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The Demise of the White Australia Policy - section six

Academia and the
Immigration Reform Groups

Taking advantage of Australia's changing relations with Asia, came those academics in the education system, especially in the universities. These academics were well placed to influence the attitudes of those young adults studying at university, who were simultaneously influenced by the hippie/peace ideology. From the activities of those university academics came the formation of the Immigration Reform Group in 1959 (in Melbourne), which published a pamphlet in 1960 (later enlarged and republished as a book) - Control or Colour Bar? - advocating non-European immigration(25). The Immigration Reform Group became the basis for the formation of the Victorian Association for Immigration Reform in 1960; which began a long campaign for the destruction of the White Australia Policy and for the introduction of non-European immigration programmes. With their beginnings in Melbourne (which for certain reasons had become a centre of "left-wing" and liberal-internationalist growth)(26*), Associations for Immigration Reform were subsequently formed in other states, influencing people on a nation-wide basis(27). Greenwood states that "while their membership was not large, they were extremely active in their efforts to influence community attitudes generally, the more significant organisations such as trade unions and churches and, above all, the political parties"(28). Donald Horne concurred with this view: "Proposals for reform have been prepared by Immigration Reform Groups, consisting mainly of university people, that for several years have operated within what would be described as opinion-forming quarters. If reform of immigration policies proceeds calmly these Groups are entitled to much of the praise"(29).

Lauchlan Chipman, one of the few Australian academics who has consistently spoken out against Establishment-derived "political correctness", has studied the growth of the "new class" in Australia. One writer has summarised some of Chipman's conclusions: "Chipman sees a general liberalising as having taken place in Australia from the end of World War II until the late 1960s. This period witnessed the easing of censorship and a gradual drift away from the 'White Australia Policy'. However, he perceives a dramatic turn around starting in the late 1960s, emanating principally from the universities and centering around the anti-American Vietnam protests. This in turn spawned absolute opposition to imperialism, racism, sexism and elitism; and academics within the universities started to say that the universities themselves were the purveyors of these evils", leading to Chipman's conclusion that "Australian universities were allegedly "tainted" by their participation in an imperialist industrial-military economy"(30).

Chipman says that "Newly appointed American junior staff, joining expanding talent-hungry Australian universities fresh from graduate school in radicalized American institutions, together with trend following copy-cat Australian academics who wanted to be seen to be the first when the inevitable hit Australian universities, a multitude of psychologically screwed up humanities and social science academics, and a score of extra-murally briefed professional operators, were completely effective in a number of Australian campuses, most notably Monash University in Melbourne". Chipman argues "that the aggressiveness of these activists intimidated the traditional academics into silence and students into conformity"(31).

The influence of the liberal-internationalist academics upon the university students of the 1960s and 1970s (and, indeed, since then) was seen to churn out tens of thousands of "up and coming" professionals who had been unavoidably influenced by their teachers' ideology. The "ruling elites" of most modern nations are largely drawn from the university-educated, and Australia is no different. However, the new generations of Australia's forthcoming leaders and opinion-shapers that emerged from the universities of the 1960s, and beyond, were now influenced by liberal-internationalist ideology - and this was to show itself in the way they came to "lead" Australia(32*).

The Demise of the White Australia Policy

Australian Nationalism Information Database -