White panic or Mad Max and the sublime
A recent history of the relationship between immigration and foreign policy in Australasia and North America this century begins by noting that while ‘much had been written on the origins of the White Australia Policy, very little had been written on its maintenance’ (Brawley, 1995:1). As in the United States, Canada and New Zealand, during the later part of the nineteenth century new notions of ‘race’—linked to rising nationalism and emerging Social Darwinism, useful to the economic protectionism espoused by farmers, manufacturers, and trade unions alike-intensified pressure to restrict Asian immigration to the Australian colonies. However, this does not explain how the policy effected by the first Act of the new Australian Commonwealth in 1901 lasted as long as it did (1973); why Australian governments were vocal in defending it, while
others with similar policies were discreet; nor why and how it was abolished. To answer these questions, Brawley looks to the international context of Australian domestic policies.