The strategic fears of the ruling class: the construction of Queensland's Chinese Immigrants Regulation Act of 1877

Article


Griffiths, Phil. 2012. "The strategic fears of the ruling class: the construction of Queensland's Chinese Immigrants Regulation Act of 1877." Australian Journal of Politics and History. 58 (1), pp. 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8497.2012.01620.x
Article Title

The strategic fears of the ruling class: the construction of Queensland's Chinese Immigrants Regulation Act of 1877

ERA Journal ID6876
Article CategoryArticle
Authors
AuthorGriffiths, Phil
Journal TitleAustralian Journal of Politics and History
Journal Citation58 (1), pp. 1-19
Number of Pages19
Year2012
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
Place of PublicationMelbourne, Australia
ISSN0004-9522
1467-8497
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8497.2012.01620.x
Web Address (URL)http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8497.2012.01620.x/pdf
Abstract

In early 1877, there were no immigration restrictions in any of the Australian colonies. Queensland's Chinese Immigrants Regulation Act of 1877 was the first of many laws that restricted Chinese immigration, in a movement that ultimately led to the White Australia legislation of 1901-2. This article finds that, contrary to the hegemonic understanding of White Australia, there was no significant working class or popular pressure behind the passage of the Act. Instead, it reflected the agendas of Queensland's elite, and in particular their concern that a large influx of Chinese people to the Palmer River goldfield could threaten their strategic control of Far North Queensland. In support of anti-Chinese laws, Queensland's conservative newspapers whipped up fears of a Chinese 'invasion', a theme that would continue for nearly a century.

KeywordsWhite Australia; Queensland; Chinese immigration; ruling class strategy; colonial; settler state
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020440801. Australian government and politics
430302. Australian history
441013. Sociology of migration, ethnicity and multiculturalism
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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Accounting, Economics and Finance
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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