Post-war immigration to Australia

Post-war immigration to Australia deals with migration to Australia in the decades immediately following World War II, and in particular refers to the predominantly European wave of immigration which occurred between 1945 and the end of the White Australia policy in 1973. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, Ben Chifley, Prime Minister of Australia (1945–1949), established the federal Department of Immigration to administer a large-scale immigration program. Chifley commissioned a report on the subject which found that Australia was in urgent need of a larger population for the purposes of defence and development and it recommended a 1% annual increase in population through increased immigration.[1]

Mr Arthur Calwell with the Kalnins family – the 50,000th New Australian – August 1949
In 1954, 50,000 Dutch migrants arrived; Maria Scholte is to the right of the picture

The first Minister for Immigration, Arthur Calwell, promoted mass immigration with the slogan "populate or perish".[2] Calwell coined the term "New Australians" in an effort to supplant such terms as pommy (Englishman) and wog.

The 1% target remained a part of government policy until the Whitlam Government (1972–1975), when immigration numbers were substantially cut back, only to be restored by the Fraser Government (1975–1982).[1]

Some 4.2 million immigrants arrived between 1945 and 1985, about 40 percent of whom came from Britain and Ireland.[3][full citation needed] 182,159 people were sponsored by the International Refugee Organisation (IRO) from the end of World War II up to the end of 1954 to resettle in Australia from Europe—more than the number of convicts transported to Australia in the first 80 years after European settlement.[4]


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