Australian migration 1901-18

First page of the Pacific Island Labourers Act.  Features a red seal.
Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901
NAA: A1559, 1901/16

Before federation in 1901, each of the six Australian colonies was responsible for its own policy on migration. When the federal government gained control of migration, it moved to restrict the entry of non-Europeans. Legislation was passed to deport labourers from the Pacific Islands and to deny entry to ‘prohibited’ immigrants. There were also calls to encourage more migrants from Britain.

Get thinking

  • What impact did legislative changes made in the years following federation have on the movement of people to Australia?
  • Why do you think the Australian Government introduced restrictions on who could migrate to Australia?
  • What effect do you think these restrictions had on attitudes to members of ‘prohibited groups,' including the many who were already living in Australia?

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