Thursday, January 26, 2012

two major political developments

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Two Major Australian political developments after 101


The Australian Immigration Restriction Act (101-158)


The Australian Immigration Restriction Act was a strict policy imposed by the newly formed Australian government aimed to keep all non-European immigrants from entering Australia. It was strong belief in Australia at the time that white people were superior to other races, and that in order to keep the country pure, no coloured people should be allowed entry into Australia. The mechanism used to enforce this act was a fifty-word long English language dictation test. By use of dictation tests, Australia could protect itself from criticism from other countries; claiming that non-Europeans were excluded from entry to Australia due to literacy skill, as opposed to race. The test was not only limited to non-Europeans seeking entry to Australia, it could be issued to anyone who was seen as socially undesirable. This included; the mentally ill, those suffering from infectious diseases, those who had been convicted within the past three years, prostitutes and those who had come to Australia under a contract of manual labour and had exceeded their stay under terms of the contract.


Japan, one of Britains allies of the time, was strongly opposed to the act, and after much lobbying and negotiating over the act, Australia agreed to amend the act so that the dictation tests could be given in any prescribed language. This not only made it easier for Japanese to gain entry into Australia, but harder for others, as the test could be given in any language, from Gaelic to Norwegian.


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The documents outlining the exact parameters as to who the test could be administered to and how often were kept confidential by the federal government, as they were blatantly racist. An extract of one of the documents goes as follows All aboriginal inhabitants of Africa, Asia and Polynesia should be subjected to the test unless they come within the exceptions to Section , or are Pacific Island labourers, or are otherwise exempted. In the case of White Races, the test will be applied only under special circumstances. The passage for dictation is to be one of the set forwarded herewith and is to be changed according to the dates given.


The Immigration Restriction Act was incredibly successful at keeping out non-European immigrants; in 10-0 the test was administered 805 times, with only 46 people passing; the test was administered 554 times in 104-0 with only six people successful; after 10 not a single immigrant passed the test. The act remained in force until 158, although it was frequently amended.


The Harvester Judgement (107)


The Harvester Judgement was the celebrated court case that led to a basic wage being introduced for white Australian male workers. In 106, in an attempt to secure reasonable wages and working conditions for white Australian workers, the Australian Coalition Party passed a new tariff (the excise tariff) which taxed all locally made farm machinery. These taxes could only be lifted if the owner of the machinery gave all his/her employees fair and reasonable wages.


In 107 Victor Hugh McKay, owner of the Harvester Company (possibly the largest machinery producer in the Commonwealth), appealed to the Australian courts to have his company exempted from the excise tariff because he claimed his workers were being paid fair and reasonable wages. The Harvester case lasted from October 7 to November 8, 107. To settle the dispute, a definition of fair wages had to be decided.


The Judge assigned to the Harvester case, Judge Henry Bourne Higgins, wrote to Pope Leo XIII for advice on what a fair wage should be. Pope Leo XIII decided that the wage earner should be given enough to be able to sustain himself and his family in frugal comfort. This was later settled to be seven shillings for an unskilled worker working an eight-hour day. It was later enforced that all white male workers must be given a minimum pay or basic wage, this became the basis of pay for workers over the next sixty years. This and the passing of other laws and acts on protection for the working man led to the common nickname for Australia, a working mans paradise.


Although this act was a great step towards workers protection, only white Australian males benefited, this led to an increasing appeal for employers to employ overseas or immigrant workers, causing the government to be stricter on immigration pol





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