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Research Guides


More People Imperative: Immigration to Australia, 1901–39


5. Ethnic and Religious Groups

This chapter focuses on the various ethnic and religious groups migrating to Australia between 1901 and 1939. It is important to remember that during this period the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 and its subsequent amendments prohibited all non-Europeans from entry. Thus the ethnic and religious groups in question are essentially of European background. This is not to say that there were no non-Europeans living in Australia. Under the Immigration Restriction Act, a limited number of non-Europeans were given exemptions to remain in Australia after 1901 depending on their length of previous residence but they were usually denied the citizenship and other rights (such as free choice of occupation and property ownership) enjoyed by 'white' Australians.

Those who did come included the British who were by far the most numerous, for example, English, Scots, Welsh and Irish. Other ethnic groups were also British subjects, such as the Maltese, Anglo-Indians and various other members of the British Commonwealth. European immigrants consisted of Italians, Germans, Greeks, Austrians, Yugoslavs, Poles, Estonians, Czechoslovaks, Albanians, Bulgarians, Scandinavians, Finns, Dutch, Swiss and Jews (seen as a specific group). A number of other groups are prominent in the records held by the National Archives if, for one reason or another, they came under official notice. European immigrants were often considered by governments as less 'desirable' than the British and special legislation was enacted from time to time to restrict their entry or limit their numbers. Europeans were referred to in official documents as 'foreign' migrants or 'white aliens' (see Chapter 4 on 'White Alien' Immigration Policy). Although the aim of policy-makers in this period was to preserve a predominantly British Australia, the reality was that the nation was never monocultural as illustrated by the variety of ethnic groups listed below.

Examples of Series and Items

Series descriptions throughout the Guide appear in upper case and in bold type. Note that descriptions of items within particular series are a selection only of what is held in the National Archives. All record descriptions are organised by series; items within series are listed in chronological order of the starting date they cover.

In this chapter, record descriptions are organised under particular ethnic groups. Items are then organised under series and within that, in chronological order of the starting date they cover.

Full descriptions of the series to which the items described in this chapter belong may be found on the database or in the relevant earlier chapter, as follows:

  • Series A1, A2, A432, A445, A458, A461 and PP6/1 – Chapter 2
  • Series A457 – Chapter 3; and
  • Series CP78/22, A367, A433 and A434 – Chapter 4
Albanians
Canberra
Information on restrictions on Albanians in the mid-1920s.
Series: CP78/22
Quantity: 29.98 metres
Recorded by: 1912-27: Governor General (CA 1)
Governor-General's Office, General Correspondence, 'Immigration Alien, 1924–27' [152 pages, 1924–27]
The file focuses on certain restrictions on Southern European and other 'alien' immigration to Australia in the mid-1920s. It contains a confidential letter to the British Consuls-General at Canton, Shanghai, Hankow and Tientsin and the British Consul at Harbin, China, December 1925, advising that the migration of Russians should be discouraged and that all applications should go through the Consulates with careful scrutiny, owing to government information about activities of communists and Soviet agents in Australia. Correspondence also relates to applications from Russians and former Russians through other countries, such as Hong Kong, Egypt, France, Palestine, the Philippines and Singapore. There is also a memorandum for the Governor-General from the Prime Minister's Department removing the entry restriction on persons of German, Austro-German, Bulgarian and Hungarian parentage and nationality (former 'enemy aliens'). Thereafter, these national groups came under the same conditions as European 'aliens' generally. Other issues treated in the file refer to the restriction of Greeks, Yugoslavs and Albanians to 100 per month (the reasons given being their destitution in Australia), the alleged ill-treatment of Yugoslavs, 1925, the introduction of the £40 landing money requirement for 'alien' migrants generally, the destination of Yugoslav migrants in 1924, the question of the admission of bona fide merchants from Hong Kong in 1927, and a request for entry of the family of a Chinese man with an Australian passport.
CP78/22, 1926/25 part 2
Americans
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration from the USA' [9 pages, 1917–18]
This contains correspondence relating to a plan to bring settlers from the agricultural districts of the United States to Australia by Mr J Roland Kay, an Englishman, in 1917. The proposal was communicated to the States but, owing to the repatriation of troops, no action was taken.
A2, 1917/3423
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Encouragement. Migrants from the United States of America' [30 pages,1924–33]
This contains correspondence from the Official Secretary to the Commissioner for Australia in the United States for emigration forms which could be sent for approval to Australia House, London, and for information about requirements in relation to landing money. Owing to many inquiries about emigration to Australia, some of which are enclosed, he also asked whether any encouragement was given to British subjects in the United states to emigrate to Australia, under what conditions they could emigrate, and what action his office might take. In the replies, the system of nomination was explained, the only financial concession granted to migrants from the USA. They made clear that no propaganda should be used or encouragement given, and supplied information from which unsolicited queries could be answered.
A458, O154/17
Home and Territories Department, File of Papers, 'Immigration of Americans to Australia' [12 pages, 1925–30]
This contains a request for information to the Prime Minister from the Commissioner for Australia in New York in 1925, on how to answer queries about migration to Australia, and the replies. The file also contains correspondence from Violet Ray relating to alleged attempts to smuggle undesirable immigrants into Australia and the responses to this.
A1, 1930/6203
Anglo-Indians
Prime Minister's Department, File of Papers, 'Immigration of British Soldiers, India' [16 pages, 1913–17]
This file refers mainly to representations by the Rev. John Nelson for the introduction of ex-soldiers from India and the children of soldiers serving in India, to South Australia. Views of the Premiers were sought on the question in general. The majority of the proposed immigrants were Eurasians, excluded in Australia. No action was taken.
A2, 1917/3072
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Encouragement. Anglo-Indian Settlers for Australia' [2.5 cm, 1921–27]
This contains three separate folders. The main file, headed 'Anglo-Indian Settlers for Australia – General', covers the period from 1921 to 1927 and gives the background to the desire of many retired Anglo-Indian civil servants to migrate to Australia. It contains a letter of June 1921 requesting a tour for the purpose of advertising Australia, various migration proposals, requests for information, individual applications, offers by would-be agents and correspondence from the Commonwealth Immigration Office to the States to urge action in the matter, and offer land for settlement and other concessions. The second folder, entitled 'Anglo-Indian Army Officers. Correspondence with States', focuses on 1922 and contains a letter from General Lord Rawlinson, Commander-in-Chief in India, in May 1922 and a memorandum on the subject of settling Indian officers on land in Australia. Letters from state Premiers on the land available and possibilities for settling the officers are included. Victoria sent its own representative Major H A Currie, a Director of Australian Farms Ltd, to India in order to supply information. The third folder is entitled 'Mesopotamian Officers and Visit of Major Boyd' and covers the period from 1922 to 1923. The Commonwealth government, through Mr E D A Bagot of the Mesopotamian Trading and Agency Company, invited two officers, acting on behalf of prospective Anglo-Indian settlers from Mesopotamia to Australia to inspect suitable country. The file concerns the visit of Major H S Boyd in this connection, his investigations into a group or community scheme, and his expenses. A report on his visit to Western Australia is included. [See also Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Anglo-Indian Army Officers', A461, B349/1/6 Part 1]
B349/1/6 PART 3
Armenians
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Restriction. Armenians' [26 pages, 1922–28]
This contains a letter from Dr L L Wirt, Commissioner, Near East Relief, 1922, to the Prime Minister, with a proposal for the immigration of selected Armenian orphan boys (14 to 20 years of age, described as sons of farmers, white and Christian). The reply from the Assistant Director, Commonwealth Immigration Office, indicated that there was already a sufficient supply of British lads and that it would be undesirable to offer any attraction for the settlement in Australia of Armenians or other people of the Near East. Further correspondence is included from the Rev. J E Cresswell, National Secretary of the Australasian Armenian Relief Fund, on the same subject, and from Marshall W Fox of the Friends' Foreign Mission Association, for the immigration of Armenian refugees in 1923. They received a similar response.
A457, X401/2
Austrians
Perth

INTELLIGENCE REPORTS OF INTERNMENTS, REPATRIATIONS, AFFILIATIONS AND GENERAL INVESTIGATIONS, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1915–20

Note: The term 'Austrians', like 'Jugoslavs' in this period, is somewhat problematic, encompassing a number of groups who may not have identified themselves as such but were classified under these general headings in the official records.

This series is valuable in documenting contemporary attitudes to immigrants. It contains reports of investigations made by the Western Australian Police force, at the request of Military Intelligence, into the activities, movements and statements of 'aliens'; copies of letters intercepted by the Military Censor and handed to Intelligence for investigation (with details of subsequent action taken); recommendations re internment or arrest of 'enemy aliens' following investigation into their activities and statements; and reports of investigations made into the activities of organisations thought to be opposed to the allied cause. Amongst the latter were the Anti-Conscription League, the International Workers of the World (IWW) and various 'alien' societies. The records contain the results of investigations made following receipt of information from numbers of individuals who reported supposed enemy activities in Australia.

Series: PP14/1
Quantity: 6.48 metres
Recorded by: 1915–19: Headquarters, 5 Military District, Commonwealth Military Forces (CA 4811); 1919–20: Investigation Branch, Western Australia (CA 908)
Department of the Army, General Staff, Intelligence Section, 'List of Germans and Austrians' [15 pages, 1914–15]
This file contains lists of names of persons of German and Austrian origin in Western Australia who had applied for naturalisation since 4 July 1914. The information was required by the Commandant, 5th Military District in July 1915.
PP14/1, 4/1/2
Department of the Army, General Staff, Intelligence Section, Intelligence reports: 'Austrians and Italians at Bullfinch – possible trouble', 1916 [14 pages, 1916]
This relates to job competition in the wood-cutting industry and antagonism between Italians and 'Austrian Slavs' at Bullfinch, Western Australia.
PP14/1, 4/3/126
Department of the Army, General Staff, Intelligence Section; Intelligence reports – First World War, 'Serious disturbances – Austrians and Slavs at Boulder' [15 pages, 1915–16]
This refers to disturbances between Austrians and 'Slavonians' near Boulder, Western Australia in December 1915 and a subsequent police enquiry.
PP14/1, 4/3/127
Department of the Army, General Staff, Intelligence Section, 'Austrians at Osborne Park' [11 pages, 1918]
This file, like others on enemy subjects during the war, reflects hostile attitudes towards Austrians in relation to questions of loyalty and job competition. This one deals with the increasing numbers of Austrians at Osborne Park, the main vegetable growing centre of Perth at the time and support for some families from the Military and State Charities Department.
PP14/1, 4/3/542
'Balts'
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Restriction. 'Balts' Admission' [6 pages, 1920]
This file contains a query to the Foreign Office, London, from the British Commissioner for the Baltic Provinces in June 1920 about the possibility of arranging for the emigration of 'Balts' from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to a British Dominion. Information about the history of the provinces and their communities is provided. The Home and Territories Department had no objection to their admission to Australia provided they were of sound health and had passports visaed by the British consular authorities. A note from the Prime Minister's Department however, stated that the Commonwealth Government was not favourable to the immigration of 'this class of immigrant to Australia'.
A457, B401/2
Belgians
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration from Belgium' [4 pages, 1904]
This contains a request from the Consulat General de Belgique en Australasie, 1904, requesting information on Australian immigration for the writing of a report for the benefit of Belgians wishing to emigrate.
A2, 1904/1765
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration of Belgians. Admission of' [20 pages, 1920–49]
This relates to three Belgians stranded at Colombo, Ceylon, on voyage to Australia in 1920. There are also requests for the admission of individual Belgians.
A461, E349/3/5
Bulgarians
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Restriction. Bulgarians' [8 pages, 1927]
This contains a letter from the Bulgarian Chargé d'Affaires, in October 1927, regarding the desire of the Bulgarian Ministry for Interior Affairs to be supplied with certain information on Bulgarian immigrants to Australia. The information concerned numbers, distribution, occupations, rates of wages, costs of board and lodging, the conditions under which they could migrate, and the demand for certain types of labour in Australia. Replies are included.
A458, V156/1/278
Cypriots
Department of Home and Territories, 'Immigration from Cyprus' [1916]
This contains a letter to the High Commissioner of Australia, London, from a firm Caruana Fils, of Nicosie, Cyprus, 24 September 1916 which refers to a notice on 'Australia and Immigrants – a Maximum of Welcome and a Minimum of Restriction' in a publication Directory of Australian Exporters. The file is relevant for attitudes to non-British immigrants, as it contains a request for the same concessions as British immigrants, viz., greatly reduced fares, surety of good wages, reception, free visits of inspection and financial assistance to approved settlers. The letter states that most emigrants are of white race, from the Greek Orthodox Church, working class, farmers and artisans. The reply from Atlee Hunt, (Official Secretary of the Commonwealth of Australia in London), 4 November 1916, defers consideration until after the war.
A1, 1916/27825
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Restriction. Cypriots' [11 pages, 1927–30]
This contains letters in 1927 and 1928 to authorities in Cyprus outlining the conditions under which non-British migrants were admitted to Australia. Several dozen Cypriots were said to have arrived in late 1928 without landing permits or money. Since they could not speak English and were regarded as of Greek race, and limitations had already been placed on the numbers of Greek immigrants, a request was made to limit the issue of passports to Cypriots who had close relatives in Australia and held landing permits; exceptional cases of Cypriots 'of superior standing' would be considered.
A458, W156/1/279
Czechs
See Poles and Yugoslavs
Danes
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Restrictions. Dutch' [1.5 cm, 1935–39]
This file relates to negotiations on Dutch migration to Australia between the Consul-General of The Netherlands and the Commonwealth Government from 1937 to 1939, given a spur through a visit by the Minister for Commerce, Dr Earle Page in 1938. The views of the Dutch government are set out in two memoranda which emphasise that the migration movement would be small and gradual, consisting of selected migrants. The Netherlands government asked whether the normal landing money for 'aliens' could be reduced from £200 to £50 if guarantees were given by the Netherlands Emigration Foundation (a semi-official body). Cabinet approval was sought and the encouragement of Dutch migrants was agreed upon on 8 April 1938 under certain conditions. The Salvation Army was also permitted to introduce migrants from Holland for farm or domestic work, the Army to be responsible for their reception, placement and aftercare, and for the repatriation of unsuitable migrants. Concern was expressed that the reduced landing money concessions given to Dutch and Danish immigrants might be claimed by Italy, in view of the 1883 commercial treaty between Great Britain and Italy which was binding on the Commonwealth. (A draft circular for Cabinet on White Alien Immigration, Landing Money Requirements, 1938, is included.) The ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) in July 1938 questioned the encouragement of Dutch agricultural workers and skilled artisans, including metal workers of all classes, and a deputation followed. With the approval of the Dutch government, A AW Fransen Van de Putte was sent to Australia by the Netherlands Emigration Foundation in October 1938 to investigate the possibilities for the absorption of Dutch migrants in Australia. The Foundation agreed to select farmers and farm labourers, and later skilled artisans, according to moral character, physical fitness and suitability for life in Australia. Jews would not be accepted. Steps were then taken to establish an organisation in Australia to find employment and accommodation for Dutch migrants, give maintenance guarantees and repatriate unsuitable settlers within one year. Several letters in the file refer to a proposal to settle Dutch people on the Struan Estate in the South-East of South Australia. There is also a proposal from P R Jackson, Secretary, St. Mary's Cathedral, Perth, dated December 1938, to settle a number of Dutch Catholic families, with capital of at least £600 per family, on swampy areas adjoining Perth. Jackson argued that any problems of assimilation would be overcome since the settlement would not be isolated but close to a large centre of population. Letters from and about individual Dutch migrants, press cuttings, and Hansard extracts are also included in the file.
A461, P349/3/5
Dutch
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Restrictions. Dutch' [1.5 cm, 1935–39]
This file relates to negotiations on Dutch migration to Australia between the Consul-General of The Netherlands and the Commonwealth Government from 1937 to 1939, given a spur through a visit by the Minister for Commerce, Dr Earle Page in 1938. The views of the Dutch government are set out in two memoranda which emphasise that the migration movement would be small and gradual, consisting of selected migrants. The Netherlands government asked whether the normal landing money for 'aliens' could be reduced from £200 to £50 if guarantees were given by the Netherlands Emigration Foundation (a semi-official body). Cabinet approval was sought and the encouragement of Dutch migrants was agreed upon on 8 April 1938 under certain conditions. The Salvation Army was also permitted to introduce migrants from Holland for farm or domestic work, the Army to be responsible for their reception, placement and aftercare, and for the repatriation of unsuitable migrants. Concern was expressed that the reduced landing money concessions given to Dutch and Danish immigrants might be claimed by Italy, in view of the 1883 commercial treaty between Great Britain and Italy which was binding on the Commonwealth. (A draft circular for Cabinet on White Alien Immigration, Landing Money Requirements, 1938, is included.) The ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) in July 1938 questioned the encouragement of Dutch agricultural workers and skilled artisans, including metal workers of all classes, and a deputation followed. With the approval of the Dutch government, A AW Fransen Van de Putte was sent to Australia by the Netherlands Emigration Foundation in October 1938 to investigate the possibilities for the absorption of Dutch migrants in Australia. The Foundation agreed to select farmers and farm labourers, and later skilled artisans, according to moral character, physical fitness and suitability for life in Australia. Jews would not be accepted. Steps were then taken to establish an organisation in Australia to find employment and accommodation for Dutch migrants, give maintenance guarantees and repatriate unsuitable settlers within one year. Several letters in the file refer to a proposal to settle Dutch people on the Struan Estate in the South-East of South Australia. There is also a proposal from P R Jackson, Secretary, St. Mary's Cathedral, Perth, dated December 1938, to settle a number of Dutch Catholic families, with capital of at least £600 per family, on swampy areas adjoining Perth. Jackson argued that any problems of assimilation would be overcome since the settlement would not be isolated but close to a large centre of population. Letters from and about individual Dutch migrants, press cuttings, and Hansard extracts are also included in the file.
A461, P349/3/5
Egyptians
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Restriction, Admission of Egyptians' [11 pages, 1917]
This file contains a request for admission to Australia to study at the Hawkesbury Agricultural College by a young Egyptian together with related correspondence. While permanent entry was refused, one year's temporary residence was allowed.
A2, 1917/511
Image 21: A new arrival at North Head Quarantine Station, Sydney, early 1900s.

Image 21: A new arrival at North Head Quarantine Station, Sydney, early 1900s.
NAA: C1134, 5–53
Enlarge image - View image gallery

Estonians [Esthonians]
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Restrictions. Estonians' [6 pages, 1928]
This concerns the number of visas to be granted for Estonians for 1929. Visas could only be issued to holders of landing permits.
A458, X156/1
French
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration. French Nationals' [51 pages, 1933–48]
This contains a number of letters and information regarding the admission of individual French citizens and a circular on the conditions pertaining to the entry of foreign nationals entering Australia, Papua or New Guinea.
A461, I349/3/5
Germans
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Restrictions. German and Ex-Enemy Aliens, 1919–48' [3 cm, 1919–48]
The contents of this file cover the period from 1919 to 1939 with one page only on 1948. The file concerns the restriction of 'enemy aliens' after World War I, rights of entry and return for particular cases, the legislation enacted in 1920, and related correspondence. The Enemy Aliens Act prohibited the entry and residence of Germans, Austrians, Hungarians, Bulgarians and Turks for five years from 2 December 1920, and thereafter until the Governor-General by proclamation determined otherwise. The removal of the prohibition in 1925,with the exception of Turks, is also covered in various communications and press cuttings. The question of the entry of ex-enemy 'aliens' into the Territories of Papua, New Guinea and Norfolk Island is the subject of much of the correspondence.
A461, K349/3/5
Department of the Army, General Staff, Intelligence Section, 'German subjects in Australia' [8 pages, 1915]

This refers to an enquiry from the Department of Defence to the Commandant, 5th Military District regarding certain German subjects supposed to be in Australia, July 1915, and forms relating thereto.

See also PP14/1, 4/1/2 under Austrians

PP14/1, 4/10/10
Greeks
Canberra
Information on restrictions on Albanians in the mid-1920s.
Series: CP78/22
Quantity: 29.98 metres
Recorded by: 1912-27: Governor General (CA 1)
Governor-General's Office, General Correspondence, 'Immigration Alien, 1924–27' [152 pages, 1924–27]
The file focuses on certain restrictions on Southern European and other 'alien' immigration to Australia in the mid-1920s. It contains a confidential letter to the British Consuls-General at Canton, Shanghai, Hankow and Tientsin and the British Consul at Harbin, China, December 1925, advising that the migration of Russians should be discouraged and that all applications should go through the Consulates with careful scrutiny, owing to government information about activities of communists and Soviet agents in Australia. Correspondence also relates to applications from Russians and former Russians through other countries, such as Hong Kong, Egypt, France, Palestine, the Philippines and Singapore. There is also a memorandum for the Governor-General from the Prime Minister's Department removing the entry restriction on persons of German, Austro-German, Bulgarian and Hungarian parentage and nationality (former 'enemy aliens'). Thereafter, these national groups came under the same conditions as European 'aliens' generally. Other issues treated in the file refer to the restriction of Greeks, Yugoslavs and Albanians to 100 per month (the reasons given being their destitution in Australia), the alleged ill-treatment of Yugoslavs, 1925, the introduction of the £40 landing money requirement for 'alien' migrants generally, the destination of Yugoslav migrants in 1924, the question of the admission of bona fide merchants from Hong Kong in 1927, and a request for entry of the family of a Chinese man with an Australian passport.
1912-27: Governor General
Indians
Department of Home and Territories, 'Indian Immigration Fiji' [13 pages, 1919–20]
This contains copies of Fiji Legislative Council papers (Nos. 112 of 1918 and 46 of 1919) which deal with the subject of Indian immigration. These were obtained as a result of a despatch from the Secretary of State for the Colonies for the supply of certain official publications to the Commonwealth Government in 1919.
A1, 1920/12012
Irish
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Encouragement. Migrants from Ireland' [80 pages, 1922–24]
This file raises the question of the acceptance of migrants from Ireland to Australia under the Empire Settlement Scheme. Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, was officially eligible for financial assistance from the British government for migrants proceeding to the Dominions, whereas Southern Ireland, by that time a Free State with the status of a Dominion itself, was not. Despite this, and pressure from the Ministry of Labour in Ireland (which attested to 46 000 applicants in early 1923), the Director of the Commonwealth Immigration Office, Percy Hunter, was unwilling to extend recruiting operations to Northern Ireland, owing to disturbed conditions there. The Age on 23 June 1923 recorded a cabled complaint from London that the Commonwealth was excluding Irish immigrants which was followed by an explanation from the Prime Minister. The Daily Telegraph later reported alleged restrictions on Irish immigrants (press extracts enclosed). Letters to the Prime Minister and a deputation to the New South Wales Premier on behalf of the Irish Loyalist Migration Committee brought their work to the attention of the government. Nominations for residents of Southern Ireland for assisted passages followed and the Commonwealth at first agreed to a rebate of only half that allowed to nominated immigrants (close relatives) from the United States, Canada, South Africa and other British dominions; the question of equity was therefore raised. The Commonwealth later agreed that equivalent rebates would apply.
A458, H134/16
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration. Irish Free State' [2 pages, 1938–48]
This relates to an inquiry, subsequent to the resumption of assisted migration in March 1938, concerning the eligibility of persons in the Irish Free State with limited capital and without guarantors in Australia for the grant of assisted passages. Approval was given in August 1938 to extend the Commonwealth's contribution towards assisted passages to residents of the Irish Free State.
A461, F349/1/3
Italians
Department of External Affairs, 'Immigration to Australia of a Number of Italian Agricultural Labourers' [8 pages, 1911]
This relates to representations made to the Minister on behalf of the McArthur Shipping and Agency Company, Sydney, regarding the immigration to Australia of a number of Italian agricultural labourers in 1911. There was no objection provided that they were not likely to become a burden on the State and were not under contract.
A1, 1911/10765
Prime Minister File of Papers, 'Immigration of Italian Colonists from Argentine to Australia' [13 pages, 1915–16]
This file contains correspondence from Francisco Netri in April, concerning an Italian colony of agriculturalists in Rosario, Argentina, who were involved in a strike in 1913, had since formed a Federation of Agricultural Workers numbering some 5–6 000 people, were without land or support from the government, and desired to emigrate to Australia. Investigations into Dr Netri and his plans were carried out through Reginald Tower, the British Consul at Buenos Aires, whose report was unfavourable. Criticism by the Argentine government in the Buenos Aires press on the departure to Australia of some 200 colonists from the Territory of Chubut was noted.
A2, 1916/1711
Department of the Army, General Staff, Intelligence Section, 'Italian Aliens on the Kalgoorlie Goldfields' [14 pages, 1919]
Through press cuttings, telegrams and correspondence, this file records aspects of industrial unrest in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia in 1919 and a struggle between the Australian Workers' Union (AWU) and the 'Nationalists' in which returned soldiers were active participants. Following an incident on 12 August 1919 when a returned soldier was fatally stabbed by an Italian, hostile demonstrations occurred against Italians and the Returned Soldiers' Association called for their expulsion from the goldfields. A letter from a barrister and solicitor, R D Lane, October 1919 to the Military Department asks about possible repatriation for destitute Italians. The file is useful in relation to the position of Italians on the goldfields and attitudes to recent Italian immigrants in the post-World War I period in Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.
PP14/1, 16/1/290
Home and Territories Department, File of Papers, 'Immigration of Italians to Australia' [34 pages, 1920–26]
This file contains correspondence from Major General G Ramaciotti to the Prime Minister's Department in 1920 regarding his efforts to induce the Italian government to look more favourably upon emigration to Australia. The Commonwealth's policy was to offer a general welcome, particularly to agriculturalists, while not actively encouraging Italians. Extracts from Ramaciotti's Quarterly Reports on the Development of Trade between Australia and Italy, 1923 and 1924, a report on Italian emigration, and correspondence on Italian immigration to Brazil are included.
A1, 1926/9494
Department of Home and Territories, 'Orient SS Coy., Italian Immigration, 1926' [15 pages, 1926]
This refers more to Italian emigration than immigration, concerning a fine imposed by the Italian Government on the SS Orama for landing more than 50 Italian third class passengers at Naples and not complying with the provisions of the Italian Emigration Act. Since no such restrictions were imposed by the Australian government, it resulted in a protest to the British government and representations being made to the Italian government. The Minister argued that the incident would provide a suitable opportunity of pointing out to the Italian government that the Commonwealth authorities would, in the future, have to enforce strictly the requirements of the Navigation Act respecting the surveying of all Italian passenger vessels coming to Australia.
A1, 1926/4331
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Restrictions. Italian missionaries' [3 pages, 1927]
Provincial Salesians requested permission in 1927 for the entry of 11 Italian members of the order without landing money requirements. This was approved.
A458, P156/2
Attorney-General's Department, 'Proposed Proclamation under section 3K of Immigration Act 1930–31. Question as to whether Article 13 of Anglo-Italian Treaty of 1883 would be affected' [30 pages, 1930]
This file refers to the question in 1930 of whether there would be any breach of Article 13 of the Anglo-Italian Treaty of 1883 if a proclamation were made prohibiting the entry into Australia of persons of any European nationality, including Italians. The treaty, signed between Great Britain and Italy in 1883, guaranteed full liberty, with their families, to enter, travel, or reside in any part of the dominions and possessions of the other contracting party. This therefore included Australia. The Acting Solicitor-General advised that the unqualified prohibition of the entry of Italians into Australia would amount to a breach of the article. However, since entry was conditional on the subjects of each contracting party conforming to the laws of the country concerned, and the laws of Australia included immigration laws, Italians would be bound by those laws. The proclamation was therefore made, viz. that on account of the unemployment conditions then existing in the Commonwealth, the landing in Australia of 'alien' immigrants of any European nationality was prohibited from 1 April 1931, and until otherwise ordered, with the exception of any person holding a permit to enter or re-enter Australia issued under the authority of the Minister for Home Affairs. The exclusion of non-European races was not affected.
A432, 1930/2393
Department of Immigration, Correspondence file class 3 (non-British European migrant), 'Immigration of Italians to Australia', Part 2 [2 cm, 1930–41]
This contains a policy statement on Italian Migrants in 1930, reducing the quota to 1 500 per year and confining passports to those with close relatives in Australia. Questions in the House of Representatives, press cuttings, correspondence and cables focus on the approved categories of Italian immigrants and the arrival of some who fell outside the categories. Owing to increasing unemployment, a reminder of the regulations was sent to the Italian government in August 1930 and the Italian Consul-General, Comm. Grossardi, was interviewed on the matter in November. The arrival in late 1930 of 4 ships carrying 200 Italians outside the approved categories prompted government action; customs authorities at Fremantle declared those from the Orford and the Otranto prohibited immigrants, applied the dictation test and prevented them from landing. Despite possible trade repercussions and representations from the Italian Consul-General, Archbishop Duhig and the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, the decision was not altered and a proclamation was issued prohibiting the entry of all 'alien' immigrants with the exception of those who obtained permits from the Department of External Affairs. This was not seen as discriminating against Italians under the Treaty of 1883 which accorded them most favoured nation treatment (see A432, 1930/2393 above). The regulations applying landing permits to Italians, in addition to Italian nomination papers (Atti di Chiamata), were formally introduced in 1932, just when M A Ferrante took over as Consul-General. As a result of a strong appeal by Ferrante, a compromise in working arrangements was reached, commencing from 1 December 1933. Further correspondence relating to Italian immigration in the 1930s, including several memoranda on the subject, are included.
A434, 1949/3/29453
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration of Italians to Australia, Part 4' [1.5 cm, 1934–38]
This contains a memorandum on Italian Immigration, 1934, and the question of the modification of the restrictions which had already occurred in the case of Maltese. Correspondence between the Italian Consul-General, A Ferrante, and Australian Immigration authorities regarding landing permits and procedures to be adopted in particular cases is included. By 1936, the abolition of the Atti di Chiamata was under discussion owing to the belief that discriminatory action was being taken against naturalised British subjects of Italian origin, who wished to nominate relatives to come to Australia. Other correspondence deals with alleged complications arising since the Abyssinian War regarding wives and children of naturalised British subjects of Italian origin in obtaining British passports in Italy. There are further memoranda in 1936 and 1937 on Italian immigration and the system of nomination, correspondence relating to Italians seeking relief in Queensland, and a letter objecting to the formation of Italian colonies in Australia.
A445, 211/1/3
Department of the Interior, File of Papers, 'Deputation by Italians at Ingham re Immigration and Naturalisation' [10 pages, 1938]

This file contains notes from a deputation to the Minister for Repatriation, Senator H S Foll, at Ingham, Queensland, in July 1938, calling for a relaxation of conditions of migration of relatives of Italians naturalised in Australia, and the necessity for Italians to have an adequate knowledge of English before applying for naturalisation. A memorandum and other notes on these issues are included. The reply referred to a Department of the Interior investigation conducted in 1937 which revealed high unemployment in the canefields area and recommended that no landing permits for those likely to take up employment in that industry be issued. It was also argued that the English language requirement was crucial in order that migrants assimilate, especially where there were large concentrations of 'aliens'.

On Italians, see also the following files described in Chapter 4 on 'White Alien' Immigration Policy: A367, C3075AB; A432, 1938/1047 and A367, C3075 AK.)

A1, 1938/21774
Jews
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Restrictions. Jews' [2 pages, 1925]
This contains a letter from F C Derbyshire, Passport Control Officer, Warsaw, 1925, requesting information about the immigration of Jews to Australia to supply to Jewish Societies in Poland. The letter concerns his views on the value of Jewish emigrants from Poland, in relation to their physique and political views.

See Chapter 6 on Female Immigration and Chapter 9 on Refugees for examples of other records.

Information about other records on Jewish immigration is provided in Guide No. 12 – Safe Haven: Records of the Jewish Experience in Australia.

A458, N156/2
Latvians
See Poles
Maltese
Department of Immigration, Western Australian Branch, General Correspondence File, 'Maltese Immigrants and Stowaways' [8 pages, 1927–34]
This contains a circular from the Home and Territories Department to the Collector of Customs concerning information from the Director of Emigration, Malta, August 1927, about some Maltese, not passed as suitable immigrants, who had succeeded in obtaining passports elsewhere and were proceeding to Australia as stowaways. The conditions for Maltese immigration are set out with a request that all Maltese arriving are scrutinised, stowaways prohibited from landing, and information supplied to the Department. Other correspondence concerning Maltese immigration in 1934 is also included
PP6/1, 1927/H/427
Prime Minister's department, 'Immigration Policy. Admission of Maltese' [75 pages, 1926–27]
This contains a letter of June 1926 to J T Barnes, Deputy Director, Migration and Settlement Office, London, from Henry Casolani, Superintendent of Emigration, Malta, suggesting that an arrangement be made between the Commonwealth and Maltese governments for the migration to Australia of Maltese youths. The proposal was put before the State Premiers who responded unfavourably. Further representations followed from Senator Samut, Maltese Representative, Empire Parliamentary Delegation in October 1926 to extend the nomination system to Maltese in Australia, from the Premier of Malta, Ugo Mifsud, for sympathetic treatment, and from Colonel L S Amery for a review of the quota of 100 a month then operating. The reply pointed out that despite the quota, Maltese were granted a concession of only £10 landing money rather than the £40 required of all other 'aliens'; however, nominations as requested were agreed to. There was concern over unemployment levels however, and numbers were still limited to 20 per month per state. In 1927 the Maltese government called for the abolition of the quota since its existence classed the Maltese who were 'British subjects of white race' as 'aliens'; an assurance was given that numbers permitted under the quota would not be exceeded as a result. This proposal was subsequently adopted. A memorandum on Maltese Migration, giving the history during the 1920s is included.
A458, G156/2 part 3
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Restrictions Policy. Admission of Maltese' [5 cm, 1917–30]
This is a very large file on Maltese immigration from 1917 to 1930. One section contains correspondence dealing with the abolition in 1923 of the quota of 260 Maltese per annum and the requirements for Maltese immigration, copies of The Maltese Migrant in Australiareprinted from the Fortnightly Review of 1929, a booklet entitled Awake Malta or the Hard Lesson of Emigration, press extracts and a report on Emigration from Malta, 1922–23. Another section covers repercussions of the detention of 214 Maltese who arrived in 1916 on the SS Gange, expenses incurred by the shipping company for losses, maintenance and return passages for 6 Maltese suffering from trachoma, and the exclusion of Maltese from August 1917 to 1920. The file includes correspondence on the nature of and reasons for the restrictions, (with comparisons made with Italian immigration and much discussion over whether the restrictions were imposed because Maltese were regarded as 'coloured'), the agreement with the Maltese government in 1920 to admit Maltese, provided numbers did not exceed 260 per annum (based on the average yearly numbers for 1912 to 1914). Questions arose in 1922 as to whether the concessions given to certain European nationalities in connection with nominated passages could be applied to Maltese, and in 1923 in regard to Maltese immigration into the Kimberley district of Western Australia. The file also covers the modifications to the quota system in 1923, calls from the Premier of New South Wales to stop all Maltese migration and many letters and press reports on the subject expressing individual opinions. The file jumps from 1924 to 1928, the last sections focussing on unemployment and distress amongst Maltese immigrants in the late 1920s.
A458, G156/2 part 1
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration. Maltese. Part 1' [2 cm, 1931–44]
This contains correspondence relating to a census of the population of Malta and Maltese living abroad in April 1931, requesting numbers of Maltese living in the various states. Other correspondence in 1931 deals with the position of Maltese in North Queensland. At the time non-British canecutters were being excluded from selection for employment. The Commissioner for Malta, F J Corder, visited North Queensland to obtain the recognition of Maltese as British, and requested assistance from the Commonwealth government. In 1934, a suggestion was made by Major Charles Mattei for a Maltese cotton-growing settlement in the Dawson Valley, near Rockhampton, Queensland. The following year, proposals for Maltese settlement in Australia came from Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister, Secretary of State for the Colonies. The Commissioner for Malta set out some relevant facts on immigration from Malta in the form of a memorandum to the Prime Minister in 1936. He argued that Maltese ought not to be subjected to restrictions that were not imposed on other British subjects and that landing permits ought to be more freely granted to extended family members of those Maltese already in Australia. Some concessions were made as a result. Correspondence in 1937 relates to the 1928 Agreement between the South Johnstone Mill Suppliers and the Australian Workers' Union which provided that not less than 70% (subsequently 75%) of employees in the area should be reserved for British cutters and the fact that the term 'British' was interpreted by some to exclude Maltese. The High Commissioner requested that the Commonwealth Government recognise that, in terms of national status, there was no distinction between a British subject from Malta and a British subject from the United Kingdom or from any other part of His Majesty's dominions. While the government recognised that a 'natural-born British subject' included any person born within His Majesty's Dominions and allegiance, it did not concede that there were no distinctions between those subjects in relation to immigration restrictions. In 1937, the Commissioner for Malta inquired whether the immigration of a limited number of children from Malta might be admitted on the same basis as Fairbridge children but this was refused on the grounds of the preference being given to migrants from the United Kingdom. In the same year, Charles Bonham Carter, Governor of Malta, urged that Maltese immigrants be received on the same terms as those from the United Kingdom. As a result of these representations, a Department of the Interior Memorandum for Cabinet on Maltese Migration followed in 1938. Although conditions under which Maltese were able to enter Australia were modified, there was no press publicity given to the new arrangements in order to avoid political repercussions. Other contents of the file include letters in 1938 from Spiro Sceriha, of Kuttabul, via Mackay, on Maltese migration and the replies; letters in 1939 on the issue of the eligibility of British and 'alien' migrants for social welfare; and booklets entitled British Orphans Adoption Society and Orphans of the War by E D Darby.
A461, K349/1/6 part 1
Maoris
Department of External Affairs, 'Instructions to all Collectors of Customs that Maoris are not to be tested under par (a), Sec (3) of I.R. Act' [3 pages, 1905]
This contains instructions that Maoris were not to be subjected to the dictation test under paragraph (a), section 3, of the Immigration Restriction Act, but were to be admitted without restriction. Paragraphs (b) and (g), however, were to be observed as in the case of white races.
A1, 1905/1456
'Nordic races'
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration. Migration Nordic Races' [2 pages, 1930]
This contains a resolution from the RSSILA in 1930, that Nordic people with capital should be encouraged to migrate to Australia without government assistance.
A458, S156/2
Paraguay, Immigration from
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration from Paraguay' [39 pages, 1916–18]
Many of those referred to in this file were not strictly immigrants but Australians who had gone to Paraguay from Australia or Great Britain to join William Lane's co-operative enterprise, the 'New Australia' and 'Cosme' settlements. In 1916, they desired to migrate or return to Australia, if possible with assisted passages. This information was sent to the states and the file contains the replies, which on the whole were reserved, owing to lack of detailed information and the numbers returning from the war. Other statements on the group and related correspondence are included.
A2, 1918/449
Patagonians
See also Welsh.
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Restrictions. Admission of Patagonians' [3 pages, 1923]
This contains a letter to Mr Deane from Norman Makin, MP, February 1923, asking whether it was a fact that during the war 300 Patagonians were brought to the Northern Territory and if so, at what cost and what became of them. Deane's reply, given on the advice of the Home and Territories Department, stated that in April 1913, authority was given under the Fisher government for the admission into the Territory of a number of Welsh colonists or residents of Welsh extraction from Patagonia. In July 1915, under the second Fisher government, 220 arrived, but it was found that they consisted partly of other European nationalities, but no native Patagonians. Fares were paid by the Commonwealth at a total cost of between £6,000–7 000. Practically all had been absorbed by other states, with very few remaining in the Territory.
A457, V401/2/72
Poles (Czechs and Yugoslavs)
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Restrictions. Poles, Czechs and Jugoslavs' [67 pages, 1919–31]
This contains applications for entry by four Latvians (Lettish citizens) in 1919 and from Poles, Czechs and others in 1920 and later. The file focuses on the granting of visas for Australia to Poles and other ex-Russians who had become citizens of friendly republics. No objection was raised in regard to those in sound health, of good character, who were anti-Bolshevist in sympathy and who had £40 landing money unless an official letter could be produced by the applicant to show that permission to land had been granted as a result of nomination by a resident in Australia, responsible for maintenance on arrival. The question of evasion of these requirements was raised in correspondence between 1925 and 1927. As a result further safeguards were imposed, for example, that the landing money should be personal property, not a loan, and that if any statements were discovered to be incorrect, the immigrant would be prohibited from landing. Other correspondence relative to Czech, Polish and Yugoslav immigration in 1927–28 is included.
A458, D156/3
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration – Roumanians' [23 pages, 1925–41]
This contains various requests for information by Roumanians on possible migration to Australia. Two were interested in working in the textile industry while another asked about the possible migration together of 20–80 families (or 100–500 people). The reply to the latter outlined the conditions governing immigration and stated that the 'mass migration of aliens' was not encouraged.
A461, O349/3/5
Russians
Department of Home and Territories, 'A Barding. Immigration of Russians' [1919]
This is a small file relating to a particular case and includes a secret intelligence report.
A1, 1919/6897
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration – Admission (Russians)' [17 pages, 1920]
The file relates to correspondence sent from the Colonial Office in 1920 on the question of relief to fugitives of Russian armies driven from Karelia into Finland. It was suggested that they might emigrate to the British Dominions. The reply from the Home and Territories Department, however, was that they could not be admitted. (Much the same material is found in A1, 1922/956, described in Chapter 9 on Refugees).
A2, 1920/509/266
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration. Russians' [2 cm, 1920–35]
This contains various requests concerning Russian immigration to Australia. Included is a letter from the British High Commissioner, Constantinople, to Earl Curzon of Kedleston in 1920 on the proposed settlement, as a small self-contained colony, of Russian refugees who required assistance in the initial stages. Other correspondence refers to the arrival in Australia in 1920 of Russians previously residing in China. The government sent instructions to the British ambassador in Peking not to issue passports to Russians to enter Australia without special authority from the Home and Territories Department. The policy at the time was to prohibit the entry of Russians except in special cases. Various other applications from or on behalf of Russians were received: from the Agricultural Ossinsk Labour Commune for financial assistance to allow some of its members to emigrate to Australia; from 66 Russians known as the Tolstov Group in 1923; from the British Consuls-General at Shanghai, Hankow, Tientsin, Harbin, Yokohama and Manila; and from Rear Admiral Starck (who commanded the former Russian Far Eastern squadron), among others. In all cases, the government was unwilling to grant approval. Individual applications could be granted if the applicant was healthy, of good character and anti-Bolshevist in sympathies, could speak English sufficiently to make himself understood, could pay his own passage and possessed £10 landing money. After 1925, the landing money was increased to £40 and a guarantee from an Australian relative or friend was required. Official correspondence in 1925 stressed that the immigration of Russians was discouraged on the grounds of increased communist activity within Australia. Russians wishing to enter Australia were requested to apply through their nearest British Consul or British authority and to submit references from reputable persons, preferably British, residing in the same district. Satisfactory evidence was required that the person did not hold 'dangerous or extreme political views'. In 1927, a circular was produced by the Passport Control Department with regard to the procedure to be adopted in connection with applications by Russians and ex-Russians for visas to enter Australia. There are also Hansard extracts and letters relating to visits to Australia of individual Russians for the purpose of wool buying, 1927–29.
A458, C156/3
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Encouragement. Particular Classes – Baby Immigration' [54 pages, 1922–23]
This file concerns child migration and a full description is provided in Chapter 7 on Juvenile Migration but it contains a query in a letter from a Mrs J M Nankivill, of Widok 26, Warsaw, of 12 December 1923, about the immigration of ex-officers of the Russian Army. The reply from the Commonwealth Immigration Office pointed out that no encouragement or assistance was granted to Russians. Additional records on Russian immigration are described in Chapter 4 ( see CP 78, 1926/25, Part 2) and Chapter 9 (see A1, 1916/10708; A2, 1917/3354; A457, H400/5; A1, 1922/956; A1, 1928/45; A1, 1935/9072; and A1, 1936/2513). See also 'Immigration of Russians' –A8, 1901/281/1, available on microfilm.
A457, X400/5
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Scottish Ex-servicemen' [2 pages, 1927]
This contains a letter to the Prime Minister in 1927 from Lieut. Colonel C B Vandeleur, relating to a scheme for the migration to Australia of ex-soldiers and their wives from various Scottish regiments organised by the War Office and the YMCA. Of 140 applications only 4 were selected by the Dominion authorities. Information was sought on how to assist these ex-soldiers overseas.
A458, U154/17
Spaniards
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration – Spaniards stranded at Newcastle' [5 pages, 1916]
This file more correctly relates to immigrants from Argentina who arrived in Australia in 1915. It contains a letter from the J H Cann, Acting Premier of NSW, to G F Pearce, the Acting Prime Minister, May 1916, referring to a police report on 3 members of a large party of Spaniards recently imported from Spain by the Commonwealth government to work at railway construction at Port Darwin, Northern Territory, who became dissatisfied with the conditions there and went to Newcastle, where they were found stranded in the streets. They were unable to speak English, and although willing to do any kind of labouring work, could not find employment and had no means of support. The matter was brought to the attention of the Vice Consul for Spain at Newcastle but he was unable to give any assistance. Cann asked 'whether any arrangements [could] be made for the disposal of these men'. In reply, Pearce stated that the three men were members of a party of immigrants brought by the Commonwealth Government from South America to settle in the Northern Territory. The local authorities gave them employment on their arrival in the Territory, in accordance with their engagement, and had fulfilled their obligations. The Commonwealth was not disposed to look after them any further unless they returned to the Territory, which they would have to do at their own expense. A subsequent letter (July 1916) conveyed that the men had no intention of returning to the Territory as they had since found employment in Newcastle.
A2, 1916/325
Swedish
Department of External Affairs, File of Papers, 'Swedish Immigration' [25 pages, 1914]
The file refers to discussions between the Consul-General for Sweden and the Department of External Affairs in May 1914 on Swedish immigration and contains information forwarded by the High Commissioner to the Department of External Affairs on emigration to Australia from the Scandinavian countries. The views ascertained were communicated to State Premiers and some of the responses are enclosed. The reply from Premier Scaddan outlined the procedure on the reception of immigrants to Western Australia and included a brochure issued to immigrants during their voyage on things they should know and a sample admission card with information on the Immigrants' Home.
A1, 1914/10339
Tongans
Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Restrictions. Tongans' [4 pages, 1927–28]
This contains a request for information from the Premier of Tonga in 1927 on the question of guarantees for maintenance, quarantine fees, etc. for Tongans who wished to reside temporarily in Australia as pupils to attend school or government servants on leave of absence. Replies are included.
A458, Q156/2
Welsh
Prime Minister's Department, File of Papers, 'Immigration (Welsh Community in Chubut to Australia)' [3 pages, 1915]
This contains two letters from Andrew Bonar Law, referring to a despatch from the British Minister at Buenos Aires in April 1915, in relation to a scheme for the migration of members of the Welsh community in Chubut (Patagonia, Argentina) to Australia and a copy of a question asked in the House of Representatives on 8 September 1915 in regard to the ships on which 220 immigrants from South America arrived in 1915. The reply was that they travelled by the SS Valdivia from Port Madryn to Talcahuano, then came on the Kwanto Maru to Darwin.
A2, 1915/2250
Yugoslavs
Department of Immigration, Western Australian Branch, General Correspondence File, 'Italians and Yugoslavs – Departure of' [4 pages, 1931]

This contains a request from the Attorney General's Department, September 1931, to the Collector of Customs for the numbers of Italians and Yugoslavs leaving Fremantle for Europe over the previous three months and the reply.

For information on general restrictions on certain Europeans in the mid-1920s see Chapter 4 (CP78/22, 1926/25 part 2).

Additional records include: A981, MIG 82, 'Migration Restriction – Yugoslavia, 1939; A461, F349/3/5, 'Immigration Restrictions. Slavs', date range 1937; and A1, 1923/15046, 'Admission of Yugoslavs', 1920–23.

PP6/1, 1931/H/446

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