian nationalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was not based on race and bore few parallels to the ideologies that emerged in Germany and some other European countries at the same time. Instead of racial nationalism, Australian identity was based on a civic patriotism, which encouraged loyalty to Australia’s liberal democratic political institutions rather than to race or ethnicity. Most Australians at the time held dual loyalty, both to Australia at home and the British Empire abroad. Both the official policy and the popular culture of the Empire discouraged the notion of hierarchies based on race. 

A third aspect of the first episode of Immigrant Nation was the use of the experiences of the O’Hoy family of Bendigo. While undoubtedly the Immigration Restriction Bill of 1901, resulted in angst for the O’Hoy family, that is the very nature of most immigration laws everywhere. Even today family separation can be a result of law, and painful. What is objectionable and utterly unacceptable is the fact that the producers, writers and academic participants did nothing to balance the O’Hoy family Chinese story in Immigrant Nation

Even the most simple, basis research would have revealed the story of Chinese immigrant Quong Tart. Documentary-making ethics would normally have demanded it be included! 

Quong Tart, owner of a chain of Chinese tea-rooms in Sydney (Sydney Arcade, Royal Arcade, King Street and the most famous, the Elite Hall in the Queen Victoria Building), was appointed a member of the 1892 Royal Commission into Gambling. He was a friend of the Mayor of Sydney and for his efforts in “Chinese/European relations in Australia” was made Mandarin of the 5th Order by the Emperor of China. Legend has it that Quong Tart was so popular that when he arrived at Government House in Sydney to a reception for the new State Governor, those in attendance swarmed to the door to greet the new arrival. It wasn’t the State Governor arriving. It was Quong Tart that excited Sydney’s elite but then Quong Tart is — another “inconvenient truth”! 

The viewing of this appalling, biased, one-sided, ill-considered SBS program immediately began conjuring up images of it being eagerly spread out to schools and academic institutions across the nation and its nasty content being transmitted far and wide to young school children and university students. My fears were somewhat curtailed by the first blog on the SBS Immigration Nation website. It read something to the effect that it was viewed by an academic and a group of PhD students who groaned at “Henry and Marilyn” being at it again . Mysteriously the comment soon disappeared from the SBSwebsite. 

The first episode of Immigrant Nation is available on the SBS website and the second will be broadcast Sunday 16 January at 8.30 pm and the third, the following week. SBS give these clues to Episode Two: 

The second World War had far reaching effects on the history of the Immigration Nation. With no Asian migrants allowed and a pool of available Britons decreasing, Australia faced a crisis.  

While Episode Three is promoted as: 

Despite causing widespread criticism overseas, in the 1950’s under the Menzies government, Australia’s whites only immigration policy seemed as popular as ever. 

I urge all concerned about intellectual honesty to view this series and to consider carefully the never-ending “Rubbishing of Australia” by Australian academics and their fellow travellers. The culture wars are entering a new phase!


See also: Keith Windschuttle on the White Australia Policy here…