Sunday, June 29, 2008

British Empire in Colour (Ep.3 - Part 2)

During the period following WWII, “Populate or perish” became the catchcry of the Australian Government as it embarked on an intensive international promotional campaign to encourage mass migration to Australia. The campaign was directed almost exclusively at whites of “European origin” only however and initially targeted Britons with schemes such as “Bring out a Briton” that subsidized their travel costs and even provided free housing on arrival. But the so called “land of tomorrow” wasn’t always receptive to immigrants, even the ones from Britain (referred to derisively as “poms”) with some Australians feeling that “the only good pom, is a dead pom.”

Of course, that mild sort of xenophobia was nothing compared to the cruel forms of discrimination exercised against the country’s indigenous population. Under its policy of “assimilation” the hope of the government at the time (and for the next 40 years) was that the displaced “full blood” aborigines would simply die out over time from starvation and other causes, and that “mixed decent” natives would eventually be absorbed into white society, by force if necessary through practices similar to those employed in Canada through the now disgraced residential school system.